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Spreading Christmas Cheer - Making a difference to retirement home or nursing home residents

Updated on August 21, 2013

Considerate gifts for nursing home residents

My mom was in rehabilitation in a nursing home for 6 weeks after she broke her hip in November 2011. During that time, I was right beside her and witnessed that goings on between the rehabilitation staff and the elderly residents, and I saw the important role that volunteers play in boosting spirits on a daily basis.

During the Christmas season, most retirement homes and nursing homes collect gifts for those residents who have no family or friends in the area. These gifts are distributed throughout the nursing facility; they brought much happiness to the senior citizens living in the retirement home. I was surprised at how much happiness, actually, can be gleaned from a new pair of warm socks or a fresh deck of cards.

So, on this Squidoo article, I'll give you some ideas about things that I saw that really livened up the senior citizen crowd. You don't have to have spend a lot on gifts for senior citizens. In fact, you don't have to spend anything - you could just volunteer your time.

All pictures on this Squidoo article were taken by me - most will probably be my Mom and my Dad, both of whom are gone now. But, every single day, their memories live on quite strongly for me.

Next time you're at an antique store, pick up some old magazines from the 1930's to 1960's to give as gifts to nursing home residents.

Warm socks are always a welcomed gift for nursing home residents - Women's socks

Make this Christmas especially warm and merry with the gift of socks. I bought socks in bulks and wrapped them separately with a deck of cards for each nursing home resident. It was heartwarming to see my socks being worn by the residents to breakfast every morning.

I think that the more vibrant the socks the better. I always bought Mom crazy (but cozy) socks in patterns that would often get strangers talking. It was loads of fun to take Mom out in her wheelchair and have her complimented on her attire.

Note: the below socks are fine for nursing home residents who are not on their feet, i.e. in a wheelchair or bedridden. These should not be worn while walking as they have no grip on the bottom.

Gripper socks are a great Christmas gift for a nursing home resident

These gripper socks are the choice for those nursing home residents who are able to get up and walk around a bit. The bottoms offer a gripping surface so slips are less likely to occur. The below choices are good for both men and women retirement home residents:

6 pair of non-skid hospital, rehabilitation facility socksCHECK PRICE

6 pair of non-skid gripper socksCHECK PRICE

3 pair of non-skid gripper socks - perfect for nursing home residentsCHECK PRICE

Stationery and stamps!

Giving nursing home residents stationery might give their children and grandchildren a wonderful keepsake in a letter from Grandma. Go ahead and add stamps to the envelopes so that all she has to do is get a pen and write!

A cheerful bouquet of flowers is always a great nursing home gift

A cheerful bouquet of flowers is always a great nursing home gift
A cheerful bouquet of flowers is always a great nursing home gift

One of the best presents you can give a nursing home patient is the gift of time - go visit once a week and bring Christmas cheer all year long.

Tips for giving gifts to retirement home or nursing home residents

Mom and I donated to and helped wrap and distribute Christmas presents (and Hanukkah presents too!) to the elderly residents at the Asbury rehabilitation facility when we were there over Christmas 2011. I got some good tips about finding and giving gifts to the senior citizen residents. Here they are!

  1. Check with the staff who are coordinating the Christmas exchange to see any rules they may have. For example, due to dietary restrictions for some residents, the coordinators may discourage food gifts.
  2. Buy Christmas presents in bulk and split them up into multiple packages. I shopped at the local Costco here in Maryland and found all kinds of items that were inexpensive and made great gifts for the senior citizens.
  3. Keep your soaps and lotions from hotel stays and add them to the Christmas stash. It doesn't matter where the items you're donating came from, it just matters that you give. By the way, these hotel soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners are a great donation to a homeless shelter too.
  4. If wrapping your Christmas presents (again, check with the staff to see if they prefer the gifts unwrapped), make sure to identify for whom the gift is appropriate. Ex, if wrapping eyeglass cases, note on a sticky note on the package that it's for anyone who wears eyeglasses. You can also just note what the gift is and let the staff take it from there.

Give nursing home residents the gift of entertainment

Most nursing homes or retirement homes have a central room where the residents can get together and play cards, do puzzles, or just chat if they prefer. Why not consider donating 2 or 3 different games for the elderly residents to use when they're together? The below are the games I usually see in these type of community rooms. There's almost always someone playing (or attempting to play...) one or more of these games (sometimes at the same time...).

Ravensburger Dolphin Cove - 300 Pieces Large Format Puzzle
Ravensburger Dolphin Cove - 300 Pieces Large Format Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles encourage interaction between the senior citizens.

Birds of Paradise 500 Piece Large Format Puzzle
Birds of Paradise 500 Piece Large Format Puzzle

Reviewers on loved this particular jigsaw puzzle.


My Mom, at 94 years of age

My Mom, at 94 years of age
My Mom, at 94 years of age

Playing cards and playing card holders are considerate gifts for nursing home residents

Playing cards is a great way to pass an afternoon in a nursing home or retirement home. But, with aging hands comes arthritis so holding cards may become more difficult. That's where playing card holders come in.

4 playing card holdersCHECK PRICE

Playing card holdersCHECK PRICE

Set of 2 playing card holdersCHECK PRICE

Large format playing cards - easy to readCHECK PRICE

Playing cards for a nursing home patient with extremely low visionCHECK PRICE

4 decks of large format, easy to read playing cardsCHECK PRICE

My motorcycle mama

My motorcycle mama
My motorcycle mama

Battery candles are an extraordinary gift for nursing home patients

Since nursing homes will never allow regular wax candles due to oxygen being on hand, battery candles are just the perfect gift for nursing home patients. They allow the residents to have just a more homey feel to their room. I personally am such a fan of these candles that I own...oh, let's not go into that. Everyone hoards something...

Set of 22 LED candles - the perfect gift to split up among nursing home residentsCHECK PRICE

Realistic 3 piece set of battery operated candlesCHECK PRICE

Here's a beautiful way to spread the Christmas spirit to those in a nursing home

Get a bottle, any bottle will do and add a small set of Christmas lights inside the bottle. Plug it in and, voila - instant Christmas decoration!

Please leave me comments to let me know if you liked (or hated - I can take it...) this Squidoo article.

Comments appreciated

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    • mariacarbonara profile image


      5 years ago

      Love the selection of gifts you have here. The pen grips I will be getting, so simple but such a great idea

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Some very nice gifts here

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent choices... I love this... will pin

    • chas65 profile image


      6 years ago

      These placs can be pretty discouraging at times, and anything to lift the spirits of those wonderful people. Nice to see these thoughtful gifts that can be so useful.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      If you want to go big, a nursing home might need a computer in the commons room for patients to use and also take a look at the recreational equipment they have. The pool table at my brother's nursing home was in sad shape and needed replacing. Don't donate an old computer that might have issues. New is better.


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