Clutter Free Gift Ideas for Grandparents
“I’m a grandmother and do not need any more gifts that I have to display, dust or store UNLESS they are art work created by my grandkids! Then, I display them with pride. The best gift for me is TIME spent with me! Take a walk with me, sit down and tell me about your life, tell me your hopes and dreams! Doing this makes me feel so special and that’s a wonderful gift!” – Michigan Granny
“We have 4 small children in school and one starting next year.With all thise little fingers we have lots of artwork and paintings around.We get out our camera and take pictures of the kids with their creations and then put them in a small photo album and they give them to Grandma and Grampa…and then we chose a few to keep and the rest bless the rest of the extended family as wrapping paper!” – Flying in Ontario
From our members….
- I got this off the Fly Lady website last year and did it for my parents: Make a memory jar. I wrote one or two sentence memories from my childhood on my computer (15 minutes at a time) and over the course of a few weeks I had 365 memories to share. I printed them off on a variety of colored paper, cut them into strips (one memory per strip) and put them in a mason jar, decorating the lid with a piece of cloth from a childhood outfit my mother made me. A fun by-product of this was that I really enjoyed stirring up all those old memories and sharing them with my kids as well as my parents. My parents have repeatedly told my how much they enjoy this gift! They take one memory out at breakfast together and chuckle over what I wrote, and sometimes their own memories are jogged. This is a gift that keeps on giving! – Fly Baby in MN
- Hi, Last Christmas, I took your advice about clutter and gifts. We purchased my in-laws (my daughters’ grandma & grandpa) season passes to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. Neither grandparent is particularly interested in rides and rollar coasters, but they love going to music shows, and Silver Dollar City has many wonderful shows. They were able to go to Branson whenever they wanted & spend a few hours at each visit in the park, enjoying the crafts, music, and folk tales.My mother-in-law actually told me how much they’d enjoyed using the passes this year and how glad she was that we’d not given them anything she needed to “dust.” In July, we arranged to meet them at the park & they were able to spend the day enjoying the shows & the rides with their 12 & 13 year old granddaughters (who thought the whole day was very special). Grandma even went down a waterslide on a raft with them. Great memories were made that day.
Thank you for helping me to remove clutter from my life & not to add it to the lives of my loved ones. I still have a long way to go, but I’m babystepping my way on down the road to a clutter free life. Flying in Missouri
- Two years ago we were at a loss for gift ideas for Granny. We bought a nice size stocking, and off we went. Since most Grams are on a fixed budget we thought this would be great. We filled it with small items that run big money. Stamps, postcards, film, money cards to the RX,(meds get expensive) hair salon certificates, (runs up every week) gas cards, phone cards, one paid visit to the vet for the cat, carwash coupons, some fun things, and family joke items.the list goes on. Make it personal. We wrapped every item seperatly, and two years later she is still talking about the best gift she ever got.Last year she mentioned to my DH that she would like a new kitchen facuet. I went to the dollar store, bought a laundry basket and every imaginable kitchen sink item available, sponges brushes soap, etc, filled the basket, (easy to do at the dollar store, without going broke, )put the boxed faucet on top, and a huge bow. All her friends will be hearing about that for 2 years probably. Need new wings, In Upstate New York
- One year for Christmas my sisters, cousin and I (four of us total) pooled our cash and treated our three grandparents a meal at a nice restaurant. This was when we were all teenagers and communication with older generations can at times be somewhat strained. It was so nice to be able to interact with our grandparents in a grown-up way and without our parents’ generation interrupting. I think everyone enjoyed that meal. Our grandparents were bragging for weeks afterward about their mature, polite, friendly granddaughters. We got to know our grandparents as people. (And our parents got a break from entertaining family during the holidays). What a success! – A Flybaby in Belmont, MA
- Each year my 3 sisters- 2 brothers and I get together. We are VERY attentive during the year, when dad says “I broke that— (whatever)” whoever hears it writes it down! Or if we hear mom say “Oh that VCR just isn’t working as well as it used to.” Same thing. We figure we would each spend about $20.00 each on the folks for Christmas- so we just POOL the amount and purchase what they really need. With six of us $20.00 turns into $120.00! There was a year we each gave $50.00 and bought them a new water softener. Imagine our delight at their surprised faces and tears!
- Dear FlyCrew, My husband’s grandmother is a wonderful woman, but has everything she has ever purchased or been given. She has every religious knick-knack available and dozens of slippers and robes. She is a widow in frail health. What could we possible get her for Christmas?Well, Granny loves my pumpkin cake recipe, but a cake is too large for a person living alone. I bought a cake pan that makes six miniature bundt cakes, then experimented until I knew that the pumpkin cake would work and freeze well.
I made her individual pumpkin cakes drizzled with cream cheese frosting (thinned slightly so it would “drizzle”). The reusable/disposable bowls that you buy at the grocery store make great “cake covers” when turned upside down. I also made a batch of homemade vegetable soup and froze individual servings of that!
She loved them!! Every time she ate the soup or a piece of cake, she was reminded that someone cared about her. I will be doing this again and expanding to some casseroles that I know freeze well. Instead of one 9×13, freeze it in 3 or 4 small containers.
P.S. I’m including the pumpkin cake recipe. It isn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas for my family without it.
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
0.5 tsp. salt
2 cups pumpkin (1 can pumpkin – NOT pie filling)
Cream eggs and sugar together until light. Add oil, continuing to beat. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients. Add pumpkin, mixing well.
Bake in well greased and floured bundt cake pan. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick butter
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. conf. sugar
May also add chopped pecans to frosting or stud cake with pecan halves (very pretty).
Thanks for everything you do. Flybaby in Lexington, KY
- Every year I give my grandma a HUGE cadbury fruit and nut chocolate bar. They sell some that are about 8 inches across and over a foot long! It’s something impressively big and ‘present-sized’ to open, but it’s gone in a few days. (She shares it!) – England Flychick
- I purchased a restaurant gift certificate from each of my three children for their grandparents. It was for a local restaurant they frequent for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They get the luxury of eating out and don’t have another knick-knack to dust or try to unload because they “just don’t need anymore stuff”. One year I sent a local coffee shop $20 in a card explaining it was for Grandpa when he arrived every morning for his cup of joe and breakfast. The store owner displayed the card behind the counter. Boy, was Grandpa surprised with his “breakfasts on the house”!
- For my grandmother who is on a fixed income, I gave her gift certificates for perms with her favourite hairdresser. She gets an outing and pampering she might not otherwise do for herself.
- For an aunt, who is also a grandmother, I put together a “Grandma’s Craft Kit”. In it, I gathered all the directions and supplies she would need [including hot glue gun, glue sticks, and scissors] to make five different projects [Christmas tree ornaments] with her three granddaughters. “Grandma” and granddaughters enjoyed themselves immensely. This year, I’m planning to give a similar gift, but with a cookie-baking theme. A WV Fledging Flybaby
- My favorite homemade gift from kid.though said kid is now well past 21, which means my WEED BUCKET must be nearly 20 years old! It’s just a decorated 5 gallon heavy plastic bucket with a dozen holes drilled in the bottom, but an amazingly useful tool for a gardener. Those holes mean that my weed bucket drains if even I leave it out in the rain. The holes are only ¼” so I can also use my bucket for carrying (and soaking) potting soil, plants being divided, transplants, etc. The bucket was probably scrounged from a restaurant or construction site, the holes drilled with the whatever drill bit then on the powerdrill, and the decorations are nothing more than a preschooler’s drawing with a felt-tip pen. Whole project probably took 20 minutes while she was “helping” with some home maintenance chore.and provided useful training in running a drill..the crookedness of the holes only ads to the charm.Her art work is, of course, signed.though at that point she hadn’t quite learned to spell her whole name:-) Free, useful, joyful, and a priceless family heirloom.
- Rather than giving grandma another embroidered throw or crafty sweatshirt all the grandkids got together and wrote her a letter of what she meant to us – and of funny and touching things we remember from growing up – There were seventeen letters total – we put them in a book and gave them to her after dinner – We read each letter out loud and all got to enjoy them. – Missouri
- My grandparents love to go to the movies. One Christmas I gave them a pack of movie theatre gift certificates. I think they were more thrilled by this gift than any I have ever given them. This gift is really great for any age group, but we may not often remember that older people like to go to the movies, too. Thanks for helping me make my home such a happy place to be! FLYing in Michigan
- This year we’ll be giving my parents a “grandparents” membership to the local children’s museum (they can take all 10 grandchildren for free!) gift certificates to the grocery store, a roll of stamps and gift certificates to the vet’s office. They absolutely adore their dogs, but spend a fortune at the vet’s office when the need arrives. These gifts will make things easier on their budget and they get to spend more time with their grandkids!
- One of the best and most appreciated gift that keeps on giving is a subscription to the local newspaper. Once they read it, they can recycle it or give it to a neighbor. I began giving it to my mom (Grandma) from the kids on Mother’s day and renew it again for Grandparents day in September, then again for Christmas. Mom has said many times that she didn’t need anything, her clutter is gone, and she loves reading the paper, so has really loved this gift. Thanks for all your help, you are making a difference to our family. Learning in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
- Gift certificates to their favorite restaraunts. My parents receive these from several of their family each year and love them. They can be used anytime they want to eat out and especially if they have out of town guests that they would like to entertain. Sure saves on their budget.
- Non-perishable food, cleaning products or grocery gift certificates. I like to pack a basket (mom returns it to me when it is empty for next year) with smoked oysters, flavored coffees, teas and cocoas and other delicacies that are enjoyed but not easily afforded. I usually add some fruit but there are only the two of them so that must be limited to what can be eaten before it spoils. We gave my grandmother necessities like tissues, toilet paper, tuna, small cans of veggies, canned fruit, gelatin and instant puddings, rolls of homemade frozen cookie dough that could be sliced and cooked as needed in her little countertop oven, individually wrapped chocolates (her sweet bite) and soap, air deodorizer, toilet bowl cleaner, her brand of shampoo and hair spray. The product list is limitless. This was all packed in grocery bags with a large bow drawn on the front with a red marker.
- If I do any cookie baking, I like to roll the dough into logs about 10 inches long, wrap in plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer. Several rolls of various cookie doughs would be greatly appreciated by any grandmother who would like to have fresh cookies when her grandchildren come to call. These rolls are easy to slice and bake up in just a few minutes. Saves mess in grandma’s kitchen. Besides grandma doesn’t need large batches and these are perfect.
- Gasoline, oil change gift certificates.
- Gift certifcates for the electric, gas, trash service, telephone and water bills. Also long distance calling cards. – Wichita, Kansas
- Since grandparents tend to have “everything,” give a gift to someone else on their behalf. Every year we give Grandpa, the would-be farmer, a goat — by donating one to a family in a Third-World country who needs it. For Grandma, who loves to read, we are sponsoring reading lessons for an illiterate woman. No clutter for them, and help for someone else!
- With my daughter, we are going to be using fabric paint to stamp her hand print on to handkerchiefs and tea towels to make very personal and very useful gifts for grandparents. – Flybaby in Cambridge UK
- My parents are retired and have not wanted “things” for gifts for quite a few years. My mother’s favorite gift is a gift certificate to her hairdresser. She also enjoys gift certificates to her favorite restaurant. When it’s tax season and she’s working, I get her gift certificates for a nearby restaurant so she can pick up dinner on the way home from work. She also enjoys gift certificates to the mall.Dad is more challenging but he likes gift certificates to his favorite building supply store. Used to be his favorite store was Lowe’s and now he prefers Home Depot. One year, we made a binder with gift certificates to several “happy hours” around town. Each gift certificate was placed in a protective plastic sheet, along with an advertisement from the respective restaurant with their weekly specials.
- My parents and MIL are at that stage in life where they really don’t need or want anything. For my parents I have purchased gift certificates to local restaurants and coffee shops. Also theatre tickets are a great idea, and the venues range from a local university production to a professional theatre company. This way, they can have a nice evening out and enjoy the memories. My MIL lives some distance away, and enjoys certificates to a spa near her home, and we have also sent some long distance telephone certificates too.
- My grandmother and her “friend”, ( I think it is so cute that she has a boyfriend after being a lonely widow for over 40 years) love coffee and shopping. Since she had stayed in the house for over 40 years, we always got her stuff to put into it. Now however she has a whole new life with John, and they GO, GO GO. So for Christmas this year, I am making them a gourmet coffee gift basket, no mugs to clutter the cupboards. Just coffee she will drink ( and throw the cans away when she’s done) and some flavored creamers she liked when visiting us. I will also throw in a kolachi to enjoy with her coffee. The second thing I may get them as a couple is a computer class. They recently got a computer, and are working on basic skills such as how to use the mouse,etc. Soon they will be ready for email and the internet and I want them to be totally prepared! So I am siging them up for a beginner’s course which covers internet basics, virus info, internet scams etc. I think it is something they will enjoy doing together!!! FYI: My grandma is 79 years young, requires no meds from a clean lifestyle ( and good genetics, LOL), has kept her sink shiny for 70 years, and shows that you can learn something new even at 79!!!! YOU GO GIRL!!! – Flybaby in Ohio
- With 3 grandparents over the age of 70 we were always asking “What can we get them?” Well, this answer came from a girl I worked with and it was a basket of mailing supplies. So last Christmas I made up 3 baskets of things everyone can always use. 1 box each small & business sized envelopes, 1 book stamps, writing tablets (letter & note), pencils and pens. Especially the “Frugal” grandmother loved it – “None of that wasteful stuff that I’ll never use and just sits around” she said. Which being that she passed away on August 30th & we are going through her house right now we are greatful for that little bit less of “stuff” – in Western PA
- A good gift idea for grandfathers from grandsons: remote control cars! The grandfathers LOVE acting like kids again!!! Especially when the grandsons come to visit!
- Hi! First I wanted to say thanks. Last year my grandparents traveled from AZ to OK to see our family for Christmas. I couldn’t afford anything nice for them for a gift and I knew they had everything! So I made them a basket. I put travel mugs and instant cider with Pepperidge farm cookies and an audio book in the basket. They loved it! They stopped at gas stations on the way home and filled their mugs with hot water and had cider and cookies on the way home! – in OK
- I was going thru boxes of old photos and found a bunch of portraits & pictures of me and all my cousins from 20 yrs ago. We have probably looked at this photo album once every ten years so we are going to make a huge photo collage for my grandmother for Xmas. It will reduce our clutter and will only be 1 large frame on her wall with all of her babies on it.
- Each year my 7 Dear Children are hit with several school and activity fundraisers, popcorn, girl Scout Cookies etc. Well, to support my kids activities I buy quite a bit and make up Gift Baskets for each of the Grandparents with a note that in receiving this gift they are also supporting my kid’s activities and schooling. I do mini-baskets for the teachers and activity leaders too. Plus- I ususally have my shopping done by halloween.
- For older grandparents –
1. calling cards for long-distance calls if appropriate and if they can manage all the numbers
2. arrange for and take them out for their favorite restaurant meal
3. pick them up to spend the day at your house with your family
4. bring to them their favorite meal including dessert
5. an IOU offer to put pictures in an album, help them clean out a desk drawer, etc. (they don’t want to leave a mess any more than you want to clean it when they’re gone and you’ll both appreciate spending the time together now.)
For younger grandparents –
1. restaurant gift certificates
2. Entertainment book
3. theatre tickets
4. movie tickets
5. make a memory album of their loose pictures of them and the grandkids – has to be small enough for them to carry around so they can show it off to their friends!
6. plan a family outing with them
- The gift that Grandparents always seem to enjoy is a small photo album full of family pics. I put in photos of myself, hubbie, sonogram photos of our first child (due in March), and a shot of our home. I gave my Grandma an album recently and I think it is the first gift I have ever given her that she actually liked! She said it was especially nice because we live in another state and don’t get to visit with her very often. I plan on giving all of my grandparents albums for Christmas this year. – Waxahachie, TX
- This isn’t exactly a clutter free idea. My mother puts grandkids pictures up on the wall and just adds to them. The oldest pictures are in the middle. They moved two years ago and all the pictures that were on the wall of the old house are now jumbled in a drawer. We have a digital camera and a scanner for those pictures that are hard copy. Last year, I bought my parents a scrapbook and my husband and I made scrapbook pages on the computer for them. So, every year we plan to add more scrapbook pages as our Christmas gift to them. Whenever they want to look at pictures of our family, they only need to look for one, already completely organized scrapbook. – A flybaby from Churchill, Canada
- A Christmas gift that my mother enjoyed for a whole year with no clutter. I made a box up with some of my christmas baking and enclosed a note saying it was a once a month deal. Once a month, around the 25 I baked and sent her a little basket of goodies. Living alone, and not seeing very well, she had given up baking. I enclosed a little christmas card or note with each package, even in the middle of summer. No clutter. A package to open once a month. Some of her favourite homemade goodies. A note from family far away. She loved it.
- Last year we gave my elderly mother-in-law a cell phone and we pay for her bill. She has the peace of mind that she can get help if she’s out and needs it. She got lost one time and drove all the way back home to call and discover that she had not driven quite far enough. She is decluttering, too, and doesn’t want or need “STUFF”, and really appreciates having the phone. Flybaby in GA
- The kids make cards for the grandparents. I bought them special frames a few years ago, and now I just replace the photo with the new school photo. They spend Christmas with us and that is their true gift. They have everything they need and the ability to purchase anything they want, so I refuse to give them junk. My mom is on a more limited income, so I usually buy her special hand lotion or nail polish in addition to the kids photo. The best gift we can give to them all is the time to spend with their grandchildren. Flybaby in Santa Rosa, CA
- My sisters and I struggled for years debating about what to give our grandparents for Christmas. For the past two years, we have sent our grandparents a live, decorated pine wreath. They love it and can fling it after the holidays. No clutter – low cost- no shopping involved! Everyone is happy. – Flybaby in Ohio
- I send my grandparents fresh maple syrup. Mass.Also our Library Fundraising group just received the neatest donation. A family of a library supporter made up a card with the picture of the library on the cover, a photo of Harry inside with a cake the shape of a book, and a check in the amount of a dollar for the number of years he has blessed this earth. Charlton Ma.
- My grandmother has several shoeboxes full of pictures. I’m going to buy a scrapbooks or two (my favorite hobby) and give them to her with a loving note that we can get the pictures together throughout the year.Since my grandfather passed away, she’s been lonely so I know she’ll appreciate the extra time we’ll be able to spend together. And I’ll benefit by her knowledge and wisdom and learning more about her and our family.
It’s a gift to both of us without the extra clutter to move around and dust.
- Flowers/fruit of the month club gifts
- Portable, cushioned, stadium seats from the grandkids will encourage grandma and grandpa to attend the kids’ sport activities! – Ca
- For my mother, I cooked up a bunch of dinners and froze them. Then overnighted them to my mom since she live 4,000 miles away. Home cooked meals rather than gift certificates are nice for those living alone.
- When my DH’s parents lived in a large city, they had a favorite coffee shop (one of the chains). They retired and moved to a less populated area and no longer have access to one of the stores and had to give up one of their special treats. The company has a website where I can order coffee and I ship it directly to them. They do not have a computer, so this is something they would never do for themselves. I don’t have to look all over for another “thing” they don’t need and I shop from my living room. No matter how many times I’ve sent them coffee, they never tire of this gift, because they’ve used it all before the next gift occasion comes around. – A Upstate NY FlyBaby
- All the grandparents ever want for Christmas is new pictures of their grandbabies. The first year we bought them nice frames to hold them, now every year they just replace the old picture with the new!For a personal touch, my daughter, the artist, usually draws them a picture for each of their offices and my son makes them a new ornament for their tree. Yours in friendship – in Calgary
- Gift certificates to restaurants – my Grandmother ends up giving back the stuff that will clutter her house – she likes the gifts, she just doesnt want the clutter. So, the gift certificates give her a night off from cooking!
- A few years ago, my cousins and us got our grandparents cable (it was just coming to the small town they live in). We paid for a full year of service.
- Paper, Envelopes, Stamps, and addresses so they can write to their grandchildren.Kid books and audio tapes so they can read the stories to their grandchildren and either mail tape and book or give them tape and book next time they see them. Great connection tool.
Coupons for housework, dinner fixed for them, a trip to the store, a trip to a favorite place for them, clean out a fridge or freezer, whatever, doesn’t have to cost much money. They get time spent with you plus they receive the gift of not having to do something that is difficult for them.
Long distance phone cards so they can call friends and family.
A calendar with all the family birthdays marked and various assortment of cards and stamps. – Flybaby in Oregon who struggles every year to do something for my parents who state very firmly they don’t want anything that just sits around.
- A “grandparents membership” to a local zoo or museum to take the grandkids. This also doubles as a gift for the kids! You are really giving them the gift of TIME! ~ Flying in Indiana
- I bought Calstar helicopter membership for : my sister’s whole family $50 (family membership price) for myself $45 (individual membership price) for awhole year membership This is for transportation if an accident happens or transportation to be taken to another hospital if necessary. Since our insurance doesn’t take care of everything this is a good peace of mind knowing we will be.
- Hi, What a great request! I’ve worked hard the past few years to come up with clutter-free gift ideas, so I’m really looking forward to the ideas other members have to share.The following are gifts I’ve given to my parents and in-laws, all of whom are grandparents. (Since I give these as “group gifts,” it didn’t seem quite right to separate them out into “men” and “women” selections.)
– The gift of time is always a winner. A few years back I gave my mom a mother-daughter weekend trip for her birthday. Dad’s birthday is two weeks before mom’s, so his “gift of time” that year was a class of his choice from the lifelong learning catalog at our local community college. He and I ended up taking a landscaping class together.
Dad retired shortly before Father’s Day this year, and has been spending some of his newfound free time learning web site design. My Father’s Day gift to him was five hours of hands-on tutorials (I do web design for a living).
– Consumable, healthy food is also an excellent choice. Together my parents have decluttered over 150 pounds from their bodies during the past four years, so Christmas cookies are definitely not appropriate gifts! Last Christmas my brother’s family, my husband, and I pitched in to get them 12 months of “fruit-of-the-month” selections from a mail-order company. They loved it.
Both of my in-laws have chest freezers, but not much time to cook these days. Their Christmas gifts last year were several loaves of homemade, freezer-ready quick breads (sweet potato, banana, zucchini) as well as homemade, frozen cookies. This year I plan to freeze some dinners for them along with baked goods. – learning to FLY in Michigan
- Dear FlyCrew, Last year I gave my 87& 89 year old Nana & Popo a binder with 12 pockets (one for each month of the year). I wrote EVERYONE’S birthday & anniversary on the pockets of each month. I then made personalized cards for each birthday and anniversary and placed them in an addressed envelope with a stamp and cute return address labels, in the pockets.My Nana just has to look at each monthly folder for the dates and pull out the corresponding envelope. She writes a small note inside the card, seals the envelope, and mails it.
She has told me so many times throughout this year that my gift has helped her so much. Being 88 now, she has trouble getting to the store to shop for cards and she also has trouble keeping the 6 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren’s birthdays straight.
Now that I am trying to fly, I think I am going to make the same gift for myself this year. Instead of printing cards for everyone, I am going to ask my daughters to “design” cards as craft projects we can do together. I think everyone will love their artistic cards and the kids and I will have so much fun coloring together. Thank you FLYlady crew and Marla for all you wonderful thoughts, ideas, and support! You are all gifts from God! – Flybaby: Illinois
- We gave my parents a double pass for the year to the aquatic center in town. Clutter free and blesses your heart too!
- My 11yo dd plays piano and her grandparents all live far away and don’t get to hear her play much. She had the idea of making audio cassettes of several of her favorite pieces and wrapping the cassettes up for Christmas. I bet she can even decorate a personalized cover for the cassette case! Raleigh, NC
- This started as an idea for my great-aunts who spent a lot of time sitting & had a hard time staying warm: polartec lap blankets. We ended up making one for everyone that year–car blankets for the bigger folk, & snuggle throws for the littler ones. We pieced ours (easy stripes, or big chunks, a few sewn-on-top patches) with curved corners; and then had several fun weeks sitting around blanket-stitching the edges with different colors of embroidery floss (variegated was fun for the kids). My kids were in the 8-10 range then & did not do “perfect” stitching, but it was fun & cuddly for us all to do, watching tv & being together with mom threading the (biggish works great) needles. Polartec fleece, like felt, doesn’t Need edge stitching, but it gives it a homey personal touch. There are many grades of fleece out there–we used good quality brands from our raingear store, which is more expensive, but very luxurious. We did some in school colors–mine ended up being miscellanous pieces. Mine is about 3 x 5′ i think (for the greataunts made them long enough to tuck in when sitting) & i take it with me Everywhere–to the movies or restaurants where the air-conditioning is coolish, to school events for extra padding, or when the bleacher seats are wet, etc. I leave it in the car where it is always handy. & it is so durable, can just be thrown in the wash. My machine is not fancy, & straight seams are about my limit anyway, but these gifts were SO satisfying! (i made the big boys’ ones a little longer for napping). This is still one of my favorite gifts.The next year i used leftover scraps to make travel pillow covers (the kind where you stuff the pillow in at the back, through the overlapping seams), also a breeze. (& included the pillow too). Can’t wait to see everyone’s ideas*** & i Love that we will see them in october! & not december 10th.! Thanks for all you do. flybabying in the willamette valley (oregon)
- If your grandparent is a gardener or has a yard, fall plants are good gifts, just make putting them in the ground part of it. I cannot tell you the number of nice potted plants I have received that died before I could get them in the ground.
- There is a nice market near my home and they make up “steak boxes” with the kind of meat you want and each piece is vacume sealed so you can thaw out one piece at a time. Many older people need small portions and this works well. The prices vary depending on the size box you choose. They start at around $40
- This year I am going to cook a nice dinner for my grandparents. I will make a gourmet meal and dessert and we will spend the evening talking and laughing. Flying in Cambridge Ontario
- You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but when my husband and I decided to do this a few years ago, we felt like the most brilliant people on the planet! Instead of giving traditional gifts to our grandparents (who have all “downsized” into retirement communities and DEFINITELY don’t need one more knick-knack), we have been making donations in their names to organizations that help reach out to needy children. In the past, we have given designated gifts to orphanages for school supplies, clothing and money toward school fees (required in many countries overseas). The kids and I make cards for them with a special note letting them know how the orphanage is using the funds. I know that our grandparents appreciate that we have thought of them while at the same time giving them an outlet to help others. It’s also been great for us personally, and a helpful way to talk to our children about sharing our blessings with kids who don’t have some of the resources we do. – Not-quite Flying, but trying hard in SC
- I’m sure this has already been suggested, but we give my Mom and Dad an annual membership to the Baltimore Aquarium (they have a grandparents membership special rate) so they can take the grandkids anytime during the year. My Mom loves it and the kids do too!!!! We also purchase an annual FONZ membership for them so they can take the kids to the zoo and get the benefits (like free parking, free stroller rental, etc).
- My mother-in-law is 81 years old and has a very cluttered home–has not thrown anything away for over 45 years. It has been very difficult to find a gift that she would not “store”. Our family has discovered a gift that “Grandma” truly enjoys and is thrown away every month. We give her a “gift certificate” for a monthly bouquet of flowers (delivered by her grandchildren). She receives them the first of every month and enjoys them until they are “gone”, and happily awaits her next bouquet!! We are all very happy with this !
- My sisters and I are planning to chip in this year to give my grandparents (who are home sick since they moved across the country this summer) a “camera/video phone” which they can connect to their computer. This way, they’ll be able to see their grandkids and our babies whenever they wish! Flapping and Fluttering in PA
- This idea requires two VCR’s, but if you have or can borrow two it has been a wonderful thing for our kids grandparents who live far away and sometimes don’t see us for a couple years. We play our videos on one machine, and when we find something we’d like to share, we tape that part onto the other VCR. Then we package up the editted video and send it off.This can be a really precious gift and is very lightweight so doesn’t cost much to mail. Michigan Flybaby
- As a Grandparent I would like to receive letters from my “Grands” printed or written on the back of a work of their art.
- My husband’s grandfather is now 90 and it’s a challenge to find something he needs and/or will use. My mother-in-law — his only child — lives six hours from him and the rest of us live four hours or more away and we worry about whether he’s eating well. Over my husband’s protests (he felt funny about giving food to a family member with plenty of financial resources) I got out my once-a-month cooking book and put together a few entrees I knew Grandpa would like. I divided them into two-person portions (so his girlfriend could share!) in disposable foil containers or freezer bags and wrote the cooking/warming instructions on the outside with a Sharpie. He said it was the best gift he got that birthday. Even though he has the means to eat out every day if he wishes, no one wants to leave the house for dinner every day. Having this little stash in the freezer let him have home cooking without the cooking and clean-up.
- Being in their 60s my parents have everything. There is nothing they need and very little that they want. Unfortunately they both require regular medication, so last year I bought them gift vouchers from their local Pharmacy to help pay for their prescriptions. – NZ Flybaby
- My grandmother was in a nursing home for almost 2 years before she passed away. It was a two hour drive each way to visit her every week or two, but it was a labor of love to show her my gratitude for the lifetime of love that she had given me. Anyway, being a fabulous cook herself, she didn’t really enjoy the institutional food. Whenever I went up to see her, I would ask her what goodies she would like me to bring next time. She often asked for things like MacDonald’s burgers & fries, a cold bottle of Pepsi, summer sausage, pillow mints, or good cheese and crackers. I realized that truly tasty foods are pretty scarce in a place like that. So I would slice up the summer sausage and/or cheese & crackers, arrange it on a paper plate, cover it with aluminum foil, and pack it into the car with my golden retriever (who also loved visiting the residents). Sometimes I simply stopped at a fast food place near the nursing home and picked up lunch for the three of us! No matter what I brought, my grandma always enjoyed the treats. Those afternoons, though tinged with sadness because she couldn’t be in her own home, have been added to the many fond memories I have of time spent with her.Another thing all friends and family did was record the dates and times of our visits in a journal that we kept on Grandma’s nightstand. We also recorded who visited, and whatever we brought by way of gifts or goodies. Sometimes we would leave messages for each other in the journal entries (everything from greetings to important information we needed to know about Grandma’s condition). That way we could make sure that she was getting enough visitors and attention from day to day and week to week. I think it really aided us in our efforts to keep up her spirits under those difficult circumstances. Fluttering in Michigan
- Massage Gift Certificates — they are good for everyone and could include anything from a 30 minute foot reflexology treatment or neck and shoulder rub to a 90 minute relaxing Swedish or deep tissue massage…
- This is gonna sound crazy but I am buying gift certificates for the grandparents to Chucky Cheese and the movies. They always want to take the girls places but can’t get over the cost of going to places like that..lol. I guess that would be more of a give for everyone, since dh and i get an empty house and the kids and grandparents get time together.hehe.
- Keeping track of birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events in the family can be quite a task–especially for my parents, who have six children, the spouses of those children, and sixteen grandchildren (not counting the ones due in the next few months). I recently made a gift for them that I know they will use. First, I made sure I had all the correct dates for big events in our family. Then, using a cute computer font, I printed a chronological list of all those birthdays and anniversaries. Once the list was printed, I used some of my craft papers, scissors, and stickers to turn the special events list into a work of art. I laminated it and attached magnets to the back, so my parents can stick it on their refrigerator. My idea was such a hit that other family members have requested “family event magnets” for their refrigerators, too! – learning to FLY in Connecticut
- Hi, Thank you for all you do. I am looking forward to the Clutterfree Christmas ideas. This Christmas idea is for gift exchanges with grandparents, adult siblings, and neighbors. My family and I create a “Dinner Basket.” We’ve given the dinner baskets for several years with grand success. Our family and friends appreciate the time, thought and love involved in creating these items. The wives and mothers are glad for one less meal to cook or eat from a restaurant. And we are teaching our children that the value of a gift is measured from love not money. My 6 yo twins have been involved for the past three years.Spaghetti Dinner Basket includes: quart-size canned home-made spaghetti sauce, 12 oz package of pasta, small can of parmesian cheese, fresh lettece, tomato, cucumber, 1/2 pint homemade salad dressing, a loaf of bread, and home-made cookies, fudge or divinity. My children help prepare the sauce, salad dressing, and sweets; my dh and I can the sauce; and we all decorate and load baskets. My dh creates a lable with the children’s picture and a funny name for the sauce and dressings.
Gumbo Dinner Basket includes: quart-size canned home-made gumbo, small bag of rice, and the same salad, bread, and dessert as above. – Happy Holiday Preparations – in FL
- Elderly grandparents enjoy the use of your time. For example, raking leaves, sweeping drives, cutting the lawn, etc. I realize that some of these suggestions are not winter related, but can be given in the form of an I.O.U. This helps them get task accomplished that maybe getting difficult for them to do.
- For a grandparent who lives in a nursing home, I give handkerchiefs – she loves to have a fresh one each day, but every so often one gets lost in the laundry, and by the end of the year she needs more. When my grandparents were scaling back I paid their newspaper subscription. I have also given crossword subscriptions and supermarket gift cards. My kids make consumable birdfeeders for their grandparents – tie twine to a pinecone, coat the pinecone heavily with peanut butter, roll it in assorted birdseed, and wrap in plastic before gift wrapping. These get tied to a tree near a window, the birds come along ans snack, and after a few weeks all that’s left is the pinecone (if the squirrels haven’t taken it) and that does just fine dropped on the ground or thrown in with the mulch. -learning to fly in ohio
- I’m the grandparent. I would like a gift certificate for a really good, “legal” back massage, and maybe a few other relaxing types of things. Like certificates for a facial waxing, pedicure including foot waxing, manicure including hand waxing, etc. But my daughters refuse to have a dozen and a half to two dozen e-mails coming in everyday from Flylady – so how do I get them to know this? Forward the suggestion to them? (Note from FlyCrew: Hee Hee, Send your daughters the link to this page, and tell them you would like #73. Happy Holidays!)
- Subscription to a large print magazine such as Reader’s Digest
- Our family is fond of making up “coupons,” and my parents love to be the recipients! We give them ones for hugs, vacuuming, window washing, horse stall mucking, weed pulling, and such–jobs that we can do to help them, that they can redeem throughout the year. My kids LOVE to make them and decorate them with artwork and stickers. Of course, whenever we come over to do one of the jobs, my Mom always feeds us, so I guess we all benefit from them!
- Gift certificate for Grandma’s favorite hairdresser. This is especially good for seniors on fixed incomes who could use some pampering during the long winter months. If you have a Grandma who doesn’t drive, like we do, offer to schedule the appointment when you can drive and combine it with a lunch date and perhaps an opportunity to do some grocery or other shopping on the way home. – Fluttering in PA
- My neighbor across the street is getting on in years, and every year around Spring, and Fall, her daughters, and grandchildren arrive en masse and clear and tidy her garden for her. I know they do it anyway, but if you have grandparent’s who are not always able to handle the heavy work, organise a family “reunion” and have all the loved ones, from children through grandchildren, stop buy and spruce things up for Grandparents… they can enjoy that gift for quite a while… and having the family together at one time will be great for everyone… no clutter, in fact… this is a decluttering gift.. Flybaby in Texas
- This is nothing new, but thought it might be a helpful reminder. We have a lot of family (including grandparents) and friends who live out of town. We’re from Florida, and have found that they really appreciate citrus shipments during the holidays. Although they could go to the supermarket, it’s so nice to have it delivered right to your door. Also, unlike the store bought products, it’s specially packaged to help keep it fresher longer. However (and here’s the best part) once it’s been eaten, it’s gone! Nothing to put away, and nothing to dust!!! We all have items that are unique to our region of the world: cheeses, apples, sausages, candies, preserves, smoked fish, pineapple — you get the idea. Our family and friends tell us they so look forward to getting the shipments each year — and all we had to do was pick up the telephone or e-mail in our order. No malls. No lines. No hassle!
- Every year I put together a scrapbook calendar for the Grandparents, I didn’t realize how important they were to them until I couldn’t seem to find a calendar last year. On New Years Eve my Mom told me that my Dad was so disappointed that he wasn’t able to see his grandkids every time he looked at his calendar, so I tried a little harder to put one together in a couple of weeks, I do enjoy seeing those faces too! Michigan Flygirl
- My parents have so much STUFF, my father is German and loves German food. I was lucky enough for my Grandmother to live long enough to teach me how to cook some of his favorite foods. My kids and I now make one or two dishes as his Christmas, Birthday or Father’s day presents. He loves it and I feel like I am passing something important to my children; family tradition and how to give gifts from the heart! Flybaby in Hilliard OH
- Gift certificates for local handyman or lawn care services. Or if you are handy yourself, a few days spent “fixing” the little things they identify that need some work. (Cleaning gutters? Painting doors? Scrubbing a fireplace? Unsticking that closet door?) Actually, now that I think of it, this might be a good gift for ANYBODY.
- When my great grandmother was in a nursing home with a broken hip, we made a videotape with the best bits from all the school plays, concerts, etc. she would have attended had she been able. She really loved this. Of course she made all her friends at the home watch it too, so I’m not sure how THEY all felt about watching a bunch of kids they didn’t know, but the kids were thrilled to get a letter from her (each one!) telling them how talented they were, etc.
- One of my grandfather’s favorite gifts was a soft new velux blanket. He had always slept under quilts and was amazed at how warm and soft this blanket was. It was something he took everywhere with him. flying (almost!) in Kansas
- I like to give a basket of bird feeding products. A finch feeder with seed, suet of different kinds, you can find many nice ideas at your local garden store. Put them in a basket add a big red bow and you have a beautiful gift.
- My siblings and I have already purchased four tickets to a concert our parents want to attend in Janauary. With the two extra tickets, they can invite another couple to go along (and maybe do the driving). Christmas shopping done early blesses our families! – Having fun in L.A. (Lower Alabama)
- Record an audio tape of each child reading favorite poems or stories or just talking to the grandparent. I did this 30 years ago for my Grandmother and was told she loved it – I now inherited the tape and it is very special. Chesapeake, VA FlyBaby
- I especially enjoy making jams and jellies, and my grandparents LOVE them!! I am trying to get over the feeling that a gift of jams just isn’t big enough, and I also am a little concerned about the cost of mailing them. So this year, I plan to send my grandparents a jar or two of jelly and a calling card. I know they will appreciate the card as they all live in neighboring states and are watching their costs when on the phone. I will also try to save costs in mailing by visiting during the holidays and hand-delivering the gifts (though I won’t be able to do this with all the grandparents).
- My children and I are making a fill-in-the-blank Control Journal for my mother. We are getting a pretty three-ring binder and inserting divider pages that are photo collages of all the grandchildren. On the computer, we made pages with entries for her to fill in the names of her utility companies and account numbers, safe deposit box number, bank accounts, doctors, hospital information, insurance policies and numbers, investments, names of her accountant, lawyer, hair stylist…in short, everything about her life in one central location. There are also a couple of pockets with the kids’ handprints in which to store important papers.In the long run, I am the one who will benefit most from this since I’m the one who will be handling any emergencies. And my kids won’t have a stressed out, sleepless mom on their hands like they did the last time my mother went to the hospital!
- My dear MIL, aged 86, was living with us for a few weeks in Michigan last November while her place at a Florida care facility was prepared. Her memory is failing and we’re not always sure she knows who we are when we talk to her on the phone long distance. So when both of my adult children were in town one weekend, we went to the department store and had a portrait taken of the five of us. I took an 11 x 14 print and cut it down to fit an 8 x 10 frame, so our faces are large and easy for her to see. This was her Christmas present (along with some wrapped hard candies that she likes to give to her “helpers”). Now we remind her she can look at this photo and see who she is talking to on the phone. Also, we and our kids each have a picture in which she is looking pretty in her old age, because before the appointment at the photographer, I “gave” her, my daughter and myself a professional make-up job at my beauty salon. (I learned that make-up for photography is not the same as for everyday!) Hope to do the same with MY mother this year.
- The best gift idea I’ve gotten this year came from a neighbor. He said he wanted to be closer to his grandma but time slipped by and before he knew it, months had passed between letters. So for her birthday he bought 52 postcards and told her he was giving her a subscription to the “Family News”. Every monday he writes a few lines and puts it in the mail. He said, “I’ve realized that I can write a postcard, address it and mail it in less than two minutes. If I can’t find two minutes a week for my grandma, that’s pretty sad.” I tried it with my grandma and it’s great. Before, I was always putting off writing until I had time to sit down and write a nice, long letter the “right” way–basically, never. Now we correspond every week with all the little details of my kids lives, etc. Even though it’s just a few lines, she loves it. It’s just part of my Monday routine–and it only takes two minutes! My grandma says it’s the best gift she’s gotten this year! – in El Sobrante, CA
- My children give their grandparents the same thing every year and they LOVE it. Grandpa loves to keep a stash of pistachios by his living room chair and he usually won’t buy them for himself. It is a doubly good gift when Grandpa shares them with the grandkids before bed! Grandma loves pretty wrapping paper, and the children love to pick out rolls of paper and ribbon for her – and they are even more excited when they receive a gift wrapped in paper THEY bought.
- My Christmas gift to my grandmother for about 8 years was a special New Years Eve Basket. I bought her her favorite bottle of wine, a really nice steak, a pound of shrimp (all her favorite things.) She loved New Years eve and really enjoyed the fancy meal.
- This is the Christmas gift we gave my MIL last year because she had recently moved into an apartment retirement village and doesn’t need one more thing to “put about”. I wrapped a placemat and napkin with a note asking her to join us for one meal a month for a year at our home. She has loved this and we have enjoyed entertaining her in our home. We even went to her apartment one Saturday morning and fixed homemade waffles and froze the leftovers for her to pop in her toaster later. We will probably give her the same gift again this year and I don’t think she will mind at all!!
- Whenever our extended family gets together, we always end up sitting around and laughing over the same classic family stories. We all tell them over and over and never get tired of them. This year I am asking each family member (about 20 in all) which story is their favorite. I’m writing them all in short (1-2 pages) story form and binding them into a book to give everyone for Christmas. I’m hoping it will be added to and passed down to future generations.
- Dear Flycrew, Last year, my grandmother complained that people always gave her pictures in frames, and she didn’t have places for all of them since she had moved to a smaller home. I gave her a photo album for Christmas with one picture of me and my parents in it — the rest was blank for her to put her favorite photos. I made sure the album pages would be easy for her arthritic hands to add pictures so that she could rotate which ones went in the frames and which ones were in the album. The album took up as much space as one of the frames while holding a lot more memories.I’ve also given her nice bath soaps and lotions. For her birthday, I made a donation in her name to the Arthritis Foundation. I made a certificate on my computer so that she could show all her friends what her granddaughter gave her. She says she doesn’t want any more STUFF, but she was very touched by my support of an organization that works to help people with a disease that has been ravaging her body for close to forty years. – Durham Glider
- Arrange a visit with a locksmith So often we have all lived in our homes so long…we do not know were all of the keys are to all of the locks on the doors. So one year I arranged for a visit from a locksmith to re-key all of my in-laws doors! So they got to throw out all of the unclaimed keys to their house… And now only have one key for every other door and deadbolt in their house.
- Lawn care! My grandmother can no longer physically mow her lawn and also cannot afford to pay someone to do it. We paid for a contract to have it done for an entire year. She was very grateful not to have to worry about her lawn. Remember to always ask for references!
- Hi, I am from Markham Ontario Canada, I am going to give my friends and my parents (Granny and Grandad) Tickets to the Markham Theatre. Maybe a gift certificate for dinner at a restraunt across the road called Milestones. There are shows ranging from Comedy to Classical Music, I still have to decide who gets what… They will enjoy a night out and not have any clutter. This is also something that would be nice to receive for myself… even for kids.. Thanks for the incentive to think about clutter free gifts now, this is the time to buy tickets too… not at the last minute like I leave some gifts for!!!
- For Grandparents – 2004 calendar with photos of Grandchildren ( Feb 2004 might have photos of Valentine’s Day 2003, Oct. 2004 may have Grandchildren in Halloween costumes this year, etc.) You may want to take a special picture on Thanksgiving for November 2004 page or picking out your Christmas tree to include on the December 2004 page. Great for Dad’s office too!
- I gave my grandparents a beautiful scrapbook with loose-leaf pages. They had downsized from their house to an apartment and there wasn’t enough space to have all the picture frames sitting around any more. I put most of the photos of their granddaughters and their great-grandsons in it, leaving just the most current ones out, framed. The scrapbook was on the coffee table in the living room and we all enjoyed flipping through it when we visited, looking at “how little” we used to be.
- Last Christmas, despite several Christmas dinner invitations from family and friends, my grandparents insisted on staying home for a quiet Christmas dinner. My Gran hadn’t been feeling well for several months and I knew that cooking was no longer her favourite thing to do.so I stuffed and cooked two Cornish Game hens, made mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, peas, turnip puff – all their Christmas dinner favourites, and wrapped them in foil containers that could be frozen and reheated in the oven.My grandparents live a couple of hours away from us so, a few days before Christmas, my three-and-a-half-year old daughter and I drove their gift – the dinner, and a couple of indoor plants I thought they’d like – up to them. We explained that this was their Christmas dinner if they didn’t want to cook.and that if they did want to cook their own Christmas dinner, then our gift was to be put in their freezer so they’d have a couple of tasty meals ready for those days when my Gran just didn’t feel like cooking. (Giant TV dinners, I told her!)
My gran – never a very emotional type – actually had tears in her eyes when I presented her with this gift. My daughter and I stayed for a couple of hours and had a beautiful visit..a visit that I now cherish in my memory as, on Jan. 11, my Gran unexpectedly died.
At my Gran’s funeral, many people I’d never before met came up and told me how pleased Gran had been with my gift – she’d told everyone about it, and said it was the most thoughtful and wonderful gift she’d had in her life.
It didn’t cost a lot (the Cornish game hens were on sale!), but I’m so glad that I decided on this gift instead of another blanket or dust collector ornament. My Gran viewed it as a gift of love and, in the 91/2 months since my grandmother died, my daughter (who is now 4) and I have often enjoyed talking about the time we took the “Christmas food” to her great-grandparents. Although we didn’t know at the time that it’d be our last visit with my grandmother, we’ve relived, many, many times, the pleasure, joy and surprise that my Gran expressed when she saw those foil trays.
I thought I’d share this as others might want to do something similar for their grandparents or other elderly people in their lives. They often find it challenging to cook every day, or don’t have the money or inclination to cook the “fancy” dinners that they used to enjoy with their families. — in Victoria, B.C., Canada