Christmas gifts for our parents
Buying presents for our parents that they’ll really appreciate can get difficult. Do you go for the tried and trusted or take a risk with something new?
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We’ve put together a few ideas that are available currently (November 2013). If we’ve tried them or they’ve been recommended by our readers, we’ll tell you what we think. If there’s no review, we haven’t tested it, but we like the thought.
Making life easier
Reading is an essential pastime for most of our parents’ generation. For many though it gets harder to read standard size fonts but harder to hold large books. The e-book reader has revolutionised reading and if your parent can handle new technology it could be the answer. Lightweight and easy to personalise for font size, but difficult to learn for anyone who doesn’t “do” technology or has short-term memory loss. We love Kindle Paperwhite because we found we could read it in a darkened hospital ward without putting the light on.
Do you have a parent who can never find their specs? We know people who have bought attractive multi-coloured spectacle frames for a parent with dementia. Have a look at the Ronit Furst range on Facebook.
The travel version of the Mighty Mug is billed as a mug that won’t fall over has potential to be useful for anyone who’s prone to knock things over. It costs £19.99 from Debenhams, Amazon, other online sites and cookshops.
Turn a necessity into something more beautiful. We’ve seen some gorgeous hand-decorated walking sticks, transformed from dull brown to a field of daisies. Try it yourself with crafting acrylic paints (DecoArt paints are available from Hobby Craft, Amazon and eBay) or try a local craft market for someone to commission.
Loss of driving confidence is something many older people face. If your parents are worrying about getting out on the road, a few driving booster lessons with an expert could be the answer, says our driving coach, and they’d offer a trusted and independent view on when it’s time to start taking taxis instead.
Food and drink
If you only have one glass of wine a day it’s difficult to keep the bottle fresh despite all the tools on the market. We’ve found that giving a selection of small bottles to a lone parent works very well and you can find them in most supermarkets. Why not add a couple to a home-made hamper or basket that could be used for some indoor plants afterwards?
If you’d like to give a blast from the past, it turns out that Blue Nun is still available and now in a gold bubbly version. It’s available online at www.drinksdirect.co.uk or www.thedrinksshop.com for full-sized bottles and mini bottles are available at Asda.
Into that hamper could go some cakes and pies. If you don’t make them yourself there are plenty of experts who’ll send you some in the post. Award-winning Yorkshire bakery Lottie Shaw’s is just one, and now has an online shop offering traditional gifts such as Yorkshire Parkin, Flapjack and Millionaire’s Shortbread, as well as mince pies and Christmas cake.
How about some Nespresso-style coffee to pop in the hamper? Our team has tried some of the BigCupLittleCup range and thought they’d be enjoyed by someone with a sweet tooth. Discovery packs start at £50.
If your parent enjoys luxury chocolate or other delicacies, there are plenty of indulgent club memberships around that will send subscribers a monthly taster of something new. The Kopi coffee club sends out a different coffee every month, with prices starting at £27 for three months.
If you’re not going to be together at holiday time a postal delivery of something rather lovely could be a good idea. Sent With a Loving Kiss offers hand-made British chocolates starting at £20.
Toys and games (and why not!)
Quiz games are the staple of afternoon television and Pointless is a gentle post-Countdown quiz to round off the day. The opposite of Family Fortunes, you’re looking for the least popular answer, Pointless is a great quick-thinking game. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing it with family and friends and it can easily be played in teams after Christmas dinner.
Scrabble on speed, Bananagrams is a game that we have enjoyed so much we’ve given it to all the nephews and nieces for birthday presents. It’s competitive, so not ideal if some players need more time to think than others, but hugely enjoyable for anyone who hates waiting for other people to take their turn.
Something for the garden
Most gardeners do seem to have everything they need or want in the way of tools and plants by the time they hit their 70s. Something different in the clothing line might go down well – take a look at the Genus performance range of gardenwear for some inspiration.
Garden notebooks to keep track of jobs to do are always useful and the Dodo Book of Garden Cuttings is amusing at the same time.
One of our members tells us the best present she ever bought her parents was a rose named in their honour. There are numerous companies offering this service and the Royal Horticultural Society gives advice.
Bringing back memories of earlier years is proving to be very popular in dementia care. Memory keepers could be a great gift for anyone. Here are a few ideas that have passed our way.
Family Tree Maker software has been around for 20 years and in its 2014 edition you can build family trees, record memories and organise photo, while adding videos and audio clips. Cost is £39.99.
Photo albums and scrapbooks are a great way to keep memories alive and learn the history of our parents. There are many companies around able to create hard copy photo albums from your digital prints. Or how about handing over your photos to a designer to create a memory print?
Another idea is to create notebooks using favourite photographs. You can find these at Darling & Darling, as well as Victorian-style personalised silhouettes of the grandchildren.
If your parent has a great story to tell and money is no object, you could consider the Lifebook, which is a professionally written and published biography created through interviews.
There are some interesting ideas out there for keeping bodily parts warm in dropping temperatures. For a few ideas to help those with mobility issues, pain or just feeling the cold, Lloyds Pharmacy Better Life range includes heated foot warmers (with or without shiatsu massage), capes, gloves and cushions. Standard heated blankets are clearly just so last decade!
There are many websites offering unusual or personalised gifts for people of all ages. One of the leaders is Not on the High Street which provides a marketplace for high-quality gifts made by small businesses.
According to a recent report ageing brains keep sharp for longer if they’re challenged to learn something new. So it may be time to ditch the crossword books as presents and look for an inspiring course that a parent might enjoy.
One for everyone on the day
When the family wants to watch television together on high days and holidays, volume control can become an issue. Sometimes sub-titles don’t provide the answer. We tried the Geemarc CL4700 rather stylish wireless headphones that can link with the television and help the hard of hearing. Once they’re set up they are pretty easy to use and recharge and they’re comfortable to wear. Impressively we could hear the television with or without using hearing aids as well. The headphones work with other devices such as MP3s but you have to swap the plug of the base unit around from device to device. Available from Amazon, Hearing Direct and other retailers.
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