It’s hard to buy a good gift for someone who, say, lives in a nursing home. They don’t have room for more clutter, and if they won’t tell you what they really need (”Oh, honey! You don’t need to get me anything! Save your money!”), how are you going to give them something they’d really enjoy, something that won’t be a burden?
How about this sweet little L. L. Bean tree? It’s real balsam branches, but only 18 inches high. It can be put on a side table to make the whole room smell and look wonderful and Christmassy, but then it can be, um, tossed out afterwards. It’s less than the cost of most flower arrangements, and it’ll last longer.
Or a calendar. Pretty much everyone likes to see what day it is, yes? And a calendar gives you a new picture to decorate the wall every month. You can get one with folk art, birds, Victoriana, Thomas Kinkade, Mary Engelbreit, kittens, puppies, Porn for Women—well, you know your grandma better than I do.
How about a flock of ducks? A non-profit organization such as Heifer International can send ducks (or geese, or a llama, or bees, or a knitting basket) to a country badly in need of them, and send a gift card to your recipient letting them know about it. A charity such as St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital (which gives free medical care to children with cancer) has a gift catalog: 100% of the profits go to charity, but you still have something (playing cards in a case, for example, or a throw blanket, or padded hangers) to wrap. Charity on someone else’s behalf can be a little risky (Paul and I once received “a donation made in our name” to an organization we strongly object to), but if you know the recipient is fond of a particular organization, it’s a nice solution all around.
Places like Snapfish and Shutterfly have made it fairly easy to generate a gorgeous coffee-table-type photo book with your own photos. A photo mix of previous and current generations would make a beautiful and sentimental gift that wouldn’t take up much space.
A last idea, and one that worked well for my family in the past (if we are talking about an actual nursing home situation) is to call and speak to one of the nurses and ask what would be appreciated. The nurse may put a word in your ear that, for example, someone’s slippers are wearing through, or someone could put a lap blanket to good use, or someone could use a clock with larger numbers, or someone is not supposed to have sugar so please don’t send more cookies.
Oh, hey. This site is nominated for an “I Love This Site” Award at Divine Caroline. If you wouldn’t mind clicking through and voting for us, we would give you such a virtual smackeroo. I tried it out myself (the clicking through, not the smackerooing) and it is one of those sites that makes you register, which is of course a pain (like I can remember ANOTHER login/password), but it is mercifully quick and then you just click the button that says something like “takes you back to where you were” and there you are at the voting button, which you can then click.