Design

Gift Guide #1: Your Nutty Kids Who Request Back Rubs Every Night and Never Turn Down a Cookie.

Opinel Kids Apron and Knife Kit

An apron and knife set for culinary adventures. (This kids’ cookbook is really cool, too.)

Purring Cat Toy

A toy cat that breathes and purrs. Anton got one last year and is still in LOVE.

Colorblocked Vest by Maisonette

Colorblocked vest to keep them warm all winter.

Sound Effects Machine

Sound effects machine for putting on plays, impressing guests, and getting all the laughs. (We got one five years ago and our kids still play with it.)

Shark slippers

Shark slippers, which are just slightly scary. (These are cute, too.)

Hair Love book

A few wonderful children’s books, including Hair Love, Small in the City and Jon Klassen’s hat box.

Stick on earrings

Stick-on earrings to feel FANCY!

Disney Memory game

Memory, a game that’s fun for both kids and adults.

Pop rocks candy

Pop rocks to blow their little minds.

Toby

Digital camera for kids

A children’s digital camera for the funniest photos from a kids’ perspective.

Magnetic U.S. map

A magnetic map of the U.S., for learning that’s really fun. (So exciting to point out relatives’ states.)

Van Leeuwen gift card

A gift card to your local ice cream or donut spot. Because there’s nothing more exciting (and grown up) than paying for yourself!

P.S. Last year’s kids gift guide, and the 2019 gift guide so far.

Note: If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We recommend only products we genuinely like. Thank you so much.

  1. silly lily says...

    I’ve already bought my grandchildren the sound machine. Now I no longer have to worry about them exhausting themselves making fart and burp noises all on their own.

  2. Laura C. says...

    Love everything! The vest is adorable and the sound effects machine is the perfect gift – for my little brother who is turning 38 in a couple of weeks *facepalm*

  3. Carla says...

    you always have the BEST gift guides (along with the most interesting blog content as well.) Thank you so much Cup of Jo team (esp Joanna!!)

    I am super excited about the sound effect machine for my 4 boys (ha), but once I received the tiny kid’s camera and tested it out – the picture quality was so terrible I don’t think it could even be used for the smallest print or even looking at it, really. Just a heads up for my review!

    Appreciate all you do and happy holidays!!

  4. Meghan says...

    So fun! But can we remove the ‘stick on earrings?’ Because – so bad for the environment :(((

  5. Kate says...

    My husband and I don’t have kids, but I got a sound effect machine as a gag gift a few years back and it’s a total crowd favorite from our friends’ kids. They will come over after being away a few months and beg us to bring it out because they always remember!

  6. Katie says...

    For awhile the only thing on my almost 5 year olds list was stick on earrings. She found them at the store the other day and it was almost as if all her recent requests were forgotten as she was reminded of the wonder of stickers for her ears 😂

  7. Lisa says...

    These are great ideas! Our son is obsessed with vehicles so we just get him cars and trucks.

    For gifts that have worked well for us – for 1 year olds there are stacking blocks by the French company Janod, that are great. My son got some for his first birthday and two years on he still plays with them. Another one (for 2+) is the Duplo airport set https://www.amazon.com/LEGO-DUPLO-Airport-Building-Blocks/dp/B075LX4WVN/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?adgrpid=56745534620&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2Zf3ua335QIVibWzCh2_DwkdEAAYASAAEgIBs_D_BwE&hvadid=274898579011&hvdev=m&hvlocphy=1015065&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=11632179499371454160&hvtargid=kwd-314728717616&hydadcr=12192_10197807&keywords=airport+duplo&qid=1574203619&sr=8-1
    My children spend ages playing with it

  8. I just had to post about the sound effects machine. Our 8-year old son’s aunt got him one for his birthday, and it is the gift that keeps on giving…and giving… and giving…. my favorite moment was when we were at our school’s Safe Halloween trick-or-treat event. Our boy had secreted the sound machine in his pocket to show a friend; my husband and I didn’t realize he had it with him. A female classmate, the loveliest little girl said, “A, you look so cute in your costume!” And our son responded with a long, resounding fart noise.

  9. Ooh yay! I’ve been anxiously awaiting your gift guide this year, and I think you knocked it out of the park with this one! My kids would LOVE this stuff. Thanks for the great ideas.

    Coincidentally, I was just thinking the other day about how I used to love those sticky earrings when I was little, and wondered if they were still around! :)

  10. Maja says...

    My boys love umbrellas. They each have a little kid-sized umbrella with a cute pattern (and one with a cool shark where the fin stands up on top of the umbrella:)) they got them at around 2 years and still love them now, at 4 and 6. They seem go be useful in rain and shine :) I

  11. Amanda says...

    Love all these suggestions! May I also recommend an at home projector that connects to your phone to stream movies? We are cable free and are going to use it to stream movies and shows off Hulu and Disney+ and it works fabulously! Because it’s so portable we can also use for outdoor movie nights this summer!

    • Rohini says...

      Which brand do you recommend?

  12. I got a sound machine with all the sounds from my hometown for Christmas last year (Hamburg, Germany). Not sure how many cities have this available but it was the perfect gift. It still cracks me up and I can play the sound of honking container ships whenever I”m homesick!!

  13. Leanne says...

    Last year, I put matching socks for the kids (now aged 4 & 6) and my hubby in their stockings. The one request for Christmas from them is that I get matching socks too – they loooove pulling out their “family rocket socks” or “family TRex socks” to wear together. Problem is, I’m having a hard time finding the same sock pattern in men, women, and kid sizes – it’s always 2 out of 3. Any suggestions for vendors (my faves have been Good Luck Sock and Sock it to Me)? Must ship to Canada. Thanks for your help, CoJ community!

    • Julie says...

      Do your kids like Sesame Street? Bombas did a run of socks and they have adult socks and kid socks for all the Sesame Street characters.

    • Miriam says...

      Happy Socks maybe?

  14. katie says...

    I asked my sister what my three year old nephew wanted for Christmas. She replied “trucks.” Then she said that she asked what his favorite book was and said “trucks.” That kid!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so cute :)

  15. Lauren says...

    I love these ideas! Shopping for kids is my favorite. I love getting books for children (this year Roald Dahl for my 8 year old, The Rabbit Listened, Sulwe & Tango Makes Three for younger ones). As mine have gotten a bit older I figured out that they love a mini flashlight too! It’s a go-to gift for me. There is something so fun and special about staying up late and reading in bed with a flashlight…so grown-up! Hopefully this promotes a love of reading too :)

    • CaraM says...

      Lauren, you are right on the money with the mini-flashlight! My 2.5 year old daughter is obsessed with hers….I wish I had known to buy one sooner! But it also sounds like a perfect gift for older kids that love to read. Why didn’t I think of that?

    • Leanne says...

      Headlamps are also a huge win for kiddos!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      headlamps and flashlights are such great ideas!

    • Jordan G says...

      So funny! My 3.5 year old boy/girl twins informed me they will be asking Santa for pink and red flashlights this year!

  16. Andrea says...

    Question for the AMAZING COJ community, I have a brand new little grandson, he’ll be 4 months at Christmas, can I get some cool suggestions for that age range ? Things are SO different from when my kids were little and I’d love to hear from you hip mommies what you’d suggest! Many thanks! I’ve already gotten 3 outfits and books which are very important to the new parents but would like something really unique! You guys are the best!

    • Hilary says...

      My babe was 5 months last Christmas and that was not an age where she was super interested in unwrapping things/presents/etc. We got her a book and a special Christmas ornament. We will give her an ornament every year that she can take with her when she has her own home and tree. My parents did this for me, and I really treasure those ornaments. It’s also fun to pick ornaments based on the kid’s interest/travels/etc. from that year. Other than that, is there something you could do for the parents? Cleaning service, diapers, meals or something more long-term for the babe like a contribution to a travel fund or college fund? I’d say a more popular parenting angle these days is minimalism and less “stuff” for kids.

      TL;DR Special ornaments, something helpful for the parents, money

    • Hilary says...

      Also adding: Any experiences you could do? Like pay for a zoo membership or a music class or something the family could do together?

    • Rose says...

      Hi Andrea! I love love love both the play Mat and the playlist from Lovevery. They’re beautiful, thoughtfulIy designed and my baby loves them. I’d be ecstatic to be gifted a playkit!

    • Rose says...

      My phone autocorrected “playlist” but I meant playkit, duh. I would also love to be gifted a “climbing triangle” for my baby!

    • Marisa says...

      My son was only 2 months old at his first Christmas and we got him the Pottery Barn blanket with his name and birthday on it. He just turned 5 and still sleeps with it every night <3

    • Kristian Olson says...

      I noticed kids don’t really play with items much at this age so I’d go with board books (A Picnic with Monet was well loved at that age and the first in a whole series of books like it). You might also try making a photo book with faces of loved ones (especially if they live farther away) for the baby. If you wanted something they play with- why not try a sensory box. Basically, a box with different things for them to touch/feel etc. They need not be expensive or even toys. Hair rollers, ribbons, spoons, etc. Babies at that stage are learning how about the world through their senses. Kiwi Crate does subscription boxes for kids at this age too.

      Happy first Christmas with the grandchild!

    • kax says...

      Those foam climbing blocks are amazing for little crawling babies and kids use them to build/climb until they’re old! highly recommend. And local zoo / childrens museum passes are such a gift to the parents and kids too.

    • Laura says...

      The “Indestructibles” books, teethers, and stacking cups were huge hits with my 4 month old last Christmas! Less is more for babies, they’re so content with just a few things. Setting up a 529 college fund like Dana mentioned is also a great idea. We did that for my son’s first birthday and loved receiving contributions to that vs more toys we didn’t need.

  17. k says...

    Love how “retro” these gifts are! Yesss to unplugged christmas gifts!
    Also… as the spouse of grown up constant back rub requester… I feel for your kids future partners LOL “mom used to always rub my back” ….

  18. Lynn says...

    Who wants the color block vest for themselves, raise their hands?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i think they’re actually coming out with a women’s version!

  19. Marianne says...

    The stick-on-earrings! They were the fanciest thing ever when I was in preschool. I can’t believe they still exist. What a nostalgia trip :-)

  20. Calla says...

    oh my gosh I used to have a toy cat that purred when you pet it! Except the mechanism wasn’t very sensitive so my parents always found me hitting it’s back violently to make it work

  21. jen says...

    Love this! Just ordered the camera fit my soon to be four year old. What a great idea! Thanks:)

  22. Laura G. says...

    i am SO excited that it’s gift guide season, and thanks for always helping me be the cool aunt with great gift ideas! i’ve already bought the noisemaker for my nephew’s birthday next week and i don’t care how much my brother hates me for it! =)

  23. K.Jozsa says...

    Yes!!! To the sound machine! This is one of our go to’s! Along with harmonicas, bongos, kazoos,& juggling balls. Also get one of those magnetic mustache pictures, carefully take the back off, replace it with their school picture& then put it back together!!! It’s amazing! They can put crazy mustache/ eyebrows on themselves 😂😂😂

    • Jordan G says...

      This is brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how cute!

  24. So what is the brand of the knife set in image #1? There is only a link to the cookbook but I’m more interested in the tools.
    Thanks!
    j.

  25. Jan says...

    Pop rocks are ALWAYS a hit!!!

  26. Alexis says...

    I LOVE THESE!
    Are kids’ back rubs a thing? My son requests back and foot rubs every night at bed time. ” ‘ssage my back! Now ‘ssage my feet! PLEEEEEASE!”

    • Veronica Aguirre says...

      Yes! Every night.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so so cute :)

    • Anonygirl says...

      Yes! I used to make my dad rub my back every night when I was little. Then I’d feign sleep so I could sneak into the bathroom to read (usually a Baby Sitters Club book).

  27. Eliza says...

    Sort of unrelated but the gift card had me thinking – how do you manage kids and money/allowances/gift cards. If you give your kid a gift card can they choose to use it how they realistically please? (Like getting three ice creams in a row! Or ordering something on eBay for $3 that has $25 shipping when you know they won’t care about it in a week?)

    • Sid says...

      So far, for both money and gift cards, I’ve tried to offer constructive suggestions (eg do you think you’ll really play with that enough to make it worth what you’re spending?) but in general, I think letting them spend it (or save it up) is the best way to teach money management. And the dangers of eating that much ice cream all at once :)

  28. lisa says...

    your gift guides are the best in the biz!

  29. Natalie Rose says...

    I am an avid reader of Cup of Jo and it brightens my day to read each post. Just want to say – I wish that you wouldn’t link to Amazon for so many of these gifts. There are a ton of wonderful small business that sell amazing items. I truly feel Amazon is killing small businesses, like bookstores, toy stores, etc. It is sad and putting creative individuals out of business. Please think again before you promote Amazon on your blog.

    • Alexis says...

      It’s probably an affiliate program. But for those concerned about throwing more money at Amazon like us, we can use them as ideas and seek them out at local stores ;)

    • agnes says...

      Many local stores don’t have a web site; these are ideas and I find the amazon comments from users really helpful. I never buy from amazon though, and nobody has to.

    • Mr says...

      Agreed x 1000!

    • Kirsten says...

      Very much agree with Natalie. While I’m sure that it is an affiliate program (and I know COJ needs revenue streams to operate), I’d hope that this one would be reconsidered – I find the number of Amazon links super disappointing generally in COJ posts. And I get that you don’t HAVE to buy it from Amazon, but linking there first means that people who aren’t actively avoiding it just buy from that link without even thinking about it. Linking to a small toy shop or other company at the very least makes people stop and think before just adding things to their Prime cart. It’s true that I don’t have to buy from the link, and don’t, but it can in fact be the other way around – you can see the ideas and go and find them on Amazon if you really want to read reviews or purchase that way.

    • t says...

      Many of the sellers on Amazon are small businesses and it is wonderful that they have a platform on which they can easily market their products.

    • Judi says...

      Yes. I agree good to support small businesses but many of these don’t ship internationally which is frustrating for out of the US readers.

    • Kate says...

      The flip side of this is that some of us live in areas where local stores aren’t a thing, or sell products that aren’t up to North American safety standards.

      Amazon means that I can order items for birthdays and holidays that are safer or more appropriate for my kids (hooray for a English-language books!), and that I can still participate in family gift exchanges when I am thousands of miles away.

      There is a place for both creative individuals running local businesses and Amazon!

    • Melanie says...

      Agreed…will use the ideas and shop locally. I wanted to buy some of the Little House in the Prairie books for my girls. They were inexpensive on Amazon, but I went to my local book store instead. I feel like small, local stores are dying. I’m so glad I went there. Chatted with some lovely people and enjoyed the festive vibes.

  30. Knocking it out of the park as always!!! My kids are going to love that sound effects machine (and reaaallly wishing I could replace our cat with that toy version…think they’d notice?!).

    I am so so grateful for all the time the COJ staff puts into these gift guides; they always save me during the holiday season! Listed some of the favorite gifts I’ve given my six kids on my little blog if any of you lovely people need more ideas.

    Thanks COJ community; you are the best! Can’t wait to read comments and see what everyone is recommending!

  31. Janey says...

    What lovely ideas! Makes me sad my boys are teenagers now….SO hard to find gifts for. Any ideas for 19, 14, 12 year old boys would be very gratefully received!
    I have ordered the cat for my grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. I think it will be calming for her so thank you for the idea

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, teenagers are tough! we’ll put them in our “hard to shop for” gift guide.

    • Erin G says...

      I see you. My boys just turned 14 and 16, and the gift giving is hard. I want to look into experience gifts for them, such as a private hour-long 1:1 session with a coach for my soccer player (?). Would love to tap the COJ hive mind for other male teen-appropriate gifts.

    • jade says...

      For me I think experiences are the best gifts (for anyone but especially teenagers). Redballoon is a great Aussie Website that might be a source of inspiration for you.

      Depending on budget of course – tickets to a show or concert, movie vouchers for adventures with friends or an experience like an escape room that they could perhaps do together. I know for my brothers some of their best received gifts were a (kitchen) knife making class (he was over 18 in Australia for this one), orienteering courses or paint balling.
      I know I would love to attend a woodworking or pottery or cooking class.

      Another Idea I love is a magazine subscription (the gift that keeps on giving). If they show an interest in a particular subject (i.e skating or surfing or football). My favourite’s are Frankie and Smith Journal (Aussie again) and Bravery (US) which I think is an incredible read for 5-12 year olds. It is always so exciting to receive a gift in the mail each month or so.

      Food is another idea – I love Jo’s suggestion above of the Ice Cream gift card for young kids but I would love that as an adult, maybe a gift card to a local spot or coffee shop could be another idea.

      I know as a teenager I was still most excited to receive the ‘Stocking Stuffer’ gifts – undies and funky socks, chocolate coins, trivia books, board/card games & stationery.

      Good Luck!

    • FGB says...

      As a mother of a teen, I second (or third, fourth) experience gifts. This year we got him a family overnight trip to see a comedian he loves, in years where money was much tighter, it might have been mini golfing and ice cream and we’d give the same gift to a friend, so we could all go together. My teenager is also big into backpacking so outdoor related gifts (hammock, knife, flint and steel) have also made great gifts! I also started long ago not going huge on holiday’s. I’d rather get one nice gift than a bunch of crap that’s going to be forgotten/broken/donated by next week.

    • K.Jozsa says...

      Well in our area I always go with gift cards to Jimmy John’s or the local Amish bakery!!! They absolutely love them lol!
      Boys+ food= ❤️

    • Valeria says...

      Last year I bought for my 12yo nephew three t-shirts from Threadless: great designs, you can find what’s best for anyone, from funny to scary to music themed. Others presents with various budget I’ve done to various teenagers in years are: backpack, picnic blanket, sleeping bag, binoculars for outdoor kids; custom designed rubber stamp (for books, for example), a magazine subscription for readers; and once I involved the whole family to give a vouchers booklet for activities to do with all of us: a movie night with uncle, love advices night with cousin, sleepover to any relative’s house… I can’t exactly remember what we wrote because it was years ago, but obviously you can personalize on the kid’s age, relationships and preferences.

    • Christine says...

      My teenaged daughter loves getting Spotify gift-cards, something about the ad-free version – she says it was the best gift ever. It is not cheap but I have found I can redeem some credit-card points for the gift-cards.

    • Julia says...

      Cash or gift card (movie theater or coffee shop is a good bet- someplace they can go with friends) or something absurd (a silly t shirt, a pack of beef jerky, a kazoo). Really, though, what they want is cash.

    • C says...

      Our 14 yr old made a list which is always helpful. It came w links too! Something we thought about too was a Bluetooth speaker for his room. You could even research some interesting teen podcasts and include them w the gift.

    • El says...

      NY Magazine’s The Strategist has good gift guides for tweens and teens that are super helfpul– they usually ask kids in that age range what they’re into, and the answers are always interesting/surprising and useful when I’m shopping for the teens in my family. (Although I think C of J has a better curation!)

    • Sarah says...

      This answer seems joyless and boring compared to all of the other thoughtful suggestions, but as a teacher of high schoolers, I have noticed that almost all of my students now have AirPods. So while it might not be the cutesy quirky gift we want them to love, it would probably be a hit if they don’t have them already. (Saw them at Costco recently, too.) When I was younger my parents surprised me with a phone for my room, not even another line, but literally just a phone that we could hook up in there, and it was life changing. I was overjoyed. In retrospect it spared them some of my loud talking in the kitchen, so maybe it was a greater good kind of gift :) Anyway, although I wish it were not so, technology has long been the way to teenage hearts.

  32. becky says...

    So many good ones!!! I loved stick on earrings as a kid!!! And stick on nails as an adult haha

  33. Amy says...

    Your gift guides are the best. So thoughtful and fun. I have kids 5, 3, and 1, plus lots of nieces and nephews to shop for, and so many of these would be a slam dunk. Other ideas that work for a range of ages/interests: high 5 magazine (highlights for the younger set), stickers, chapstick, gift card to local park district or museum (more for parents than the kids but so appreciated), a box for putting special things, and marble run.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “a box for putting special things” = yes! what is it about a secret little box that kids love so much?

  34. Liselotte says...

    Hurray gift guides! They make me so excited for the upcoming season :) Such a good list for kids, my daughter (6 yrs) is obsessed with stuffed animals, barking/walking/pooping toy dogs and whatnot and somehow I had never seen the perfect petzzz until now. Great suggestion, she will flip! Looking forward to the rest of the guides!

  35. Ceridwen says...

    These are all excellent ideas! I love the idea of a gift card for an ice cream shop. And the sound machine! Popping candy also great. Sometime it’s the littlest things that are the biggest winners with kids. We once wrapped up a block of Lindt chocolate and our then 8 year old was blown away!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “We once wrapped up a block of Lindt chocolate and our then 8 year old was blown away!” = so cute!!

  36. Angela says...

    Magical, wonderful gift ideas!

  37. alison says...

    omg! that kids digital camera is definitely *way* better than the first digital camera I got a million years ago in college.

  38. Samantha says...

    Just a note – while the search linked was for stick-on earrings, the specific example your link goes to does not appear to actually BE stick-on earrings but rather adhesive gems for crafting. There are tons of options if you redo the search, though!! Great idea: there will definitely be some going in my big girl’s (but not quite big enough for actual pierced ears) stocking.

  39. Sarah says...

    So exciting to point out relatives’ states. So sweet. So true.

  40. Nina says...

    I don’t have kids nor do I have to shop for any, but this list really has great ideas for exploring and learning new things.

  41. Caitie says...

    The best kids gift guide I’ve seen yet! For both my 3 year old daughter and 6 year old son. Well done!

  42. Nicole says...

    Oh, yay! I have been wanting to get my 2.5 year old his own camera, so I am excited to see that you have one listed. I think my son would also LOVE that sound machine, though I’m not sure I would haha.

    And thank you for publishing them on the early side so we have time to shop:)

  43. Oh my gosh, what a wonderful list! (And that book– my heart! So good.)

    Wanted to add an endorsement for that robot cat. We ran into one this summer at a library. My very active three year old stood and pet/ brushed/cooed to it for THIRTY MINUTES. The librarians and I could not believe it. Note: we have a real cat at home that does not get this much love.

  44. HW says...

    I love this list! We’ve been giving ice cream gift cards to our 4 year old for about a year, as well as to friends for birthdays. He gets really serious about placing his order and paying with his own “credit card”!
    I wanted to make a quick note about language: there are lots of kids all across the gender spectrum who would covet those stick-on earrings. Using “lady” in this case is bound to leave some of those kiddos out. I would suggest “fancy grownup” or another, more inclusive, term. Thanks, CoJ!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Great point, thank you!

    • Alissa M says...

      My 8-year-old twin cis boys have those exact stickers. I had no idea they were meant to be stick-on earrings but boy-howdy do they love them! They treasure them like they are real jewels.

    • Norsh says...

      Hi HW. I wanted to make a quick note about language: perhaps boys and girls can enjoy whatever they like without being pushed onto a “spectrum”. Boys can like ear rings and girls can like GI-Joes without there being any underlying issues :)

    • jane says...

      Re: Norsh’s comment: I agree that boys and girls can like what they like, and … trans kids exist! Gender nonconforming kids exist! and they might love stick-on jewels. :-)
      HW’s “gender spectrum” comment doesn’t refer to any issues–it refers to the healthy identity of the many kids who don’t like to be put in the category of “boy” or “girl”. It’s great to see gender-neutral suggestions for them, and boys, and girls, here on this website.

    • HW says...

      Hi Norsh,
      I appreciate your comment, but I think you’re mis-reading my use of the term “spectrum”. I’m guessing that you’re referring to the autism spectrum, when what I mean is the continuum from cis-gender to transgender and everything in between – for which there are too many terms to name! Non-binary, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming are just a few, and they all represent ways in which people define their own gender identity. My own self-identified boy loves to wear dresses, sparkly things and pink and purple, and I support all kids in expressing their identity in whatever way they choose! I hope that clears up the intent of my comment. Thanks for your input.

  45. Naomi says...

    We went to visit my mom in Italy when my daughter was 5 and my mom asked the local gelato place to make gift cards / coupons for her. My daughter got to go each day and “buy” her own gelato. The shop owner, the locals who were there daily and my daughter ALL loved it!

  46. Cate says...

    Love your gift guides but I really need ideas for “the greats” those really elderly relatives whose gift pile is always a bit sparse even though we treasure them! Can you help out?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Good question!! I always love photo books or photo magnets for grandparents but will think of more! Xo

    • Jen says...

      When my grandmother was quite elderly and in a nursing home, we struggled with gifts due to space available and rules around nothing glass. We often gave her plants, photo books, a new top, wrapped candy she could keep in a drawer and offer to her guests, etc. But her most requested item was always a new tube of lipstick. It always perked up her mood and helped her feel put together.

    • Elizabeth R says...

      Depends on their interests, of course, but books or a Netflix subscription and tips on how to use them. But, most importantly for the older crowd, is decluttering, getting out, and the gift of time. Tickets to a sporting event with you and some friends or family. Tickets to a museum, a concert, a speaker, a reading, a movie, a play. Depending on what activities they enjoy. Take them out to an event and a meal. Wrap up a handwritten voucher or the exact tickets. Trust me-it will be adored.

    • Julia says...

      All of the more elderly people have requested no more “stuff,” since their homes are bursting after decades! Some things that have been well received:
      – Food gifts, especially hard-to-find treats from their youth and really high quality/fancy versions of things they like, such as olive oil, spices, and chocolates
      – Alcohol, haha
      – DNA kits like 23 and me
      – Experiences, like afternoon high tea, a birding tour, or a painting en plein air class
      – Materials for any hobbies, like local alpaca yarn for a knitter
      – One time consuming but VERY well received gift was getting an ancestry account and doing the genealogy for a family member who is was very interested in family history, but too techphobic to use a computer
      Hope you have a lovely holiday with all your relatives!

    • Laura says...

      There is this great app called Neveo which allows a family (multiple users) to upload photos and captions and it mails a printed “newsletter” to our grandmother every month. She LOVES IT. Keeps her in the loop even without a smart phone.

    • Hilary says...

      We love to do food gifts (fancy treats or my husband made his grandma the Christmas dessert that they always used to make together) or pictures. When grandma was in a nursing home, we made a collage of family pictures and printed extras to rotate in to change it up.

    • Caitlin says...

      I love getting my grandparents things like flannel pajamas or fleece pajama pants. I hope they wear them and think someone loves me and wants me to feel cozy and warm.
      I’ll also do food gifts- homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows or gift cards to my grandfather’s favorite restaurant. I usually gift my grandfather homemade sauce with tomatoes from my garden and a fancy pasta. He gets a kick out of that. On my husband’s side, we’ve been trying to get his parents gifts that make their lives easier, such as a Roomba.

    • Turtle says...

      My mom always loved having a manicure when she was in assisted living in her older age. She loved it even more when a family member gave her the manicure. All that attention and gentle touch from someone who loved her made it so special. As for my dad, he loved anything home baked just for him. For his last birthday, Dec. 10, 2006, I made his birthday cake because Mom wasn’t up to it. He’d described his wonder at having a checkerboard cake when he was a little boy, so puzzled at how it had been done. He was so surprised when he cut into the cake I’d made and it was checkerboard. I’ll never forget his smile and joy in that moment.

    • Amy says...

      We’ve given a wifi-enabled digital photo frame that has its own email address. All the extended family can simply email photos to the email address with the caption as the subject line and presto! New photos for grandparents magically appear :) Obviously it’s suggested that you set it up for them when you give it to them.

    • Sarah says...

      My husband’s grandmothers (our only living ‘elderly’ relatives) love fancy hand creme. Consumable and useful in the winter! We always make sure to get some stuff from a local store that is pricier than anything they’d ever buy for themselves but doesn’t break our bank either. We also print pictures of our kids.

      If the GMAs are still around when our oldest starts reading and writing (another 3-4 years), we’re going to gift a set of cards and a strip of stamps to each so they can be ‘pen pals’. It helps keep in contact with family at a distance (who aren’t Face-Time adept) and helps develop reading/writing skills!

    • Wendy says...

      In the ‘experience’ category, I contracted with an accordion player on a ‘gig’ website to go to my mother-in-law’s care home and play for her on her birthday and it was a big hit. Music in whatever form would be a wonderful gift.

    • Calla says...

      My sister once found a copy of my grandparent’s college yearbook on ebay and it was a huge hit, as was a photo book of Detroit from the time they were growing up there.

      Also as they got older, little things that helped them manage like a cushion to carry around for sitting on hard benches or a memory foam pillow for my grandpa’s bad neck were received apprehensively but very well used. I find the elderly sometimes don’t buy themselves little comforts and if you can figure out a small thing that would make them feel better it’s very rewarding.

    • SB says...

      Depending on the tech-proficiency of your sweet elderly relative:

      When my grandmother was still alive we gave her a simple tablet and removed all apps from it except Skype. We then made icons of all of our accounts/faces on the screen (myself, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc) and we had a few tutorials on how to use it with her…

      And then! How beautiful and wonderful was it to be able to Skype with my 85 year old grandma from several time zones away. The gift of time and connection are so so valuable – to both sides.

      Other ideas: my grandmother loved to bake, but some items can be pricey (like macadamia nuts, for example) – we would surreptitiously check her supplies and stock up on those extra special items; cozy slippers/socks; each year my mother would buy her mother a new dressing gown – something she used daily and would appreciate; all of my grandparents loved music, but didn’t really know how/where to find the sounds of their youth – we would track down CDs and records of their favourite artists from their younger days and they would just marvel at being able to hear those songs again (and on repeat if they so chose!); and LOBSTER! haha – I’m from Maine and my grandparents from there loved lobster but a) it’s expensive and b) it’s a lot of work! We would always get them a few packages of fresh-frozen meat to stock them up, so they could treat themselves whenever they wanted throughout the year. Of course not everyone is a lobster fiend, but special/hard to find items like that show that you pay attention to what they like and also put in the effort/time to track it down!

      One other idea for elderly relatives or friends who may be in nursing homes, look into the policy on decorations for their rooms. They may not be able to have all of the same decor that they’re used to from home, but it makes such a difference to brighten up their space with some holiday cheer – especially homemade crafts or bringing in long-loved items from home.

    • C says...

      A few things our greats enjoyed:
      *Pie of the month. This meant spending time w them too as well as bringing pie!
      *creating a succulent planter for inside or outside. They bloom at some point and almost never die.
      *flower deliveries once a month.
      *soup of the month. Like the pie one but dinner or lunch.
      *bread subscription.
      *once a month or every other date wherever they want to go w a few special trips that you choose.

  47. Caitlin says...

    We got that toy cat for my grandmother. She lives in a nursing home and has Alzheimer’s. The cat brings her SO MUCH JOY! Even on a bad day, she still looks at it in wonder and happiness. That silly thing has been such a blessing! Highly recommend gifting it to a grandparent in this situation!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That’s beautiful, Caitlin.

  48. Kerry says...

    I got one of those toy cats for my grandmother when she was in a care home. They’re great for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients when they are no longer able to care for a pet. They easily sit on a lap and the sounds and movement can be very comforting for these folks.

  49. Claire says...

    I’m 24 now and can remember the THRILL of getting the stick on earrings from Fred Meyer, the grocery/everything store, when I was five or six. I’d rank the earrings in order of their shimmering perfection and then see if I could get multiple wears out of them. Tragically, I never could. They were truly my childhood dream. A few years later, my grandmother passed away and I inherited most of her earrings. In her 72 years, she’d never gotten her ears pierced and so I now could wear her dozens of pairs of clip on earrings. They were so much fun to play dress up or pretend to be a grown up with!

    Also, the first time I ever tried pop rocks was one of the most memorable days of my life. Our family friends were looking after us while my parents had a weekend away. Our friend curled my hair(!) (I felt so special!), we rented Wallace and Grommit from the video store, and we ate pop rocks curled up on the couch in the rain. Such a fun memory.

    • Sasha says...

      Just a comment: is it possible to get a map of North America that also includes Canadian provinces and Mexican states? We live in US, but have relatives in Canada, so it would be nice to point out to kids where their relatives live. Maybe some Canadians can weigh in? Everything that is sold here is so America- centric.

  50. Katie says...

    YES. Love these for my three. Bookmarking basically the whole list now.

  51. Allyson says...

    These are all such good suggestions! Really love a gift card for a little kid- they’ll feel so big and grown up!

  52. Meg Dodini says...

    This is PERFECT! I have a little 3 year old boy and i think he would love everything on this list. GOOD JOB!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so glad, meg!

  53. shira says...

    just a heads up – sadly milkmade is closed so wouldn’t be great to get a gift card for them!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh that’s so sad! we loved that place. thank you for the head’s up, i swapped it out!