Aging Parents: Mother’s Day 2013-Gift Ideas–thoughtful/delicious/exciting/pampering/practical

“I don’t want anything that takes up space or I have to dust.
I just want my children to be together and get along.”
74-year-old grandmother

Each year I ask aging mothers what they’d like for Mother’s Day. The above quote sounds unappreciative or perhaps an attempt at humor. I probed a bit. This grandmother means exactly what she said and elaborated. Saying she has everything she needs, she emphasizes she’s trying to get rid of–not acquire–stuff.

(5/2015–Update: Full Disclosure. This grandmother now, selectively, uses her iPad, but still handwrites all personal correspondence. Stationery is an always-welcome gift for her.)

To make the point: her adult children gave her an iPad at Christmas (she doesn’t like using computers, hers was 20-years-old). She knows her new email address is 2 words (her children signed her up); has no idea the word order nor whether they’re case- sensitive. What she wants most: having her children get along and time when the whole family (she’s widowed) can be together.  Hmmmm… do we remember to give Moms what they want and avoid imposing “hidden agenda” (something we want for them for a reason) gifts?

10 Mother’s Day Gifts–that don’t last forever: 
thoughtful/delicious/exciting/pampering, indulgent,/practical~
The presentation makes them even more special 

pretty boxes1.  A pretty box* (a Valentine’s suggestion this year), with card saying something like: “I’ve put loads of love in this box. When you need a little, just open.”  Possibly include a picture of yourself/ family/grandchildren/ pet/hearts/candies–you get the idea–in the box.

2.  Beautifully decorated little cupcakes from the bakery (or DIY). Sr. Advisor R loves the looks and the taste–just the right size for an older woman, she says.

3.  Selection of special teas or coffees

4.  Beautifully decorated box of favorite candy or R’s favorite candy (which is hand-picked by us) or Harbor Sweets‘ Sweet Sloops.

4.  LaDuree or other macaroons–eye-appealing, delicious, indulgent, extravagant

5.  Lottery tickets are exciting for some. Who doesn’t like to win! Gift them in decorative box or bag .

6.  Lotions/oils could be called pampering, depending on the cost. As body chemistry changes with age, they are a necessity. Older women’s skin is at risk for dryness, accentuated wrinkles etc. Moisturizing products to the rescue.

7.  Perfume is not in style in some places. However, the 74-year-old grandmother has a favorite perfume. It’s one gift she loves, she says–and can use it up. Check out Mom’s favorite perfume? It’s usually nicely packaged.

8.  Appointments at the hairdressers–or at beauty colleges (less expensive), leave women looking better and no doubt feeling better when they look in the mirror. Messy hair spoils appearance–no news there! Make arrangements, make a gift card. This gift  can lift an old mother’s (or younger one’s) spirits and get couch potatoes out of the house.

9.  Pedicures are a necessity when people are either no longer able to reach–or clearly see–their toe nails. Older women’s toes aren’t often visible to us (they don’t wear flip-flops). Have you checked your mother’s? Old nails can get thick, hard to cut and ugly. It’s recommended–especially for diabetics–that pedicures become routine around age 65.  What could seem like an indulgence for younger people, becomes a necessity at a certain age.

10. Movie script and restaurants’ gift certificates get Mom out of the house with a friend for entertainment or a meal. Moms say a break from cooking is a gift.

Most older people want to simplify and declutter; not add stuff. The above gifts get used up and can help mothers age happy and well. And doesn’t pretty packaging make them look special. *These boxes were $1.00 at–I think–Dollar Tree stores this week.

Pretty Packaging

Note: “Newsworthy” (top right). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff
–to help parents age well.

Related: Click “Great Gifts” tab under header at top.

Edible/Drinkable Valentine’s Day Gifts

I put my senior advisors to work for this post and we’ve come up with ideas for bringing pleasure to aging parents on Valentine’s Day. Today we feature Edibles and Drinkables. Makeables (things you make), and Nursing Home ideas follow.


Older people–aging parents and grandparents–welcome something special to please their taste buds, especially when they no longer drive, have less money for luxuries or just enjoy indulging. That’s why serious indulgences (things they probably wouldn’t buy for themselves) plus a few healthy indulgences make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts.


La Duree’s macaroons are the gold standard for macaroons, which have become popular in the US. Although very expensive, people in NY line up to buy them from Laduree’s small shop. Their varieties of fillings are delicious, amazingly capturing the essence of the chosen flavor, but are not appropriate for people who shouldn’t have sugar. These macaroons aren’t shipped in the US as far as I know. However Fauchon, a top French food retailer with a US presence, offers macaroons, and takes orders on-line. In addition, Bissinger’s, a “handcrafted chocolatier” in St. Louis, USA since 1853, makes French macaroons and offers on-line ordering. That said, you can find ordinary macaroons at local bakeries and French macaroons at French bakeries.

Check out Laduree and Bissinger’s websites.  Near the top left of Bissinger’s site, click “Valentine’s Day VIEW ALL,  for macaroons, cookies and candy.

Who doesn’t like home-made cookies! If you bake, so much the better. If not, buy bakery cookies or check out Trader Joe’s cookies if a store is near. Breakfast pastries and coffee cakes are additional suggestions–freshly baked or frozen.

Individual pies, small cakes, cupcakes, decorated for Valentine’s Day, are always a hit. And we know the value of eye appeal.


We know our parents’ favorites. Sr. Advisor R says, “I’m always glad when someone sends–or brings–me candy. I wouldn’t buy it for myself.”


Sr. Advisors think jams and jellies in little jars are welcome gifts for those living alone. There’s variety and they won’t get old as quickly. Makes sense, doesn’t it.


Fruit baskets which–if we make them–are easily (and less expensively) put together. Think red fruits (strawberries, apples), combined with purple and green grapes and possibly more exotic fruits (kiwis, mango), bananas, tangerines and/or a pineapple plus dried fruits and packages of nuts.  And chances are, elderly parents have plenty of baskets if they have been hospitalized within the last decade and still live in their homes.  Why not borrow one, if you don’t have your own supply.


Gifting bottles of flavored waters serves 2 purposes: older people often don’t drink enough (they don’t feel thirst as younger people do); they taste good and are good for hydration. Especially if parents take pills, we know drinking lots of water is important..

R thinks “hot chocolate mix in a can makes a wonderful, comfort food gift, especially for a man.”

A fine bottle of wine or liquor, case or 6-pack of beer (micro-brew?) are other options.

Tea (canisters or boxes)–always popular with tea drinkers. Starbuck’s VIA coffee packets are handy and pricey (Costco has packaged the Columbia coffee single servings in many VIA packets [can’t remember how many] for around $15-$16–no doubt a good buy). Older people may hesitate to buy these “luxuries” for themselves. Both tea bag packets and Via packets can be incorporated into a Valentine–so can gift cards. You’ll see easy instructions on Tuesday’s Valentine’s post, thanks to Martha Stewart.

“Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.