22 DIY Gift Ideas for Seniors and Elderly

I tend to have a tough time deciding what to give my grandparents for Christmas. They either have what they need or are limited by their medical conditions as to what they can really keep and use. Therefore, I've come up with a list of gifts for seniors and elderly that are handmade, DIY, homemade. These gifts are meant not only to be personal and memorable, but also specifically tailored to the giftee based on their needs, values, and life experiences.

1. Knit or Crochet a Shawl or Afghan: It can be tough to stay warm as we age, so a shawl or afghan is a great gift as temperatures go down. For those who are religious, shawls might be called prayer shawls and can be given with a personal written prayer. To find patterns, check out Knitting Pattern Central, Crochet Pattern Central, or the fiber haven Ravelry.

2. Brain Puzzles: For those who like solving puzzles and working their brain, make your own word searches or crossword puzzles with Puzzle-Maker. There are many other free online options for making other puzzles, as well. If you would prefer to use pre-made puzzles, there are many available to print. Variety Puzzles offers crosswords, word searches, and cryptograms. Free Puzzles offers crosswords, word searches, Sudoku, scramblers, mazes, math, crypto logic, and dot-to-dot puzzles.

3. Toy, Doll, or Stuffed Animal: If your giftee has a favorite animal or a love for cute/pretty things, try knitting, crocheting, sewing, or using another method to make a doll, animal, or other toy. Knit and crochet patterns are available on Ravelry. Some other patterns are below:
Make These Toys by Heather Swain
Knitted Toys by Zoe Mellor
Sewn Toy Tales by Melanie Hurlston
Knitted Toy Tales by Laura Long
Sewn Fish Toy by The Fuzzy Square
Knitted Wild Animals by Sarah Keen
Knitting Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec, Brandi Simons

4. Scrapbook or Photo Album: Scrapbooks are a great way to share pictures in a creative, memorable way. Themed Scrapbook Idea is a great website to find scrapbook inspiration and tips from other scrapbookers. You can also put old photos into an album and look at it together. If there are too many pictures, try scanning them and making a slideshow or video.

5. Puzzle: Make a puzzle for your giftee to work on. Put a picture on cardboard and cut it out in puzzle-like pieces.

6. Garden Tote: Check out this great Quilted Garden Tote from Sew Mama Sew for the gardener giftee. You might also try a DIY wooden garden tote, Backyard Living graden tote, or GCDSpa Stuff garden tote.

7. Out on the Town: Take your giftee out for a day or evening to a favorite spot such as a park, personally special place for them, or to see a free concert.

8. Marmalade, Jam, Salsa: Make homemade marmalade or homemade jam with berries and salsa from the store or your garden. Some books to try: Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Pickling Recipes for the Modern Kitchen by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler and Making Marmalade - A Selection of Recipes and Articles.

9. Write a Song, Poem, or Story: Write something personal and meaningful for your giftee. It might be a piece of appreciation, gratitude, love, or memory. If you write a song, make sure to perform it! If you wrote something short, make sure to read it aloud!

10. Winter Wear: Make a pair of gloves or mittens, a hat, a scarf, or other warm winter wear to keep them well bundled when they leave home. Find knit and crochet patterns from Ravelry. If you prefer to sew, try Recycled Sweatshirt Mittens.

11. Cook or Bring a Meal: Especially for those in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, a homemade meal can be a wonderful gift. If there is an available kitchen area, start from scratch and socialize as you work. Otherwise, bring a ready-made meal to heat up or serve cold when you arrive.

12. Tasty Treats: If diet isn't an issue, try cooking up something yummy. Martha Stewart has a great Nut Brittle recipe. Other great treats include Go Make Me's gingerbread recipe, Skip to My Lou's homemade fudgePecan & Salted Caramel Candies by King Arthur Flour, and Ghirardelli's English Toffee recipe. You might also look for these books at your local library: Hershey's Recipe Collection Cookbook"Pop Bakery; 25 Recipes for Delicious Little Cakes on Sticks", and Reindeer Crunch and Other Christmas Recipes by Kristi Johnson.

13. Service: Offer your services by helping your giftee with emails, writing holiday letters, replying to phone calls and mail, or cleaning their living space.

14. Draft Dodger: Sew up a draft dodger for the chilly door or window to keep your giftee's living space a bit warmer. Check out Red Heart's draft dodger or instructions or wikiHow. If you're looking for a quick solutions, websites recommend covering a pool noodle with fabric or sewing and stuffing a scarf.

15. Bookmarks: Make a personal bookmark for your reader giftee based on their interests, values, name, favorite things, or favorite colors.

16. Genealogy: If your gift is for a grandparent, learn a little about your genealogy. Write biographies for past relatives or draw/paint a family tree.

17. Greeting Cards: Make a special greeting card with a personal, meaningful message written inside. A set of handmade greeting cards is also the perfect gift for the writer or a giftee who enjoys sending holiday and thank you cards. If your giftee is not always able to go out to purchase greeting cards for birthdays and other holidays, cards tailored to those events could be a much-appreciated gift.

18. Totes and Lined Boxes: Collections, magazines, and apparel, among other things, certainly tend to pile up over time. For the giftee who has piles and no place to put them, make a bag or lined boxes for attractive, personal storage. Check out DIY fabric covered boxes, make your own decorative storage bins, and DIY bins.

19. Ornaments: Spend some quality time making an ornament or set of ornaments. This is a wonderfully flexible gift because you can choose your medium and kind of ornament based on what you know about your giftee.

20. Socks or Slippers: Knit or crochet a pair of socks or slippers to keep your giftee's feet a little warmer. While it is far easier to buy these items from the store, handmade items are considerably warmer, which will likely be appreciated by an older giftee. Look for patterns at Ravelry.

21. Read Aloud: Even if your giftee likes to read on his or her own, listening to you will be much more special! Have your giftee select a book or bring a favorite for you to read aloud. Arrange regular sittings to read the book. Make sure to have some favorite beverages on hand!

22. Gifts that Give Back: Make small items to donate such a sewn child or animal toys, children's apparel, winter wear, chemo caps, or animal treats. Donate these in honor of you giftee and write a nice letter to explain the organization and what they do. If you are looking for places to donate, investigate local organizations or check out the Crafting for Charity directory.

I would love to hear what ideas you have! Happy crafting!

Post a Comment


  1. This post is so great! So perfectly awesome!


  2. Wonderful post! As a therapist who works with the elderly, I would add a few ideas:
    -If you make slippers, put some lines of puffy paint on the bottom to make them non-skid and help reduce the risk of your loved one falling.
    -Current family photos, framed or loose, are a great option. If your loved one is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, picture display room might be limited, so maybe find a frame that is easy to switch. Or, track down and make copies of old family photos.
    -Drink mixes go over very well, and there are plenty of options for making them low fat or sugar free. Search for chai, latte mix, wassail, or Russian tea.
    -Utilitarian items, such as homemade dishtowels or scrubbers, and consumable items, such as baked goods or homemade soap, are often more appreciated by older adults who are living in small apartments or who are trying to minimize clutter. My grandmother would be stressed if I gave her a kitschy figurine, because she wouldn't know where to put it, so I try to make her things like applesauce or jam. It helps to know the person and their preferences!

    1. Thanks for the great tips and ideas, Anonymous!!

  3. Wow,what an extraordinary list,such a variety of ideas to browse.Immaculate as Christmas is approaching,we're unquestionably making some handcrafted gifts in the not so distant future,such a great deal more personal.Thank you to such an extent.I will attempt to get to that you posted.Cheers!
    ~Juanita Hayes.

  4. The best gift you can give is your time. Initiate stories by asking questions like"What is the happiest time you had when you were a child? or Who was your first girlfriend/boyfriend? What childhood illness rocked your socks? Your first job? Your first car?" Be patient and listen..They do want to hear about you but, it keeps them happy to tell stories about younger times. also, make them feel needed. If there is anything they can do for you no matter how trivial, let them. Be prepared that the action will be embellished when they tell it to others. Sometimes it makes you seem likje a real leech but, please let them do it and don't get offended or defensive. Just smile and remember you are making them feel needed. A nice hug and kiss on the cheek or even holding hands is an excellent gift. The very best is your company...remember this please.