Hanukkah holiday gift guide for seniors


As Hanukkah draws near and we find ourselves daydreaming about Bubbe’s latkes, we know it’s also time to begin shopping.


Sometimes the older loved ones in your life are easy to overlook – after all, they have everything, right? But I can tell you from personal experience working with the elderly that even a small gift will mean more to them than you can imagine. So get your children one fewer Shopkins, and spend a few minutes choosing a gift for Grandma, Grandpa and other beloved elderly relatives and friends.

Here are a few gifts some of my elderly clients would love – and maybe someone you know would love them too.  

Electric menorah: Hanukkah centers around the nightly lighting of the hanukkiot, or menorah, to celebrate the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Sure, Mom probably has a cabinet full of gorgeous, sentimental hanukkiah. But this year, why not shift to a safer option without compromising style? For some, having an open flame is fine; for others, it creates an unneeded x factor.

Find many styles to choose from at traditionsjewishgifts.com.

Holiday-themed clothes:

The newest Jew on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan, recently set the record straight. When asked where she was on Christmas, she replied: “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.” So a “Hanukkah Christmas” sweatshirt showing a Chinese takeout carton might be just the thing for Her Honor – and all the VIPs in your family.  And we suspect that even RBG would approve of Hanukkah togs.

Check Amazon.com for an array of Hanukkah-themed apparel.

Kosher gift basket: Who doesn’t love a nosh? A favorite gift of mine during the Hanukkah season, to both send and receive, is a Kosher gift basket. Filled with anything from pastries and chocolates to challah and fresh fruit, sending a thoughtful gift basket signals your love, appreciation … and willingness to overlook calories in the name of a joyous holiday season.

Try Challahconnection.com.

Personalized calendars:

When someone is feeling overwhelmed or lonely, I often counsel them to look at a calendar. What’s ahead to look forward to? Planning is a great way to re-focus and prioritize in a healthy and productive way, and a custom calendar is an extra-great way to do this.

Besides, all those photos of the grandkids are bound to bring a smile. You can even take it to the next level by adding in the birthdays and anniversaries of family members. It’s also a helpful tool for those working on memory care.

Search Amazon.com for “Personalized Photo Calendar.”

DIY customized activities basket: A great way to keep the mind young is stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles and brain teasers. Buy an assortment of games Bubbe or Zayde will love, and curate a customized basket or bundle. Some ideas: Turn a beloved family photo into a jigsaw puzzle, Jewish-focused trivia, Hanukkah bingo and a custom deck of playing cards.

“Jerusalem: A Cookbook”:

This gorgeous cookbook features 120 recipes and vibrant photos from Jerusalem-born chefs Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli, and Sami Tamimi, a Palestinian, documenting their unique cross-cultural takes on everything from creative and delicious vegetable dishes to sweet desserts. Even if your loved one is not cooking much these days, it’s a beautiful coffee-table book to flip through – and perhaps you can combine it with an offer to cook one of the ambitious recipes together.

Search for “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” at Amazon.com.

You’ve got mail!: Most everyone loves something fresh to flip through – that’s why we don’t immediately throw out those Ikea catalogues even when we don’t need a thing.

Buy your elderly loved ones a magazine subscription on a topic they’re interested in, whether it’s gardening, the news, celebrity gossip or something else. According to a study in Neurology, reading daily reduces the rate of cognitive decline in dementia patients.

NAOMI FINK COTRONE runs the Right at Home of Rhode Island agency, which provides care to elderly and disabled adults throughout Rhode Island. She’s currently busy shopping for gifts for her beloved nieces and nephews.