Design a Gift Experience that Crosses Generations  

As people age, they tend to realize all the stuff they have. Stacked in the cupboards, stashed in the attic, or shoved in the basement, the material possessions of a lifetime tend to become overwhelming. A Christmas present for a person with a house full of possessions might seem silly and it can lack the meaning and emotional investment of a shared experience. This year, blend nostalgia and modern media to craft a gift of time and togetherness for your aging family members. Consider these creative ideas instead:



Movie Time

Find out your senior’s favorite movie from his or her school days or early adulthood. Make arrangements to rent or stream the vintage flick on a large screen. Gather family and friends and ask your older person about his or her life at the time the movie was made. Make sweets or popcorn and turn the lights down for a watch party. Be prepared to adjust the volume so everyone can hear well. Even though the movie will have a slower pace and fewer special effects than modern cinema, encourage young people to soak up the old-time experience. They will learn something new!


Vintage TV

Old-time Westerns, Lawrence Welk, or early episodes of soap operas can all be found online or at the library. Choose a couple of TV shows that will bring back memories for your person, and for the people who grew up listening to them as the soundtrack of their younger lives. The sights and sounds of these old shows will be a catalyst for conversation. Serve snacks, sandwiches, or sweets from that bygone era.


Custom Playlists

Design a custom playlist of songs that were popular or appreciated by your older person when he or she was 18-25 years old. Dance hall tunes, patriotic songs, or even folk songs in a family’s first language can all be part of the collection. Mothers will like to hear the lullabies they used to sing to their babies. Load the songs to a phone, iPod, or tablet so you can play them for your older person. Sometimes soft earphones work well, but you may want to cast the music to your speakers so everyone can enjoy the experience. Be respectful and don’t talk over the songs so your older person can soak up the experience.  Stop between songs to talk about what you just heard or what memories were conjured up. Play DJ and introduce the next song and artist.


Arrange ahead of time to have family members create short videos for your older person. Ask them all the same question or change it up, depending on who is participating. For example, “Tell Grandma what you loved about visiting her on the farm.” Or ask littler kids to talk about what they are enjoying at school or in their sports activities. Upload the videos to YouTube and curate the collection so you can show your person all his or her customized videograms. It helps to do a bit of light editing to combine the videos into one presentation.

Your special effort to share a new-old experience, combined with the wonder of technology, will surely fascinate your special person. Invest in being present, not buying presents, and your gift will be more valuable than gold.