The Best Clutter Free Gifts That Grandparents Love!

colorful hot air balloons floating in sky

As a serial declutter-er I got to thinking do people really want to receive more stuff at gift giving time? As wonderful as it is when a generous person gives a thoughtful gift, it is not necessarily what is always appreciated.

I got to wondering if people really want this stuff. So I set out to do some research. Here are my findings.


I started asking older adults questions about gifts they like to receive. Most folks of a particular age say they have too much stuff and what their favorite thing to receive would be more phone calls and visits from their children and family members.

Receiving a physical gift was not an answer I heard from anyone. Of course some smarty pants replied a million bucks would make a lovely gift.


My priorities are very different today than they were before I became an older person. Like others I have shifted towards simplifying my life and having less stuff. Having lots of stuff around collecting dust was never really my thing. Now though unless a thing is functional or beautiful I don’t want it.

I much prefer to be surrounded by empty space and puppies than tons of stuff that needs to be dusted and maintained.

No no! Do not run out and buy grandma and grandpa a puppy! Unless they have genuinely expressed a big yearning for a puppy I always advocate not giving pets as gifts. As you know puppies are a big life time commitment.

It’s not uncommon for mature, well-established, often retired individuals to feel overwhelmed by clutter. Thoughts of burdening their families with more stuff when they are gone is very worrisome to many senior citizens.

Gifts Should Enhance Not Burden Recipient

When it comes to gift-giving, it’s essential to keep these considerations in mind and opt for presents that enhance the life of your gift recipient’s quality of life. Adding more of a burden is not a gift.

This topic was fun to research, in part because I love giving great gifts! I found some really cool alternatives to physical possessions and have provided some great gift ideas that won’t contribute to clutter.

The Burden of Clutter

As I said most older folks want company, not more stuff to take care of! They have spent a life time taking care of other people and stuff! 

Research clearly shows us the emotional toll cluttered environments have on folks. I have heard from more than one parent a great gift would be to have her children help her sort through years of accumulated stuff, take what they want and help to get rid of the rest.

Giving a parent an expensive something or other is not necessarily wanted by the folks I spoke to. Questioning your motives when gift giving is always a good idea. Questioning motives for gift giving, though, is a whole other article for another day!

The bottom line of what I learned is the overall sentiment of people of a certain age is that they desire to simplify and declutter their lives. Grandparents want to spend time with loved ones. 

In the spirit of honoring the wishes of our older citizens lets take a look at some other unique gifts to dazzle your gift recipients with!

Make Memories for Gifts

Creating memories will never be out of style! As an adult if you have not taken a fun class with your mom or dad you are missing out! I took painting classes with my mom. Not sure who had more fun, me or my mom! How about a wood carving class with Mom or Dad.

|n my town a friend of mine, Paul Kukstis has had a wood carving class since he opened up shop about a 150 years ago. The ongoing carving classes are always filled! Wood carving is only 1 of many many experiences you can enjoy with your loved one.

whale watch!

Experiential gifts promote well-being. I cannot imagine a better gift for a retired parent than to meet their son or daughter once a week at a fun class. 

Staying with the wood carving class theme for another minute, at some point, you will leave class with a perfectly wonderful handmade wood carving. I have stopped in and observed Paul’s students carving huge wood eagle signs, small house numbers for their homes, cool seagull sculptures and everything in between!  

Experiential gifts replace mounds of everyday clutter with one beautiful memory.

Thoughtful Gifts for Older Individuals

With the input of others I have compiled some favorite clutter-free gift ideas for people that hate stuff. This was fun!

For the Adventurous!

There is a popular belief elderly people can be more on the delicate side. Not the seniors I know!

One of the neatest gifts I actually gave myself was an afternoon of racing on an F1 kart track! This was one of the most fun things I ever did in my life! Check out these ideas for Driving Experiences for your adventurous friend.

me F1 racing!

There are many great adventurous clutter-free gift giving ideas for the daring older person in your life.

Hot air balloon rides, horse back riding, afternoon paddle boarding are ideas.

For the less daring rent one of the little carts, many cities are now offering, and cruise around the city blocks. What a fun way to visit the city!

Wine tastings for the wine lover in your life is a great gift!

older ladies laughing and painting at easel in art class


If an art class is more your thing, these are easy to find locally with a quick search of art centers in your area. Cooking classes are popular too.

How about buying a block of yoga classes for your Grandma? She may already attend yoga classes. These classes always fill at senior centers. For folks with limited mobility chair yoga is extremely popular. So are dance and art classes. Some seniors love music lessons.

Their is no limit when giving online classes to your gift recipient. If your person has a hobby, any class that falls under that umbrella will be welcome.

Some older people are less tech savvy and may feel intimidated at the thought of subscription streaming services (e.g., streaming, book clubs, magazines) You could help set up your people with a paid subscription and tutorial.

Keep instruction very simple for the non techy in your life. Make a video for them to follow when you are not there or write out instructions.

Self Care

I am told many folks would love Spa days with their loved one.

If this is the case you can choose between massage, manicures, pedicures plus. Better yet, don’t choose, buy the whole experience as a gift!

eifel tower


Some folks love to travel!

How about a cruise? I am reading Disney cruises are rated high in satisfaction. Some ships sail right of New York!

Imagine forgoing all the tchotchkes and not so memorable gifts and save your pennies to take your loved one for one special trip. These memories would last forever!

OOOH! How about an African Safari!

A jeep with passengers on safari and a sighting of a cub

If a safari is a bit too much how about an afternoon at a museum in your city. Buy tickets in advance and arrange for a limo to pick up your party!

Not a museum fan? Order a limo and pick up your friend for a night on the town! Dinner, theatre , dancing?


When friends ask what I would like for a gift I tell them their friendship is all I need. When an answer is required I tell them a donation to my favorite charities which happen to be our local food pantry and any animal organization.

So many older folks worry about what will happen to all the old pictures when they are gone. A great gift for an older relative is to spend time going through old family photos. Your person will love and greatly appreciate help sorting through these memories.

You will have lots of laughs too! You can either digitize pics or help a grandparent make photo albums or a scrapbook.

Consumable Gifts

What older person in your life would not love an elegant delish dinner delivered to their door! Make it something special your person will love, 
Some older folks may love to invite some friends over but may find it difficult to arrange food. Have some fun foods delivered!

If your feel like your senior still likes to spend time in the kitchen have the boxed meals delivered to their home. All the ingredients to make a meal are fresh and measured to provide a healthy dinner. Hello Fresh offers this service along with many others.

food delivery person ringing doorbell of home

Practical Help

Plenty of retired people would love help cleaning and landscaping. Buying snow removal and handyman services are very practical gifts. Maybe a fresh coat of paint would be a welcomed gift.

Medication and food are often scrimped on by financially insecure people. I notice some older folks do not seem to eat a balanced diet. Is this due to lack of appetite or money. Maybe some people are just tired of preparing food.

A gift card to the grocery market your loved visits may be a perfect way to honor a friend or family member. Most food stores have really nice prepared foods, all sorts of provisions including a pharmacy.

If your loved one is home bound, a delivery service such as Instacart is easy to arrange today, even if the store does not offer delivery service. Many stores though do deliver groceries.

pic of orange gift card

Gift Cards

There are literally hundreds of gift cards to easily purchase today. Maybe  the best gifts for people on your list is cash. With inflation as it is today this is not a thoughtless gift, especially if you know your gift recipient is feeling cash strapped.

​How about a gift certificate where your Mom gets her hair cut?

I love sending Grandma’s Chicken Soup to friends when they are feeling under the weather. Another fun way to surprise a friend is to  send an Edible Arrangements. New customers usually get a 15% discount. There are so many food gifts to send for special occasions!

Do you have a person on your gift list that may have troubled vision and would enjoy an audible book subscription? This is another great option!

What is Your Senior Passionate About?

Some retired folks are avid gardeners! Elderly parents buy gardening supplies. Big box stores as well as local gardening centers offer gift cards.

You can arrange a fresh floral bouquet to be delivered once a month either from a local flower shop or a a national chain of florists!

Surely you have a knitter in your circle. Good yarn is expensive and a knitter would love a gift card from a nice yarn shop! I love shopping at Webbs Yarn!

Some of you have golfers in your life. The possibilities here are endless! How about a personalized golf ball for the golfer that has everything?


A coupon book from the local movie theatre will allow your loved one to invite a guest to join. You could present a coupon book in a little gift bag filled with sweet movie munchies! How fun!

Remember your avid reader will love a magazine subscription, maybe a kindle and a gift card loaded to purchase their favorite reads. Most library networks are synced with Kindle for easy book and magazine borrowing.

The list of clutter-free gift ideas is limited only by your imagination.

What Not to Give

I will start you off with a simple list of gifts not to give.

Generic knick-knacks and decorative items 
Excessive clothing or accessories 
High-maintenance houseplants 
Technology gadgets without practical use 
Large, bulky furniture or home decor 
Overly sentimental items with limited utility

Tips for Choosing the Right Experience

Consider your loved ones interests and hobbies. Do not give an introvert book worm a gift certificate for drag racing would be my suggestion.

Don’t forget to factor in any physical limitations your folks may have. Mountain climbing or a spinning class for a person riddled with arthritis is probably not a good bet. You knew that though!

There is a whole population of folks too that prefer solitude to social interaction. This needs to be a consideration. Edible foods are perfect for these folks. If your quiet person has hobbies explore what these gifts may be. Artists can always use some new canvases, knitters yarn and gardeners seeds.

Don’t laugh when I tell you many older folks love to color in coloring books. No, not the coloring books you used as a child. My friend and prolific artist Marcia Ballou makes neat coloring books. Click here for some of Marcia’s free downloads!

Don’t forget to add a nice set of colored pens or pencils to your gift bag!

The Joy of Giving Meaningful Experiences

I love to feel like I found the perfect gift for someone! I feel like I am receiving the gift when I see the happiness of the recipient.

If you walk away with anything from this article I hope it is that many older folks spend way too much time alone than is healthy, and would give anything to spend time with their loved ones. Strengthening family bonds through shared experiences will be extremely well regarded by many.

Of course there are still people on your list that love expensive gifts. If you place your order now you can probably have a Maserati with a big bow attached delivered for Christmas or Chanukah! 

pic of Maserati with a big red bow attached!

There are plenty of ways to say I love you to everyone on your gift giving list. Many start planning their Christmas gifts list now. It is never too early to start thinking about the perfect gift to give to your loved ones today or during the holiday season. 

Love and Appreciation

You can’t go wrong to remember gift-giving is an expression of love and appreciation, and it becomes even more meaningful when we consider the preferences and needs of older individuals. 

By choosing experiences over clutter, you can make a positive impact on the lives of others and create cherished memories while reducing the burden of accumulating possessions. In doing so, we not only show our thoughtfulness but also help them enjoy a more simplified and clutter-free lifestyle, aligning with their desire for a stress-free, happy life.

I love to give gifts for no reason to the people I love. It is much more fun for me to give a surprise gift than a birthday or holiday gift. I have never let the calendar decide when I will or will not give a gift.

Keeping in mind gifts that enhance a clutter-free and stress-free environment will go a long way to thrill a loved one.

headshot pic of author

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

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