Christmas gifts for caregivers: What do we give?

Heather Jose photo.

Heather Jose

It’s December and most of us already are shopping. Gift giving is the norm at this time of year to show appreciation to those who are caring for our loved ones.

But here’s the big question: What do we give?


The answer to today’s question is likely to vary, depending on the caregiving situation. If you are looking for a gift for someone who is caring for a loved one 24/7 at home, then there is nothing like giving the gift of time. It might look like this:

  • Give a certificate for an afternoon or evening out that clearly states that you will stay with the person who is in need of care.
  • If you are handy, offer an afternoon of service in order to take care of needed chores around the house.
  • Give an afternoon out where you assist in helping the caregiver and the caregivee, so that they can go out for an appointment or simply for a meal. This is especially appreciated when the people involved are spouses and actively assist with the transportation and transfers along the way.
  • If you have more than one person in on the gift, provide a short getaway where one person takes the caregiver out and the other stays in with the one needing care.
  • Provide some freezer meals that are easily reheated. Better yet, take requests for favorite meals ahead of time so you can prepare foods you know the recipients will enjoy.
  • Offer to Christmas shop, wrap gifts, bake cookies.
You can find holiday fruit baskets in many stores, or you can make your own -- but did you know Amazon also sells and ships a wide array of gift baskets? Click this photo to see an example on Amazon.

You can find holiday fruit baskets in many stores, or you can make your own — but did you know Amazon also sells and ships a wide array of gift baskets? Click this photo to see an example on Amazon.


If you want to show your appreciation to staff members in a facility where your loved one lives, first and foremost check with the facility itself on staff policies. Some institutions have strict rules on whether staff members can accept gifts from residents or their families.

If they cannot receive gifts you can usually still get a little creative and show your appreciation by making your gift an “it’s for everyone” experience:

  • Put a decorated basket in your family member’s room along with a note that asks people to take one. Fill it with stocking stuffer items such as candy, individual hand sanitizers, or something that shows your family members personality. I once knew a gentleman that had lost his ability to talk. However, whenever we saw him he would give my kids a quarter. In his case it would be perfect to share that story and have a bowl of quarters out as a keepsake. My dad loved tractors so a perfect gift for his basket would be a bunch of miniature tractors. Staff members love to be able to get to know their patients a little better.
  • Consider sponsoring a pizza party (or something similar) for a staff during a certain shift. Let them know ahead of time that you will be buying lunch/dinner by having pizza delivered. Bringing donuts also goes over well.

If specific staff members can receive gifts, then anything goes. Wondering whether money is appreciated? Keep in mind that many of these employees are not making much money for the work that they do. A gift of money along with a note that says “Thank you—spend this on yourself” gives the person permission to do just that. Gift cards are also nice. Talk to your family member about who should receive such a gift. As an occasional visitor, you may not know which staff members have the closest relationship with your loved one.

With any of these ideas, it really is the thought that counts. Big or small they really will be appreciated.

Have you got ideas to share? Add a Comment below—or share this column with friends via Facebook (click the blue-“f” icons) or email (the small envelope-shaped icons).

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  1. Colleen Ahlstrom says

    When my husband was in a care home I knew which of the staff spent the most time with him and which ones went way beyond in caring for him. I gave those people a substantial gift of money (yes, they were struggling to pay bills, buy gifts, etc). I gave the others a gift certificate to a one-stop shopping store. Now my mother is in a care home. There are more people involved in taking care of her and none is as involved as at my husband’s care home and I don’t know them all. I like the idea of a basket in her room so that they can pick a small gift out themselves. They are all women so I will pick things from Bath and Body Works, hand lotion, candles, and air freshners for their cars.

  2. Debbie says

    Having spent many days in a hospital while my son was going through chemotherapy, I actually requested a gift card for vendors (Papa Joe’s, Starbucks) in the hospital from people who were thinking of sending flowers. This provided me the opportunity to get out of the room for a quick lunch or coffee. Also, while I was home with him recovering, it was very useful for friends to pick up things from the grocery store (often staples like laundry detergent or milk). It was also great when a friend offered to watch him while I did a kickboxing class to vent.