Each year, after the gifts I’ve selected for most of my family have been wrapped and set under the tree, I’m left with the same unchecked names staring up at me from my Christmas list: Mom and Dad.

I never know what to give them.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one. Several friends have voiced the same woes: our parents’ homes are already full of treasures, if they want something they usually buy it for themselves, and they’re getting to a place in life where they’re longer on time but shorter on space. 

So what are we to do? What can we possibly give our parents—the people we owe so much to, but who already have everything? 

Our writers weighed in with the best gifts they’ve given their parents, and we loved their ideas so much we just had to share them with you! 

1. The Gift of Time

Life can get crazy, and one thing that often falls through the cracks of busy schedules and different locations is family time. Ironically, that quality time is also the thing our parents value above all else. It can take creativity and planning to get people together, but the results are so worth it. Here’s how some of our writers give the gift of time:

“I have our kids pick out gift cards for a “date” with my parents. This year they chose Starbucks, Applebees, movies, and pizza. Then they have an opportunity to take each kid out one-on-one.”

“We give them money for tickets to a show of their choosing. It’s a date night in exchange for all the date nights we get because they are willing to babysit!”

“We give them a jigsaw puzzle and schedule a time to do it together.” Bonus points for a custom made photo puzzle.

“I’m lucky to have several brothers and sisters. Years ago we got together and opened a bank account in their name and all deposited money for birthdays and Christmas. On their 40th wedding anniversary it was enough for a trip to Italy.”

“I think you might be referring to MY age group. A date with my daughter for lunch is the best gift. We’re given an index card with the day, date, and time of the lunch. It also comes with a movie.”

2. The Gift of Photos 

Think about how many pictures you have on your phone of your own kids. A bajillion, right? There’s something special about capturing our families in all of their messy, funny, adorable glory. Our writers told us some unique ways they share these photos with their parents.

“I got my folks the Skylight digital picture frame. It allows me to send new photos to an email and the frame auto updates with the new pictures. So I can send photos in real-time and my folks get them and the frame cycles through each one. They live out of state so will be better than texting a picture which they don’t know how to save.”

“We choose all of the best pictures from the year and put them together into a photo book from Zazzle. My mom loves having them all in one place so she can show them off to her friends.”

“We have a custom calendar created for our parents each year, with photos of the kids on every month. It’s a great way to showcase how much they’ve grown!”

3. The Gift of Charity

Most of our parents don’t want for much, but they’re painfully aware there are many out there who are less fortunate. Some of our writers suggested combining gifting with giving, and we think it’s a perfect match!

“This year I ordered a bunch of kids clothes for a local charity that is near and dear to us. I’m going to wrap the clothes for them to open on Christmas, with a note saying they will be donated in their name. They don’t need more stuff, and I’d rather spend my money where it is needed—but still have something under the tree for them to unwrap!”

“We make a charitable donation in their name, and wrap up information about the cause. They love it!”

4. The Gift of Creation

Gifts from the heart are the sweetest kind, and what’s from the heart more than something handmade? We love these unique gift suggestions.

“My parents are getting garden stepping stones made by the kids!”

“We have a paint your own pottery art studio. We brought a ceramic Christmas tree and painted it with the grandparents and all signed our names. Then we fired it and gave it to them. After they passed, we got the tree back and have those memories and that special piece.

And there you have it. Giving to our parents doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be from the heart. 

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