It's the time of year when many people are trying to think of the perfect gift to give to their loved ones.
There are lots of lists available for the latest toys and gadgets, and even for handmade or thrifty but meaningful gifts. But many of the lists are for specific age groups. Even we have shared our ideas specifically for older adults!
This year, we thought we'd pull together some ideas that are bit more universal. Our Intergenerational Housing program, where older adults live in buildings with young adults and families with children, is after all built on the idea that the ages shouldn't be so separated!
One of the things that we most learn from seeing people of all ages live side by side is that the generations have a lot more in common than we tend to think. Another is that there is a lot that older and younger people can learn from each other.
Gift giving is a great way to celebrate both of these lessons!
Here are a few gift ideas that are inspired by activities and shared moments from residents who live in our Intergenerational Housing:
One pair of intergenerational friends who live at Nathalie Salmon House refer to themselves as "The Puzzlers."
Choose a challenging puzzle with an image of one of their favorites artists or movies, and offer to do it together with them during your next visits.
2. Games, maybe Bingo
You may be thinking that games sound a little boring, but if you think Bingo is too laid back for younger people, you haven't been in our community room during Bingo games! Perhaps charades or a board game, though, is more up your alley. Apples to Apples has been a hit with senior residents and younger volunteers, too!
3. Tickets – museums, movies, sports
From Cubs games to art museums to movies, our residents of all ages love to get together for fun experiences!
4. Recipe swap
Ana, a senior resident, and Joseph, a former Resident Assistant, built a special bond when Ana taught Joseph how to cook. Joseph was so inspired that he has planned to go to culinary school to become a professional cook.
Last week, one of our senior residents took the lead in preparing a Hanukkah feast for everyone at Nathalie Salmon House's celebration.
Whether it is in sharing a culture or learning new skills, food is powerful.
Organize a recipe exchange with your friends and family. If there is a hard-to-find ingredient or special cooking tool needed for the recipe, include that as a gift with the recipe.
5. A tech gadget, and a lesson if needed
Don't assume that older adults can't use a computer! Many of our older adults are active on social media, and one Pat Crowley House resident is up early to check her email every day.
Older adults may enjoy a techie gadget just as much as a teenager, but do offer to lend a hand in teaching them to use or troubleshoot it, like our Resident Assistant Phil does.
6. Seeds to plant in a garden
Pat Crowley House's garden blooms not only with flowers, but often with tomatoes and peppers that our residents tend each spring and summer.
A gift of seeds in the winter can be a great way to think ahead to warmer days!
7. Music exchange
H.O.M.E. residents are talented! Several years ago Resident Assistants formed a band, the H.O.M.E. Boys, that played at parties. Meanwhile, Olga, a longtime Nathalie Salmon House resident, is a classically trained pianist who often delights us all with her talents at events at the building.
Share an album or play a piece of music with your loved ones that might be a little different than what they usually enjoy. They might just find that they love it!
Happy intergenerational gift giving!
H.O.M.E. provides housing and housing support services to low-income seniors in Chicago. Your gift to H.O.M.E. today will give joy, comfort, and peace to the seniors we serve.