Holiday Gifts For Far-Away Relatives

Unfortunately we can't all live near our loved ones. For seniors, being apart from their children and grandchildren is never easy, especially during the holidays. This holiday season consider giving gifts that help keep the family close, even when separated by thousands of miles.

Priceless Pictures

What grandparent wouldn't love to have a family portrait? Whether you take your own shots or hire a professional photographer, this is a gift that truly keeps on giving. Target, Sears and J.C. Penny all have special offers for the holidays, with printable coupons on-line and in coupon circulars. For example, Target is offering a free 8 x 10 inch portrait, with reduced prices for additional shots. Penny's sale includes a free 8 x 10 with 23 assorted sizes for just $7.99. Sears is offering a $7.99 package that includes 26 pictures, including one 8 x 10.

Other Priceless Picture Ideas:

· Assemble pictures of family and friends in a collage frame. You can even do seasonal collages that can be rotated as the year progresses.

· A Digital Picture frame is a great way to display thousands of pictures, even photos sent by e-mail (don't forget the batteries)

· Generational Photos - Whether you have one picture that you frame which includes Grandpa, Son and Grandson, or you assemble different pictures into a generational college, the goal is to create one picture that highlights the different generations in your family. How about three generations of wedding pictures? Grandma, Mom and granddaughter in their wedding frocks.

Keeping Close with Keepsakes

Hundreds of websites offer personalized products made from your photos. You simply choose an item and download a photo. In many cases you can see what your photo will look like on the gift and can adjust the positioning, size etc. for the best possible display. Here are two worth considering.

  • Walgreens.com offers a number of personalized gift items. A calendar featuring different seasonal family photos is a perfect way for your loved one to mark each month with fond memories. Twelve-month calendars cost just $20. You can choose from a number of themes and backgrounds and use different photos for each month. There is even an option to personalize individual dates on the calendar with text or photos, a perfect way for the recipient to remember birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. We guarantee these calendars will never be thrown away at the end of the year; the pictures can be used to decorate walls, scrap books, etc. This site also offers a number of other items adorned with your photos, including wooden keepsake boxes ($30), woven blankets ($90), wall clocks ($20), jigsaw puzzles ($15-$25), neckties (23), scarves ($20), playing cards ($23) mugs ($12-$25) and various Christmas ornaments and pet accessories.

  • Timissimo.com is a great place to order a personalized watch from your chosen photo. You select the size and shape of the face, size and color of the strap, the type of numbers and you can add a personal message for your loved one. The first watch is $49, $20 for the second. What a perfect way for bragging grandparents to show off their grandchildren.

Read to Me Grandma and Grandpa!

Did your dad love reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to you when you were little? Why not have him record it for his grandchildren to enjoy now and forever. One of Hallmark's hot products this holiday season is the Recordable Storybook. Fifteen books are available, from Christmas classics to favorite bedtime stories. Grandma or Grandpa can record each page, repeating the recording until they get it just right. Then they simply save it so it won't erase, even when changing the battery. This is a great way to keep grandparents close, even when separated by far distances. The books are $30, available at Hallmark Crown stores.

An Easy-to-Use Phone with a Unique Safety Feature

If you are considering purchasing a phone as a gift for a senior, consider the Just 5 Simple Features Phone. This phone has extra- large text and buttons. It also has amplified sound and a long-lasting battery that will stay charged up to 6 days in standby mode or up to 100 minutes of talk time. It has a few other free features that its main competitor, the Jitterbug Phone does not offer. Most importantly is a large SOS button on the back for emergencies. When the button is pressed the phone will send a text message to up to 5 preset numbers, calling each with an emergency text message until someone (or voicemail) answers. When the call is answered the phone switches to speaker mode, allowing the caller to communicate even if they have dropped the phone. The Just 5 Simple Features Phone also includes a flashlight and an FM radio with headsets. It does not require a service contract and it works with any GMS carrier who uses SIM cards, for example AT&T and T-Mobile. The cost of the phone is $89.00, available at Just5.com.

Video Calling - The Newest, Coolest Way to Keep in Touch

Skype is the answer for long-distance visits without leaving home. Video calling between Skype users is free anywhere in the world. For free video chatting both callers just need computers and webcams. Olivia Mayer, writing for yourhub.com, found senior residents at The Suites at Clermont Park were staying in touch with their families across the country through Skype. She interviewed Camille Thompson, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Christian Living Communities, a non-profit organization that provides a continuum of care and services to nearly 1,000 seniors in the Denver area. Ms. Thompson told her "The use of videoconferencing in skilled nursing communities is beneficial on many levels." …"Skype presents an excellent opportunity for families who may live out of town to participate in care conferences," she said. … "Not to mention the chance for residents and family members to connect. If a great-grandchild is opening birthday gifts, why not let our resident participate in that?" For more information go to skype.com.

More Ways to Make Memories This Holiday Season

Here are four other ideas to keep close through lasting memories…

  • Growing Memories - We've all heard about planting a tree to celebrate the birth of a child - but how about planting one to commemorate an important senior milestone? Whether to commemorate a 50th wedding anniversary, a 70th birthday, or even to memorialize the death of a loved one or even a cherished pet, a growing tree lives on with their memories.
  • Sweet Memories - Remember when mom or dad took you to buy penny candy? Those special treats are still available if you know where to look (though not for a penny anymore). Treat your folks to sweet memories from the Vermontcountrystore.com. Choose from Jujubes dating back to the 1920's, Turkish Taffe, Walmettos, Nonpareils, Maple Leaf Candy, Dutch Chocolate Shoes, Licorice Laces, Ribbon Candy, Skybars, Zagnuts, Bit-O-Honey, Chuckles, Licorice Scottie Dogs, Oh Henry! Candy bars, Kits, B-B-Bats, SloPokes, Candy Buttons and Mallo Cups. While you're ordering, why not also treat your children, and other family members to these old-fashioned sweet stocking stuffer treats?
  • Glittering Memories - How about reminding Mom every day of the love of her family with a necklace or bracelet adorned with the birthstones of her children and grandchildren? Every time someone admires her beautiful necklace she'll have a chance to chat up her loving family. She may never take it off. Your local jeweler will have a number of options in different price categories.
  • Homemade Memories - The most loved gifts are those that come from the heart. Whether the gift is of a grandchild's artwork, a hand-knitted sweater, a recipe with all the "fixins" for a favorite dessert, or a hand-crafted toolbox, homemade gifts are often cherished above all others. These precious presents are treasured not just for what they are, but for the loving care that went into creating them.

Whatever gifts you decide to give… However you choose to spend the holidays… Wherever your travel plans take you, the staff of Boomerater wishes you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.