Happier Holidays for Seniors: Christmas Shoeboxes for the Elderly


Make the holiday season just a little brighter for the seniors in your community by starting or participating in a Christmas Shoebox program. Here’s what you need to know.

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Christmas Shoeboxes for the Elderly

What if, instead of buying holiday gifts for family and friends, you wanted to do something that would genuinely make a difference and share Christmas spirit?

Surprise a senior with a “Christmas Shoebox” this holiday season. 

Christmas shoeboxes are a type of care package for seniors that includes holiday trinkets, treats, and gifts to help our aging citizens with personal needs during the festive season.

It’s amazing how much such a small box brightens the recipients’ day.

So, ask your local shoe shops for their extra boxes and round up the following small gifts, activity items, sweets and treats, personal care, and comfort items to bring some holiday cheer while helping a needy older person in your community.

Activities and Entertainment

Giving seniors shoeboxes with activities and entertainment items keeps them busy, exercises their minds, and improves their moods.

Ensure you tailor the contents of the shoeboxes to the senior’s specific health needs, interests, and abilities.

Here are 20 suggested items to get you started:

  • Crossword puzzle books
  • Puzzles
  • Playing cards
  • Coloring books
  • Colored pencils and markers
  • Writing paper and pens
  • Music CDs
  • Sudoku books
  • Pocket scrabble
  • Travel-sized board games
  • Word search books
  • Handheld electronic games
  • Magazines
  • Books
  • DVDs
  • Christmas card or holiday cards
  • Craft or art supplies
Christmas shoeboxes for the elderly sweets
Check out these tasty treats you can include in your Christmas shoebox for seniors.

Food, Treats, and Sweets

I don’t care how old you are. You probably never turn down something sweet when it’s offered to you. Here are some tasty goodies you could include:

  • Fun-size chocolate bars
  • Assorted tea bags 
  • Packs of hot chocolate
  • Pudding or apple sauce cups
  • Fruit and cereal bars
  • Individual packs of cookies
  • Candy canes
  • Dried fruit
  • Soft or chewy granola bars
  • Protein bars
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Individual serving bags of chips
  • Microwave popcorn bags
  • Small bags of nuts
  • Packs of crackers
  • Rolls of mints
  • Jelly beans
  • Fruit snacks
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate-covered pretzels

Self and Personal Care Items

Christmas shoeboxes for the elderly are a great way to ensure they have everything to care for themselves.

Personal care items help them remain active and independent and address their health and personal hygiene needs during the holiday season.

So here are some ideas you could give them:

  • Travel-sized shampoo/conditioner
  • Travel-sized body wash
  • Travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Small notebook with pen
  • Unscented deodorant
  • Mild soap
  • Body lotion
  • Soft hairbrush or comb
  • Moisturizing hand lotion
  • Razor and sensitive skin shaving cream
  • Unflavored lip balm
  • Large-handled nail clippers
  • Non-slip slippers or gripper socks
  • Woolen hats, scarves, or gloves 
  • Warm throw blanket
  • Small packs of tissues
  • Cotton swabs
  • Nail files and emery boards
  • Bottles of hand sanitizer
  • Small packets of baby wipes
Christmas shoeboxes for the elderly comfort ideas
Comfort and relaxation items make daily tasks manageable for older adults.

Comfort and Relaxation Ideas 

Comfort and relaxation items help ease the aches of aging while relieving some of an older adult’s burdens. The best ones also make daily tasks more manageable for them. Here are the ones we recommend:

  • Electric heating pad
  • Therapeutic hand massage ball
  • Fuzzy gripper slippers
  • Essential oil diffuser
  • Soothing eye masks
  • Gentle neck and shoulder massager
  • Weighted lap blankets
  • CDs of relaxing music
  • Herbal tea bags
  • Lavender body lotion
  • Stress relief coloring book with scented, colored pencils
  • Mild aromatherapy bath bombs
  • Foot spa massager
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Small shawl
  • Small handheld magnifiers
  • Hand warmers
  • Luxury washcloths
  • Motion-activated night lights
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What You Should NOT Put in a Senior Shoebox

When preparing Christmas shoeboxes for the elderly, it is essential to remember that some items may not be suitable for their needs and abilities.

Consider the age and health of the recipient and avoid things that could cause harm or discomfort.

Items such as aerosol sprays, sharp objects, and items with strong odors should be avoided, as they can be hazardous or difficult to manage.

Additionally, items that require electrical outlets should also be avoided, as some seniors may not have access to them.

When selecting items for a Christmas shoebox, always opt for things that are safe, easy to use, and tailored to the recipient’s individual needs.

Here are some items to skip when putting together a Christmas shoebox:

Candles. Candles can be a fire hazard and aren’t allowed in many senior living centers.

Gift Cards. The recipient may not have the means or transportation to redeem them.

Tools. Many tools have sharp edges that can cause injury if not used correctly.

Medicines. Don’t include any medications, even over-the-counter ones, because they can interfere with current medications. 

Perishable Foods. Some elders may not manage expiration dates well, so don’t include any perishable items with short expiration dates.

Fragile Items. Breakable items create a mess if dropped, and cleaning up broken shards can lead to injury.

Electronics. Depending on the situation, these items may not get used or can be unsafe.

Sharp Objects. Anything with sharp edges is a safety hazard.

Alcoholic Beverages. They are not a healthy option, are preferential, and may not be allowed where the senior resides.

Items with Small Parts. Small items are a choking hazard and dangerous for seniors with dementia.

Used Items. Used or open-package products may be unsanitary and carry germs that could make an eldelry person sick even if they have been cleaned well. 

Video Guide

Audio Article

Infographic: Christmas Shoeboxes for the Elderly

Christmas Shoeboxes for the Elderly infographic
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We hope that you found this guide to Christmas shoeboxes for the elderly helpful. If so, please share it with your friends on your favorite social media site.

If you have other suggested items, please let us know all about them in the comments below.


Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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