Christmas is a week away and winter birthdays are around the corner. I love finding the perfect gift, yet year after year it’s inevitable. I hit my biggest challenge: the person over 50 who has everything. They’re the ones who claim “if I need it, I’ll buy it myself”. They leave us stumped, sending texts and emails desperately seeking ideas. When a glimmer of a suggestion emerges, we trip over each other yelling “I get that one!”

I know I’m not alone, so I scrambled around to find creative ideas. Here are 11 clever gifts that may offer a last-minute solution for your special someone.


Everyone loves a fun experience and some people just don’t need anymore stuff. What would your gift receiver enjoy? Depending on location and your budget, experience ideas are seemingly endless. Lower-cost ideas include: movie tickets, bowling night, ice skating, a comedy show, laser tag for adults, museum tickets, yoga passes, dance lessons, cooking class, and theatre tickets. If your loved one happens to be close to one of 50 locations, Pedal Pub provides a fun way to explore a city by pedaling a 16-seat pedal bike with others, while sipping beer or another beverage of choice. 

More costly ideas include: a hot air balloon ride, deep sea fishing, tandem skydiving, a visit to a spa, concert tickets, a gym membership, flying lessons, and a trip. For folks in the California area (or willing to make the trip), Air Combat USA offers the thrill seeker an opportunity to be a fighter pilot for the day at their Orange County, CA airfield.

Games for the Brain

It’s no secret that folks over 50 want to stay mentally sharp. Playing challenging games engage multiple lobes in the brain and improve cognitive function (read more on this topic). For a nifty gift, put together a collection of fun, challenging games, arranged in a basket or decorative box. These nine games use multiple parts of the brain, and the majority entail thinking under pressure: Quarto, Ubongo, SET, Taboo, Rummikub, Mastermind, Bananagrams, 24 Game, and Stare! You might also throw in puzzle books, like crosswords, KenKen, or Sudoko.

Foam Roller Therapy Kit

A foam roller is essential for folks of all ages, particularly for those who are avid exercisers. The roller puts targeted pressure on the fascia, releasing trigger points where we’re feeling tightness or soreness.

Why not put together a foam roller kit for your family member or friend? Include a foam roller, a book describing how to best use the roller, and other related items like massage balls, Biofreeze, and a neck therapy wrap. My favorite roller is the j/fit High Density EVA Roller because it has a smoother texture and is not too hard, not too soft. The Melt Method by Sue Hitzmann provides comprehensive information, including detailed instruction, breathing techniques, and visual guides.

Upright Go

As we age, we sometimes forget about the importance of good posture. A hot gift for this year, the Upright Go is a cool posture corrector that sticks to your upper back and trains you to maintain an optimal posture by tracking your posture during the day.

The device is synced via Bluetooth with the Upright Go app on your phone (iOS and Android). It tracks posture in both the training and tracking modes. The device gently vibrates to alert you whenever you’re slouching. (Our blog post on improving posture provides more information on this popular item.)

Tile Mate

Is your gift recipient always losing his or her keys?  Tile Mate is the answer. This tiny device fits on your key ring and is synced to your phone. If you misplace your keys, use the Tile app to ring the device if its nearby. The Tile Mate has a 150-foot range, while the Tile Pro has a 300-foot range. The device can also be used to find phones, purses, whatever.

Fun Socks

Fun, comical socks are always a hit and who wouldn’t like extra socks? The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY (a must see, by the way) has a wide variety of funny socks for both men and women. Or, if you’re thinking they’d prefer therapy socks, The Original Foot Alignment Socks are the best.  These socks come in multiple colors and have comfortable spacers that gently separate the toes to line up with the foot, easing achy feet and addressing foot pain.


Buy a one-year subscription to Lumosity, the premier brain training website that offers over 60 cognitive games that focus on speed, memory, attention, flexibility, problem solving, language and math. It’s like a gym membership for the mind.

The games are created by scientists and game designers, and the games are a riot. Participants track their progress in each cognitive category and can even see how they stack up versus other people in their age range. I’ve been using Lumosity since 2013 and absolutely love it!


The therapeutic benefits of lavender are immense and its scent is not overwhelmingly floral, making it a great gift item for both women and men. Lavender is probably best known for its calming or sleep inducing effects, but it is also beneficial for maintaining healthy skin, reducing anxiety, and soothing pain.

My favorite source for lavender products is Lavender Hill Farm in Niles, Michigan. Their small, family-owned farm has over 4,000 lavender plants of eight varieties. For a special gift, create a basket with items from their online shop, including soaps, lotions, essential oils, balms and sprays. My personal favorites are the Lavender Sugar Scrub and Lavender Essential Oils.

SIC Cups

If there’s a tumbler, bottle or shaker that’s pretty hip, it’s SIC Cups. They use high-quality stainless steel with an extra layer of copper insulation that is vacuum insulated. The holders keep your beverages cold up to 24 hours, or hot for several hours. The 27-ounce bottles are great for hiking, the beach, wherever you need water. The SIC Cocktail Kit with hammered copper is pretty slick, and I love the rose gold finish on the SIC Wine Kit.

23 and Me

Help your family member learn about his or her ancestry. Our bodies are made up of cells and those cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Our chromosomes are made up of DNA, which can tell us a lot about our ancestry, traits and health.

23andMe provides a simple test that provides us with valuable information. You can order the test kit online and give as a gift. Later, your gift recipient will spit into a test tube and mail the kit back to 23andMe’s certified lab. Within six weeks, he or she will receive a detailed report.

Thoughtful Gifts

I remember when I was young and I gave my dad a book of coupons. I made the little book and filled it with kind gestures that he could redeem. There’s a whole category of thoughtful gifts that are frequently overlooked in a sea of material gifts.

Restore a possession like old jewelry, a lamp, a musical instrument – something that is of meaning to your loved one. You could also create something for them, plant a tree in their yard, or plant flowers. Or, spend a day doing something they enjoy – an art class, fishing trip, lunch and movie, or spa day. The possibilities are endless when you match your talents, creativity and a bit of effort to come up with an idea.

Happy gift giving and happy holidays!

Product links in this post are to assist readers. North of 52 receives no compensation for these products and does not participate in any affiliate programs.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this. Grabbing a few. I like that game basket idea.


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