Tech Gift Ideas for Older Loved Ones

My in-laws are in their 70s. They’re wonderful people, but not the most tech-savvy. In contrast, I’m a technophile who strongly believes in making my life easier and more enjoyable with technology. I want to share some of these improvements with them, but they won’t always adopt the things I think are great. Here are my insights into the best ways to gift to older non-techies.

Commit to Ongoing Maintenance for the Tech Gift

Consider that you’re not just giving the item, you’re going to help set it up and troubleshoot it when it goes wrong. For that reason, I often like giving a duplicate of something I also own. It’s much easier for me to diagnose an issue, describe where to find the reset button, or walk them through changing the batteries if I’ve a duplicate of the device in front of me.

One item I considered buying for them is the Nixplay Seed. I bought a device to try it out. I love the ability for both my husband and me to send pictures to it straight from our phones and have them appear immediately on the frame.

We just took a trip to London and came home to a rotating show of our favorite memories.

It’s an ideal gift for an less-tech-inclined loved one because the whole family can send pictures to it.

If I had given my in-laws the frame before our trip, they could have followed along as we attended Hamilton, visited the British Museum, and enjoyed the grounds of Leeds Castle.

Before giving them the Nixplay Seed, I’ll coordinate with my husband and brother-in-law to get some images on it for the initial gift and make sure everyone has a linked account to it to send pictures to it whenever we think about it.

Uni-Taskers are Often More Desirable than Multi-Taskers

My in-laws have smart phones, an iPad, and an iPod. When my father-in-law’s iPod broke recently, I realized that he doesn’t see his other devices as serving the same purpose. He wants a device specifically to keep his music on. (He’ll be getting a replacement as a gift soon.)

Physical Gifts over Electronic Copies

If you want to give a movie or an album, go ahead and get the physical disk and wrap it up. It’s more meaningful and satisfying for most members of older generations. Download codes aren’t usually as satisfying. Trying to remember if the movie they own was gifted to them through the Amazon, Microsoft Store, a publisher site, or some other platform can be difficult and frustrating. So if I’m going to gift my in-laws Black Panther or The Great British Baking Show: Season 1, it’ll be a physical DVD.

Rights can also change. For instance, I no longer “own” every track I bought on iTunes or on Rock Band as licensing deals expire or aren’t renewed.

A physical copy of electronic media is more reassuring. If you do opt for giving them an electronic code, consider gifting it in a media-appropriate case with all the how-to details pasted into it so that it can be shelved along with their physical media and it will be easy for them to start watching/listening with a minimum of fuss.

Odd Resistances to Subscription Services

It’s not that they won’t subscribe to anything: They get their local newspaper and a few magazines. But I’ve encountered pushback on anything online that requires them to provide payment information as they accept the gift. It doesn’t matter that I’m sending them a free box of meals from one of my favorite meal services (Blue Apron or Home Chef), they don’t want to fulfill the requirement of providing their credit card info. For that reason, think hard about gift subscriptions to Nexflix, Audible, or other services that ask for information—or just decide that the gift you’re giving will be billed to you for as long as they want it.