An Anthology of Holiday Picks for 2016 and from Yesteryears

Over the years, the VisionAware peer advisors and contributors have come up with an awesome list of gift suggestions, and this year is no exception. Enjoy their ideas from yesteryear and peruse their latest "gift list" before your holiday shopping. So sit back and relax, sip a holiday cocktail (compliments of Maureen Duffy), and review this list before Black Friday. Also check out our gift ideas article.

Happy young woman in winter clothes with shopping bags in front of a Christmas tree

Holiday Picks for 2016

Deanna Quietwater Noriega suggests you upgrade your loved one to a new iPhone or smartphone accessory.

woman using an iPhone

"Like a lot of visually impaired people, I have learned to use an iPhone. This one small tool provides access to so many useful things all in one device and doesn’t require any additional expensive additions. However, I have acquired two things that make using my phone easier and more efficient. I have a new bluetooth headset. It is a slim loop or horseshoe with earbuds at the front ends. When I turn it on, it vibrates to let me know I have an incoming phone call. The earbuds click magnetically to the ends of the loop when not in use, but slipping one into an ear and hitting the answer button immediately makes it possible to connect to a caller. I can quickly answer my phone without having to dig for it in my briefcase or purse. I may have to buy some fancy rhinestones or other things to make this useful tool more personalized and pretty since it is plain black plastic, but it makes listening to music or talking to friends a lot easier."

"The second useful item I have added is a USB Quick Charge Wallport. This is a device with two USB slots that plugs into an electrical socket. It can quickly charge any device that needs to be recharged and accepts a cable with a USB connector on one end. I can recharge two devices at the same time. I have used it to recharge my cell phone, the Bluetooth headset, and even my Victor Stream or Notetaker. Both of these items were available from local phone stores."

Beckie Horter suggests an electronic digital magnifier or a good audiobook for those who enjoy reading or office supplies for those with big plans.

A neatly-stacked group of books set between a pair of headphones.

"I love my portable Electronic Digital Magnifier by Oasis Scientific, Inc. It is a lighted magnifier and great for reading mail, menus, or any small print. It enlarges from 6x to 25x and offers seven color modes. It can be ordered online."

I would also suggest a large print or audio Bible or any large print or audiobooks. Reading is very important to me."

"I also recommend the Monster Grid Calendar by Zebra Publishing Corporation. It opens to 16.5 inches wide by 24 inches high and is practical for writing out all your BIG plans! You can obtain it through bookstores."

"Another suggestion is the Pilot Precise Grip Rolling Ball Pens in bold. The writing they produce is easy to read and fun to use. They are available in office supply stores."

Audrey Demmitt suggests you get your someone special their very own digital assistant, the Amazon Echo, or a subscription for delivery services.

echo device pictured next to white coffee cup. The echo is round and approximately 3 times taller than the cup and about the same girth as the cup

"I love my Amazon Echo! With voice command I can ask for the time, weather, and news headlines. Alexa, the digital assistant associated with the Echo, can tell you jokes, word of the day, and answer trivia questions, among other skills which can be enabled. She sets alarms and timers while I am cooking and plays my favorite songs and artists by request all day long. There is a smaller version called the ‘Dot.’ It is cheaper than the Echo."

"Another suggestion is a subscription for grocery store delivery services. For instance, in some areas, Walmart will deliver to your doorstep for an annual fee of $49."

Sheila Rousey suggests gifts great for the whole family.

"Gifts that get the entire family involved in the action are great! But what about those special gifts that provide an additional feature; the ability to teach a new skill as everyone joins in to play. Below, you will find several of my favorite ideas for this upcoming season of gift giving. These items can be found at Braille Super Store."

  • Book Containing 100 Sudoku Puzzles with Solutions for $12.95: This book is provided in braille. You will find that all that is needed is to know the braille numbers 1 through 9. From the website you will find both a volume one edition as well as a volume two edition. Item Number: 1263.
  • Braille Sudoku Set on a Wooden Playing Board for $29.95: Braille Numbered tiles fit snugly into board spaces for play. Tiles include print numbers as well as raised braille numbers. Item Number: 1262.
  • Braille Word Board for $14.95: Spell out words and names using letter tiles. This board is great for challenging word games. Unscramble words, create word ladders, and make up your own challenging word games while learning braille. Tiles include both print letters and raised braille letters. Item Number 1351.
  • Replacement Word Board Tiles for $6.95: Get 98 spare letter tiles for the Braille Word Board. Item Number 1352.
  • Raised-Line Drawing Board for $14.95: Make tactile pictures with a regular pen and paper. Why not use this raised line drawing board when you play Pictionary. Item Number 1292.
  • Wikki Stix for $5.95: Create all sorts of raised crafts and drawings. Item Number 1291.

Last Year’s Picks

Looking for more suggestions? Here are the peer’s picks from last year. These timeless gifts would be great for anyone with vision loss.

Gifts for the Tech Enthusiast

"At a recent conference, I heard about some clip-on monocular devices which can be used with Android or iPhone cameras; it magnifies the picture onto the phone screen up to 8X. For those with low vision and/or amateur photographers, these devices could be an inexpensive and fun thing to play with. Of course, these cannot take the place of having a low vision exam to determine all of one’s low vision needs." —Elizabeth Sammons

Three presents wrapped in colorful paper and ribbon

"A Peak 6000 Rechargeable Power Bank. I have been using mine for a good six months. I love it. It tells me which port I’m using, when it needs to be charged, and when it is finished charging. I have charged my iPad and my cell phone with it. And it will tell you how much battery life it has. The only drawback I have found is that all my new iDevices require the use of thunderbolt. So I have to use the USB port and make sure I have a cable with it at all times. It’s a little heavy but I can charge my iPad fully, which I have not been able to do with other chargers." —Chelsea Stark

"Finding it hard to open locks and keep up with keys? Here is a new solution (as long as you can keep up with your smart phone): Master Lock Bluetooth Smart Padlock." —Bill Holton

Gifts for the Board Game Player

"The LS&S catalog games section has a set of high contrast Scrabble letters (to use on regular board)." —Audrey Demmitt

"There are some accessible board game kits available. You order the kit to make your board game accessible. And there is always homemade Russian Tea!" —Empish Thomas

Gifts for the Organizer

Audrey Demmitt suggested checking out the LS&S catalog for wallets. "There are some nice leather wallets for organizing money for both men and women."

Gifts for Grandparents

Woman with daughter hugging a grandfather and giving him a present

"Give the ‘Gift of Time’: Homemade coupons for assisting a loved one with transportation, paperwork, house chores or repairs, safety modifications to reduce fall risks, etc. (good for grandkids to give to grandparents)." —Audrey Demmitt

Read Mary Hiland’s post Fun for All During the Holidays for ideas for spending time with your grandkids.

More Great Holiday Gift Ideas to Make for Friends and Family

Accessible Kitchen Aids for Successful Holiday Cooking

Food Gifts You Can Make for the Holidays

Holiday Dessert Recipes

Craft Gifts You Can Make for the Holidays Part 1

Craft Gifts You Can Make for the Holidays Part 2