Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jul 24, 2008 04:35 PM

Help with Gift Basket Contents! (For an elderly person)

I'm wanting to put together a gift basket for a friend's father (83) who just came home from the hospital after having a mild stroke. I have inquired by have not heard back about any personal dietary restrictions....

I'm drawing BLANKS as to what to fill the basket with.

So far, all I can think of is apples and oranges (thinking along the lines of fruit that would last longer than peaches/berries). What else would be on the healthy-side or appropriate for someone in his 80's?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. dried fruit, particularly prunes :)

    maybe jarred fruit sauce (variations on applesauce)

    for something sweet, maybe some dark chocolate (chips) or carob chips

    maybe some instant steel cut oats

    banana or pumpkin bread



    canned soup

    or pre-packaged meals... like at

    1. Depending on sugar restrictions
      Sugar-free candy and chocolates
      dried figs and apricots
      Thin whole-wheat crackers with fat-free garden cheese spreads
      Madelines and petite-palmiers
      Pasteurized 100% juices like valencia, or acaiberry or apple
      an ipod.....

      1. skip the apples, they will be too hard to chew, instead you can do something like grapes, and cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, and dessert. If he doesn't have dietary restrictions, there's no point giving him only healthy foods, he might just want something comforting.

        2 Replies
        1. re: beany

          Right, skip the apples and oranges. I've noticed that the elderly who get these with their meals on wheels never eat them, but never ask for alternatives.... something about their generation, I guess. If they remember to eat at all, something like cookies, easy to open and eat snacks and drinks, anything with calories, no fake food, no low fat or low cal. Preferably non-perishable as sometimes they forget to refrigerate things. No bananas, please, it's awful for visitors to see blackened overripe bananas piling up.

          1. re: neverlate

            Thanks everyone for steering me on the right track! This is incredibly helpful and I'll definitely stay away from the fruit!

        2. Ask your friend: 1- what does his father like/dislike, 2- is he disabled by the stroke, 3- is he living alone? If 2 or 3 are yes, go for easy-opening individual servings of apple sauce, jam, honey, crackers, cheese sticks, etc. Include plastic spoons, knives & cheerful napkins. The last time I had this situation, the woman's daughter told me that she loves fruit jams & exotic teas, which I was happy to send.

          9 Replies
          1. re: hanna5

            I seriously second asking your friend what hre father likes and what he can eat.

            If he can eat sweets, something like Pepperidge farm soft cookies or any soft cookies are nice. Stay away from those with nuts. If he is very disabled, the nuts might be too difficult to deal with and he could choke on them.

            Shelf-stable applesauce, puddings, fruit cups, jello might be good ... if he likes that sort of thing.

            The muffins and breads like banana might be good. I'd look for packaged and stable versions. There's nothing wrong with a nice slice of packaged pound cake or other type of dessert.

            Nothing too dry or difficult to chew. I hope someone isn't as thoughtless as to give me dried prunes in a gift basket when I'm that age. I personally would use them to throw at the giver. It's a little stereo-typed and I'm sure if that is what this person needs, it is in grocery staples ... really.

            Maybe some nice truffles or soft-centered candies. If booze is still interesting or allowed .. get some booze-filled candies. Cheer the guy up ... man, it would depress me to get a stinking box of prunes. Also, the majority of the time, Ensure is not popular. In the many years my mom was in a nursing home, not many liked ensure. It tastes awful (I've tried it) and even people with little taste left were more likely to snub it. It is the food of desparation when someone needs calories and is a few steps away from a feeding tube.

            Go with soft and comforting. If someone is severly disabled by a stroke, chewing and swallowing could be a problem. You really need to talk to your friend ... or go with flowers ... or balloons ... or music ... maybe some music cds he might enjoy. On the music idea ... if he can get out, maybe some tickets for the friend and dad for a concert.

            1. re: rworange

              ...I don't want no stinkin' prunes! rwo --- you are hilarious!

            2. re: hanna5

              Yes, always best to ask. Sometimes what's restricted and what's okay is not obvious.

              I would avoid anything very sticky or chewy, though.

              For non-food items, magazines are often better than books.

              1. re: jlafler

                Unfortunately, I did ask my friend and am not getting much direction, other than she is trying to restrict his salt, sugar and intake of greasy foods. The only idea she gave me was to NOT bring donuts (which hadn't even crossed my mind).

                I have a loaf of zucchini bread in the oven and am going to whip up some scones in the morning. I think I'll head to Trader Joe's and pick up what I can find. And... I'll stay away from prunes :) Thanks all for getting me on the right track...

                Thankfully, it was a mild stroke and he was not severly disabled, but he does have Parkinson's, so his balance and coordination is limited to begin with.

                I never realized how hard it is to NOT buy hard, crunchy, sticky... I think my friend could benefit from the contents of the gift basket as well... so, anything he doesn't eat, I'm sure she'll use. I may get some fixin's for pasta - so they have it on hand, etc. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again for all the input... it's much appreciated!

                1. re: The Oracle

                  Pick up a bottle (or two) of reds @ Trader Joe's for the dad

                  1. re: The Oracle

                    Yikes ... I was at Trader Joes today and while I had this in mind i looked around and there really wasnt much there that wasn't hard, crunchy and sticky. There were some gourmet vaniilla marshmallows that seemed nice, some madelines and chocolate bars.

                    1. re: rworange

                      an fyi, the vanilla marshmallows are *very* vanilla extracty tasting...

                    2. re: The Oracle

                      Thanks everyone! Basket made and delivered.... I ended up making a little bit of a combination for both of them... besides the homemade items, I bought jam, lemon curd, pasta, sauce, bread, mini-cheese crackers, soft cereal bars, and some fruit juice. I was surprised how quickly everything filled up the big basket I had...

                      Can't thank you all enough! I will definitely reuse the info in this post for the future!

                      1. re: The Oracle

                        Pat yourself on the back for a job well done
                        BTW did you crack a smile when you saw "stinking prunes" in the store ?

                2. muffins and banana bread
                  real maple syrup and pancake mix
                  cheddar cheese & crackers