Does the holiday season often bring gifts you can’t use or don’t want?

This year, give your well-meaning friends and relatives some hints with these 5 practical gift ideas to ease your pain and make life run more smoothly.

This moist pack, made with a few household items, can make a great gift for someone with arthritis. Watch: Video: How to Make a Moist Heat Pack

Practical IOUs and gift cards

Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be appreciated. Consider asking for an IOU or homemade gift card for free snow-shoveling, dog-walking, or a chore around the house. If you’ve got kids, an IOU to take your children ice-skating or biking—or some other activity that’s hard for you—might make everyone happy.

See Exercising with Arthritis

For those wanting to purchase a gift, consider suggesting a gift card for house cleaning, acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga class, a pedicure, or a restaurant that delivers.

See Manual Therapies for Arthritis Pain


Gifts to soothe the pain

Warm and cozy gifts are especially nice for easing pain and stiffness as temperatures drop.

Portable paraffin wax warmers can be soothing. The wax melts in a tub about the size of a crockpot. When you dip a hand or foot into the melted wax, the warm wax coats your skin.

See 9 Easy Ways to Apply Heat to an Arthritic Joint

Heated socks, jackets, gloves, and shoe insoles are great for defending against cold weather. These items may be sold in stores that sell sporting or outdoor equipment.

Other gifts that rate high on providing comfort to achy joints include:

  • Cushioned bath pillows
  • Massaging foot spas
  • Electric blankets
  • Cozy slippers with memory foam
  • Padded lap desks
  • Cushioned floor mats for work or home use

Some people find aromatherapy relaxing, but scents can trigger flare-ups of symptoms for those with fibromyalgia or migraine headaches. If you have a sensitivity to scent, be sure to share that with a potential gift-giver.

See What You Need to Know About Fibromyalgia

Ergonomic items

Everything from forks to snow shovels are now designed with arthritis-related limitations in mind. Since some of these items cost a little extra, you may be reluctant to buy them for yourself.

These are some good gift options:

  • Extension shoe horns that allow you to avoid painful bending when putting on your shoes
  • Padded gardening gloves and ergonomic garden tools
  • Extra-wide key holders to make turning your car’s ignition key easier

If these items aren’t available in a traditional store, they can be found by searching online for “arthritis products” or “arthritis supplies.”

Cooking can be difficult when you have arthritis, but there are helpful gadgets that can make it easier. See When Hand Pain Is Osteoarthritis

Handy gadgets and appliances

Sometimes a small item can have a big impact on your day-to-day comfort.

If wintry weather is keeping you inside, how about adding a cane with an ice grip attachment to your wish list? (These attachments are retractable to prevent injuries when not in use.) You could also improve your traction with surface-gripping shoe covers for the soles of your shoes or boots.

See 3 Ways to Stay Active with Hip Arthritis This Winter

Other helpful tools include:

  • Reacher/grabber for retrieving items
  • Card holders and automatic card shufflers for serious card players
  • Electric can openers
  • Bagel slicer
  • Lightweight crock pot
  • Double-handled pots and pans

If you aren’t sure whether one of these items would help, ask a friend to borrow theirs for a little while to try it out before putting it on your list.

Easy-to-wear jewelry

If you like necklaces, but fastening them behind your neck is impossible, consider asking for necklaces with a stretchy cord or ribbon that can go on over your head. These cords are available at craft stores or online by searching for “stretchy necklaces.”

Rings don’t have to be off-limits either. Adjustable rings include a hinge so they can open up to fit around swollen knuckles. Designed for athletes and people with arthritis, these can be found online by searching for “arthritis rings.” But drop your hints early; this type of ring is often custom-made, requiring extra time.

See Recognizing Osteoarthritis in the Hand

One final thought: Equipment for people with arthritis sometimes has a staid or medical appearance to it. If that’s just not your style, let family and friends know if you’d like items with some flair, when possible. For example, a walker with a camouflage design or a unique walking stick rather than the usual cane.

Learn more:

Tai Chi and Yoga for Arthritis

12 Ways to Cope with Chronic Pain and Depression