Celebrate Christmas with a prepping twist and not only help your loved ones become more self-reliant, but introduce the concept of preparedness to friends and co-workers as well.
My husband Bobby’s fire page woke me up around 3:00 a.m. on an incredibly chilly late October morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but our dogs and my ducks weren’t about to have it.
I rubbed my sleepy eyes and went downstairs to start critter chores early (which totally messed up their morning routine for several days), flip on the news, and get some ideas about writing topics for the day.
It was too early for fresh news; there are still replays from the evening before. So, I decided to start browsing online for homemade Christmas present ideas. Being the perfect prepper wife, I immediately noticed a dual preparedness purpose for many of the homemade Christmas gift ideas I was finding online.
Although it was not yet light outside, the cobwebs were clearing from my still-tired mind. I began recalling countless conversations with my favorite prepper chick pals, the momma of all things self-reliance, Survivor Jane, Jen E. from Thrive, Cindy Thompson from Life Changes Be Ready, homesteading expert Melissa K. Norris, Heritage Press preparedness-minded publisher Hanne Moon, renowned author Granny Pam, and childhood pal and homeschooling mom Jenny W.
The self-reliant sisterhood gals and I had all discussed the varying ways to introduce preparedness concepts to our family, friends, and children. Handing a loved one a gas mask and telling them they will need it one day soon to protect them from a deadly pandemic tends to flip them all the way out.
The prep ladies and I have chosen to opt for a more subtle and inch-by-inch approach to self-reliance education. Survivor Jane once told me a story about enticing friends and relatives with a delicious pie that was made with the fruit she had grown in her very own backyard.
Planting the seeds of survival can be just that simple. As loved ones enjoy a slice of sweet berry deliciousness, the conversation can be steered toward the cost-effectiveness of growing your own produce, then onward to the healthy nature of non-GMO fruits and veggies, and forward once again to how simple it is to dehydrate and can what you grow.
Once you can see visions of berry bushes and tomato vines dancing in the heads of your captive audience, you have an opening to discuss how quickly food will disappear from store shelves during even a short-term disaster.
Going full prepper with Christmas presents might not be entirely possible, but a multitude of self-reliance-style gifts under the tree, even for the kiddos, is most definitely feasible. Some of the items suggested in the Prepper’s Christmas Guide series are homemade, others store bought, and some involve a little bit of both infused with a related “survival field trip” follow-up.
This year, break from the holiday consumer herd just a bit to achieve a sense of greater fulfillment with prepper-approved presents that will keep on giving long after you sweep a wayward pine needle out from behind the couch come June.
Preparedness Christmas Gift Ideas for Grandparents
Grandmas and grandpas come in all shapes, sizes, and age groups. Some grandpas and grandmas are fairly young and enjoy physical and outdoor activities, others are older and far less mobile and agile. This chapter is focused on preparedness gifts for senior citizen grandparents who no longer go out hunting, work the livestock on the farm on a regular basis, or are often tasked with cooking for a small army.
To find self-reliant gifts for the mamaws and papaws who are still relatively young, or at least still exhibit youthful vigor and mobility on a regular basis, see the chapters designed for husbands, wives, and adult loved ones.
Both of my grandmothers probably had a dozen pairs of house slippers, several bathrobes for each season, and scores of dusty knick-knacks when they passed away. I loved them immensely and still miss them every single day.
When grandparents are in their late 70s, 80s, and 90s, gift-giving can become rather difficult. Framed photos of the grandkids and great-grandkids are always popular, but granny and paps only have so much shelf space – especially if they are residing in an assistive care facility.
Emergency Photo Album
Put a new twist on the cute kids in a framed photo gift idea and help emergency responders and nursing facility staff know who the loved ones of the elderly individual are in case SHTF and you cannot get to their sides in the short term.
If the power grid goes down, or there is a fire, or an evacuation has taken place, the contact information for the grandparent will no longer be available. If the loved one struggles with memory, even the most familiar faces might not be recognized after a traumatic situation.
Purchase an attractive yet small and easily portable photo album and put a photo of a loved one or a small group of loved ones on each page. On the back of the follow or following page, list the names of everyone in order and all necessary contact information.
A personal message from each loved one will make the gift an even more cherished keepsake and may help to keep the elderly calm during an emergency or evacuation.
A printout of the grandparent's medical history and current medications could be added to the back pages of the book. If possible, buy a mail organizer rack hang it near a door, and add a label to either the book or the shelf (or both) noting that the keepsake album contains emergency information.
First responders will likely notice such a label more quickly if it is typed in bold red letters. Remind staff or the grandparents that the book is hanging by the door and should always be grabbed in case of an emergency.
Long-Term Food Storage and Water
My husband gives a long-term food storage bucket as a gift to our children and parents every year at Christmas. A case of water and a food bucket, or even just a few food packets if space is an issue, will increase the likelihood of survival for your grandparents during an emergency.
Reminding grandma and grandpa about where the emergency long-term food and water are stored may be necessary and could be added to the emergency photo album as well.
If the grandparents live in a nursing facility, it will be especially important to hide the food and water and make sure your loved ones have a safe and simple way to prepare and eat the food without aid.
A pair of kitchen scissors should also be added to the food and water kit just to make sure the elderly loved one can open the packets easily.
If vision is an issue, make your own labels with the directions printed in large text and adhere to the food bucket or plastic tub filled with bottled water and food packets.
Reading and Learning are Fun at any Age!
Reading is both pleasurable and educational. Our vision tends to deteriorate as we age, but that is no reason to miss out on a great book – especially ones that enhance self-reliance skills. Audiobooks are a great alternative to even large print books.
I downloaded the Audiobooks app on my iPhone specifically to “read” William Forestchen’s One Second After with my husband. Bobby had never read the book and with his work schedule and preparedness tasks, I figured it would just sit on a shelf with the other “one of these days” book titles and gather dust, if I bought it for him.
I did not think I would like Audiobooks at first, but now I love them. Each time I download a title it reminds me of when my dad would tell me bedtime stories as a child.
Tablets are relatively cheap these days, and nearly all of them are compatible with the Audiobooks app.
Buy Gram and Gramps a tablet and load it with a couple of preparedness titles, and perhaps a book from their favorite other or a focused on a topic they already enjoy as well.
Many elderly loved ones spend a lot of their day alone, the sound of another voice could be very welcomed and comforting.
Whether you go with Audiobooks or a traditional paperback book as a gift, the experience can be a great learning and sharing experience for both the loved one and yourself.
If you and Grandpa share a love of gardening, get him Rick Austin’s Secret Garden of Survival book so he can get his thumb green once again by learning the organic techniques Austin explains simply and in great detail.
The next time you visit in person, via Skype, or call on the phone, discuss what is going on in the book, and take notes until you have learned enough to attempt the gardening techniques on your own.
Old family stories about life on the farm, canning the annual harvest, or cooking what the family grew will not only help keep the family history alive but perhaps teach the younger generations some valuable sustainability techniques as well.
The joy of sharing knowledge definitely does not fade with age. Grandma and Grandpa will surely enjoy contributing to your gardening endeavors and look forward to seeing the photos of your progress.
If possible, tie in your loved one's former career expertise with the book topic. If you want to build an off-the-grid power source, perhaps Grandpa can aid in the project when pulling from their vast amount of knowledge and new ideas learned in the book.
All the conversations had while the loved one is enjoying a preparedness Audiobook, paperback, or Kindle book open the door to further discussions about the importance of self-reliance.
See the Prepper books, magazines, movies, games, and radio shows section at the end of the book for suggested titles for all the age groups on your shopping list. If Gram and Gramps are online, store bookmarks for preparedness radio shows and podcasts on their tablet, cell phone, or computer for their listening and learning pleasure as well.
Senior Citizens Bugout Bag
The prepping needs of senior citizens will likely vary just a bit from those of younger and more mobile loved ones. Grandma and grandpa might “bugout” via an organized evacuation by caregivers or be bugging in until help, or you, can arrive.
In addition to all the essential emergency survival and first aid items you have in your own bugout or get-me-home bag, consider including the following:
- Adult diapers
- Natural remedies and aids that may help the loved one stay healthy once their prescribed medication runs out.
- Extra hand warmers
- Non-prescription glasses and a magnifying class
- Some type of personal protection item, this will vary dependent upon the loved ones' mental and physical abilities, as well as possibly nursing home rules. Consider mace, tazer, knife, brass knuckles, and even a screwdriver offer some type of self-defense option.
- Extra Mylar emergency blankets, the elderly tend to get cold far easier than younger folks.
Flashlights are great, but batteries eventually run out, and removing the battery compartment and replacing batteries could prove difficult for some elderly loved ones. The Dollar Tree solar lights work just as well as their more expensive counterparts.
The solar lights could be placed inside a nice planter and kept in a window area or be used to create attractive Mason jar lights and decorative items that blend in with the rest of the décor in the home.
Garden metal art and similar decorations could also be placed on a stand or on the floor by a window area indoors and used for additional and safe lighting during an emergency.
Even if the grandparents are in a rest home with a generator, the fuel necessary to create power would run out during a long-term disaster. A slip and fall injury is not something any of us would want during a disaster, but healing from such an injury while potentially left to the mercy of others in a care facility, is not a situation we want our elderly loved ones to find themselves in.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 4, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.