Selecting Your Gifts Unseen

Flowering plants for sale at a grocery store in Freemantle, Western Australia
Flowering plants for sale at a grocery store in Freemantle, Western Australia

There are 3 challenges to gift buying when your sight is poor, or you have no vision. The first is getting to the stores you like; the second is picking out the item from the hundreds around you, but which are not on display to you; and the third is selecting the gift in the perfect color or style for your niece or boyfriend to match her skin-tone or the cool look he prefers. And then there’s reading the price tag!

I am not a gifted gift-giver, so I hope that anyone with more and better ideas will comment on this post immediately, and I will try to get your comments up fast. By the way, this will be the last post this year. I will begin again on January 7, 2014. Happy Holidays and a healthy and proactive New Year to everyone.

It’s getting close to the holidays now and people are super-busy. So it may be hard to convince your friend to drive you to that specialty store. Here are some ideas that don’t involve extra rides.



  • Contribute to a gift bought by someone else, or by several people. This is a good way to buy someone an expensive item that she or he really wants but can’t afford. Our family has sometimes done this for each other.
  • Go shopping with your gift-recipient and buy – or contribute to the thing he or she wants.
  • Put cash in an envelope with a note – or just your name and xox – everyone loves cash.


Buy With a Phone Call (and a Credit Card )

You might want some sighted help getting the phone number (and also your credit card information) into a format you can access during the phone call.

  • gift card to a favorite restaurant , or restaurant chain
  • tickets to a game, concert or show
  • manicure, or mani-pedi, or – more expensively – a facial or massage
  • mail order items- check their return policy, and delivery dates)


If you are buying a gift for someone with a vision impairment, here are 3 mail order websites:

LS&S:  (800)468-4789

ILA: (800)537-2118; MaxiAids: (800)522-6294

 If your recipient is tech savvy then purchase an iTunes gift card at the Grocery Store.

Renewable Gifts

These may take time and stress to arrange the first time, but after that you can just renew.

  • magazine subscriptions print edition (Prices can be found at a discount on as well as at the magazine website, and also on small cards stuck inside the magazine.)
  • membership for a year, half year or trial month of a club or association, gym or gallery
  • classes in piano, Zumba, French – you name it

Large Grocery Store

There are lots of gift choices here:

  • flowering plant or bulbs ready to flower
  • gift cards for many stores, and also for buying gas and much more. These are usually placed on an aisle end near the registers.
  • kitchen utensils and dining items – a good potato peeler or knife, an oven-to-table casserole or coffee percolator
  • specialty honey, jelly, mustard or pickles
  • twinned food gifts such as blueberry pancake mix and maple syrup
  • chocolates, or a bottle of something nice

and don’t forget

  • lottery tickets!


Of course you can buy just about anything online. It’s important to know what the item is in advance, or you can make mistakes. I bought a white elephant of a laptop bag recently – huge and covered in little pink hearts and bows. (It looked good to me in the image I couldn’t  see.) Reading customer reviews can be very useful.

Tip for the future:

Buy a couple of little gifts each time you go to an interesting place or specialty store during the year. Little things in the $5-15 range (depending on your budget). Put them in a “Gifts” drawer or shelf at home. Then when the next holiday season rolls around you can combine the gift card with something to unwrap.

3 thoughts on “Selecting Your Gifts Unseen

  1. I would love one of those plants!!
    All of your suggestions are great for all of us. Sighted now you help us to understand the challenges. Thank you!

    1. Yes, it’s true! We all love the same things mostly. Not being able to see and enjoy all the beautiful items in stores can give people with vision loss a pang of grief. On the other hand You don’t see all the ugly items either.

  2. Another really good idea for those choosy teenagers is a gift token from either a good stationery shop or favourite clothes store.

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