I read the article. Excellent ideas, Diane.
Regarding myself: I always make a list (I'm a gadget lover so I come up with stuff I won't buy for myself LOL), and include things like gift cards to Hobby Lobby, Barnes & Noble, and other stores (there are few, believe me) that I like to shop in.
Regarding nursing homes, assisted living, and other similiar environments: Pictures is a wonderful idea, so are sweaters and fleece blankets. One caution: some people request or think it is a good idea to have one of those blankets with "foot pockets." While the idea is fine, many of the people in nursing homes (and other places) have some form of dementia. They may not have a clue what to do with the pocket, even if you explain it to them. Also, they may forget their feet are in the pocket, if they do use it, and either try to walk or feel like they are tied down when their feet are in there. Just a suggestion:)
By all means - decorate! That is SOOOO important. Sometimes we think the staff decorations are enough, but I'll tell you, the folks really enjoy when their own space is decorated.
Remember when gifting food that diets matter
We had one church that put little "stocking" gifts together for our residents. It was the most ingenious, inexpensive thing ever. They got those little brown paper lunch bags, had the kids decorate them to look Christmas-y, then filled it with a small cracker and cheese packet, a bottle of water, a pair of socks, and a scarf. Our residents thought they hit the jackpot! It helped that the kids from the church walked through singing carols and handing out the gifts too!