Dear Heloise: I am a nursing assistant, and I work in a nursing home. With the holidays here, I thought I would suggest a few GIFT IDEAS for residents of nursing, assisted-living and group homes that are really appreciated.

I know many organizations and families get flowers at the holidays and even gift baskets for the residents. However, a lot of these items are wasted. So, here are a few ideas from a caregiver:

* Socks: Feet are always cold, and socks get lost in the laundry. Place name on the socks.

* Shawls for women: It can be cold sitting up during the day, and these will cover the shoulders.

* Blankets: Either lap or bed blankets that can provide a “touch of home” or a “hug” from friends and family.

* Slippers: Again, because feet get cold, and circulation is bad.

* Sweaters: Made from sweatshirt material. These wash very well and are warm.

-- A Reader in Maryland

How right you are! And when buying shirts and sweaters, try not to get “pullover” types. They are difficult to get on and off. Other suggestions, readers? -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: To save time searching for keys in my purse, I bought a carabiner and attached them to it. It matches my purse and keeps my keys safely inside and close to the top. Many of us have cars that need fobs for unlocking/locking. I got the carabiner for $1 in a clearance box at the local hardware store. -- Mary, via e-mail

I use them for all kinds of projects! My husband, David, introduced me to them when we were hot-air ballooning! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Karen Demyanovich, via e-mail, sent a photo of her dog Dudley getting his nails trimmed for a nursing-home visit. Karen says: “Dudley looks like I do when they take blood — just do it! He is such a good sport about everything.” To see Dudley getting his manicure, visit my Web site at and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Here’s my trick to make a crispy, “made from scratch”-tasting treat from commercial cookie dough. Follow the manufacturer’s baking directions. Turn off the oven, slightly prop open the door and remove the cookie tray after about 10 minutes. The cookies will set nicely, without burning, and keep deliciously crisp in a container. -- Jeannie in Kingwood, Tex.


Dear Heloise: Last year for my granddaughter’s birthday party, my daughter-in-law had a great idea for her boxes of used broken crayons. She bought a couple of plastic candy molds, and we melted down different colors of crayons and poured them into the molds, making new crayons for the treat bags. The kids really loved them, and no wasted crayons! There are so many different molds out there; you can find them for just about any party theme. -- Maria in Ohio

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate