While your empty-nest friends feel joy and pride when their children are accepted into college or get their own places -- and they probably look forward to having the house to themselves, with more space and freedom -- a sense of emptiness often adds to the mix of emotions already at play. Gift the empty nesters an item that helps to ease their sadness an nudges them toward using their newly found free time in getting reacquainted with themselves and each other.
Fluffing Up the Nest
Purchase or make a bird's-nest basket and fill the "empty nest" with gifts. A bird's-nest basket, shaped like a nest, may be rustic and made with woven birch and natural materials. Find them at florists' shops and craft stores -- some department stores carry elegant silver and contemporary wire baskets. If the gift is for a couple, attach a small plaque to the front and fill it with items that encourage building a new life such as a gift certificate to a store that sells bedroom sheets, comforters, pillows and scented candles. Or help fluff the nest with gifts such as a cozy couch blanket, a gift certificate to a gourmet market or kitchen store, or luxurious bath items. You might even wrap up materials for a home project that you know is on their agenda.
Comfort, Laughter and Insights
Give books to help ward off the empty nest syndrome; alternatively, buy an e-book reader and download fiction on it. If the empty nesters prefer movies, find films that touch on the empty nest theme and purchase a DVD player for the empty nesters. Round out the reading or movie-watching gift with a popcorn machine, popcorn or a box of chocolates.
Launching "We Time"
Pack a picnic basket with unexpected items. Among the cheese and wine, tuck in summer concert tickets or a gift card for gas and a note with directions to a picnic spot. If the empty nesters live near a lake resort or cabins that rent private hot tubs with views, send them to the spot with a gift certificate. Or book them a room at a romantic hotel and provide gift cards for restaurants.
Launching "Me Time"
If the empty nester is single, help him fill some of his hours with activities that perhaps he may have put off for "someday after the kids are grown." If he always wanted to learn photography, give him a good photography book or a digital camera. Or maybe your friend always wanted to learn ballroom dancing, yoga or painting, so enroll her in a class or series of classes. Or find her some instructional books or DVDs on the topic of her interest. Other "me-time" gift ideas include supplies for a favorite but long-lost hobby such as art paper and pencils. Your empty nester might appreciate an MP3 player for her favorite tunes.