It’s December 8th – are you finding yourself in gift-buying panic mode? With all the advertising and media hype, there can be a lot of pressure to find the “perfect” gift for everyone on your list, but that doesn’t mean you need to troll everyone’s Amazon wish list and spend loads of money this holiday season. While things like electronics, indulgent food and booze tend to be popular gifts, why not give your loved ones something a little more unique and special to them this year?
By giving a healthy gift that considers a person’s likes and interests, you not only show that your gift is a thoughtful one, you also help them avoid the negative after-effects of a holiday season that has been filled with too much of that other stuff. Your gift can help motivate someone to start a new healthy habit or keep up a current one; it can help them reduce stress; it can pamper them in positive ways. Here’s a list of 10 great gift ideas for just about anyone on your list:
Support a Healthy Habit
1. The Gift of Gear – Whatever sport or activity your loved one is into, with just a few seemingly innocent questions, you can find out what they might need or want most. For runners, shoes always make a great gift. A cyclists might be in need of a spare tire tube or an all-in-one tool kit for fixing flats. The yogi in your life might want a new mat or block or strap. Your tennis playing friend would probably love having her racquet restrung. Someone interested in cooking healthy meals would love a good pan or a chef’s knife. You get the idea – do a little digging and you’ll find just the thing.
2. Give a Membership – You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a year-long membership at a big gym to keep your special someone happy and healthy. Many smaller facilities (and a few of the big-box ones, too) sell punch cards with a limited number of visits or classes or lessons on them. This can be a low-cost way for your loved one to try out a new activity he’s interested in, or maybe a new facility or instructor for one he’s been doing for years.
3. Pay for an Event Registration – If there’s someone on your list who is crazy for a certain sport, chances are they spend a good chunk of change every year on events. Runners, cyclists and triathletes enter races; basketball, tennis and racquetball players join leagues; yogis and martial arts enthusiasts go to retreats or clinics. With a little Q & A, you can find out if your friend has her eye on one such event in particular and put up the registration fee for her.
4. Give the Gift of Time – Many of us would be more active if only we had a little help covering some of our other commitments. You could help a friend or loved one do that by babysitting twice a week so she can get to her spinning class. You can bicycle next to a runner friend on his long training days and carry extra water and gear for him. You can take care of the meal planning, shopping and cooking for an entire week so that your sweetie can hit the gym after work every evening and kick-start her new workout habit. You can spend four hours helping a loved one clean out their cluttered attic or basement. There’s no end to the possibilities!
Help Them Relax and Unwind
5. Put Together a Pamper Package – For her mother’s birthday this year, my wife sent a box that contained a tea mug and a box of herbal tea, fuzzy slippers and a great novel. Her mother spent the next few weeks reveling in cozy “me-time” each evening. It doesn’t cost much to give someone the means (and the permission) to treat themselves well. Bath salts, a nice candle, a book of poems, a cozy blanket – these things can create an oasis right in your loved one’s very own home.
6. Introduce Them to Meditation – One of the best stress-relief techniques is meditation, but hardly anyone really knows how to meditate. If you want to spring for the big gift, you could buy someone classes, but there are some wonderful books and audio lessons available, too. If you live with the lucky recipient, you can also help to create a quiet space and time for them each day so that they can practice this powerful new habit. Turn off the music and the TV, take the kids for a walk and let your loved one have a little time alone with their not-thoughts.
7. Buy a Book (the kind printed on paper) – Lack of sleep is a big health risk. It increases stress hormones, lowers immunity and has been directly linked to higher rates of obesity. One of the key tips for getting a good night’s sleep is to avoid screens of all kinds (even eReaders) for at least one hour before bedtime. Reading a book before turning out the lights has also been shown to improve sleep – it helps people fall asleep faster, probably because their mind has been taken away from their own concerns. Perhaps it’s a good idea, though, to skip the crime thriller and go with something more literary.
Encourage Lifelong Education
8. Feed Their Passion – Just about everyone has something they are passionate about. Whether it’s a sport or other physical activity, a hobby or even their career, you know what each of your friends is really into – it’s the thing they talk about all the time. You can help them delve even deeper into their fascination by giving a gift that tells a story about it. Books, movies, documentaries and even songs can enlighten and motivate those interested in a particular subject. Think creatively and look for the ones that other people will miss. Your loved one will be delighted!
9. Give the Gift of Learning – For every interest imaginable there are hundreds or thousands of classes or programs. Some of these are ten-day retreats in the Tuscan hills, and some of them are $15 online Skillshare classes or $12 instructional books. For no money at all, you could put in some time and curate the best YouTube videos on a topic, then send those links to your friend in a holiday email. Whichever option you choose, your friend will be elated, because it will help him learn more about a topic he loves, and he will know that you’ve put some thought into the gift.
10. Teach What You Know – Are you a pretty good painter? Do you know your way around the weight room like a trainer? Do you have a special knack for putting healthy meals on the table in under 30 minutes? Wherever your expertise lies, you probably know at least one or two people who would love to learn from you. By passing on what you know, you’ll not only be helping a friend learn something new, you’ll be strengthening the bond between the two of you – a gift you both will cherish.
The examples I’ve given here have had a lot to do with physical activity, but the ideas can be applied to just about anything imaginable. Photography buffs, enthusiastic home cooks, knitters and crafters would love these kinds of thoughtful gifts as well. Just remember that the gift you give should be something your loved one will genuinely want and not something you want for them. Giving is about adding to a person’s life. Sometimes that involves healthy change, but not always. Whatever you give, give joy this holiday season.