I love presents as much as the next person. But I hate the holiday hangover that comes when you look at the gifts you’ve given and received and realize they really only contribute to the ocean of meaningless stuff. For that reason, I have been known to give flax seeds and vitamins as gifts. Not exactly festive, I know. So this year, I set out to find gifts that are helpful, healthful, and pretty and/or fun. Here are my favorites. I love them for their ability to help the people we care about relax, take care of themselves, and feel energized.
Is there anything these tiny towels can’t do? Scented with lavender essential oil, these wipes disinfect grimy kid hands, sweaty treadmill handles, and your own hands after touching something gross. And because it’s lavender that’s doing the disinfecting, they also calm you the heck down, fast. You can just tear the package open and take a whiff when you need it. Or put one in your pillowcase to help you sleep. Or place it over a heating vent in your car. And when you’re done, you can throw them on your compost heap—they’re biodegradable.
Organic cotton and hemp yoga bolster
I’ve pledged my love for the yoga bolster before. I believe every home should have one. They are for adults what teddy bears are for kids—using one grounds you, calms you down, and makes you feel loved no matter how crappy a mood you’re in. And this particular bolster is particularly fantastic. It’s stuffed with organic cotton so no toxic chemicals for you to inhale (or for farmers to get on their skin or for the earth to have to absorb) and covered in a neutral hemp fabric that goes with any décor. Leave it under your coffee table in the living room, on the floor at the foot of your bed, or anywhere you’ll see it regularly and thus, be inspired to lie on it whenever you need a little TLC.
Skinny Skinny bath salts
A warm bath can cure many ills. Encourage someone you love to take more of them with these dreamy smelling organic bath salts. They also come in sample sizes (for $4), which make ideal stocking stuffers or small tokens to send to people far away.
Having this beautiful bottle perched on the edge of the tub can help you decide to forego a quick shower for something a little more restorative. I think the green tea and jasmine flavor is totally delectable, but they’ve got several scent combos to choose from.
This jolly little creature transforms anyone in to a gifted massage therapist. Giving one to your lover is a little self-serving, I must admit, because it’s basically saying, “I’d like more massages, please!” So be it. You totally deserve more massages! (And you can use it on him or her.)
You don’t even need to wrap it — just let it peek out from a stocking.
Bring Your Own T (Leave a comment to enter to win your own starter kit!)
A brilliant idea executed beautifully by the folks at Sanctuary T, a tea emporium in New York City’s Soho. They provide custom blends of loose leaf tea along with several travel brewing pouches so you can experience the exquisite flavors and soul-soothing ceremony of loose leaf tea anywhere you can secure a cup of hot water.
Think of it as a personal, portable tea ceremony.
Pinecone beeswax candles
Beeswax candles burn clean, give off a beautiful warm light, and smell sweet as, well, honey. These pinecone-shaped beauties, handmade by beekeepers in Southern Louisiana, add a lovely seasonal touch.
Phillips GoLITE Blu Energy light therapy device
I bought one of these for my Dad last year. He and I both suffer from Season Affectation Disorder, and I half wanted to help relieve him of his doldrums and half wanted to use him as a guinea pig to see if light therapy really worked. Dad had recently moved his desk to his sun-drenched living room and had already noticed a big uptick in his mood, so he told me the best gift I could give would be to keep it and use it myself (I was working in a windowless closet at the time). I quickly fell in love with this little blue light, and would feel a little bit sad when it clicked off. (It comes with a timer that allows it to turn itself on and off.) It’s a bit of a big-ticket item ($129.99 at J&R, $35 cheaper than Amazon!), and not a particularly sexy one at that. (Here’s more about my experiences with it on the Gaiam Stream of Consciousness blog.) But what’s more appealing than feeling well-balanced and more like yourself?
Traditional Chinese Medicine advocates keeping your neck warm, as cold and wind can “invade” the body at the neck and lead to colds and other infections. Traditional scarves are great, but can get in the way when wearing them all day long. Enter the neck scarf—basically a turtleneck without the sweater attached. I love this one and this one from Etsy.
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without a little something sweet. Make your confection (sustainably farmed, of course) dark chocolate and you reap numerous health benefits. These dark chocolate covered caramels sprinkled with sea salt from NuNu’s Chocolates in Brooklyn, strike just the right balance between salty and sweet. And Seattle’s Theo Chocolates is the first and only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the United States. Their dark chocolate bars with bits of peppermint sticks are a great way to have some of the traditional flavors of the season without having a complete sugar-fest.
Tanja Bochnig, a Berlin-based yoga teacher, handcrafts her own scents with only the most natural ingredients. These scents whisper instead of shout. When you wear them, you can’t help but keep sneaking your wrist up to your nose so you can take another whiff—they are tantalizing. Here’s Rose L’Orange, my favorite—a nice balance between decadent rose and perky citrus.
If you’re nervous about selecting a perfume for someone without smelling it first, here’s a sampler of three different organic perfumes for $25. Once you know which one is your recipient’s favorite, you can get her a bigger bottle of it next year.
Last but not least
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include my book, The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide on this list. It’s packed with 77 simple remedies to modern stressful situations, including fights with your boss, bad hair days, computer crashes, and road rage.
Plus, it’s really nicely designed. Helpful, inspiring, cute, cheap—what more could you want for a gift? I’ll even sign it and personalize it for your recipient.
What will you be giving as gifts this year?
Leave a comment to share your thoughts AND be entered to win a starter BYOT pack.
Congrats to Be!
She shared a comment about how one of her friends introduced her to a self-care practice, and she won a goodie from my grab-bag of mind-body media. Here’s her comment:
” I write haikus, thanks to my good friend Rodrigo who is always encouraging me to write more. While writing them my mind flies away from worries and any other thought that might be disrupting my day. Concentrating in a way to express what you are seeing or feeling in three short lines makes you forget everything else.”
Take care and keep breathing (and happy Thanksgiving!!)