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Holiday Gift Ideas 2019

Whatever your tradition, you are probably in search of gifts this time of year. In the spirit of giving, here are my healthy gift ideas* for 2019. I have posted some links in this article to things I've either tried myself or that've been recommended by friends, but I don't have any affiliation with the products or services.

*Look at your gift through the eyes of the receiver. My recommendations are based on what you or someone you love wants to do. I have no doubt that if you're reading this, you love your family and friends and want the best for them, especially when it comes to their health. I mean, it would be awesome if you could simply gift better health, but it's not that simple. If the person in question has been talking about wanting to make a healthful change, these ideas can be helpful. If getting healthier is not on their radar screen, a "healthy" gift may backfire. When it comes to gifts, it may be clichéd, but it truly is the thought that counts.

If there's a desire to:

Exercise more

Keep it fun, whatever that means to you or your giftee. For introverts, a good playlist can make the most of indoor workouts. If you prefer combining socializing with your fitness, enlist a friend - the more, the healthier.

Fitness Apps and Online Sites

For you or someone you love who prefers to work out anywhere except a gym

There are so many to choose from. Some offer a limited free version, with the ability to upgrade for a fee or subscription. Aaptiv ($14.99/month, $99/year) is a popular fitness app that gives you options for exercise based on your goals, then gives you audio guidance through your workout. AllTrails has a limited free and robust paid subscription ($29.99/year) options to help you find trails, wherever you go. Fitness Blender is an online site that offers video workouts for the more experienced exerciser. You can choose the length of the workout, the equipment you have, and the type of workout you want to do. Their website and workouts are free, but they offer paid programs that have specific exercise goals.

Gift Certificates

For you or someone you love who prefers to work out with a friend or group

Most small businesses have certificates or cards that let you gift a single class or series of classes. Or, you can give the gift of moving more to yourself and a friend, or group of friends. If you've been talking about doing something, write down the specifics of what you'll do together, when, and how often. I've even got a link to a gift certificate you can print and personalize.


Eat healthier

Remember, you can't out-train poor nutrition. Preparing your own food is the best way to impact the healthfulness of your diet. In our very busy world, time is the most often cited reason for not cooking. Here are some practical solutions that overcome the time hurdle to help you and your loved ones eat better:

Meal Planning Apps/Services

For you or someone you love who has little time for meal planning


A smartphone or desktop app that lets you organize recipes (online or your own), create meal plans, and generates your grocery list. Cost is $4.99 for the smartphone app, $29.99 for the desktop app.


A smartphone app that lets you choose your meals based on a customized search, and generates your grocery list. The app is free, but the subscription ($5.99/month or $49.99/year) has more robust features.


A meal planning subscription service that sends 4 complete meal recipes a week, can generate your grocery list and connects with instacart for grocery delivery.

The Scramble**

A meal planning subscription service that sends 4 complete meal recipes a week, can generate your grocery list and connects with instacart for grocery delivery.

I wrote a more in depth description of all of these options in this article on easier meal planning.


For you or someone you love who has little time to cook

How to Cook Everything Fast

For you or someone you love who wants to eat more fruit and veg

This cookbook has loads of tips to help you quickly get meals on the table, and each recipe has notes with flavor variations to give you options. Each recipe is laid out in a way that makes it easy to divvy up tasks with your kids or other loved ones.

Healthy food, delivered

For you or someone you love who wants to eat more fruit and veg

There are lots of subscription options, including local CSAs (community supported agriculture), Hungry Harvest, Imperfect Foods, and Misfits Market. Check out delivery options and scheduling options to see what will work best.


Rest & Recover better

For everyone

To Soothe


Especially during these very short days, candles brighten & soothe your physical and mental space. Your local honey producers often have candles for sale. If you live in the Washington DC area, I highly recommend Banner Bee Company's tea lights and candles.


So many options! I recently tried this lavender and coconut tea from Florida, which is a delightful pick me up, and the low levels of caffeine won't keep you awake at night. Pair it with some tea lights and a good book or journal, and you've created more than a gift, it's a mini escape!

Essential oils

Chill Pill (from Aura Cacia) is a calming mix of lavender and peppermint essential oils. I highly recommend a spritz just before you sit down to relax with a good book or are settling in to sleep.

Sleep Apps with Stories

Sleep is a major pillar of your health, and we're still discovering why we need it. If you have trouble falling asleep, there are apps that have bedtime stories to lull you to dreamland.

Slumber is a popular app and costs $49.99/year. Calm has limited free stories and offers more for $69.99/year, along with other features. Headspace is also popular for stories and other relaxation strategies, and is $12.99/month or $69.99/year.

To Do


For your friend who likes to write, there are so many options that you're sure to find one that's just right for your gift recipient.

Knitting/Crafting/Painting lessons or materials

There's something very zen-like about crafting something by hand. The research consensus on knitting, in particular, is that it reinforces the relaxation response. All of these creative pursuits help you foster mindfulness and have a calming effect.


If you enjoy intense exercise, it's easy to think of it as a counterbalance to stress in your life, because it feels great to let off some steam. But it also adds to allostatic load (the wear and tear on the body and brain that result from being “stressed out"), raising stress hormones in the same way as having an argument with a loved one, and your body doesn't know the difference. Restorative yoga can give you a truly soothing movement alternative on recovery days. Most people think of yoga as contorting yourself into uncomfortable shapes and poses. I like to think of yoga as meditation for people who can't sit still. (I'm not suggesting the more intense types of yoga like Ashtanga Vinyasa, aka Flow, Bikram or hot yoga.) Going with your giftee could do you both a world of good.

Wishing you a very happy, healthy holiday season!

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