(Editor’s note: During this Holiday season and the time of gift giving, here are some tips from healthy giving from the Nutrition Source of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.)
Shopping for holiday gifts is at the top of many people’s to-do lists. And while so-called “health nuts” used to be the primary recipients of wellness-boosting presents, the reality is that everyone can benefit from being given “the gift of health.”
This holiday season, consider adopting a health theme for your holiday shopping. To help, we’ve put together some fun ideas that serve as enjoyable and thoughtful gifts, and which can be motivational nudges toward living a healthier lifestyle. And, because the habits of your friends and family can rub off on you, in some ways it’s like giving a gift to yourself as well!
1. Olive oil
This may already be a pantry staple, but splurging on a high-quality oil – something many people typically don’t buy for themselves – is
a gift that will truly delight the taste buds. Also, consider some special oils, such as hazelnut, walnut oil or roasted pumpkin seed oil, for a special flavor treat. For the true connoisseur, consider giving an “oil of the month” subscription that will please their palate year-round.
Similar to olive oil, this is a kitchen must-have that many people don’t think much about – but should, given that vinegars come in all ages and flavors that can enhance the flavor of food in different ways. Prompt friends and family to explore new flavors by giving them a bottle!
3. Herb seed kit
This easy-to-assemble and inexpensive present allows recipients to watch their gift grow, making it both fun and unique – especially great for kids.
Every step counts – especially during the holidays, when time for exercise is at a minimum. Though many phones have a built-in pedometer, having an “old fashioned” one tucked in a purse or pocket is great motivation to stay active throughout the day – not to mention that keeping your pedometer separate from your phone may help minimize screen time.
5. Water bottle
While many people already tote a trusty water bottle to work or the gym, why not give them another option? We get used to our everyday items, so a new replacement can bring a much-needed dose of inspiration.
6. Tea cup & saucer
The holidays can be hectic, and sometimes it’s the little things that make a huge difference. For coffee or tea lovers, consider picking out a beautiful tea cup for them – it’s a way to make a simple beverage break feel like a special indulgence. Also, consider including some fragrant, flavorful tea to make it a complete package.
7. Kitchen utensils
Most of us own at least one of the basic kitchen utensils – including a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, and flat spatula – but sometimes it’s helpful having more than one on hand. For a thoughtful gift sure to get lots of use, bundle together a few kitchen favorites. This ensures that when one is in the dishwasher, your lucky gift recipient can keep on cooking!
8. Water glasses
Everyone knows the benefits of skipping soda, and having beautiful glasses to drink out of makes water all the more alluring. This gift is simple and useful – and versatile. You can give one glass, or eight – it’s up to you, but your recipient is sure to enjoy sipping from them.
While many people gift homemade sweets to friends, neighbors and coworkers, consider going with something more filling instead. Nuts offer more protein and healthy fats with far less sugar, making it a satiating and healthy food gift. Feeling extra generous? Consider giving a “nut of the month” gift subscription, so your loved ones can snack smart all year long.
10. Reusable lunch bag
Besides being better for the environment than
paper bags, reusable lunch bags will inspire your gift recipients to make their own lunches instead of eating out – which may be better for both their waistline as well as their wallet.
11. Sleep mask
We all realize the importance of sleep, but sometimes it can be hard to come by. Starting with simple steps can help, including wearing a basic sleep mask to block out the light. Available in numerous colors and materials, this easy-to-pack present can be taken on trips or kept on the bedside table.
12. Board games
This may not seem like the most obvious “healthy gift” choice, but you’d be surprised! Give your friends & family games this holiday season, and perhaps that will encourage them to spend leisure time huddling over a board game instead of around the snack table or staring at a screen.
13. An orange
In centuries past fresh oranges were scarce, so around holiday time it was a treat to be given one as a gift. Nowadays many people carry on the tradition by gifting someone a single orange. It’s a sweet gesture that celebrates simplicity, and also serves as a refreshing break from the typical holiday fare.
14. Homemade roasted chick peas or black-eyed peas
Instead of gifting sugar-laden sweets, try giving more nutritious snacks! For example, you can roast your own chick peas or black eyed peas, then store them in a glass jar with your own handmade tag. Most people snack on what’s around them, so they’ll appreciate having this delicious & nutritious alternative to the usual holiday cookie platter.
How to do it? Drain the canned peas of your choice, dry the peas thoroughly, and toss with plenty of olive oil and sea salt. Add herbs & spices, too, if you want to get creative with the flavor! Then roast at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. [See the full recipe and spice suggestions for crunchy roasted chickpeas.]
15. Salad spinner
Not just a relic from earlier decades, salad spinners are great for making the task of cleaning vegetables easier – and it’s a great way to get kids involved with food prep. Give the gift of clean greens this holiday!
16. Dark chocolate
Looking to give a gift that’s still sweet, but comes with more health benefits than the usual platter of cookies and baked goods? Forego the flour and opt for dark chocolate, which – depending on the brand and cocoa percentage – offers a wide range of complex and delightful flavors. Aim for 70 percent cocoa content or higher, keeping in mind that the higher the number, the less sweet it will be.
17. Home-cooked meal
During the holidays when everyone is on the go, sometimes giving your loved one the gift of time can be the best gift of all. In this case, you can take something off their plate by putting something on their plate – a thoughtfully prepared dinner, cooked in your home or theirs. After asking about any dietary restrictions or allergies, assure them they can turn off their devices, disconnect, and dine on a nourishing home-cooked meal.