8 Gifts that Nourish Both Giver + Receiver

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I don’t know about you, but I’m NOT a huge fan of the holidays.

It’s not that I don’t love family. Or the smell of pine. Or pretty lights. Or eating my weight in chocolate.

It’s that I totally can’t deal with the internal gift giving pressure cooker.

Some people make it look so easy. So effortless. They come up with the smartest, most creative and useful gift ideas for everyone. With a twinkle in their eye. And they never overspend.

How do they do it?

I, on the other hand, work myself into a frenzy. I come up with ideas and talk myself out of them.

What if they have one? What if they hate it? What if they think I’ve spent too much? Or what if they didn’t plan to get me anything. And then they feel embarrassed. And then I feel embarrassed. Too much.

All this murders the spirit of generosity, of course.

I usually love giving. But somehow, this time of year, I miss the point.

So I avoid it. I put it off until December 23.

And then I end up having to muscle my way through the last-minute gift crowds on the most heinous shopping days of the year.

Actually, those of us caught with our gift-giving pants down on December 23 should probably just hold hands in a circle and weep right there in the middle of the store.

Can you imagine? We’re probably all feeling the same angst. So why not? 

But we don’t have time for that. The list is long and the clock is ticking. So we just dash about. Sweating in our coats. Not making eye contact.

I’m feeling pretty over it. And they don’t need any more crap.

So here’s my list of 8 unorthodox, non-glitzy, wholeheartedly useful and inexpensive gifts that will nourish bodies, broaden minds, open hearts and set them up for a kinder, calmer, more meaningful new year.

These may not end up on a Season’s Best Gifts list, but they will help you get a handle on holiday gift dysfunction and feel like you're giving innovative and intelligent gifts this year.  

8 Refreshing Ways to Gift this Holiday Season

1. Write them a gorgeously personal card   
Praise their beautiful qualities. Root for them. Wish them well. Invite them to hit you up if they ever need accountability, an ear to bend, a shoulder to cry on, a confidante. It’s free and it’s priceless. All you need is ink and paper. No trip to the store required. Should take about 20 minutes per letter. Easy. Delightful. Deep.  

2. Pick them up a bottle of green pills              
Get a superfood recommendation from one of your green smoothie drinking friends. Buy a bottle  for everyone on your list. About $20-30 a pop. Just ONE trip to ONE store and THEY WILL LOVE IT. Who do you know who wouldn’tbenefit from a bottle or stress-alleviating, immune system-boosting, brain nourishing, superfood pills? Exactly. And if they are like, “WTF – vitamins?” just blame me. I’ll happily take the rap. (I’m a huge fan of Nature’s Plus Source of Life and Hema-Plex).

3. Give mindshifting books
“Mindshifting” books are ones that make them think more expansively, love more boldly or live more courageously. Ones they will remember, recommend read again. Maybe a good read about something they've mentioned they want to learn about or understand  or start doing. Might require a little research, but even surfing on Amazon becomes a noble and wholly positive practice when you do it with your mind laser-beamed at their well-being and progress.

4. Donate in their name
This one might get you some rolled eyeballs or a reputation as a do-gooder who has let your moral superiority go a little too far. But who cares. There are those who will appreciate it and your money will definitely be well spent. Only you know if they’ll dig this kind of thing or not. Watsi is a great option. It hooks patients up with funding for urgent medical care in places where people lack access to healthcare. They make it easy for you to send a gift card for as little as $5.

5. Throw some photos in a calendar
This is so easy. And they frigging love it. And you can actually DO something with that graveyard of photos in your camera roll. Or if you’re a closet photographer, here’s your opportunity to shine and get your talent on someone’s wall. But the photos need not be high-res glossies. I’ve slapped up grainy old photos of family from 1995 and it works just as well – since the aim is to  make them smile broadly and appreciate all the people in their life. Shutterfly and Mixbook do it right.

6. Treat them to a body- or life-nourishing session
Gift them a massage, a month of yoga, a meditation app for a year, an insightful tarot reading or a couple months of coaching. Something that will help them reboot and reframe for the new year. Here’s my shameless plug: I’ve got a 2-month New Year Refresh coaching package that helps shine a light on what needs to change, address the habits that are in the way, and keep them moving through the new year. This is not about me getting the ching-ching going over here – it’s about me knowing just how many beautiful people are struggling and need a little reorienting or (loving) kick in the pants.

7. Give them a night of babysitting
Might be the most valuable gift here. But they’ll only think it’s valuable if they trust you with their kids! So make sure that’s the case before you offer yourself up while they go catch a flick or night out of town. Yes, a whole night if you can swing it. Pack a toothbrush and let them sleep well. If they already have a babysitter and you’re not great with kids, paying for it will work, too.

8. Clean their house to start the year
Go over there yourself on January 2nd or hire someone. Great gift! Imagine starting the year off with a spanking clean house. Bathroom tile grout, windows, organized pantry, mopped floors and all. Do it with a groovy eco-friendly cleaner, and think LOVE while you wipe off and scrub down. And it’s totally the added gift of friendship if you go over there in sweats with coffee and bagels before you begin. I promise they’ll never forget it.

That’s it. I could go on, but I might overwhelm you. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to help you kick to the curb. Seasonal overwhelm.

Hoping that your gift giving grows ever wider and deeper this year – and that it connects you with your people in new and unexpected ways.





Is figuring out what we need to do to be a better partner, friend, spouse, parent, co-worker.

Here are a few ways to can reduce all that anxiety and emotional rollercoastering and become a much kinder, easier and more enjoyable person to be around. This year and every year. 

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Sonja Shahan