Guest Post By: Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Dr. Gina Lynem-Walker.
The average American anticipates spending more than $900 during the holiday season. Despite efforts to set a budget, 58 percent of families go beyond their means and a quarter are willing to withdraw money from retirement funds, emergency savings or loans in order to fulfill holiday wish lists. As many know, spending goes beyond gifts—decorations, food and bills manage to add up during this time of year. When mapping out your holiday spending, consider the simple ways to gift things that are thoughtful, practical and won’t break the bank.
Nothing manages to bring people together quite like food. Throughout the holiday season and beyond, food symbolizes celebration and provides a sense of physical, mental and emotional comfort—which means you can never go wrong with creative, food-friendly gift ideas.
- Cooking Lessons: Treating a loved one to a cooking class is a useful and sentimental gift that can be enjoyed together from fast, healthy meals to fun, festive date night ideas. It is a gift that will keep giving.
- Do-it-Yourself Meal Tools: What foodie doesn’t love a new set of supplies? Filling a basket (or cooking pot) with the necessities of a specific recipe makes a great holiday gift. A pasta-lover might appreciate a spiralizer, homemade sauce and/or healthy pasta seasonings. An athlete might enjoy a food processor and/or the ingredients to make on-the-go homemade energy bites.
- Relieve Grocery Store Grief: Since trips to the grocery store are frequent during the holiday season, gift cards are very useful. To add a personal touch, pull together a healthy cook book or handwrite a grocery list that maps out a week’s worth of meal prep ideas.
- Mason Jar Recipes: This budget-friendly gift is as aesthetically pleasing as it is delicious. By layering ingredients into a jar with instructions, the recipient can make a recipe for themselves or upcoming holiday parties. Consider cookie or soup recipes that require five to eight dry ingredients that won’t spoil.
- Meal Kit Delivery Service: Giving the gift of a meal delivered directly to your loved one’s door this holiday season can alleviate stress and save time.
The holidays are a great time for families to establish healthy habits that last beyond the winter months. Inspire loved ones to do the same and get moving with some of the following gift ideas:
- Dance Lessons: Treat yourself and a friend to a one-hour dance lesson to spend time with one another during the holidays while burning up to 500 calories in one session.
- Group Class Pass: Many gyms offer free, drop-in passes for participants to determine which workout suits them best. Consider a loved ones’ favorite form of exercise and join them for a yoga, cycling or kick-boxing class at a nearby fitness studio.
- Gym Membership: Give a family member the opportunity to get a head start on their New Year’s resolutions by purchasing a gym membership. Better yet, purchase one at the same time and create a workout regimen to do together.
- Workout Essentials Kit: This can include all the essentials your loved one needs to complete their favorite exercises. Tennis shoes, socks, a yoga mat, water bottle, weights, resistance bands, ear buds, workout DVD, jump rope or fitness clothes are just a few ideas.
The physical and financial demands of the holidays can contribute to fatigue and/or poor mental health. Any opportunity to relax is a valuable and sentimental gift to give.
- Oil Diffuser: Help minimize holiday stress with an essential oil diffuser. Lavender, chamomile and frankincense are a few of the scents that have been shown to be effective aromatherapies.
- Spa Day: Massages and/or facials are great ways to relax during the holidays. To save money, skip the spa and transform a room of the house into a calm space with candles, calming music, dim lighting and homemade face masks.
- Time: Not all holiday gifts need to have monetary value. Spending time with loved ones, even if it’s just a few hours together at home, is a great way to celebrate the holidays. Building memories and traditions is always a greater gift than buying things. Similarly, giving a parent or spouse a chance to be alone is valuable and often helps relieve stress.
- Wellness Kit: Consider gifts that a loved one may not purchase for themselves. For example, if he or she is creative, put together a basket of art supplies to encourage them to take their mind off the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Grace Derocha is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips and information on member tools, visit www.AHealthierMichigan.org