Healthy Gift Ideas for All Ages
As the gift-giving season ramps up, it’s worthwhile to think about what people truly need and how the gifts you give affect the health of those you love. Here are some affordable gift ideas for all ages that support deeper relationships and well-being.
For infants and toddlers, give learning. While it may be tempting to grab the flashiest thing you can find, “simple toys—like blocks and ring stackers—create more opportunities for caregivers to use descriptive language when playing with their child,” said Jennie Moon, who leads local Early Intervention and Children’s Integrated Services. “Exploring the different possibilities is how young children learn, explore the world around them, and start growing the foundational language and social skills they need to communicate.” There are many additional considerations for children with special needs. Moon recommends the online guide from Performance Health.
For kids, give time. Electronic-oriented gifts are popular, for sure; but there are big rewards in looking beyond the obvious presents to ones that allow you and the child in your life to spend valuable time together. “Board games, craft kits, and books—given along with the promise (and follow through) to play, craft, or read together—fulfills kids need for focused adult attention,” said Moon. “If the joy of the time together isn’t reward enough, studies show that kids who get kid-centric time with adults exhibit more positive social behaviors.”
To teens and young adults, give conversation. Teens can be among the hardest people to buy presents for, because it is sometimes difficult to relate to their interests. And initiating a conversation about what they are “into” can be challenging at first. “Remember to be open minded,” said Meghan Gunn, MD, of SVMC Pediatrics. “Try to connect the thing that they enjoy with something you like or something you liked when you were their age.” Your interest could open the door to a more rewarding relationship and become even more meaningful than the gift itself.
For adults, give fun. “Whatever makes your person smile, that’s what you should get for them,” said Paula Haytko, RN, CDE, a certified diabetes educator. Quite often, she notes, it’s a fun time, rather than an object that thrills people. It could be a movie night or a set of concert tickets. “Making memories and having fun relieves stress, which improves sleep and supports efforts to make healthy food choices,” she said.
For elders, offer warmth and connection. You could take your elder out for a drive and a meal at their favorite diner. Better yet, says Lisa Downing-Forget, MD, of SVMC Internal Medicine, because so many elders cannot leave home safely, “bring the ingredients for a healthy home-cooked meal to prepare with them. It warms the home with pleasant smells, allows you to spend quality time together, and may set them up with several days of leftovers.” A puzzle to work on together or a book about a favorite topic are also good gifts. Take note of whether they need a new coat, boots, or blankets, Dr. Downing-Forget recommends. “Elders often don’t replace these items as often as they should.”
For acquaintances (like teachers, neighbors, and co-workers), give health. So many people default to giving sweet treats or alcohol, especially to people they don’t know well. “While it may be more challenging, aim for healthier items, like nuts or dried or fresh fruit,” said Haytko. “Beautiful olive oils, specialty vinegars, and lovely herbal teas are inexpensive and available at any grocery store. Plus, these gifts encourage health, enjoyment, and longevity.”
With thoughtful gifts like these, you, your loved ones, friends, and neighbors will be enjoying more of what matters most: each other, of course.