I have a love-hate relationship with the shopping season leading up to Christmas.
I love the lights and decor, the festive atmosphere, the smells and sounds, and the general sense of joyful anticipation in the crowds of shoppers.
But I hate the pressure to buy, buy, buy — the imbalanced focus on consumerism and stuff.
Over the years, especially as my children have become young adults, I've succumbed less to the lure of bright shiny things to buy and put under the tree. I've tried to focus more on quality time with my friends and family and simply relaxing and experiencing the beauty of this magical time of year.
That said, I still enjoy gift-giving, especially since I can do so much shopping online.
Now I try to focus my gift choices on things that truly enhance the receiver's life. I look for gifts that are meaningful, have some longevity, and that promote self-improvement in some way.
If you share this outlook on gift-giving, you might enjoy reading about some of my favorite gifts that I've given or received over the years.
For me, you can never go wrong with a book. And if you have book-lovers on your gift list, this is a perfect gift that is inexpensive and provides hours and hours of pleasure.
Plus books can be passed on and shared, making it a gift that keeps on giving. I've started reading most of my books on a Kindle (which is a great gift itself).
Some of my favorite recent reads include these amazing books:
Help for the Haunted, by John Searles: This is a mystery, but not a ghost story. It's about a family and their secrets. Amazing character development and the story completely draws you in.
The Invitation , by Oriah: This book is an expansion of Oriah's beautiful poem by the same name (if you haven't read the poem, you can read it here). She uses passages from the poem to take the reader further into her exquisite writing and soul-fulfilling truths.
My published books. I've published books on building confidence, developing good habits, finding your passion, and mindfulness. I hope you'll share them as gifts for yourself or people you love.
If you don't know what book to buy for someone, you can always get an Amazon gift card .
For anyone who is health-conscious and knows the benefits juicing (weight loss, increased energy levels, strengthened immunity, strong bones and a glowing complexion), this is a great gift suggestion.
Really sophisticated juicers can be expensive, but here's a good juicer for about $50 that does the trick for someone just getting into juicing.
3. Indoor Herb Garden
I love cooking with fresh herbs all year round. I mentioned how much I love my rosemary bushes in a previous post.
But not all herbs do so well outside during the cold months.
So an indoor herb garden is the perfect gift for anyone who cooks. Not only does it provide fresh herbs at your fingertips all winter, but also it smells absolutely wonderful!
I talk about how much I love my rebounder trampoline all the time, but it really is the perfect indoor winter exercise.
You can read about the health benefits of rebounding here. For anyone who wants or needs to get moving but hates to be outside when it's cold, this is a great gift.
5. Yoga Instruction
Another great winter exercise and stress reliever is yoga.
This is one of the most beneficial and inexpensive forms of exercise and stretching you can find. It's a particularly nice gift for anyone who doesn't have good flexibility.
6. Meditation Instruction
Everyone should practice meditation — the benefits are astounding.
Studies have shown it provides increased immunity, emotional balance, increased fertility, lower blood pressure, improved brain function, and decreased inflammation.
Even a few minutes a day of meditation can provide dramatic health benefits. It does require some instruction for beginners.
Here's A Beginner's Guide to Meditation, a book-and-audio program brings together some of the country's most beloved meditation teachers.
7. A Sound Machine
Sleep is so vital to our overall health.
But according to recent studies, the majority of people regularly get less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night.
For those who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, sound machine is a great gift.
White noise and soothing sounds gives the brain the calming sensory input it needs, even while sleeping. This noise also blocks other distracting noises that prevent sleep.
Offering the gift of learning is a gift that lasts a lifetime.
Find out the interests of the recipient, and choose a gift to help them improve a skill or learn something new.
It could be a new language, a personal growth course, an instrument, or an art set. One year I gave my daughters knitting instruction, and some beautiful knitting yarn. They taught themselves how to knit and still practice the skill for fun.
Being more mindful about the types of gifts I give during the holidays has actually helped me become closers to those I'm buying for. It requires me to really think about the individual, who they are and what brings them joy and helps them become the best version of themselves. And course this closeness is an unexpected gift for myself.
Thinking advance about meaningful gifts for self-improvement helps take the pressure off when I'm in the mall or at a store being enticed by all the bright shiny things.
What are some of your favorite self-improvement gifts that you've either given or received over the years? Please share your ideas in the comments.
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photo credit: LornaWatt via photopin cc