8 Holiday Gift Ideas For Self-Improvement

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.

1. Books

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:

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt: This was my favorite book of the year. I couldn't put it down. Great story, beautifully written. Her first book, The Secret History, was also fantastic

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.

I also loved The Fault in Our Stars, The Bookman's Tale, and Doctor Sleep.

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 .

2. Juicer

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!

4. Rebounder

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.

Yoga is something you can learn from the comfort with your home with a Yoga DVD  and a Yoga Mat.

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.

8. Learning

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.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with others by clicking the social media buttons below!

photo credit: LornaWatt via photopin cc

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 11 comments

I love books and to me are the best present! Wheter it’s a ghost story, romance or self development book, in so little space you can find an entire new world!

I love the idea of the Yoga and Meditation instructions! 🙂

Thank you Barrie!

    Barrie Davenport

    Hi Deborah,
    You are so welcome. I hope you get lots of books this holiday season!

Patrik Edblad

I agree with Deborah, books are awesome! 🙂 If I was to add anything to this list it would be some sort of experience. I’ve found the most memorable gifts to be things like tickets to an awesome concert. Few things are as inspiring as watching a world-class performer at work. You could also look for different kinds of self-improvement seminars/speakers in your town.

    Barrie Davenport

    I totally agree Patrik. Experiences afford far more joy long term than material things. The memories of great experiences can rekindle great feelings at any time.

Elissa Philgence

Hello Ms. Barrie

Thanks for the wonderful list of gift ideas. I love books. Thanks for the suggestion I need to look into those.

Juicing is something I love, but find it hard in the winter.

I was thinking about getting a rebounder for the longest time. One as been sitting in my amazon cart forever. After reading how passionate you and others feel about them I think I will get one.

I just move to Maine and gets cold. Coming from Florida, its a big change for me.
And I am sure my children would love it too.

The noise machine, never thought of that one. I love gardening and a indoor one sounds good.

Thanks for the list and Happy Thanksgiving to you and family.


    Barrie Davenport

    Thank you Elissa. I’m so glad you were inspired for some ideas for holiday giving. I had a lovely Thanksgiving and hope you did as well!

Sheila Ryan Hara

Another great post, Barrie! Thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt suggestions this holiday season. A few more ideas are:

The gift of experience, as Patrick suggested above. My dear friend from college gave me a river-rafting trip last summer, which was the highlight of my trip to the US (I live overseas, but come back “home” to the Northwest every summer). I was truly spoiled by her and her husband by this awesome experience!

The gift of a gift, like a donation to a charity in someone’s name, often with a small toy, trinket or e-card attached to the donation. There are so many worthy charities out there, and so many causes to choose from, that it may be difficult to decide, and knowing the recipient’s preferences is ideal, but this is one way to add meaning to a gift and let it keep on giving!

The gift of time, whether devoted to a home-cooked meal, a cleaned house, a few hours of babysitting, or any other “chore” that busy people, especially single parents, or elderly and infirm folks might appreciate. Sometimes just stopping to listen to someone chat with you is the best present you can give them!

Cheers and happy holidays to you and all your readers, Barrie!

    Barrie Davenport

    Hi Sheila,
    Wow — I love all of your gift suggestions. How lucky you are to have friends who offered you such an amazing experience. I have a river-rafting trip on my bucket list. I bet it was amazing!

Larry Hochman

I love books too. But unless you have a very strong relationship with the person you’re giving to…to the point where you know exactly what they want…or you’re willing to risk being too forward with how you want to fill their mind, I’m wondering if it isn’t better to get a gift card to a book seller. Let them fill their consciousness with what they choose.

I think my favorite presents of all time were the Spider Man record my parents got me when I was nine, and the New York Mets jacket my wife got me when I was 30. Reminders of a youth I was in, and a childhood I wasn’t ready to leave. 🙂

    Barrie Davenport

    What great memories Larry. I think those childhood gifts are packed full of the magical feelings we had about Christmas when we were kids.


Leave a Reply: