This season, the definition of an indulgent gift goes beyond expensive jewelry and designer handbags. Smaller luxuries that make life better – a massage, a hot cup of tea, a restorative lotion – can be the most inspired gifts of all.
Think about giving those who count most in your life – your spouse, sister, mother or best friend – gifts that inspire and uplift; gifts that are beautiful and good for them, in a calming sort of way; gifts they will love you for every time they use them.
April Masini, an author and online advice columnist, believes the concept of holistic gifts – gifts that do good for the recipient and for the world – is the new frontier of luxury. “The problem with giftgiving at holidays is that all the good gifts have been given,” says Masini. “Sweaters, watches, jewelry – it’s all been done and done and done. “Holistic gifts are a new arena to explore, buy and give in.”
The word holistic, meaning a whole that’s composed of interdependent parts, has become a sort of shorthand for referring to the connection between mind, body and spirit. Applied to health and medicine, the term has become a synonym for nontraditional, alternative therapies.
But in its widest meaning, holistic refers to something that embraces the whole person and the whole situation. Holistic gifts, then, are those intended to enhance the well-being of the recipient in all aspects of their life. Is there any better way of saying I care about you?
An obvious way to enhance someone’s well-being is with a gift certificate to a spa, and it’s usually a wellreceived choice. Spa treatments range from simple facials and massages to more rarified body wraps, salt scrubs and hot stone massages.
“A gift certificate for a spa is great, especially for someone who’s never been to one,” says Gary Walther, editor-in-chief of Luxury SpaFinder magazine. “It’s a gift many people would never buy for themselves.”
These days, there are tons of products you can give so the person can recreate that “spa” feeling at home. Beautifully packaged selections of DIY spa treatments are widely available on retail shelves this season, at all prices.
Check out local spas and salons, boutiques and department stores. The Bliss “Merry Citrus” set of lemon + sage body scrub, body butter, body wash and soap ($38) delivers some of the trendy spa chain’s most popular products for an at-home retreat. Or try things she can keep in her bathroom, like the Om Petite Spa ($28), a duo of body polish and lotion available in upscale spas and boutiques. For the man in your life, try the Osmotics Male Daily Essentials Set ($55), which comes with a scrub cleanser, facial sunscreen/moisturizer, shave butter and after-shave balm, all in a dark, guy-like box. A girl a little younger will love ME!
Bath, ice cream scoop- shaped bath fizzes in gift sets ($28). You’ll find the Los Angeles-based company’s shower “sherbets” and “ice cream sandwich” soaps in department and specialty stores.
Health & Wellness It might be rude to get someone a membership to Weight Watchers (talk about a hint!), but it’s very acceptable to get a gift certificate for a personal trainer. Bostonbased Bodyscapes, for example, sells certificates for a certain number of sessions with one of their personal trainers. Since it’s not a gym – all they do is personal training with just a few people at a time – it’s much less intimidating for a recipient who might not want to head to a gym.
If you know someone has a certain ailment, there are cool ways to help them heal. For example, for the mom who has high blood pressure, a gift like the Resperate ($299) is great. The FDA-approved device from InterCure, Ltd., Fort Lee, N.J., guides users through paced breathing exercises that lower blood pressure by relaxing constricted blood vessels – and it works (we tried it). For fun, or if they have kids, check out something offbeat like the TravelHoop ($40) from Hoopnotica, Marina Del Ray, Calif.
It’s a way of getting in exercise while not feeling like it. Available in exercise studios and boutiques. Comfort Tea bars are popping up all over the country, and it’s no wonder. Herbal teas can make people better physically, calming their chemistry or stifling their sniffles.
Some teas, like the mints and chamomile, contain oils that can slightly dilate the blood vessels to create a warm, flushed feeling.
Others, such as fenugreek and slippery elm, contain ingredients that may help soothe inflamed mucous membranes. The flower teas from both RariTeas, Mission, Kan., and Numi Tea, Oakland, Calif., unfold dramatically into mini bouquets when steeped in hot water. The tea flavors range from sweet and subtle to rich and bold. RariTeas’ blooming white tea blends with names like Honesty, Generosity and Simplicity come in gift sets ($14) with several choices of glass containers for brewing. Numi Tea’s Bouquet ($29) set contains nine “bouquets” of hand-sewn tea leaves and dried flowers in a mahogany bamboo case.
Kristen Schuerlein, CEO of Affirmagy, Seattle, says that people are increasingly looking for comfort and holistic health. Her Affirmawrap ($20 to $30), fleece blankets with affirmations silkscreened on them, has seen record sales, especially during the holidays. If you want something comforting for the new baby, try a handmade wool rug ($135) by Pittsfield, Mass.-based Crispina Design Workshop.
Stimulate their Life For the person who likes to travel – or just wishes they could – how about helping them learn a new language? With Rosetta Stone ($190), for example, you just pop the CD into your computer and hear native speakers saying the words, then can record your own voice saying them. Or give them a holistic Jet Lag Care Kit by Osmotics
Male Daily Essentials Set from Osmotics includes a scrub cleanser, facial sunscreen/moisturizer, shave butter and after-shave balm Sensory treat: ice cream-shaped bath fizzes from ME! Bath
Better health through breathing: Resperate, a digital feedback device for breathing exercises that help reduce blood pressure
Michael Lavin Flower
New life: Lilac Pot Holder rug made from recycled wool and cotton and a felted wool baby blanket made from recycled sweaters, both from Crispina Boiron ($10) – it comes with herbal remedies to help drowsiness, sleep disturbance and muscle pain. Homeopathic medicines can be purchased without a prescription from health-food stores, pharmacies, upscale grocers and general-merchandise retailers.
There are also gifts that give back. For example, World Vision allows you to choose gifts that benefit the poor in the name of a loved one, such as a $15 share in an Alpaca in Peru or food for African children ($50). The recipient receives a card that explains the gift and its impact. The Emancipation Network sells items like jewelry ($4 to $50) and journals ($14) made by abused women in Thailand.
Don’t Forget the Spiritual If the person in your life is religious, it’s nice to acknowledge that with a gift. The Psalm 23 Bracelet ($85) by Laura K Designs, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., for example, is designed to offer hope, comfort, courage and love. It’s made of Swarovski crystals and sterling silver pieces, including a cross or Star of David and a prayer box charm that opens to fit a small prayer inside. Look for the bracelet in specialty stores.
For those less religious, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Dean Ornish have just created Healing Rhythms ($299), a “whole body wellness” computer software program that includes 40 guided meditation and breathing practices you do on your computer with biofeedback monitors.
No matter what you buy, any of the above gifts will show that you care. And isn’t that what really matters? © CTW Features