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Gift Ideas For Busy Friends Who Need Help “Taking It Down A Notch”

November 2012

To help expedite your online shopping time, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite small gift ideas that are perfect for people in your life who need to slow down and relax more.

Let’s face it one thing that seems to link all of us today is a desire to release some pent up pressure and experience a bit of inner peace. To me, the ideal small gift idea offers an antidote for the “too many pressures, too many responsibilities and too little time” blues.

So here’s my pick of top 10 small and (mostly) inexpensive gifts for stressed out friends that might just help them relax a little more and enjoy the down time they do have. Who wouldn’t like to feel a little more relaxed or centered? Yes, a new hot tub would be nice but we’re talking much smaller. I’ve also avoided those great ideas that come with a cork. That’s too easy.  These gift ideas are also not taken from other lists; they’re just small things that make me happy and might have the same effect on your friends, too.

But first…what not to get! Avoid the bath salt/bathtub kit. The cabinet in the bathroom is already packed with that stuff. Massager tools…unless you’re delivering the massage, forget it. Baked goods…noooo! Aroma sticks…double no. Books on “how to relax.” Too obvious.

1. Lush, synthetic fleece sheets. No, not flannel. Unbelievably soft buttery synthetic fleece. It doesn’t matter if you go generic, or choose Polarfleece® or Polartec®…just look for the more plush varieties. They’re warm and cozy and sleeping in them is a delight that can’t be exaggerated. It’s the sensation of being 6 years old and going from a warm bathtub into the cold air…and then mom tosses your warm flannel PJs on you, preheated in the dryer…AND THEN MULTIPLY THAT BY 10!

I found sets on clearance and the price was very reasonable. If that doesn’t work, at least go for a throw blanket in the same material. You’ll instantly turn the most hardened workaholic into Linus.

2. Are you a reader? If so, what’s your favorite book? If you loved it, why not give it to a close friend with a note about how much it’s stuck with you all these years. A gift like this helps strengthen personal connections. A word of caution: If you read serious literature and your friend reads beach books, don’t try to convert him or her. Remember the gift book should be a relaxing or engaging getaway, not homework.

3. Movie Tickets. Who goes to movies any more? It’s been so long for many of us that we’ve forgotten what a great sensual experience a movie is in a good, clean, well-designed theater. It’s complete escapism. Package it with some movie treats. Maybe your city has one of those theaters that serve food and drink? And if you’re buying the gift for a couple, package it up as a “date night in a box” for extra fun.

4. Spa gift card. With it, your friend can choose the experience he or she wants. You’ll be helping them set aside time that’s completely individual and letting them choose a personal delight off a spa menu. 

5. Reflexology massage gift card. These places are springing up everywhere, and from what I’ve seen, the prices are great, especially when you consider the experience. At the very least, your feet get soaked, cleaned and massaged. Toes all get individual attention, and you emerge feeling like you’re walking on clouds. Some places go much farther and massage arms, fingers, face, etc.

6. Tea. The health benefits of tea have been getting attention for years, and as a result, specialized tea shops have sprung up in most cities. Visit one, ask some questions and try some different varieties you can have packaged up. If that doesn’t seem like enough, most places have great gift packs with an infuser, teapot and cups. 

7. Playing cards. Fresh, crisp cards, and your company, included. Don’t get the fancy plastic cards; stick with a couple packs of the classic brands. And there are great books available, filled with card games you’ve never heard of. One of my favorites is “The Ultimate Book of Card Games. The Comprehensive Guide to More than 350 Games,” by Scott McNeely.

If you’re going to give this gift, it’s because you’re offering to be dealt in. Sit down over coffee and deal. No blinking lights, no booming subwoofers, no staring into phones. Just you and a friend or two, some laughter, and a lot of fun that helps you leave concerns behind. It’s a great way to reconnect.

8. Premium chocolate. Maybe it’s a bit much after all the food that’s been shoveled our way during the holidays, but premium chocolate with at least 65% cacao has properties and benefits that put it in the category of exceptionally beneficial foods.

9.  Microwavable Flax Seed Neck Wrap. It looks like a tube sock filled with flax seed. You toss it in the microwave for a couple minutes, and it provides moist heat for a sore neck or any other sore body part. Even if your neck isn’t sore, the wrap can help relieve tension that accumulates during the day. It’s also great to toss into cold bedding before crawling in for a long winter’s nap. Whether it’s to relax a sore muscle, relax in the evening or warm up the sheets, these wraps make a great gift that will be used frequently.

10. A Pot of Comfort. A big pot of comfort-food (your choice) for dinner is a great gift in two ways. Dinner is on the house, AND you’ll save your friend an hour or two cooking time. If they need to reheat it, that’s no big deal. It’s still like giving a friend an evening off from one more task on the big pile of tasks that accumulate each and every day. If that doesn’t seem enough, cook it in a brand new pan and leave it behind..

Happy shopping!


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