You love your friends and family. (Well, most of them, most of the time, amirite?) That means you also probably want them to stay healthy and happy and on the planet for as long as possible. So I made you the ultimate holiday gift guide: 29 Health-Boosting Gifts to Secretly Keep Your Friends Alive as Long as Possible.
You’ll find gifts for people who love to laugh, for cooks, for health nerds, for readers, for guys, and for kids. All the picks on this list are fun to give, fun to get, and proven by actual science to help keep people from dying. (Or at least make them healthier while they’re here.) I even included references.
So read on for 29 prezzies that secretly give you the best gift ever: more years—and more fun—with the people you love.
Laughter is good medicine for everything from pain to depression.1 A good laugh even boosts the amount of germ-fighting antibodies that moms secrete into their breast milk—which can help keep baby healthy.2 So treat your friends to a giggle—and good health for years to come!
Fill Mr. Tea’s pants with your favorite loose-leaf tea, and he’ll diffuse it for you while hanging out—literally—on the rim of your mug. It’s a great for stocking stuffer or white elephant party gift.
If Rainbow Brite’s horse Starlite, Eeyore, and a unicorn had a baby—don’t overthink it—you’d get this hilarious handmade stoneware mug. Guaranteed to make them smile!
(Uncommon Goods, $39)
I think all I need to say about this one is LOL! Grab yours while you can, though; there are only a few left in stock
Plant-based diets can protect kids against heart disease and cancer as adults.3 Yummy plant foods help protect adults from disease, too.4,5 So pick from this list of bestselling kitchen-tools and cookbooks to make healthy cooking easy.
The Instant Pot is trending for a reason: It’s a pressure cooker, rice cooker, and crockpot all rolled into one. It makes beans in minutes, rice in a snap, and the tastiest refried beans ev-uh. (Recipe on Veggie Quest soon.) Easy to use—just plug and play.
This whole food, plant-based, gluten-free cookbook by registered dietitian McKel Hill features gorgeous photos and mouthwatering recipes.
Great knives make cooking fast and fun. And hands-down, Wusthofs are the best knives I’ve ever used. They’re comfortable to hold and stay razor sharp with minimal sharpening. This set is pared down (#LovePuns) to the only knives they’ll ever need: 8-inch chef knife, 4½ inch utility knife, and 3½ inch paring knife. Perfect for that friend who still slices onions with the steak knife she’s had since college. Store them in their container or snag this popular universal knife block.
This is my go-to cookbook for potlucks, especially if kids will be there! The 100% plant-based recipes are healthy, yet “decadent” enough to appeal to people used to eating Papa John’s and Five Guys. (Lots of nut butter and dates. 😉 )
Does your bestie have a small kitchen? Or perhaps she frets about exposing her kids to chemicals, like the ones in microwave popcorn bags? Either way, this is the gift for her. Just add popcorn kernels this silicone bowl and pop it in the ‘wave for a couple of minutes. Voila, perfect popcorn, with stay-cool silicone handles. Great for college students, too! Collapses into itself for easy storage.
This summer, I learned that a lot of you don’t use a microwave. (Who knew?) That doesn’t mean you have to forego the low-cal crisp-crunch of popcorn, though! This popper is fantastic—I actually own the older model and love using it when I feel like going old school.
New parents, working moms, and other busy professionals will love having Farmbox organic veggies (and/or fruit) delivered right to their door. Do a one-time gift delivery or go big and set them up for the year. Side note: Farmbox Direct was founded by busy working mom Ashley Tyrner, who wanted organic farmer’s market produce for her daughter, even when she couldn’t make it to the market.
(Farmbox Direct, price varies)
This is my most-used kitchen appliance and the kitchen tool yall said you’d be most likely to rescue if your kitchen was on fire. And for good reason: it makes amazing smoothies, salad dressing, hummus, healthy chocolate silk pie filling, hot cocoa, and more. Yes, the Vitamix costs an arm and a leg. But ask anyone who owns one—it’ll last for decades, and it can blend nearly anything into silky smooth bliss.
Veggie burgers are a staple on a healthy plant-based diet, yet they can be pricey to buy. However, with this electric nonstick griddle, you can make them in bulk in a flash, then pop them in the freezer so they’re always on hand. Saves time and money! Great for healthy homemade pancakes, too—no oil needed. Dishwasher safe.
For Health Nerds
Need a present for the health enthusiast in your life? You know, the one who’s not afraid to talk about 💩 for the greater good? You got it!
We have more computing power in our cell phones than astronauts had on the Apollo mission, yet we haven’t even caught up to cavemen when it comes to pooping. Seriously. Humans were designed to squat, and yet we sit on our porcelain thrones. (Check out this disturbingly funny video for proof.) So give the gift of “the best poop of their life” to that offbeat friend who thinks science-y health stuff is really cool. Or that new mom with hemorrhoids—she’ll be your best friend forever. (Squatty Potty, $29)
For your plant-curious friend—or the one who was just diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure and wants to do everything they can to undo it—this movie is a must-see. Pair with the silicone popping bowl below for a healthy movie night. Note they can also watch Forks Over Knives for free with a subscription to Netflix.
Whether your loved one is into genealogy or genetics, they’ll be thrilled with a 23AndMe kit. A little spit in a tube and 6 weeks later they’ll learn where their ancestors came from, if they’re related to Neanderthals (I am, ha), their carrier status for certain diseases, and more. I did the test, as did Jeff and my parents, and we learned a ton—and had fun doing it.
Everyone loves to drift off to sleep reading a good book. However, just like a laptop, the blue light in back-lit e-readers can prevent your body from making enough sleep-inducing melatonin. Low melatonin levels are also linked to increased breast cancer risk.6 So gift your friend an all-new Kindle e-Reader. Not only will it help her fall asleep fast, but it might even #SaveTheTatas. Also, since there’s no backlight, a single charge lasts for weeks.
(Amazon, $49.99 through 11/28, then $79.99)
The perfect gift for your book club buddies! This book light puts out warm amber light that doesn’t disturb sleep or melatonin production, making it great for the Kindle e-Reader above, or for that friend who’s addicted to the feel of a real book in her hands.
Fluffy, funny romance novels are good for the soul. Okay, that’s not based on science, but I’m convinced it’s true anyway. And Mary Kay Andrews’ novels—including my favorite, The Fixer Upper—are saucy, sassy, and served up with a side of Southern humor.
(Amazon, $9 for The Fixer Upper)
Written by Michael Greger, MD, the hilarious doc behind NutritionFacts.org, helps people eat their way back to heath in this informative and funny book. In each chapter, Dr. Greger describes how a plant-based diet and specific foods can help prevent or treat a specific disease. He wraps up with 12 foods to eat daily to, well, not die. Great for health nuts and hypochondriacs alike, since it gives concrete risk-reduction steps.
These gifts make working in a workout at work work. (Works for me. 🙂 )
Too much sitting is linked to a higher risk of death from all causes.7 So keep your friends and family alive and kicking with this handy contraption that turns any desk into a standing desk. Can handle two monitors and a keyboard, yet fits easily in a cubicle. If you’re super handy, you can kluge together a non-adjustable DIY version using these instructions.
When you can’t avoid sitting, sit healthy with this yoga ball “chair.” Perfect for that friend who hates to sit still, but still needs to get stuff done. Besides, when she needs a break, she can push back from the desk and work her way towards Madonna arms.
Eating out every day is hard on your body—and your wallet! This chic insulated tote makes bringing lunch a breeze with plenty of space for a salad, sandwich, water bottle, and more. Did I mention it’s also really cute?
(Bed Bath and Beyond, $45)
What could be better than unwinding with a cool, lavender-filled eye mask after a tough day? Oh yeah, a great night’s sleep. Which they’ll get with this adjustable two-strap sleep mask. (The same style of sleep mask I use to block melatonin-suppressing streetlights.)
Some men can be a little lax about their health. (Lettuce on a cheeseburger ≠ salad, gents!) Luckily, these gifts are as motivating as they are manly.
He won’t be able to put down the inspiring story of Rich Roll, who went from being a sedentary, overweight, middle-aged guy to completing five back-to-back Ironman-distance triathlons. You won’t be able to stop him from working out and eating right after reading this book.
The ultimate man gift, the TRX Suspension Trainer was invented by a Navy SEAL commando to keep his team “mission-ready” at all times—no gym, treadmills, or weights needed. Mount to the ceiling or hang over the top of a door. Hubby Veggie Quest loves his TRX and uses it way more than he ever used his gym membership.
Want your kids around to take care of you in the nursing home? Raise ‘em right with books, toys, and goodies to make healthy living fun.
These look like a blast, and encourage active play and develop balance and distance judgement skills, too. Wish they made these in a grown-up size—I’d stick them in my office and pace around on them during phone calls!
This simple, delightful toy promotes activity, creativity, balance and coordination. For grown-up kids, after a few glasses of wine it can be worn as a helmet after the kids go to bed as part of a seriously amusing, target practice-style game with ping-pong balls (don’t ask).
Fruit and Veggie propaganda for the preschool set, this book helps teach letters while helping kids get familiar with all the produce in the grocery store. (Which may make for less picky eaters!) For ages 3-5. Board book version: ages 1-3.
Yonanas lets kids make their own healthy, dairy-free soft-serve in seconds. They’ll love experimenting with new flavors—chocolate-peanut butter? blueberry cinnamon?—with this fun “nice cream” maker.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means I’m paid a small amount when you make purchase through one of these links. This income helps me keep Veggie Quest going, and I appreciate your support!
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Stress relief from laughter? It’s no jokeApril 21 2016.
- Ryu KH, Shin HS, Yang EY. Effects of Laughter Therapy on Immune Responses in Postpartum Women. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2015;21:781-788.
- Fuhrman J. Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press; 2006.
- Tonstad S, Butler T, Yan R, Fraser GE. Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care. 2009;32:791-796.
- Huang T, Yang B, Zheng J, Li G, Wahlqvist M, Li D. Cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer incidence in vegetarians: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60:233-240.
- Michigan State University. “Melatonin boost a key to fighting breast cancer.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160823125354.htm
- Ekelund U, Steene-Johannessen J, Brown WJ, et al. Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. Lancet. 2016;388(10051):1302-10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27475271