Healthy Holidays

5 Memorable Gifts that Really Matter
By Lisa Rome 
Published 11/9/2012 
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Giving from the heart can do wonders to build meaningful connections. But when the holidays roll around, it’s easy to find ourselves scrambling for “just the right gift,” at the last minute. That cycle can be stressful and expensive, which is not a very healthy way to spend the holidays. This year, think about gifts you can give that will be really memorable.

“The best gifts are the ones that give us meaning — the ones that make us look back and remember, and that we take out again and again to enjoy,” says Deb Lonzer, M.D. and Cleveland Clinic Chair, Department of Community Pediatrics. “They can be as simple as a hug and a card and the acknowledgement of the impact that another person has on our lives,” she says. Considering a loved one’s health, interests, diet, or stress level, really shows that you care. Here, five Cleveland Clinic experts offer up their best ideas for gifts that will fill your holidays with loving connections, gratitude and joy.



Give the Gift of: Time and Compassion
Take your kids to visit the elderly to play a game, sing a song, do a skit, or just simply share their day. If they have a grandparent or other family member, they can offer the gift of doing a chore — cleaning a hard to reach closet or part of the house, changing light bulbs, whatever is needed. These kinds of gifts work especially well when you include your children as part of the giving team. The thought and the deed both are meaningful and they don't cost the giver a cent. But the self-esteem derived from that gift is priceless!

— Ellen S. Rome, M.D., M.P.H
Head of Adolescent Medicine

Read Dr. Rome’s pediatric advice
Give the Gift of: Family Fun and Fitness
If you look back to your childhood memories of the holidays, what do you remember most — the gifts or time spent with your family? One way to cut the cost of gift giving is to plan fun family activities together. Participate in a Turkey Trot together or play a game of flag football. Go as a family to cut down the Christmas tree or go sledding. Host a snowman building contest or walk the neighborhood caroling. The point is to build memories and stay active together as a family.

— Melissa Hendricks, M.Ed
Manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers

Read Melissa’s fitness advice
Give the Gift of: Healthful Eating
Holiday time is family time, and cooking a meal with family members can really improve everyone’s health, wellness and mental outlook. Choose dishes that everyone can help make, such as a fresh fruit tray. For the family cook, we recommend gifting a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share or investing in half a cow or chicken co-op to cut food costs and eat seasonally.

— Amy Jamieson-Petonic, M.Ed, RD, CSSD, LD
Director of Wellness Coaching

Read Amy’s healthy eating advice
Give the Gift of: Walking Together
Cut a dozen or more small hearts (or diamonds or stars or any shape you like) from newspapers or magazines with a meaningful word or picture at the center of the shape. Put them in an envelope with a note to the intended that says each one can be redeemed for a 1-hour walk throughout the coming year. Perfect! A free gift of significant value that tells someone they are loved.

— Michael F. Roizen, M.D.
Chief Wellness Officer

Read Dr. Roizen’s wellness advice
Give the Gift of: A Love Letter
Write a “love letter” to a special loved one or close friend. This isn't a mushy love letter. It is a letter to express how much you admire and care about someone. You might write about meaningful experiences you’ve had with that person or how they have supported or encouraged you in your life. It is a letter to say what you have always wanted that person to know. A letter, especially hand written, is so personal and special. It sends the message that you care enough to take the time to put your thoughts down on paper. A letter can be read and re-read. It's the gift that keeps on giving, long after it’s received. I've written to each of my parents, siblings and other relatives and friends. Writing allows you to take the time to find the words that express your feelings. The length of the letter isn't important. It's about the content, written from the heart and in your own words.

— Jane Pernotto Ehrman, M.Ed, CHES
Behavioral Health Specialist

Read Jane’s mind-body advice