The Gift of Giving.

I am a crafter.  I craft any and all things because it is a great way for me to relieve stress, plus I am intuitively good at it.  I usually give gifts and crafts all year long, but this past holiday season, I hand sewed 32 scarves from fabric that I handpicked myself (If I could have made the fabric myself, believe me, I would have).  Granted, I spent about $300 on all of the supplies needed, which was a grip! But if you really think about it, I spent less than $10 per person, which is a preeeeeetty good.

Hand Crafted for a Coworker

Hand crafted for my old Boss!

As I finished the last scarf, I began to think to myself, “Why am I doing this?” Welp! The answer is simple—I love the gift of giving.  Not only does it give me satisfaction to know that I am giving, but it makes it even MORE special that the item is personalized and specific for that individual.  It truly does put me in great spirit.

So, what about you? How do you feel when you give the gift of giving?  The Greater Good Science Center, based at the University of California at Berkeley, shares with us some ways that giving is good for you and your community:

  • Giving makes us feel happy. Research shows that when someone gives something that is nice for someone else, it activates parts of the brain that is associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. Endorphins are also released in the brain that creates an overall positive feeling.
  • Giving is good for our health. Research has connected different forms of giving to having better health.  Researchers think this is due to the act of giving, which decreases stress.
  • Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. Several studies suggest that people who give are more likely to be rewarded by others and sometimes by the person you gave to.  This helps create trust and a higher sense of interdependence.
  • Giving evokes gratitude. ‘Counting your blessings’ can illicit feelings of gratitude, which research shows, is essential to health, happiness, and social connections.
  • Giving is contagious. Giving inspires others to want to give. A study showed that when one person gives, it inspires observers to want to give later and to different people.

So, considering all of the health benefits and how easy it is to give—big or small—try to give often!


Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

Michael Nagle / Getty Images file
Shopping for holiday gifts for your friends and family can be expensive and time-consuming. It requires some thoughtfulness and planning to find the right gift for the right person at the right price range for you. Healthy gifts are well-received during the holidays because people feel guilty about overeating and start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Consider some of these ideas for the people you know that appreciate novel, practical gifts. As always, be tactful when sending health-related gifts so you’re not sending the message that “I think you’re NOT healthy and could benefit from this…”

Farmers’ Markets and Whole Foods Gift Cards
Instead of gift cards to retail outlets for electronics and clothing, consider the Farmers Market and Whole Foods, where you can get fresh, local produce and healthy prepared food. Unfortunately, the Carrboro Farmers’ Market no longer sells Truck Bucks but check your local farmers’ markets.

Healthy Cookbooks
For people that are beginning to learn how to cook, find cookbooks with recipes that require simple ingredients and instruction that are easy to follow. People that aren’t used to cooking all the time often do not have fresh ingredients so they may find it useful to have recipes for ingredients that keep well and don’t need to be prepared right away. You can also cook with the recipient once or twice using the cookbook to encourage the person to use the cookbook and build their cooking confidence.

Massage / Spa Treatment
For the special ladies in your life and also the dudes that enjoy the finer things in life, treat them to a massage or day at the spa. Groupon and Living Social often have discounted massage packages for $40 or less. If that’s too expensive, get some scented massage oils, watch a Youtube video, and do it yourself.

Water Purifer / Water Bottle
To encourage friends to stay hydrated with water instead of sugary soft drinks, give them handheld water purifiers with some spare filters. Although choosing a water bottle can be a personal decision for some people, a classic Nalgene or stainless steel bottle are always appreciated. Check out Laura’s blog post Hydration Station for more info.

Electronic Toothbrush
I’ve only met one kind of electronic toothbrush owner – the kind that swears by them and will try to convince you to buy one if you ever ask about it. Literature reviews show that electronic toothbrushes reduce more plaque, gingivitis, and stains than manual brushing. Spend a little more and get a rechargeable toothbrush that will last for years.

For their feet.