Thinking outside the box… of chocolates

By: Alison Dunn Dec 10, 2010

Tired of giving unhealthy gifts to everyone on your list? Try one of these fresh new gift ideas.

The holiday season is almost upon us, which means it’s time to start thinking about gift-giving. For most of us, choosing the right gift for a family member or close friend is easy. Either we know just what to get them or they ask for what they want.

But what about those gifts we give to people we don’t know nearly as well? You know how hard it is to find the right gift for all the teachers, babysitters, dog walkers, postal workers, cleaners, co-workers and others on your list. Frustrated and pressed for time, we often end up buying them unhealthy gifts like chocolates, alcohol and fast-food gift certificates and hope for the best.

Given that the average holiday weight gain is five pounds, are you really doing the right thing with these unhealthy gifts? Instead of contributing to the problem, why not look for an easy, unique and healthy gift idea? Here are few ideas to get you started.

Reusable water bottles

We’ve all heard how harmful disposable water bottles are for the environment, and yet we all know we need to drink more water. If you’re looking for a great gift idea, why not buy a reusable water bottle for the person on your list? You can find great-looking stainless steel water bottles almost everywhere (check out this gorgeous one from lululemon), even at your local discount department store.

Or, if you want to help the planet even more, why not buy a funky tap water bottle from Not only is the bottle stylish and environmentally friendly, a portion of the proceeds go to, an organization dedicated to provide safe drinking water to children around the world.

Great gift baskets

Sure, you’re probably used to seeing gorgeous gift baskets over the holiday season, but they’re often filled with high-fat, high-sugar, unhealthy foods. Instead of relying on these often expensive gift ideas, why not make up a healthy gift basket of your own? The Mayo Clinic suggests a great “whole grain” gift basket filled with grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, steel-cut oatmeal and couscous. Add in a few recipes and you’ve got a wonderful, healthy hostess gift.

If you do want to go the chocolate route, look for dark chocolate that is at least 70 per cent cocoa. That way, you’ll be giving a gift with all the health benefits of dark chocolate, but none of the added fat, sugar and calories found in milk chocolate.

Unique gift certificates

Instead of relying on the standard Tim Hortons or Starbucks gift certificates, why not look to new and unique gift certificates as a way to give someone the gift of good health? Try looking for a Reiki practitioner in your area and buy a gift certificate for a session. If you haven’t heard of Reiki (pronounced ray-key), it’s a Japanese holistic, light-touch, energy-based practice designed to enhance and accelerate the body's innate healing ability.

If that’s not up your alley, look for gift certificates to a local health food store, book store or even get passes to a fun fitness class. Or try contacting your local health food store about upcoming seminars and see if you can buy a pass for the person to attend a seminar of interest.

Food, glorious food

The good thing about food is that we all need to eat – so a gift of food doesn’t often go unused. You could buy a fresh herb garden as a great hostess gift, or perhaps an edible fruit arrangement instead of flowers? (Check out for delicious fruit arrangement ideas.)

Harry and David,  a U.S.-based fruit of the month club, now offers shipping to Canada. The club has a number of healthy gift ideas, including “Sensible Snack” gift baskets, organic soup mixes and delicious relishes and salsas.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.