2021 Holiday Gift Ideas for Wellness Enthusiasts

For the 2021 Well Holiday Gift Guide, we’re sharing 21 of our favorite things that can make life just a little better.

What makes the Well holiday guide so special? These are gift ideas that the editors, writers and contributors themselves have purchased (or received), used often and really love. Some are practical, a few are whimsical, but they all help us live well every day.

You’ll find tasty treats, practical items for the home, gifts to ease stress and help you sleep, fitness gear, cozy indulgences and presents to inspire family time. We’re publishing the gift guide a little earlier this year too, to help you avoid supply and shipping delays before the holidays.

Ditch the single-use sandwich and zippered storage bags (they’re terrible for the environment and hard to recycle) and give Stasher bags, a silicone bag that can be reused, refrigerated, frozen, boiled, microwaved, heated in the oven and cleaned in the dishwasher — again and again. This sturdy bag has the same press-and-seal closure as disposable bags and comes in a variety of colors. I tried the starter kit, but some of the bags are on the small side. I prefer the sandwich, quart, half-gallon and standing bags for storing things like vegetables, tortillas, cheese and leftovers. I also use Stasher bags to keep my passport and vaccine card safe and as a travel kit for makeup and toiletries. — Tara Parker-Pope, columnist, Well
Cost: $37 and up

Everyone loves a gift from the kitchen, especially one that’s as delicious and good for you as this homemade overnight oats kit. Start with a 16-ounce Mason jar, and use this recipe from NYT Cooking’s Genevieve Ko. You’ll fill about half the jar with a mixture of old-fashioned oats, dried fruits, seeds and salt. (I use oats, dried apricots, pistachios, flax seeds and chia seeds.) Include a gift bag with extra packets of nuts, peanut butter, brown sugar or maple syrup, along with instructions. (Just stir in 1 cup regular or nondairy milk, cover and chill overnight, then top with nuts or other extras right before eating.) “I eat overnight oats every weekday morning. I’m a huge fan. I make it three days in advance sometimes, and it’s still super yummy.” Dani Blum, senior news assistant, Well
Cost: about $5

The pretty packaging of il Boschetto lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil makes this a great host gift or a delicious present for the foodie on your shopping list. (We love il Boschetto, but you can find other lemon-infused olive oil at Italian specialty shops or try making your own.) “It’s delicious on salads, fish and pasta, drizzled over fresh mozzarella or crusty bread, or mashed with avocado for the best avocado toast you’ve ever tasted.” — Toby Bilanow, deputy editor, Well
Cost: $30

Tea always makes a great holiday gift, but Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea is extra special and comes in loose tea, sachets and tea bags. “It’s unlike any tea I’ve ever had. It wakes you up in the morning, but also replaces a dessert after dinner. Coffee drinkers like its bold flavors, and tea drinkers are always surprised by how they’ve never tasted anything like it.” — Karen Barrow, deputy editor, Storylines
Cost: $10 to $20

Working on a laptop all day can take a toll on posture and cause you pain. For relief, try the Alljoy Shiatsu Neck & Shoulder Massager. “On days when my neck and shoulders are all knotted up, this massager works wonders. I don’t have to beg my kids or husband for a massage, and I can sit and watch something on my iPad while it kneads my muscles, almost as well as a trained masseuse.” — Apoorva Mandavilli, reporter, Science
Cost: $50

Expressive writing has been linked with a number of health benefits, including lower stress and depression, fewer doctor appointments and even improving your memory. “I am a lifelong journaler, and have crates of old ones dating back to first grade. I travel with my journal so I’m always on the hunt for ones that are sturdy but not too bulky. Decomposition books have become my favorites. They have lovely illustrations, come in a variety of colors, and the intricate drawings on the cover and the inside are perfect for doodling and coloring.” — Lori Leibovich, editor, Well
Cost: $8

A long hot bath before bedtime has been shown to help you fall asleep faster, and taking baths may even be good for your heart. Dr Teal’s products, like foaming bubble bath with Epsom salts and lavender, can make bath time feel more indulgent. (Epsom refers to the springs in England where the salts are found.) “My mom gave me this bubble bath, and it kept me warm and relaxed on many winter nights.” — Sarah Williamson, art director, Well
Cost: $5 to $10

A monthly sock delivery from Stance Socks just might motivate someone to move a little more. You can give a 3-, 6- or 12-month gift subscription. “The best thing about this present is that you get to select your own pair of socks each month. You can build up a year’s worth of great socks that inspire you and make you want to get out the door and go!” — Dr. Jordan Metzl, contributor
Cost: $57 and up

Staying hydrated on long runs and bike rides can be challenging. Water bottles are heavy to carry. Waist belts are uncomfortable and can slip down. Hydration backpacks are bulky. The Osprey Dyna 6 1.5 liter hydration vest (sized for women) or the Osprey Duro (sized for men) solves everything. “Hydration vests are trim, lightweight, fit well across the chest, don’t slosh as you move, and can hold a phone, some Gu, an energy bar, a rain shell, and other essentials for long runs and bike rides. I bought mine as a gift for myself last winter, when I was training for some trail races, and have talked several friends into buying one, too.” — Gretchen Reynolds, Phys Ed columnist
Cost: $110

Wildlife cameras can reveal a hidden world in your backyard. Wirecutter (which is owned by The New York Times) recommends one from Wildgame Innovations, or consider the Browning trail camera, which has a video option. “Checking the camera is a big deal in our house. Much of the fun is in finding new places to put it. Where do the animals like to walk? Male deer are quite vain and like to have their pictures taken.” — Erik Vance, staff editor, Well
Cost: $100 to $179

If you’re still looking for the perfect water bottle, consider the GSI Microlite 500 Flip thermos/water bottle, which holds about 17 ounces of liquid. There is also a larger version that holds nearly 24 ounces. “I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s so easy to clean and doesn’t have annoying small parts or straws. It’s super lightweight yet can keep liquids cold or hot. The push-button lid is great for a germaphobe like me who doesn’t want an exposed drinking spout.” — Christina Caron, reporter, Well

Don’t let cold weather stop you from exercising. Try the Baleaf fleece-lined leggings. (The company also makes fleece-lined bottoms for men.) “The winter exercise must-have for me is fleece-lined leggings. I got these as a gift and thought they would be too hot or possibly bulky, but it felt like I was wearing comfy sweatpants. Bonus points because they come in petite for short ladies and are very affordable.” — Farah Miller, editorial director, Well
Cost: $30 to $35

Many of us have been cleaning more during the pandemic and, as a result, have noticed the harsh nature of common household chemicals. “I’ve tried every healthy home cleaning product I can get my hands on and haven’t been impressed when they all failed the bathroom mold-removal test. But Branch Basics passed with flying colors! This starter kit has replaced 90 percent of my toxic cleaners. I’m buying these for my mom and friends. It’s really good for people who are sensitive to chemicals in regular products.” — Jaspal Riyait, art director, Well
Cost: $69

My dog’s old collar had frayed and was a pain to remove during grooming. In search of a better collar, I found If It Barks custom collars. These sturdy attractive collars come in a range of sizes and colors and have a variety of customization options. For my dog, Maddie, I chose the feminine and floral “Be Mine Bouquet” pattern, with a sturdy hybrid buckle that can be customized with my dog’s name, phone and address. It’s the best dog collar ever, and it looks adorable on her. — Tara Parker-Pope, columnist, Well
Cost: $29 and up

Most of us can’t afford a personal assistant, but new online virtual assistant services like Time etc and Fancy Hands can help with those time-sucking tasks like calling the utility company, planning a vacation, dealing with email or knocking items off a to-do list. For in-person handyman and home tasks, consider a Task Rabbit gift card. Or you can gift yourself to a friend or family member. “A few years ago a relative offered me the gift of his services. I pointed to several file cabinets and told him to throw out the contents — decades of work files — and not let me look at what was landing in the recycling.” — Jane Brody, Personal Health columnist
Cost: $30 and up

Make your child the star of their own bedtime story or turn a parent into a super hero with a Wonderbly custom book. Personalization options vary by title. You’ll find evergreen books about friendship, adventure, classroom capers, grandparents and bedtime. (Winter holiday-themed books are limited to Christmas.) “You can choose from several stories, designs and soft or hard cover. My husband was touched and pretty surprised when he saw it was customized. It’s a fun, unique gift.” — Melonyce McAfee, senior staff editor, Well
Cost: $35 and up

Modern luxury meets old-fashioned practicality in this cashmere-covered hot-water warming bottle, which you can find from Naked Cashmere or Britain’s Pink and Ginger. “I bought this hot-water bottle after a trip to Ireland, where they seem ubiquitous. I use it for aches, cramps and general coziness. When the temperature dips I tuck it under the covers before I get into bed for a warm treat when I climb in.” — Tiffanie Graham, photo editor, Well
Cost: $45 to $95

The Mighty Bright is a bendable, rechargeable light that clips onto your book and can be dimmed so it won’t disturb others in the room. “My mother-in-law recommended this reading light, and it has changed the sleep game for me and my older daughter. We both have trouble falling asleep and need relaxing activities to do that don’t involve screens. Now we can read books to help wind down without waking anybody up.” — Jessica Grose, Parenting columnist
Cost: $30

Electric blankets don’t get as much attention as trendy weighted blankets and plush throws, but they’re often a more affordable source of cozy comfort. Pro tip: a larger blanket may inspire children and teens to cuddle with you. Wirecutter recommends the Sunbeam Velvet Plush Heated Blanket. “We watch a little television in the evenings to wind down, and it feels so good to get under a heated blanket.” — Lisa Damour, Adolescence columnist
Cost: $99 to $179

For the restless sleeper in your life, Wirecutter recommends the LectroFan Evo, a white-noise machine that can mask traffic sounds, barking dogs and loud parties with soothing whirring, buzzing and humming sounds. The LectroFan also has two ocean-sound settings. “The anxiety of the pandemic wreaked havoc on my sleep. My white-noise machine is a lifesaver. It uses a range of frequencies and masks the worst city noises. It also has a sleek and modern design and is compact and easy to travel with.” — Julia Calderone, senior staff editor, Well
Cost: $45


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