Gifts to Thrive By: 15 Stress-Reducing Presents to Bring You Calm and Joy This Holiday Season

The ultimate feel-good gift guide.

Stress and anxiety can creep up on you at unexpected times — especially during the holidays. But this season is also the perfect time of year to remind your loved ones (and yourself!) to take a moment for relaxation and self-care. As the end of 2019 approaches and we enter a new decade, why not give the gift of lessened stress? Here, Thrive has 15 ultimate stress-reducing gifts to offer some much-needed calm to everyone on your list.

And in addition to helping you find the perfect gifts for your friends and family, Thrive is also excited to partner with Mastercard this holiday season to give back. From now until December 31, 2019, if you use your Mastercard to donate to Stand Up To Cancer through StandUpToCancer.org/Mastercard, Mastercard will match your donation dollar for dollar, up to $250,000!  Offer starts 12/10/19 at 12:01 a.m. ET and ends 12/31/19 at 11:59 p.m. ET, or when the maximum donation amount of a $250,000 is met, whichever comes first.*

Relax with an on-demand massage

The holidays can be physically stressful — lots of schlepping heavy bags and house-decorating. An on-demand massage may be just what’s needed to release any physical tension. According to the Mayo Clinic, massage has proven to be an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain, and muscle tension. The best part of this gift? It comes to you. Zeel is available in 100+ cities in the U.S. and you can purchase a gift certificate online at any price range that fits your budget. The recipient will be able to use toward any Zeel Massage that they choose. With this gift, your loved ones can enjoy a restorative experience right from their home. Plus as an added bonus for the holidays, they have a special limited-time offering with Saks — check it out!

 Zeel, price varies by city/location

Calm down quickly with on-the-go aromatherapy

Essential oils have been used for over 6,000 years because of their powerful mood-boosting benefits. This aromatherapy tin is an easy way to breathe in and calm your mind, no matter where you are. Simply apply the oils to your pulse points any time you feel the need throughout the day, and focus on being present in the moment.  

Scentered: Well-being Ritual Aromatherapy Mini Tin, $33

Wind down with an evening skincare routine

An evening routine can set you up for better rest and more successful days ahead. According to Northwestern Medicine, healthy bedtime habits can boost your mental sharpness, performance, and emotional well-being. Wind down at the end of a busy day with a beauty regimen. With this kit, you can turn your nightly scrub into a relaxing ritual. 

Pacifica Stressed Skin Recovery Kit, $14.99

Create a ritual with a personalized candle

Small habits can lead to big changes. Thrive’s Founder and CEO, Arianna Huffington, calls those changes Microsteps —science-backed actions we can take that will have immediate and long-lasting benefits to the way we live our lives. Lighting a candle at night can be part of your own evening wind-down routine. Personalize one with a Microstep or mantra for your loved one this holiday with a reminder like, “Take a moment to breathe.” 

Taja Collection Design Your Own Candle, $35

Take a break with a mindful cup of tea

Sitting back and enjoying a cup of tea can bring you a welcome moment of calm. Vahdam Tea’s Tumeric collection is a great stocking stuffer this season. Curcumin, the bioactive compound found in turmeric, has been linked to anxiety reduction. When you gift this tea, add in a little note suggesting that the recipient take a mindful moment each day at work to enjoy a cup. Research shows that taking breaks replenishes your mental resources and helps you become more creative. You may be giving your giftee more than just tea! 

Vahdam Tea, $20-50

Create a peaceful environment with an aroma diffuser

Diffused oil has relaxing properties that help you sleep more soundly, according to research. Experiment with different scents, like lavender for better sleep, and lemon for mood elevation. This diffuser is pretty enough that it can double as decor.

Homedics Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser,  $24.99

Welcome nature with an  indoor herb garden

According to studies, gardening can promote relief from acute stress. With this indoor garden, you can strengthen your green thumb while establishing a mindful routine from the comfort of your kitchen. Water and nurture your plants for a few minutes each week, and watch your happiness bloom. 

Kitchen Herb Garden By Ayesha Curry, $19.99

Promote gratitude with a fragrance set

Each of the fragrances in this rollerball set evokes a unique mood, but they’ll all take you straight to happy. Research shows that there is a 40% improvement in mood after being exposed to pleasant scents. And since this package is covered in uplifting words like grace and gratitude — which are powerful tools when we keep them top of mind — they’ll put a smile on your face each time you apply. 

Philosophy grace & gratitude, $55

Read a meditation book

As Agapi Stassinopoulos says, “We forget that our bodies are the most valuable, precious thing we have, and take that miracle of life for granted.” Help your loved ones rediscover self-care with a good read — a study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. The perfect introduction to meditation, this book  helps cultivate the building blocks of self-care and mindful living. 

Wake up to the Joy of You, $12.95

Stimulate creativity with a crafting kit

According to research, activities that prompt creativity and imagination — like crafting — can be deeply healing.  From sewing to embroidery to crochet, this kit offers endless ways to discover a new hobby and tap into your creative flow.

Bluprint, prices vary

Send happiness in the mail

It is always fun to get mail that isn’t a bill, so consider gifting a subscription box with mental health benefits! BroglieBox is a seasonal subscription box for mental health and stress relief that equips people with tools and resources to improve their mental well-being at the most stressful times of the year. Each box has items like mindfulness cards, lavender candles, weighted sleep masks, and more.


BroglieBox, $65 per box or $235 for a yearly subscription of four boxes

Trigger joy with a bluetooth speaker

Billy Joel once said, “I think music in itself is healing,” which couldn’t be more true. There are many studies that link music to mood.  Researchers at the University of Missouri have also found that music has a positive effect on people, and research in the Journal of Positive Psychology reported that people who listened to happy, upbeat music can improve their mood in just two weeks. To get those benefits from music, we like the JBL Plus 4 portable bluetooth speaker, which features a complimentary LED lightshow. For the ultimate relaxation time, put on some meditation music and unwind after a long day. 

JBL Pulse 4, $249

Beat the winter blues with light therapy

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can occur in the fall and winter. People with “the winter blues” feel tired, less motivated, and sad, and they sleep more than usual. Studies have shown that light therapy can help to treat this condition. Give the gift of light this season with a light therapy lamp, which mimics natural outdoor light and helps ease the SAD symptoms. It’s perfect for helping a co-worker brighten up their office! 

Happy Light Lumi Therapy Lamp, $39.95

Find peace through art

Zen boards are a tool that can help you practice mindfulness and living in the moment. To use one, dip the brush in water, paint on the surface, and watch your creation come to life. Then, as the water evaporates, your art will disappear — leaving you with a clean slate. The experience is transfixing and helps you focus.

Buddha Board, $34.95

Increase your movement with a beautiful yoga mat

Research has shown that regular practice of yoga has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. However, not being able to concentrate during class because you’re constantly slipping on your mat can really mess with your calm. This non-slip yoga mat will help your gift recipient keep their balance in style. Plus, it’s made from recycled plastic bottles. A win for your loved one and for the planet! 


Yoga Design Lab: Biodegradable Non-Slip Yoga Mat, $44

*For every $1 donated through StandUpToCancer.org/Mastercard with a Mastercard, Mastercard will match your donation dollar for dollar, up to $250,000. Offer starts 12/10/19 at 12:01 a.m. ET and ends 12/31/19 at 11:59 p.m. ET, or when the maximum donation amount of $250,000 is met, whichever comes first. Only Mastercard transactions are eligible. Maximum donation amount may be met prior to 12/31/19.

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