Existing on this earth is generally hard, but the last two years have really taken the cake. As we continue to adjust to the idea that life will likely never look like it did in the Before Times, the holiday season can be an even harder time than usual.
People around the world have been dealing with a medley of horrors over the last two years. The loss of loved ones, getting sick, taking care of someone who is sick, loneliness, the inability to be alone (those confined in a space with other people know what I mean). There are those who realized a partner they loved isn’t the right person for them, those who have gotten divorced or had to care for their parents and children at once. Those who had to avoid their elderly or immunocompromised family members for months and months on end.
So, what do you give someone whose been through that any or perhaps even all of that? While the best gift is arguably being there with your family member or friend, holding space and listening in their time of need, we’ve got some ideas for something they can unwrap.
The friend who got sick
Getting any sort of sick is exhausting. Nowadays, there’s an added level of stress, because every cough prompts the awful question: Is this covid-19 or just a common cold?
If your friend had a bad cold or, worse, the flu, we’d suggest a few things to put together in a little box: This absurdly fluffy blanket that looks way more luxe than it costs ($34.99), a sizable tub of Vicks VaporRub ($14.77), these aggressively happy slippers ($38), and, obviously, chocolate, because everyone can always use some chocolate (I live for these milk chocolate caramel sea salt bars from Tony Chocolonely for $4.49).
Perhaps you had a friend get covid-19 and they have residual parosmia, a smell disorder that changes how you respond to odors. A friend of mine who has had it for nearly a year claimed fruit tasted like chemicals to her. A solid option for someone like her is a smell training kit. It’s an affordable ($27.99) collection of essential oils designed to help restore your smell and get your head back into proper working order.
The friend who got dumped
Or maybe they did the dumping and that also makes them feel shitty. Either way, the post-breakup emotional haze always feels impossible to navigate. You’re often unclear if you’re hungry, tired, anxious, sad, mad, or some combination of all of the things. If you’re in a state where weed is legal, buy your friend some gummy edibles (these, by Incredible Edibles, are fire). They’re fun to eat, they’ll mitigate the overload of feelings they’re drowning in, and they help you sleep like a bear in winter.
Other options include a Seamless gift card (who wants to turn on the stove when your heart feels like it was ripped out and stepped on?), a bath soak to accompany a good tub cry (this one from Oui the People, $28, makes your skin hella soft and smells divine), or a Venmo to cover their next therapy appointment. Alternatively, if your friend appears to be absolutely thriving post-breakup and isn’t in need of coddling at all, get them a bottle of bubbly (Chandon Brut will hit the spot, $24.50) stat.
They’re burnt the fuck out
Between work, family, and friend responsibilities and the world seemingly on the verge of collapse, many of us are at the end of our ropes. There are a few potential avenues here. If you want to go the self-care route, these eye gels (Pixi, $24) feel aggressively luxurious when thrown in the fridge and then worn just after waking up. Personally, they’re something I look forward to now that I’ve resumed the pre-covid-19 commute to the office, and they make me look awake despite feeling dead inside.
Other self-care goods that lessen the ennui include a massage or facial treatment (any excuse to pamper on someone else’s dime is a win), a weighted blanket (this one is a steal at less than $75, with excellent reviews), a book to remind them that they sure as hell aren’t alone (Otessa Mosfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a fictional and extreme answer to burnout, but fantastic fodder to forget your own life for a bit), and/or this candle that makes your apartment feel like you’re on a retreat in the woods (Otherland, $36).
They lost a loved one
Navigating grief can feel like a Herculean task, as can comforting someone in the throes of it. There’s nothing that’s going to replace the loved one lost and no item that will make someone forget what’s happened. But, there are ways to make someone feel less consumed by their grief. Some gifts to do that include a year-long Headspace subscription ($70) which can help provide some tools for your recipient to manage their stress during this time, a plant of some kind (try Bloomscape), and a book that puts mortality into perspective, specifically Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air ($26).