The Special Cheer of Gifts

Pandemic presents can comfort, distract, nourish, and entertain.

Posted Nov 29, 2020

In 2020, if we replaced the word "merry" with “God rest ye weary gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,” we would all understand. We’ve lived history on so many fronts the past 10 months that in order to get through the next few, our minds need rest from it all.

FreePik Public Domain
Gifts are fun to receive and particularly expressive for others to give.
Source: FreePik Public Domain

Enter this blog post gifting wisdom and suggestions to make your thinking easier, shopping quicker, and social and emotional lives lighter.

Tidings of comfort and joy. Gifts are fun to receive. Expressive to select. When we choose a present or a stocking stuffer, at the core is a me-to-you message.

It’s nice to find out preferences, but gifting is a voluntary gesture of favor or assistance. Family of origin traditions and individual budgets also impact choices.

Some givers are on a mission this year—to patronize local businesses, artists, or authors, or by giving gift cards for take-out. Culturally, when crises arrive, we often nourish one another, sending food. 2020 has officially been a crisis! My comfort favorites include Maine’s Stonewall Kitchens, Pittsburgh’s Delallo Foods, and Maryland Crabcakes!   

Embrace feelings. Mental angst is back, sparing no age. Those quarantining together find that the Emoji A Day: Daily Mood Flip Chart (Running Press) communicates our moods in a visual way.

Meant for children, Find Your Happy Place (Rodale) offers mindful activities, many of which I’ve recommended to all therapy clients. An affirmations jar. Mandala magic. Nature walks. Jigsaw joy, journaling, and 200 fun stickers.

Loriann Oberlin
Aim for relaxation or gifts to provide elements of comfort this holiday season.
Source: Loriann Oberlin

Coloring Book and Reflections for Social Emotional Learning (Free Spirit), Reflection Cards & Journal (Holstee), and Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Yourself (Clarkson Potter) are small gifts giving big. The cards double for game play, journaling or discussion prompts during Zoom gatherings. Think about "a time you thought your parents were 100% wrong but eventually kind of right,” “what character from a book, movie or TV show is most similar to you?” or “how have you changed this past year?” That last one runs deep!

Lend your voice. For Zoom reading: Being a Family: The Things That Make a Family (PaperSalt) reminds us of what’s important. “Being a family means…turning things off and reading… we’ll be smarter for it and will be able to have better conversations with each other and others outside the home” and “Being a family means…we may not ‘like’ each other all of the time. That’s okay.”

Digging for Words, I Am Every Good Thing (Penguin Random House) and Shirley Chisolm Is a Verb (Dial) and Antiracist Baby Board Book (PRH/Kokila)) offer positive, multicultural messaging.

Trailblazers: J.K. Rowling: Behind the Magic and the upcoming Lin-Manuel Miranda: Raising Theatre to New Heights (PRH) are chapter books for grades three through seven with a creativity theme.

Who says reading aloud is just for kids? When a family member seems too taxed by frontline duties or telework or craves hearing a friendly voice, read to them or gift an Audible subscription so that lonely elders and others can hear a familiar voice.

 Loriann Oberlin, MS
Small gifts to aid your Zoom interactions and family and alone time at home are often the ones that build memories.
Source: Loriann Oberlin, MS

Small gifts stand tall. Tense this year? The Miracle Ball Method (Workman) provides two Miracle Balls and illustrated exercises that help aches and pains. A neck and shoulder wrap (Sharper Image/Macy’s) combines aromatherapy with relaxing heat or cool.

Need a Zoom game? The 2020 Trivial Pursuit: Classic Edition (Hasbro) can be played using the trivia cards, or to use the wedges, assign a family member to help those not physically present. Categories of geography, entertainment, history, art/literature, science/nature, and sports/leisure will surely inspire multi-generational memories and story sharing.

Neddy Games offers a Conspiracy Theory Travel Edition with 200 new questions and a game die, to fit in a stocking rather than Conspiracy Theory Trivia Board Game. Best suited for differentiated (non-reactive, less anxious) families, it does cover the Illuminati, anti-vax movement and Q-Anon, in categories of aliens, technology, mythos and schemes. Players become conspiracy specialists trying to reveal the truth or win being a conspiracist. Each card includes a QR code that links to sites to learn more, and check out the small expansion pack.

Interact via Zoom after kids receive LEGO Holiday Ideas (DK), a book packed full of fun decorations, many of which could be completed during a chat.

Loriann Oberlin
Losing oneself in a character's world for even six minutes, reduces stress, studies show. Gift a good book!!
Source: Loriann Oberlin

Board games promote social skills, such as turn-taking, losing, or overcoming setbacks, which kids lack without in-person school. Besides, in the Game of Life, take a Savanna Safari or Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. That’s more than you travel now, right? Pets feature prominently in this version. It along with Game of Life Quarter Life Crisis (Hasbro) offers studios, houseboats or an eco-house for lodging.

Surviving & Thriving the Pandemic better describes the adult parody, suggests other social/emotional games and films while A Dozen Diversions encourages relaxation through puzzles and coloring for calm. Discover the proven power of reading novels or non-fiction in One Pandemic Stress Reducer.

Copyright @ 2020 by Loriann Oberlin. All Rights Reserved.

Holiday Help:

Keeping Holiday Spirits High Around Others

Dealing With Difficult People