10 Healthy Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Step away from the sweater, and think massage packages, fitness trackers and cooking classes


'Tis the season to be jolly, but if you're like me, the whole gift-buying thing can become overwhelming and even put a damper on things. So I've created a list that may ease your burden. Below are 10 ideas for healthy gifts that could be suitable for co-workers, family members, friends, spouses or even clients. They're especially perfect for the fitness freaks in your life, general health-minded individuals, or simply people you care a lot about.

Workout clothing. Who doesn't love new clothes? Many of my patients swear there is nothing like a new outfit from Lululemon, Athleta, Nike or Under Armour to motivate them to hit the gym or fitness class. Don't know exactly what to buy? A gift certificate is always a welcomed choice.

Fitness gear. There's always so much to choose from: a new yoga mat (Jade is my favorite brand), a yoga mat carrier or gym bag, pedometer, heart rate monitor or even spinning shoes can make a great gift. Amazon.com has a great selection if you don't feel like going to the store. I also love the idea of a toiletry case for those who shower at the gym. If you go that route, Tory Burch has some really nice options.

[Read: 8 Essentials to Stuff In Your Gym Bag.]

Personal training or fitness class. This gift is ideal for people who want to try out a new class or who have favorite gyms or studios they frequent. You can buy a class card at a yoga studio, a beginner's yoga series or workshop, an individual Pilates session or a class series for spinning or barre. And a personal trainer could be perfect for a fitness newbie or established gym rat.

Fitness videos and Wii Fit games. Does the person you're shopping for express some interest in getting into fitness, but probably won't leave the house for it? Bring the fitness to them. Gaiam.com has an excellent assortment of videos that cover everything from beginner yoga and Zumba to Pilates and cardio burn. Read the DVD reviews to see which will be a good fit. Also, even though Wii is nothing new, I still think it makes a great home workout. I also love that Wii can be a whole family affair – my family is known to bowl a game or two. Enjoying each other's company and getting some exercise is a win-win.

Fitness trackers. With 2014 around the corner you might know someone who is talking about getting on track with their fitness (maybe for the umpteenth time). Give them a little help with their goals by giving a fitness tracking device, such as a Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band. These tools have become quite popular over the last year, and I have many patients who swear by them. However, I recommend that the gift recipient be tech savvy, otherwise, like in the case of my husband, the gift will stay in the box.

Massage or spa package. After the hectic holiday season, a massage could be just what the doctor ordered. Massages and facials are always a great choice, or maybe try something like a stress reduction spa package for a boss or a coworker. (This could get expensive, so you might want to get others to chip in.) Don't know of a nearby spa that offers these services? Check out spafinder.com.

[Read: The Secret to Gift Giving.]

Beauty gifts. This category probably deserves an entire blog to itself, but a couple of quick ideas include: a Sephora gift card, a monthly subscription service that delivers beauty and feel-good products based on the recipient's preferences (try Birch Box or Julep) or a blow-dry series from one the many new salons available, such as Drybar, Dream Dry or Blo.

Cooking classes. This gift is for the person in your life who dreams of becoming a Top Chef contender or who just loves spending time in the kitchen. (Note: Do not give these classes to someone who might mistake them as a hint that his or her cooking needs improvement.) National cookware stores like Williams-Sonoma offer classes, as well as many local places. I recommend doing a search in your area, given that location is obviously an important factor.

Healthy holiday baskets. Instead of sending family members or co-workers a basket of goodies that might make them feel guilty for indulging, how about sending one that makes them feel good about themselves? Forget the chocolate, cookies and candy. Fill a basket with fresh fruit, nuts, teas, coffees or wine. Honestly, this kind of basket isn't the easiest to find, but Dean & Deluca, Harry and David and Edible Arrangements do have options available. You could also go to Whole Foods and customize a basket with your personal picks.

Your personal time. Volunteer to be someone's workout buddy – this can be the ideal gift, and it's free. Create a mock coupon book that the recipient can cash in for, say, two walks per week for a month or a bike ride. Coupons can also be for joining in a yoga class, being a tennis partner, or whatever else you think they might really want to do. There's really nothing like a gift that keeps on giving.

Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.