Giving bodies and souls jolly, healthy, sexy gifts

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Christmas shopping is often a source of stress. That’s why it’s good to have a few so-called health nuts on your list. Buying for those who are passionate about healthy living is not only easy, it can also be a good reminder of all the things you can do to achieve or maintain well-being in your own life. In other words, these are gifts you can easily justify buying for yourself as well as for your kombucha-swilling, kale-munching, Grouse Grind–ing yogi friends.

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DIY Gift Baskets
Sure, you can find premade gift baskets everywhere from grocery stores to stationery shops, but why not put one together yourself for your health-conscious foodie friend with treats that are both good for you and indulgent? Start with a nice bottle of red wine (in moderation, the drink’s antioxidants may protect the lining of the blood vessels in the heart) and a box of Whole Foods Market Truffles, organic dark-chocolate treats that are made by a chocolatier in France. Remember, dark chocolate (also in moderation) is said to be heart-healthy as well. You could add green-tea bags, some mixed nuts, and a bottle of cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. Add in a cookbook, such as Mairlyn Smith’s Healthy Starts Here!: 140 Recipes That Will Make You Feel Great, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year, or Choices Markets’ A Local Table, which showcases foods available to cooks throughout the Lower Mainland. (Choices) donates $5 from the sale of every book to the FarmFolk / CityFolk Society, a nonprofit group that works toward a local, sustainable food system.)

Is yoga more your recipient’s speed? Assemble a yoga mat, a hand towel, a reusable glass water bottle, and Eion Finn’s Blissology DVD set (which consists of six discs of yoga and meditation instruction), and, voilà: your themed gift is complete.

Juice It Up
You’d be hard-pressed to deny the health benefits of fresh fruit and vegetable juices. But not all juices are created equal. Cold-pressed juice is where it’s at. Unlike the more common centrifugal juicers, which use a steel blade that produces heat and destroys nutrients as a result, cold-press juicers use a hydraulic system to press the mulch, extracting the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals.

Two local companies have jumped on the cold-pressed bandwagon. They offer home delivery and they’ve both come up with wholesome concoctions that are as vibrant in flavour as in colour. Taste sensations from the Juice Box include Light Green (made with apple, kale, parsley, celery, cucumber, lemon, and ginger) and HeartBeet (a blend of beet, apple, parsley, celery, lemon, and ginger). The Juice Truck—open Mondays through Saturdays at the corner of Abbott and Water streets—has the Breathe Easy (with turnip, carrot, apple, spinach, parsley, lemon, and mint) and a Detox Tonic (consisting of cucumber, lemon, string bean, celery, parsley, ginger, and mint). Might be smart to have some of these bottles on hand for New Year’s Day.

Sex It Up 
There’s a reason 50 Shades of Grey was so popular, and it wasn’t because of the writing. Treat your partner to a set of Bijoux Frou Frou Satin Organza Handcuffs from Honey Gifts. Bondage not your thing? The Lelo Holiday Couples Set comes with a silk blindfold and “Siri”, a “strong and silent external massager”. You could
opt instead for the IOU A Naughty Night to Remember, a kit with silk undies and a dozen IOU cards, or Cosmo’s Steamy Sex Games, which has a dozen bedroom games like “Sexy Scavenger Hunt” and “Finish the Fantasy”. Need convincing that sex is good for you? Research shows it can improve heart-rate variability, a measure of how well the heart responds to subtle changes throughout the day, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus, it can help improve sleep, boost immunity, and—contrary to the “not tonight, honey” cliché—provide relief from headaches.

Gifts With Soul

Sometimes we North Americans have trouble discerning between “needs” and “wants”. Why not turn to one of the many charitable groups that have come up with creative, ethical gift ideas that make a meaningful difference in other people’s lives? Take Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope, which fund specific projects in communities worldwide where the organization works with this goal in mind: to improve the lives of children.

Ten dollars buys bed nets treated with insecticide to protect families from malaria, which kills a child in Africa every 60 seconds. For $17, you can buy a family some baby chicks; once they mature, the chicks help feed people with nutritious eggs and provide a source of income. A newborn checkup goes for $30; $40 buys gardening tools, seeds, and training; $55 gets a beekeeping kit; and $100 provides girls-only latrines at schools. If you have $1,000 handy, you can buy clean water for an entire community, and $50,000 buys a specialized obstetrics centre. Some of Plan Canada’s gifts are matched, including the one for Typhoon Haiyan relief.

UNICEF Canada’s Survival Gifts are geared to helping the 18,000 children around the world who die every day from preventable causes. Ten dollars provides water-purification tablets for a family of four for two months ($20 buys four months’ worth); $25 gets tetanus vaccines for women who can pass immunity on to their babies; $30 buys 165 vaccines for polio, which is a highly infectious, crippling, and potentially deadly infection. Other gifts include soccer balls, swimming lessons, blankets, books, bicycles, tents, and water pumps.

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