It is that time of year that calls to mind memories of gatherings with friends and family around holiday celebrations. Any other year our schedules may be nearly overfull of parties, shopping, school plays, and religious services. This year is turning out to be quite different. For some, this means a quieter time of reflection with a few loves ones. For others, this is only amplifying the deep loneliness and longing for connection that they have been feeling over the last 10 months.
As therapists, we know this loneliness is often at the very core of depression because connection, or belonging, is one of the most basic human needs. With this in mind, I’d like to encourage you, as you finish up your holiday shopping, to consider giving gifts that deepen your connections with your family and friends. I’d also encourage you to reach out beyond your inner circle to those around you who might be struggling to find connection this year. I’ve included some ideas that you can make yourself and others that can be purchased. (No affiliate marketing). Perhaps you’ll find the perfect gift here or it may spark an idea of your own. Share with us your ideas in the comments.
For your romantic partner:
- Gottman Institute Card Decks. Available in several different themes, these cards from the renowned couples counselors offers questions to increase emotional intimacy in your relationship.
- Date Night Subscription Boxes. These monthly kits deliver creative ideas to spark the romance and connection in your relationship. There are many options available, and the article I’ve linked describes a few different choices.
- Truth or Dare for Couples. This deck of cards is sure to spice up your relationship and make you laugh.
- A Couple’s Love Journal. This 52-week journal for couples is filled with prompts for you and your partner to respond to. If your schedules (or children) don’t always allow for uninterrupted conversations you’ll be able to stay connected by writing in this journal to each other.
- DIY Love Coupon Book. Design your own or head on over to Pinterest for a printable prefilled option.
For your child:
- Mom and Me or Dad and Me Journals. These journals range from elementary age to teens and have prompts to deepen your relationship as well as free space for your kids to ask or tell you those things that might be feel uncomfortable to talk about face to face. A few options:
- Table Topics Card Decks for Family. These card decks are offered with several different themes. The family deck will bring fun and increase connection whether you pull a few cards out while enjoying dinner together or keep it for a game night.
- Make your children a coupon book with some of their favorite things to do together.
- Gift your kids a yes day. Choose a day that you’ll both be uninterrupted and whatever they ask (with a few safety guidelines) you’ll say yes to. They want to play a game with you. Yes! They want to bake cookies with you? Yes! Make a fort in the basement? Yes! Kids love being able to be the boss for a day and to have your undivided attention. If you have more than one child, plan it so each child has their own day.
For your grandchild:
- Craft or building kits. Make your own or choose from the many subscription box options out there. When the item arrives at their house, schedule a video meet up to make the craft together. If you make your own craft kit to send to them, you’ll have the supplies to work along with them.
- Pen Pal Kit. Put together notecards, stationary, pens, and forever stamps for your grandchild. Start them off by sending them a letter with a question at the end for them to respond to in their letter back to you. Add fun prompts for them to respond to by writing or drawing.
- If you live close by, how about passing back and forth these journals, similar to the ones suggested above for parents?
For grandparents and parents of adult children:
- VidHug or BoomBox. Have a large family? Celebrating a milestone? Have family and friends submit short video messages to compile in a montage for your loved ones.
- Pen Pal Kit (as described under the grandchild section). Make it easy for the grandparents to stay connected.
- Video chat platforms like Facebook Portal and Amazon Echo Show make it easier for parents and grandparents to stay connected through video.
- Book subscription boxes. Start a book club with your friends. Let the subscription box choose your book or choose your own and set up a monthly virtual meet up.
- Meal Kits. Sign up your friend and yourself for a meal kit and choose a night to video chat while you cook and eat together.
- Are you both coffee connoisseurs? Get a coffee of the month subscription and make time weekly or monthly to connect virtually while enjoying your coffee.
Whatever gifts you decide to give, we hope that your is a warm and meaningful one.
Hannah Lindsay, MSW, LCSW-C, provides individual and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office and virtually to those located in the state of Virginia. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with Hannah.