Wednesday’s Parent: 10 out-of-the-gift-box ideas for a healthy lifestyle

Gift ideas. Photo by PATRICK JONAS patrickjona

Gift ideas. Photo by PATRICK JONAS patrick

If only chocolate was a leafy vegetable, ice cream sodas were fresh water, lounging on a beach burned calories and tanning was good for your skin. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle would be a cinch and there would be no need to think out-of-the-box to balance busy schedules with getting wholesome nutrition, proper exercise and adequate sleep.

The reality is many families don’t have time for an elaborate home-cooked meal let alone eight hours of sleep. Many parents and children are constantly running but not around the track. They are busy doing the stuff of commitments, meeting deadlines, and keeping appointments.

As the holidays draw near, lavish family dinners are upon us and exchanging presents is coming, why not incorporate some of these out-of-the-box gift ideas to encourage good health:

1. Recipes Quick, fast and easy recipes full of healthy ingredients for a week of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks could provide families at home or college students living away with enough ideas to get organized and start cooking. The internet is full of yummy bites to suit all tastes. Aim for recipes that take less time from prep to table than ordering for delivery and picking up or eating at fast food places. Be sure to test them before including them.

2. Meal Put all the ingredients to make something delicious and healthful in a box. Include the recipe to prepare it. Also add any special equipment (utensils, pans) required.

3. Storage To make storage and reheating fast and easy, get glass storage containers that are microwave and oven safe. Include a label maker to describe the contents and create a personal use by date. Double up recipes to store half for fast leftover reheating. Add a vase with favorite flowers to relax with nature.

4. Garden Create an herb garden to keep on a window sill. Clip fresh parsley, chives, basil and other tasty flavors to enhance meals. Add a pretty pitcher and watering instructions.

5. Laughter Give the gift of laughter with a funny movie or make your own video. Record jokes, stories and sight gags to raise smiles and guffaws.

6. Reminisce Restore and watch old family movies to share the past, remember roots and renew the spirit. Video comments when watching to create new memories.

7. Rest A comfy throw can warm the body and soothe the mind. Include a “Do Not Disturb” sign and a clock face with movable hands. The gift is ready to surround someone in softness for a quick and refreshing catnap.

8. Coupons Purchase online coupons/gift certificates or make your own for a healthy restaurant, spa treatment or favorite activity to be enjoyed at a future convenient time.

9. Membership Check out local libraries, adult ed classes, colleges, clubs and neighborhood organizations that feature a fave activity with plenty of motion as exercise. For example, an indoor pool pass is great for swimmers and a salsa class is fun for dancers.

10. Vacation From day trips to collegecations (family vacays + college visits), planning a break and anticipating it can add to the fun of going on it. Have fun balancing active and passive activities that satisfy all participants.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is challenging for busy families. Parents can help their children make it a habit that will follow them through high school, college and beyond. The trick is to make it easier and more fun to do than not to do!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season!!!

Want ten more tips? Read Suzanne’s 10 Ways to train your kids to live healthy.

You’ll have plenty of inspiration to add your own suggestions to my 10 out-of-the-gift-box ideas for a healthy lifestyle.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

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