By Gwenn Voelckers
This column is for all of you who have friends or family members who live alone.
In December, most folks look forward to joyous holiday time filled with family gatherings, laughter, hugs and gift giving.
But not everyone is filled with jubilant anticipation. Those on their own, who may be missing loved ones, often experience feelings of loneliness and anxiety. The holiday blues emerge, which can dampen their holiday spirits.
What can you do to add a little “merry” to the holidays for those who live alone? You can give the gift of time together — probably the most welcome and cherished gift of all.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of gift ideas for you, beginning with gift suggestions that foster togetherness. These suggestions and those that follow are all designed to put a smile on the face of someone who lives alone.
• A “Be my guest!” gift certificate and tickets to a movie, concert, or theater production. Insist on doing the driving.
• A bottle of Champagne and invitation to join you (and perhaps a few friends) for a New Year’s Eve get-together. This can be a challenging night for those who are newly divorced or widowed.
Years ago, after my divorce, I popped the cork with my sister and her husband. I was deeply grateful for their invitation to spend the evening together. It got my New Year off to a great start!
• Gift of Time coupons for time together doing things you think your friend or family member would enjoy. Here are a few ideas:
– Baking cookies together
– Go bowling
– Lunch and shoe shopping
– A sporting event or fishing adventure
– An afternoon of antiquing
– A walk, hike, or bike ride
– Hands-on help with organizing a closet
– A visit to a local botanical garden
– Drinks at a nearby “watering hole” with permission to complain for hours. Ha!
My sister gave me that final coupon last Christmas. It was one of my favorites.
These gifts of time together are precious. Be creative. Keep it personal. And know that the gift of your company will be deeply appreciated and remembered long after the holidays are behind us.
For Personal Enjoyment and Pampering
• A subscription to online lessons, classes, workshops, and tutorials. Do you have a single friend who aspires to play the piano? Check out online music lessons. A divorced sister who eats supper directly from the take-out container? Consider a cooking class. Or a widowed mother interested in life-long learning? A continuing education course might delight her. There are so many possibilities!
• An opportunity to be “treated like royalty.” How many of your friends who live alone indulge themselves in luxury services? My guess is not many, if they’re like me. But that’s what makes this the perfect gift!
Why not surprise her with a spa certificate for a massage, facial, manicure, or pedicure? Or make his day with a certificate for a gentleman’s facial or deep tissue or sports massage?
• For women who live alone – fresh flowers delivered. Do you know a single woman who lives by herself? When’s the last time she got flowers? It’s probably been years . . . don’t I know it.
Consider sending a bouquet of roses or tulips red for love, yellow for friendship, pink for appreciation, and white for sympathy.
• And speaking of deliveries, check out Gift-of-the-Month clubs. Coming home alone at any time of year can feel a little empty, but it can really feel lonely during the winter months. Discovering a package on the doorstep can change everything.
Go online and check out gourmet gifts and food clubs. You won’t believe the variety of delicious items that can be delivered on a monthly basis: chocolates, hot sauce, cheese, tea, cigars, wine, beer, pastas, olive oil, cookies, popcorn, pancakes, or entire meals. I love this idea so much I might treat myself.
• An AAA membership. I don’t leave home without it. A flat tire, an empty tank, a lost key I’ve been there. AAA has saved the day!
• Handy tools and supplies for emergencies or life’s unexpected moments. Consider a compact “no-battery” wind-up flashlight-radio with a hand crank. Or a Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose First Aid Kit.
• How about a Swiss Army knife, complete with a screwdriver, scissors, toothpick, and tweezers? It even comes with a nail file and corkscrew.
• A front-entrance motion sensor light that will illuminate your front porch after the sun goes down. This energy-saving device will light the way for visitors (or a new suitor?) and may also scare off intruders and critters. Those who live alone will appreciate the peace of mind.
• A gift certificate for car washes. While not necessarily a “safety gift,” I always feel better when my car is clean (and that can’t help but make me safer on the road). Who doesn’t enjoy a clean, sparkling car? Choose a car wash near your recipient’s home or work place.
• A donation to a good cause. Making a charitable contribution in someone’s name is a gift you can both feel good about. Think about your friend or family member who lives alone. What do they care about? Choose an organization that supports his or her values.
• A subscription to “In Good Health” or “55 Plus” produced by editor and publisher Wagner Dotto. Both periodicals are filled with inspirational articles and trusted health information. Consider a gift subscription for someone you love. Chances are good your holidays and theirs will be the healthier and happier for it.
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak, visit www.aloneandcontent.com