Please Don’t Give Me Cash: A Recovery Gift Guide

If you’re anything like me, you looked at the calendar today and yelled, “Crap! I mean rejoice! Christmas is in a week and I haven’t shopped yet!” Gifting is tricky enough as it is, mix in some addiction, mental instability, and a dash of procrastination; voila! the recipe for a 3-I gift: Illogical, Inappropriate, and totally Irrelevant to the giftee in recovery (despite the sparkly idea of, “It’s the thought that counts”, let’s be honest: some gifts are better left un-given). I would wager that most people truly desire to give a gift that is a hit out of the park, a 3-A gift if you will: Appreciated, Appropriate and Applicable to the recovering giftee’s life. Cash (checks, money orders, cashier’s checks-you get the idea) and gift cards, though a good idea in theory, are generally a no-no as was impressed upon us multiple times at multiple family weekends. Personally, I have seen those cash gifts intended to help cover some basics go straight the a bottle of whiskey one too many times.

With what I have learned these past few years about sobriety, recovery, and relapse I sat down and thought back to gifts I have given and been given while in recovery. Those items that have made it through moves across multiple states, given an intangible experience to treasure forever, offered some benefit mentally, spiritually, and/or physically . I also stumbled across a few great recovery gift ideas while perusing online which made it into my personal gift bag this holiday season. All of the following gift ideas benefit a person in any type/stage of recovery, can be purchased in your underwear from the couch, and some even do the win-win of giving back while gifting.

Subscription Boxes

Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage, so I was only a bit surprised to find these gems while on Instagram a few weeks ago (there’s a box for damn near everything I have discovered!).

The first one, 12stepbox, barely launched and I can’t wait to get mine! I also gifted one to my brother to see what he thinks. It includes speaker tapes, literature, spiritual goodness, and personal care items. Cool stuff, plus the guy who created it is in long-term recovery, so it’s awesome to support him and his friends that help. Comes in a plain brown box to protect anonymity, each month also has a theme (I am a sucker for themes).

The second one I narrowed down from my list is the calmbox. I love their description: A monthly box inspiring calm and zen in everyday life. This box includes items such as candles, calming tea, gemstones, jewelry, inspiration cards, and more. Bonuses: their packaging is eco-friendly and they donate a portion of sales back to charity. Similar to 12stepbox, each month has a theme (yay!) and all the items help you with that month’s focus.

 Let’s Get Physical

Every one of Chad’s rehabilitation centers and sober living houses has reinforced the importance of physical activity as a crucial part of successful recovery. As has every therapist and doctor I have ever seen. We all know it’s amazing for us, yet some people have a hard time working out alone at home.

Enter the gym membership and fitness studio punch card. Gold’s Gym is very reasonably priced, no frills, but that’s what I like. Check local gyms in your area too, many run anywhere from $10-$15 per month. The best place I have scored yoga and Pilates punch cards has always been Groupon (just keep your focus, stay strong!). Gives a chance to try different studios and classes with little commitment in case you don’t like the vibe. A witty work out top, cool yoga mat (or an acupressure mat!), or eco-friendly glass water bottle are also great fitness gifts on a smaller budget.

Too many of us don’t take the time to pamper ourselves a bit after all that hard work (and trying to fix everyone lol), so a massage, spa certificate, or an acupuncture visit are always crowd pleasers. Groupon will also come in handy here for my thrifty shoppers, just ensure to take the time to research the business first! I have seen some amazing offers which were indeed too good to be true upon closer inspection of the establishment…I also like to try to get recommendations from friends to support local business people anytime I can.

Your Recovery is Showing

I had no idea how much was out there in the world of recovery clothing, accessories, and artwork! My 12 Step Store is pretty much a one-stop shop for all things recovery. They offer clothing (cheeky indeed), jewelry, books, cards, and program material. Charming Collectibles is an Etsy shop with simple and pretty AlAnon charms (I secretly want those readers just to wear for reading my dailies!). Jenny Nicole Prints is another Esty shop which opened a few months ago with simple, affordable prints of slogans. I relish the soft fabrics and simple design SuperLoveTees creates, also their mission: To Spread Love Worldwide. They are also committed to humans and the earth with fair labor and Earth-friendly dies and fabrics.

I could seriously write an entire entry on all the great artists and companies out there creating awesome recovery gear, alas I will leave you with these for today. A final tip: If you go into Etsy and search Al-Anon and AA you will find a plethora of shops aimed at providing awesome recovery products. There is literally a shop on there to match any style and budget!

Just doTerra It

I have been an avid doTerra user for about five years now, and use it for pretty much everything from health to cleaning. My mum got me on board, and now I must have my oils everyday. Therapeutic-Grade oils have a plethora of uses, and everyone I introduce them to is in love instantly (the huzban is still a work in progress)! doTerra is the only brand I use, I have solid loyalty there because of the excellent quality, vast variety, plus they are always coming out with awesome new oils and  products (my mum brought me this last week!).

My friend, Nikki, is a doTerra goddess! Not only that, she is also an RN and wellness mama, so she really knows her stuff! I love following her Instagram page @nikki_glo for tips and tricks to try with my oils. You can also email her: for a free wellness consult!

Lavender, Purify, and Serenity are some of my go-to favorites for anxiety, and would be some good ones to gift. I used Serenity during labor, the nurses kept coming in to breath in the aroma and relax from their tougher patients. I also have a couple of diffusers that are running nearly all the time. My mum gifted me the doTerra Aroma Ace which is a bit spendy, yet my favorite by far. The only other non-doTerra brand I have tried is the Now Foods Ultrasonic, which works great and is far less expensive.

 A Ticket to Ride

The holidays are especially tough on those with addiction and mental illness, so if it’s possible, a trip home can be excellent medicine. I will be forever grateful that my parents have always made a point of having Chad come home for Christmas, or at least going to visit him close to the holidays.  I know he appreciated being home with family, having some time to feel a bit “normal” if you will outside the walls and chaos of his sober living house.

A few of us have pitched in on a ticket if prices were holiday high, or if we had to wait until last minute to ensure he was capable of traveling, but having him there was worth every penny. I also love attending meetings when we’re together for the holidays, there’s an amazing spirit in the rooms always, but especially during this time of year.

Only caution with a trip home is taking the person’s current state into consideration. If a  relapse recently occurred, or they’re fresh into rehab, it may be best to take a trip to them instead. It’s not going to be worth it if they aren’t stable enough to be around old people and places, also won’t be fun if family is on red alert the entire time. Everyone has the potential to end up miserable, however you know your loved one best!

Gifting While Giving 

There are so many amazing companies out there giving proceeds and products back to those in great need it’s almost hard to choose which ones to pick! I was trying to specifically narrow down companies that give back or employ addicts in recovery and two, Thistlefarms and Fashionable, do just that. Both empower women who have overcome many challenges in life ranging from addiction to prostitution and sex trafficking. The products range from jewelry to home goods and books. All the products are high quality, in addition to being ethically made. The items are not only beautiful, so is helping others get back on their feet.

A donation in the name of your loved one is also a kind gesture, and anyone in program will appreciate the act of giving. Many people in rehab or freshly out on their own again may not have the funds to donate, so in this way they can still give. The Salvation Army, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and any local rehab centers are good places to start. You may have also noticed all the product links in the guide take you to AmazonSmile where you can choose your charitable organization (put in keyword recovery, there are 224 pages); easiest way to give back ever!

Remember When

A few years back , I gave Chad a frame of eight pictures of us as kids and wrote brotherly and family quotes along the boarders. That frame went from Wyoming to Las Vegas (three different homes) to Florida (two different homes), back to Vegas (it broke shipping, so I re-framed it), then down to Arizona (three different homes) where I just saw it last weekend still in-tact and unpacked in his new apartment. I got the biggest smile on my face to see it sitting there on the floor, I cannot believe that gift has literally gone to hell and back with him. It’s symbolic of so much in our lives, yet such a simple gift. I can tell has special meaning to him as it had special meaning to me when I made it.

Don’t discount the importance of a few old photos and a nice frame, those are some of the best gifts of all! The quotes make it personal, I wrote on his with metallic Sharpie and apparently that holds up great!

The Best Gift is Free

This last gift may seem a bit cheesy, but in my experience has been one of the greatest gifts to give and receive. This is the gift of love and support. Making time to talk, seeing each other as often as possible, and showing pride in someone else’s recovery are priceless acts of kindness that are so vital to continued success in any recovery.

One final note: try not to overlook yourself! Giving yourself the gift of Al-Anon (or whatever you choose) to keep yourself mentally and spiritually fit is a gift that will keep on giving in your world and for those around you.

Please leave a comment of any other gift ideas to share with my fabulous readers.

Wishing you the best holiday yet!

Be Good, Do Good



About Chelsea Lai

Just a girl on her path through life; learning and loving along the way.
This entry was posted in family addiction, family recovery, holiday help, mental health, recovery and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Please Don’t Give Me Cash: A Recovery Gift Guide

  1. Pingback: 2nd Annual Recovery Gift Guide: Still Don’t Give Me Cash | Getting off the Crazy Train: Learning to Live with a Loved One's Addiction

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