During seasons of significant change, the days, weeks, and months can feel like they inch by, and the arrival of the holidays may feel like a welcomed opportunity to push ‘reset.’ If you have a loved one who — for whatever reason — is starting over, you have the opportunity to give a gift that not only sends the right message but will provide hope, inspiration, and joy.
That said, it’s not an easy task, says Olivia Dreizen Howell, the CEO of Fresh Starts Registry. “It’s difficult to shop for someone starting over because they’re entering into a new energetic environment in their life, and it can be so personal to know what they need,” she continues. “You don’t want to give them anything they feel burdened by carrying with them into the next phase of their life, but you do want to show them that you support them and their decision-making.”
The best approach is to remember it’s not about the gift but what it represents. As Howell explains, your sentiment should say, ‘I support you, and I’m here for you in this new chapter of your life.’
Meet the Experts
Olivia Dreizen Howell is the CEO of Fresh Starts Registry.
For the friend going through a life change like a divorce or becoming a parent, experts recommend the most thoughtful gift for starting over:
For your friend going through a divorce or break-up.
There’s no way around it: breakups are hard. Like, really hard. Throw the dissolution of a marriage and children into the mix, and it’s even more painful. Your friend needs to feel safe and loved during this turbulent time, and these gifts get it right:
A set of new bath towels.
When you’re sad, a long bath or shower can do wonders for your mental state (even if you spend most of it crying). But when you step out of the water, ready to embrace the day or head to bed, you don’t exactly want to grab a towel that your ex-partner once shared. That’s why Howell recommends a plush, cozy new set of towels. “You deserve a fresh start with your linens — energetically, this helps empower us through a divorce or break up, and also, you physically deserve something that hasn’t touched your ex’s body,” she continues. “Especially if you’re going through a divorce or breakup where you made the joint decision on the towels, like a wedding registry, it’s so powerful for your mindset to have a fresh set of towels for your new life.”
Buy now: Everplush Diamond Jacquard Towel Set ($43 at Amazon)
A killer Bluetooth speaker.
Howell says music is the key to getting through a breakup or divorce. (Who doesn’t like belting their heart out when no one can hear?!) So why not make your friend an angsty/empowering Spotify playlist (think: Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, and Celine Dion) and pair it with a great Bluetooth speaker? “Not only can they use the speaker in a new space if they have to move, but dancing is a great way to ease anxiety and release trauma,” Howell says.
Buy now: Sonos Roam ($179 at Amazon)
A supportive gift box.
When a breakup is a mutual decision, or your friend is the one doing the heartbreaking, it’s hard. But when your pal is blindsided by the end of what they thought was ‘The One’ — it’s a whole other level of pain. And they may tend to wallow, obsess and replay all of the memories (and text messages) in their mind. So to help ease their stress — and end this self-deprecating cycle — gift them a curated gift that’s thoughtful and helpful. This appropriately titled ‘Stop Overthinking’ box includes a funny book and socks, a candle, and more.
Buy now: Stop Overthinking This Gift Box ($89 at Goodly Shop)
For the friend who lost their job or starting a new career path.
This year hasn’t been a great one for the pal who was burnt out of their job or decided to take the leap to start a different career path. While the road might have been long to find their new gig, the learning curve begins once they do. Here is what to give them to share how proud you are:
A warming mug.
New job = more brain power. And what helps to start the day off on a productive start? The smell of coffee, of course. Whether someone will be working from home or in the office, Howell recommends getting them a warming mug that they can keep on their desk. It is a sweet way to ensure their coffee (or tea) stays at the perfect temperature throughout their morning.
Buy now: Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug ($122 on Amazon)
You may not automatically think of a scarf as a gift for someone who landed a new gig, but offices (and homes) get cold. When you’re wrapped up in something cozy, you settle into work and can Zoom or write emails with ease, Howell says.
Buy now: Extra Large Thick Soft Shawl Wraps for Women ($34 at Amazon)
Personalized office supplies.
For the pal who made a significant accomplishment this year — maybe a new promotion, went to graduate school, or started a business — a personalized office good is very thoughtful. It could be a high-end pen with their name or company engraved, a monogrammed notebook, or something special. The idea is they should be able to use it for a long time and have the memory of their success (and you!) when they use it, says Andrew Westphal, a realtor with Corcoran in New York City.
Buy it: Personalized Executive Leather Portfolio ($70 at Personalization Mall)
For the friend moving to a new city.
Deciding to pack it all up and head to a new zip code (or country) is a thrilling — and scary — endeavor. While your pal is probably excited about the adventure, they might also worry about building a community and adjusting to new norms. These gifts might help them settle in with ease.
Flowers or a plant.
Westphal says flowers work for a new city as they brighten up a spot that has probably not yet been decorated or even organized. Or, for something that’s a little longer lasting, consider a housewarming plant that will breathe new life — literally — into their new home or apartment. He also suggested pairing this with a gift certificate for a local place, a coffee shop/cafe, a hip boutique, or a salon or barber.
Buy now: Greendigs Moonlight Philodendron Plant ($55 at Greendigs)
A digital photo frame.
While new opportunities and experiences await your friend in their new city, they also leave behind treasured people and places. You can help them lean into the future while holding the past near with a digital photo frame. What’s great about Aura’s product line is you can buy it and pre-load it with photos and images, so your friend simply plugs it in and is greeted with love. Then, they can download the app and upload photos from their new zip code.
Buy now: Aura Mason Frame ($179 at Aura Frames)
A kitchen essential.
For the friend who sold everything and drove cross-country or flew over the Atlantic, they may be arriving in their new city with very little. That’s why filling up their pantry with essentials is such a fantastic — and appreciated — gesture. One yummy approach is a collection of spices, like this one from The Spice House. They will cook up a storm in their new kitchen using everything from basil and oregano to sweet curry, paprika, and more spice blends.
Buy now: The Spice House’s Essential Spices Collections ($140 at The Spice House)
For the friend who became a parent.
Whether through pregnancy or adoption, becoming a parent is one of the most life-altering experiences someone will have. Everything feels like it starts over: your ability to sleep, your diet, your body, and your capacity for love. It is the hardest — yet most beautiful and surreal — passage and your support means everything.
If your friend gave birth, they are not only adjusting to being a mom but healing their body, too. Whether c-section or vaginal delivery, recovery takes time they don’t have, since hey, they are caring for a new human and, for many, learning to breastfeed. That’s why therapist Sarah Baroud, LICSW, recommends doing all you can to be there for them, like hiring a postpartum doula or night nurse to make visits to their home and help the family with managing their schedule, getting sleep, preparing food, baths for the baby, and so on. Another option is to give a gift box like this one that features must-have products for new mamas.
Buy now: Bodily Care For Birth or C-Section Box ($89 at ItsBodily.com)
A quick skincare routine.
Once they become a new parent, it’s hard to distinguish day from night with ’round-the-clock feedings. This Sunday Riley Day + Night Bright holiday kit gives moms and dads a little more structure to their days while taking a few moments to pamper themselves. The Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow Oil is infused with advanced vitamin C to recharge skin during the day and the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil soothes and calms skin while they try to get some shut-eye.
Buy now: Day + Night Bright ($34, SundayRiley.com)
A personalized gift with the baby’s name.
During the first few weeks and months (and even year) of a baby’s life, Baroud says new parents often feel trapped in the ‘mind-bending timewarp.’ “Everything is a blur and flying by, yet simultaneously the day drags on because you’re so darn exhausted,” she says. Since they can’t always think of personalized, thoughtful gifts for themselves, she suggests gifting something with a baby’s name. “These gifts mark moments in time and allow the new parents to have easy keepsakes they don’t have to think about,” she adds. Better yet: make sure it’s for the parent and not just the baby, like this necklace from Tiny Tags.
Buy now: Tiny Tags Circle Pendant ($145 at Tiny Tags)
A big ‘ole blanket.
Especially in the fourth trimester — a.k.a. baby’s first three months of life — new parents are surviving on little sleep, cold coffee, and a laundry pile of pajamas and nursing bras. They value comfort the most, and this huge blanket permits them to soak up the snuggles. While the hours feel long, the newborn stage passes quickly in hindsight, and this blanket could remind them of those blurry-eyed days that bleed into nights.
Buy now: The Original Stretch Big Blanket ($149 at BigBlanket.com)
For the friend who is grieving.
Grief comes in many forms: the loss of a parent or a spouse. Or the loss of a pregnancy that was badly wanted. While these are seasons of starting over, it’s not by choice, and often feeling like someone is missing along this new path. These gifts provide support and care in the darkest of times.
A meal delivery service.
When a dark raincloud follows you everywhere, remembering to feed yourself can feel like a battle. And if you are responsible for tiny humans, staying afloat is even harder. That’s why Baroud suggests a meal delivery service, like Goldbelly, Uber Eats, Seamless, and so on, for families going through a difficult time. “Covering the mental energy and cost required for a few meals goes a long way and lets them know people care and are thinking of them,” she says. “Couple this with a thoughtful note, and you have a special way of caring for your loved ones.”
A self-care gift set.
After a miscarriage, your friend could feel disconnected from her body — and in many ways, betrayed. Reconnecting and soothing her senses may not be at the top of her to-do list, but healing is important. That’s why this gift set — complete with a full nighttime routine including Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum, Sunday Riley 5 Stars Retinoid + Niacinamide Eye Serum, and Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil will encourage her to spend some time on herself and process her emotions. Better yet: offer to be there before or after her bath and draw it for her, showing you’re always there to hold space for her.
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