What item made life just a little better this year?
That was the question we asked the Well+Being team to create this holiday gift guide. Here, we share our favorite finds for cooking, exercising, spending time at home, improving our mental health and more. Some gifts are practical and affordable; others are definite splurges. (Prices updated to reflect Black Friday sales.) Stainless D Ring
But every single one of them brought us closer to living healthy, fulfilled lives. We hope they do the same for you and your loved ones this year.
I use my Chefman air fryer at least a few nights a week and sometimes for lunch as well. It’s fantastic for cooking foods such as salmon, sweet potato fries, homemade chicken nuggets (for my kids), tofu and anything else that I want to be crispy on the outside and moist or tender on the inside. Plus, it cooks food quickly, and the cleanup is easy. It’s the best kitchen purchase I’ve made all year. Price: $69.99 — Anahad O’Connor, Eating Lab columnist
We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, so most of the air we breathe is indoor air, which can effect our overall health. This Airthings 2930 Wave Plus air-quality monitor lets me track the levels of radon, carbon dioxide and potentially harmful volatile organic chemicals accumulating in my home. With an easy-to-use color indicator, the app makes it easy to tell if I need to open some windows to let in fresh air, especially after cooking. It also allows me to track more detailed air quality data over time. Price: $149.99 — Richard Sima, Brain Matters columnist
These hardy UNNI bags hold vegetable peels, eggshells and other compostable materials and easily go from freezer to drop-off bins at farmers markets, grocery stores and other places. If like me, you don’t have much counter space to spare, you also could try the EPICA Stainless Steel Compost Bin. It’s compact, easy to clean and doesn’t leak. At 1.3 gallons, it can hold about a week or more worth of compost, and a replaceable charcoal filter ably controls odors. Price: $13.95 for bags and $22.95 for the bin — Anjuman Ali, deputy editor
This Hydro Flask coffee mug is perfect for the morning commute. The 16-ounce insulated metal bottle has a wide mouth that makes it easy to pour in a French press worth of coffee as I dash out the door. Once I’m on the road, biking to the newsroom, it doesn’t leak a drop. And that little handle on the top is actually nifty when you’re juggling your lunch, badge and phone to swipe inside. The best part: The bottle is a breeze to clean. Price: $24.71 — Teddy Amenabar, reporter
Spending nearly $500 on a blender is a definite splurge. But there’s a reason Vitamix has such an avid following. Its motor and blades are incredibly powerful, meaning you can take fruits straight from the freezer and whip up a sorbet in a matter of minutes. It’s the perfect gift for someone who thinks ice cream is a daily necessity (like me) but is looking for a healthier alternative made with only fruit. Plus, these blenders are built to last and come with a seven-year warranty. Price: $479.95 — Emily Codik, assistant editor
If you or someone you care about has a chronic illness or another limitation that makes it difficult to go exploring on a bike, a good-quality e-bike can help them rediscover the joys of motion. Riding an e-bike still allows you to pedal and get a workout, but the motor assists when fatigue sets in. The Orbea Rise electric mountain bike ($5,699 and up) is the best gift I’ve ever given and by far the priciest — double what I paid for my first car (a used Volkswagen Beetle). But it’s worth every penny to help someone with mobility issues or who might otherwise be daunted by mountain biking to get out on the trails. Slightly budget-friendlier options include the Trek Dual Sport+ hybrid trail/city bike ($2,399.99) or RadRover 6 ($1,499). — Gretchen Reynolds, Your Move columnist
Paddle boarding is the perfect antidote to sitting all day. An inflatable board is even better because you can take it with you anywhere, inflate it within minutes and float onto any waterway you encounter when you travel. I’m always surprised by the sounds as I start to glide, the banks protected by the dipping branches, the birds soaring from the trees. Paddle boarding is meditation and exercise all wrapped inside a glorious nature bath. I love Red’s inflatable board ($1,399), but for a more affordable option, try Atoll’s version ($595). — Bronwen Latimer, associate director of photography
Pockets are essential when I run so I can carry my phone, keys, credit card and energy gel. But for whatever reason, a lot of running shorts don’t come with real pockets except for a small key pouch. That’s why I’m a fan of Rabbit men’s Beach Break 5-inch shorts, which have four pockets: two on each side, and zip pockets on the front and back. Price: $68 — Kelyn Soong, fitness reporter
My pup loves this Sodapup silicone lick mat, and I love that I can throw it in the dishwasher after he has a treat. You can spread out a snack such as peanut butter or canned pumpkin, and the grooves on the mat will help entertain your dog while giving them a soothing and simulating way to enjoy their treat. Price: $15.99 — Aviva Loeb, assistant editor
I have a 4-year-old pup with special needs and am constantly on the lookout for things to make her life more comfortable. The BarkBox memory foam doughnut bed promises therapeutic support while also helping to alleviate body aches and joint pain. I paired it with a foam staircase, which comes in various colors and sizes, to help her get onto the couch and bed. Yes, she’s allowed! Bonus: Both items have covers that are machine washable. Price: $42.99-$75.99 — Lindsey Bever, reporter
Puzzles and crafts can calm the mind and are their own form of mindfulness practice. I purchased the Lego flower bouquet as a stress-relieving distraction for my daughter during her last year of college. She was hooked and has since completed the orchids, succulents and bonsai tree. The Lego website has a number of decorative and nostalgic sets for grown-ups. My favorites include the Starry Night wall art, the typewriter and the world wall map. Price: $49.99-$99.99+ — Tara Parker-Pope, editor
Hearing aids are medical devices, but hearing aid jewelry can turn them into fun, fashionable accessories. I like using Deafmetal’s safety rings because they mimic the look of cartilage piercings, which I’ve never been able to get because they would likely be uncomfortable to wear with my hearing aids. An added bonus is that the safety ring prevents my hearing aid from sliding off when I’m dancing or doing yoga. The company offers safety chains and cochlear implant jewelry, too. Price: Around $40 to $60 — Amanda Morris, disability reporter
Nothing relaxes me like a session in a sensory-deprivation float tank, sometimes described as “flotation therapy.” The water is body temperature and saturated with Epsom salts so you float easily. You can choose to have music and lights, or go for the full experience in complete silence and darkness. Physically, it soothes and relaxes my muscles. Mentally, it puts me in a meditative state. I always come out feeling like my brain’s capacity for creativity has been recharged. A gift card for a session or two is an ideal gift for the artist in your life. Price:$60 to $99 per float, depending on how many sessions you purchase. — Chelsea Conrad, illustrator and news designer
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