10 Restful Gift Ideas

For yourself or others!

Ximena Vengoechea
7 min readDec 18, 2023

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Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

Happy December, friends!

The holidays can be a wonderful but stressful time, so I wanted to share a few restful gift ideas for loved ones — or for yourself! — from my research for Rest Easy. Grab them for the friend who works far past 5pm, the parent who tends to put their family’s needs above their own, or for the sibling who is always on top of the latest wellness and self-care trends. You might even find something for yourself on this list. Given we can all use more rest in our lives (and let’s face it, especially during the holidays), I highly encourage self-gifting too. Here are ten restful gifts I love and recommend:

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  1. Nature’s balm: Leafy green plants help reduce stress, boost energy and concentration. Pick up some plants at your local nursery for an extra dose of zen for you or a loved one. Add them to your desk space to give it a calming tone, or to any place you want to bring some of nature’s stress-busting power to. I personally love extra leafy, low maintenance plants like the Calathea peacock plant. It really does look like a peacock showing off its feathers when it stands itself up! To dress up this gift even more, add this fancy British watering can that indoor gardeners go ga-ga for.
  2. Luxury sleep: I love this eye mask from Lunya — it’s silky soft and stretchy enough not to leave you with a headache in the morning. They also have a gorgeous line of pajamas that truly invite you to make a ritual of rest if you really want to pamper yourself. If you are a hot sleeper or suffer from night sweats that interrupt your sleep, these linen sheets from Coyuchi can help.
  3. A cozy beverage: Herbal teas can help activate your rest response and get you cozy and calm (especially valerian, chamomile, and lavender, which are good for sleep and relaxation). I love a good rooibos in the morning, and fennel or licorice at night. For a fancy tea that makes a great gift, try the French classic, Mariage Frères, which comes in nice tins and in many different flavors. Add Bodum’s insulated glasses and teapot to complete this cozy gift.
  4. A good read: A good book can transport us to a faraway world and help us to relax. The key is to pick a genre that’s going to take you out of your own head and worries, without being too stimulating. If you spend your time reading nonfiction for work, try escaping to a world of fiction to help you relax — and vice versa. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my favorites on Bookshop.
  5. The right soundtrack: Sound can have a big impact on our ability to rest — just think about how stressful it can be to hear traffic, shouting, sirens, or pumping loud music. The right soundtrack can bring you to a state of ease and calm. Things like nature sounds (rainfall and birdsong are particularly relaxing), singing bowls, and Gregorian chants can be particularly relaxing. Make a cozy sounding playlist for yourself or a loved one to help bring peace and calm your way. If you have trouble sleeping, or just want to be lulled off into dreamland with a story or two, I recommend Just Sleep, a sleep podcast which reliably sends me off to dreamland on nights when I’m having trouble turning off my brain. For bigger budgets, you might try a sound bath, which comes with meditative benefits. I worked with Lavender Suarez, author of Transcendent Waves, while researching my book; she is available for virtual appointments.
  6. The perfect journal: Journaling has been known to have many antistress benefits. It helps us to process particularly stressful or traumatic moments, and gain perspective on our experience. Journaling offers us a safe space to explore forgiveness — of ourselves and others, and when more self-compassion is needed. I personally love Midori notebooks — gridded, lined, or blank — for processing my thoughts. For hardcover journals, I like Leuchtturm’s collection, which comes with numbered pages and a table of contents you can fill out to keep your writing organized. They also come in a bajillion colors.
  7. Drawing accessories: Coloring books, sketchbooks, and even drawing apps can all help you get into a relaxing, meditative state. Try Johanna Basford’s World of Flowers for dreamy nature coloring, or the classic Strathmore sketchbook, which comes in a number of sizes and paper types. If digital doodling is your thing, I recommend Paper from WeTransfer if you’re just starting out and want to keep it simple, or Procreate if you want all the bells and whistles.
  8. A mind-quieting puzzle: Puzzles are known to be calming and encourage relaxation, as so many of us discovered during COVID 19 lockdowns. They can be a great mental distraction from stress — meditative and calming while also offering a sense of control and achievement as we get closer to completing our puzzle. If you love puzzles, museum shops, gift shops, and toy shops can be a great way to find new puzzles. (Check out this puzzle collection from MoMa to start.) Crossword puzzles or word searches can also work if you’re not a jigsaw puzzle person: they are just engaging enough to quiet your mind, yet not so taxing that they’ll keep you up at night or drain your energy when you need it most. Try this New York Times crossword puzzle book.
  9. Hydration power: Dehydration is a common source of fatigue (headaches, too). To fight the daytime sleepies and stay hydrated, you can add electrolytes to your water once a day. There are tons of electrolytes to choose from; I prefer Eidon Electrolytes as there are no trace minerals to worry about. I’ve noticed my energy levels are much steadier since adding electrolytes to my routine. These tapered, steel, insulated water bottles come in lots of colors and will keep your water cold in the summer and hot in the winter.
  10. Your guide to rest: Of course, my new book, Rest Easy: Discover Calm and Abundance through the Radical Power of Rest, is another great rest find! Whether you’re looking for ways to relax your mind, body, or spirit, or to help a loved one in your life find their zen, the book is chock full of insights, easy and affordable rest techniques, and prompts and exercises to help you relax when you need it most. But don’t take my word for it — the fine folks at Oprah Daily think it’s restful, too. And if you send me your receipt I’ll send you a signed bookplate that you can add to your book, along with some custom Rest Easy stickers. You can send proof of purchase to: theresttrials@gmail.com

As you pick out your favorite rest gift for you or a loved one, remember that living more restfully will require more than even the best gifts can offer. Consider these restful gifts to be meaningful extras to a larger restful practice; rather than replace deeper rest techniques, think of them as an extension of your commitment to rest. (A fancy scented candle will only be as calming as your ability to set your phone aside and breathe deep when it’s lit.) Although rest doesn’t require fancy products, you can use these as tools to make your journey into rest a little bit smoother — and to help those around you rest more deeply, too.

Wishing you all a restful holiday season,

Ximena

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📚 What I’m reading

  • The Future, by Naomi Alderman. What happens when the world’s most powerful tech gurus build an end-of-the-world bunker and head for the hills? This dystopian tech novel explores questions of greed, technology, what it means to be human, and even throws in a touch of romance.

💸 Currently coveting

  • These cashmere joggers from Nadaam that sadly appear to never go on sale. Their softness scale is rated “Heavenly Soft.” A girl can dream!

📢 Coming soon

  • I hope you enjoyed the first episode of my new podcast, Rest Easy, with author and designer Jake Knapp! We talk about how Jake got into design, what he learned about work from his parents, and how an unexpected brush with death changed his relationship to work and rest. Don’t miss it! Our next episode will feature author and illustrator Liana Finck. Stay tuned for the episode drop in the next update from me.

💌 Thanks as always for reading along and supporting my work. If you like what you see, hit the heart button, drop a comment, or share this with someone you think will love it, too. You can order my new book or book me for a speaking event here. 💌

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Ximena Vengoechea

Writer, UX Researcher, Author of The Life Audit ('24), Rest Easy ('23), Listen Like You Mean It ('21). ximenavengoechea.com/books