The Holiday Gift Guide for People Who Want to Be Happier, Less Distracted, and More Productive in 2019
Catherine here, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life (phonebreakup.com). A lot of people have been asking me about recommended holiday gifts, so I’ve put together an inaugural gift guide that includes books and products that have helped to make me a healthier, happier and saner person—hopefully they’ll do the same for you and your loved ones.
10% Happier App: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
I met Dan Harris when I was a guest on his podcast, 10% Happier (based on the book with the same name) and later helped him through a personal phone breakup for Good Morning America. I am impressed by all that he’s doing to bring mindfulness and meditation to a wider audience, and highly recommend his books to anyone in your life who could use a bit of centering, but who is skeptical of the whole meditation thing. He’ll convert you.
In addition to writing books, Dan has also created a meditation/mindfulness app (also called 10% Happier) that is one of my absolute favorite resources (and a good use of the phone!): it features some of the world’s leading meditation teachers, and is packed with hundreds of videos and guided meditations, many of which have a refreshingly irreverent tone. (I particularly recommend Jeff Warren’s “Flush Your Thoughts” meditation.)
You should get it for yourself—and it turns out that you can actually gift a subscription of the app to other people, too. Here’s the link: gift.10percenthappier.com
And their official description:
The holidays can be hectic. Meditation helps us navigate the chaos by making us calmer, kinder, and less yanked around by our emotions.
If you know someone who could use some help staying a little more centered — and a little less scattered — this holiday season, consider gifting them a subscription to 10% Happier.
Bagby: Phone Sleeping Bags, Anti-Phubbing Bands and Digital Wellness Trivia Game
I met the Bagby founder, Juan Sanchez, when he reached out to me about a handcrafted phone sleeping bag he had created. Yes, a phone sleeping bag. I know this will sound strange but hear me out: there is something extremely psychologically effective about putting your phone “to bed” at the end of the day and not picking it up again till morning.
Since then, Juan has since moved on to other products, including “anti-phubbing” bands that you can put around your phone to remind you to put it down and pay attention to the person you’re spending time with, plus standalone alarm clocks you can use to get your phone out of your bedroom. They’re all aesthetically pleasing and make great gifts.
When you put your phone away, you might be faced with the awkward possibility of actually having to talk with people, rather than distracting yourself with your devices. To make it easier, consider one of these two boxes of conversation prompts.
The Off the Grid Box was created by entrepreneur Julie Farnie, and features conversation prompts specifically designed to help parents and kids talk together about how they want to relate with their devices. (Actually, it’s designed as a game, but you can use the questions however you’d like.) It’s a great way to get your kids and other family members thinking—and talking—about what you actually want your relationships with technology to be, both individually and as a family.
Adults take note: this isn’t just about getting your kids to change how they relate to their devices; it’s about the whole family, including yourself!
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish word that conveys the spirit of conviviality and coziness (and is super trendy right now). For my birthday last month, my sister- and brother-in-law gave me this box of conversation starters, which we used at the Thanksgiving table to spark a really fun inter-generational conversation. (It was so great that we used some of the questions at a holiday party that we hosted this past weekend—we put cards in bowls around the house and encouraged people to pick them up and ask each other the questions.) The prompts are not specific to technology, and can be used in any context or gathering.
How to Break Up With Your Phone, by Catherine Price
Yes, I wrote it, so I’m biased. But the process has truly changed my life. The point of the book isn’t to get you to ditch your phone entirely; it’s to help you create a healthier relationship. In it, I explain to people what the time we spend on our screens is doing to our bodies and brains (spoiler alert: it’s scary). Then, since I didn’t just want to depress people, I also offer an evidence-backed, hands-on 30-day plan designed to help people create healthier relationships with their devices. The book is written in a playful, non-judgmental tone and I’ve found it to be a great way to start conversations with loved ones without people getting overly defensive.
“This book has changed my life, so much so that I strongly feel it should be required reading for anyone who owns a smartphone. I can’t recommend this book enough, and will be lending or buying it for as many friends and family members as possible.” — GRADY8384, AMAZON REVIEW
There are many more products out there that meet my criteria for great holiday gifts (i.e. that encourage connection, playfulness and self-reflection, or some combination thereof), and I hope to be putting together a longer list in the coming months. But for now, put down your phones and enjoy the holiday season!