The 29 best self-care gifts for your highly stressed friends (or yourself)

Christmas tree ornament illustration
(Roselly Monegro / For The Times)

This is part of the L.A. Times 2021 gift guide. See the full guide here. If you make a purchase off one of our links, the L.A. Times may be compensated.

The last two years have taught us all the importance of wellness and tending to our mental health, and that starts with self-care. This list has been carefully curated to identify items that pamper and pleasure those on your holiday gift list, and give us all the gift of looking inward, instead of outward. With one very notable exception, you will find this gift list blissfully free of gadgets. Why? Because we all need a break from screens and technology as we continue to navigate the last two (!) years we’ve all had. Be sure to buy a little something for yourself too.

Whoop 4.0 wellness coach

Whoop 4.0 wellness tracker

The first thing you’ll notice about the Whoop is the lack of a screen. That’s by design. Screens can distract us. And Whoop is about keeping you focused — on yourself. So what is Whoop? To devoted adherents, it’s the future of health and fitness: The band provides mind-blowing levels of biofeedback — this is for the person who loves data. It offers detailed feedback on calories burned, fitness levels, sleep patterns, stress indicators and more. It can even tell when you might be getting sick. The PGA and its players have embraced Whoop in a big way, and golfer Nick Watney said the tracker offered him the first sign that he might have the coronavirus. It also helps gauge your recovery after tough workouts. It comes in a variety of styles and colors. The device is free because all that biofeedback comes via a smartphone app and a monthly membership fee that starts as low as $18 a month.

Starting at $18 a month | 👉 Purchase here


Sit in the City meditation cards

A deck of cards that take you all across L.A., in pursuit of a quiet place to sit and think.
(Ken Greenlee / Sit in the City)

Combine a need to unplug and unwind with a desire to explore Los Angeles, and you have these Sit in the City cards: Let your intuition be your guide as you pick from the 48-card deck. You’ll find a hidden-gem destination in L.A. on each card — the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro, the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills — that you can visit and just ... sit. Cards also include mindfulness tips, such as focusing on gratitude or choosing a mantra, so you can use the quiet sitting time to deepen your meditation practice. Use the cards to wake up “to what’s going on inside you and all around you,” creator Kim Genkinger says. (There’s a New York City version of the cards as well.) Purchase options: Sold online — with free shipping — or exclusively at the Broad museum.

$58 | 👉 Purchase here

EclecticHoops dance hoop

EclecticHoops Dance hoop

No one can resist a hoop. It brings out the kid in all of us, and a workout that makes us laugh and smile is a workout we’ll return to again and again. When you buy a hoop, it’s important to know that size is a really big deal. And a really big hoop is actually easier to use than a smaller one (which is perhaps counterintuitive to some of us). So, when in doubt, go big! Try the 40-inch-wide standard dance bling from Venice-based EclecticHoops, which specializes in handmade hoops. At 1.8 pounds, the standard dance bling hoop has some gentle heft to it, which is also helpful for beginners. It’s made of domestically produced PVC and comes with a 50-year warranty against splitting or cracking. EclecticHoops’ owner, Jennifer Jensen, also offers private and small group lessons in the basics of hoop dance. Instructional DVDs are also available for around $20 each.

$50 | 👉 Purchase here

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Domi organic cotton sleep tunic

A woman wearing a blue sleep tunic
(Amy Gayeski / Domi)

L.A. designer Ali Blankley’s Domi brand is all about sleeping and lounging, offering bedding, joggers, pajama sets, robes, jumpsuits, kimonos, robes, sleep shirts and more, all made of 100% organic cotton, in a variety of peaceful hues (and some playful colors and patterns as well, because PJ sets should not be boring!). We especially like the dreamy, roomy sleeping tunic, which comes in a crisp white, as well as stripes and a forget-me-not floral pattern in a variety of colors. Hitting midcalf, with a pleated front, this tunic will take you from bed to coffee to your keyboard. Totally up to you if you want to Zoom in it. (We would.)

$197 | 👉 Purchase here

California Tarot cards

A deck of tarot cards with California-themed images.
(Lyn Dunagan)

You don’t have to believe in fortunetellers to enjoy tarot cards — or give them as a gift. Many tarot fans believe the cards are a path to wellness, merely by encouraging us to think more deeply about the ways life is unfolding around us and our role in that evolution. California Tarot cards take this all a step further by melding Golden State history into the playing cards. It’s a love note to California, say creators Lyn Dunagan and James Pascoe, a deck that “looks at the turmoil and innovations of early California, the gold and the blood and the hopes of a better life.” The Shadow & Light deck comes with a booklet that helps you interpret and divine meaning from the cards.

$65 | 👉 Purchase here

Pinch Me Therapy Dough

Five jars of colorful dough
(Brittany Moberg)

Give a stressed-out someone Pinch Me Therapy Dough as a stocking stuffer. And then watch the look of disbelief — wha? — turn into a kidlike grin. And then count the seconds before someone in the room says some version of, “It’s like Play-Doh, but for adults.” That’s exactly what this is, but enhanced with a more tactile, textured feel and decidedly adult scents such as Spa, Ocean, Surf and Relief. Go ahead and squish it, squash it, mold it. Creator Nancy Rothner, a clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in stress reduction, created it as a simple, holistic stress reduction tool. (You may remember her on ABC’s “Shark Tank”.) There are also scented mists and hand sanitizers to go with the play dough.


$14.99 | 👉 Purchase here

Lot XI Body Butter: Tribe

Lot XI's Men's Body Butter: Tribe
(Jerome A. Shaw)

Lot XI’s handcrafted, made-in-L.A. body butter is dubbed Tribe, a nod to the men’s essential oil blend. Just a little bit of the luxurious Lot XI moisturizer goes a long way. “The scent is incredible, and it moisturized and repaired my dry skin,” says one customer.

$30 | 👉 Purchase here

Olive & June mani-pedi system

Fingernails painted with Olive & June's Pumpkin Spice latte colors.
(Olive & June)

Get ready to swoon over the products, the colors — and what many users say is the single best nail polish remover ever invented. (Acetone-free!) Launched in Beverly Hills in 2013, Olive & June has taught many of us to do our own manicures and pedicures. The brand’s complete mani-pedi system comes with a single polish and is pretty much everything you need for salon-quality nails. Want to win the holidays? Toss in the $40 Pumpkin Spice Latte color collection. “This polish system is amazing! What a great product for self-care,” says one customer.

Starting at $105 | 👉 Purchase here


Dosaze Ultimate Comfort pillow

Dosaze pillow

This is for your friend who can’t. stop. talking. about their sleep. The L.A.-based Dosaze’s pillow claims to be the perfect pillow, and while that means something different for everyone, this contoured orthopedic pillow is designed to cradle your neck into proper alignment, no matter what position you sleep in. Go for the pillowcase combo, which includes a cooling covering that is gentle on delicate facial skin and protects the pillow. (For those who do worry about pillow-induced wrinkles, the cradling position also gently elevates your face so it’s not all smooshed in there ... unless you happen to sleep on your stomach, in which case, there’s not much you can do about that.) The pillow is also exceptional for those who like to meditate right before falling asleep. It comes with a 60-day sleep trial guarantee.

$120 | 👉 Purchase here

Majestic Bliss’ Crystal Prana sprays

A bottle of Sahaswara room spray by Majestic Bliss.
(Majestic Bliss)

This is the perfect gift for the person looking to deepen their mindfulness or meditation practice, or just destress after a really long day of Zoom meetings. Santa Fe Springs-based Majestic Bliss makes lovely goats-milk and vegan soaps, but is perhaps best known for its healing incenses and scented sprays. (Actress Eva Longoria Baston is a fan.) Choose one of the brand’s Crystal Prana sprays — yes, there is a crystal inside — based on the body’s energy point or areas of focus. The Sahaswara, for example, is known as the Crown Chakra: Set an intention, shake a bit and spray. “Inhale the transformative and energized aromas and exhale in gratitude.” The goal is to “intensify spiritual awareness” and “connect to others beyond the physical or material world.” When the bottle is empty, remove the crystal and hold it during your mindfulness practices, says Majestic Bliss founder Marcela Arrieta.

$18.99 | 👉 Purchase here

‘Adventure Dogs’ by Fern Watt

The cover of "Adventure Dogs"
(Chronicle Books)

This 8-by-8-inch book is for the dog lover in your life. L.A.-based writer Fern Watt broke the internet with her story (and subsequent memoir, “Gizelle’s Bucket List”) about her final days with her beloved 160-pound mastiff. It makes sense that Watt is now back with “Adventure Dogs,” a guide to out-of-this-world activities to share with a furry friend. And even if you never plan to teach your dog to train like a Navy SEAL or herd sheep, you’ll enjoy curling up with your pup on the couch for some entertaining reading and jaw-dropping photos that remind us that life is just better with a dog (or any beloved pet, really). Slated for a Nov. 23 release.

$19.95 | 👉 Purchase here


Half Hippy Drippin’ Gold Restorative CBD-infused face oil

A bottle of Half Hippy Drippin' Gold Restorative Face Oil
(E. Aaron Ross)

What can’t this face oil by Half Hippy do? It was recommended to us by a superfan for its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties; it also treats acne, eczema, rosacea, evens skin tone, reduces the appearance of scars and promotes cell regeneration. It can be used by all ages and skin types, according to the website. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s another review from a customer who says she was having tea with her daughter when she said: “‘Mom whatever you’re using for your face is fantastic! Your skin looks so smooth, especially on your forehead.’ That goes to show you how great Drippin’ Gold is. I’m 72 years old and gladly take compliments on my skin!” Uh, sold.

$48 | 👉 Purchase here

Block Shop’s Bird of Paradise robe

A colorful robe
(Teri Weber)

This Bird of Paradise unisex robe is billed as a scene stealer, and it’s easy to see why. The fit is roomy, and sizing goes from S to 3XL. It’s made from 100% organic cotton, and a heavier-weight cotton at that, perfect for our cooler L.A. months. And yes, of course, deep pockets! There’s also Block Shop’s cotton Sidewinder robe, which comes in poppy and limeade, also $140, and the Alma robe, at $175, which is made out of Belgian linen and looks good enough to greet guests coming over for a Sunday brunch.

$140 | 👉 Purchase here


OK Boomer trivia card game

OK Boomer trivia game
(OK Boomer)

Why is a trivia game on a self-care gift list? Because there’s no higher form of self-care than ratcheting down the tension (or boredom) at family gatherings during the holidays. The game breaks down into cards with trivia questions that span five generations (Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, boomers and the silent generation) with questions like, “What does ‘Spill the tea’ mean?” or asking about the name of the orange drink favored by the astronauts. You could divide players into teams and make it all about competition, but you know where that might lead. Instead, use these cards as conversation starters. (It might be helpful to make everyone promise to table the eye rolling and sarcasm about who knows, or doesn’t know, a particular fact.) It’s a great way to get the silent generation talking, and, who knows, maybe everyone will come away with a greater appreciation for a generation other than their own. You can purchase on Amazon, of course, but at last check, there was a 10% discount available on the company website.

$34.99 | 👉 Purchase here

NO. 5 Pavot Concrete Meditation Bowl Set

Photogenics + Co. No. 5 Pavot Concrete Meditation Bowl Set
(Photogenics + Co.)

Add a little aromatherapy to your next meditation session ... or anything else. Add a few drops of the essential oils to the lava rock, and just breathe. A little goes a long way. Over time, the scent will grow stronger, “creating a fragrance layer.” The Photogenics + Co. vessel is also a great conversation piece.

$88 | 👉 Purchase here

Astrology candles from Flores Lane

Flores Lane Zodiac candles
(Trish Baden)

Nothing quite says “I know you” like an astrology candle. We love the ones from Flores Lane, made and poured in West Hollywood: The soy, slow-burn candles can last up to 120 hours, depending upon the size purchased. The full, shown here, lasts up to 40 hours. “Each sign’s scents were curated, blended and then tested with several people of that coordinating sign to ensure we nailed it,” according to the makers.

$29 | 👉 Purchase here


‘The Little Book of Zen,’ by David Schiller

"The Little Book of Zen"
(Workman Publishing)

Small enough to tuck into a holiday stocking, “The Little Book of Zen” by David Schiller is the gift for someone looking inward for a little bit of peace and quiet. Billed as a guided journey through Zen philosophy, the book includes stories, sayings, sketches, haikus, drawings, meditations, parables and quotes that make you stop and just ... think. Among them: “There is nothing mystifying about Zen. Zen is clarity itself” —Takashi Ikemoto.

$10.95 | 👉 Purchase here

Color Bath from Moon Nectar Apothecary

Moon Nectar Apothecary Color Bath
(Highbrow Hippie)

This kit, from Portland, Ore.-based Allyson Kaylor, relies on the idea that exposure to different colors can produce different health benefits. The set comes with 10 baths made from Epsom salt and fruit, vegetable and mica extracts; a booklet that explains the meaning of each color and meditations; and a pendulum and pendulum wheel “to help you channel the color you need for healing,” according to Moon Nectar Apothecary. Even if the person you’re shopping for isn’t sold on the healing power of color therapy, this is a chance for them to take some time to themselves and soak in vibrantly colored water, which is healing in its own right.

$88 | 👉 Purchase here

The More Espresso, Less Depresso candle from Blow Me Candle Co.

Blow Me Candles, in fun scents like "More espresso, less depresso," made locally in Santa Monica.
(Angel Vu)

We love a punny candle! Angel Vu founded Blow Me Candle Co. last year in the middle of the pandemic after moving with her family from New Orleans. She was inspired by a handmade candle she bought at a vet clinic — how long and clean it burned, how distinct the scent was and how it felt to support a small business. “There was no turning back,” she writes on her website. “It was then and there that I converted to a ‘hand made candle-er.’” If coffee is your loved one’s mood booster, choose our pick. Sticking to the self-care theme, Stressed but Still Blessed (with hints of lavender, white sage and chamomile) is another solid choice.

$26 | 👉 Purchase here


C & the Moon Malibu Made Glow Oil

C & the Moon Malibu Made Glow Oil
(C & the Moon)

Use this luxe blend of organic oils and food-grade vanilla to moisturize after stepping out of the shower, and say goodbye to dry winter skin. A little goes a long way, and it doesn’t leave behind any trace of stickiness or tackiness. You can even use a tiny drop or two on the ends of your hair to reduce frizziness. Even better: The gentle scent will remind you of freshly baked cookies, in the best way possible. (Want to go all out? Add in a jar of the C & the Moon’s beloved body scrub.)

$93 | 👉 Purchase here

Naked Lip Balm by Poppy and Someday

Poppy and Someday's Naked Lip Balm
(Jamie Arrigo)

The made-in-L.A. Naked Lip Balm by Poppy and Someday is a gentle balm (no dyes or essential oils, which can be harsh on some lips). Instead, it’s made from beeswax, coconut oil, shea and cocoa butters, and olive oil. The balm comes in a .25-ounce glass jar, at a price that’s perfect for stuffing stockings.

$11.50 | 👉 Purchase here


The Now massage

A gift card from the Now alongside crystals
(The Now Massage)

You could get everyone on your gift list a massage from The Now, and we’re willing to bet you wouldn’t get a single complaint. The Now has five locations in and around L.A. and is known for massages that are affordable but feel luxurious, thanks in no small part to the spots’ hip decor. Prices may vary by location. Expect a 50-minute massage to run around $90.

Starting at $50 | 👉 Purchase here

Me-est Me Journal

Me-est Me journal
(Molly Olwig)

The Me-est Me workbook/journal is for that friend, family member or colleague who is ready to do the work and answer tough questions like: “What are you tolerating?” Says creator Shana Rehwald: “I decided to create a journal using the tools that helped me reconnect with myself after a major life transition (I got divorced) in hopes that it might help others too.” The Me-est Me Journal, designed by Hanna Snyder, is an 88-page workbook brimming with writing prompts and action tips to help you look within. “With this approachable guide, you’ll gain more self-awareness and a deeper understanding of what makes you you.” Me-est Me is female-founded and LGBTQ+ owned, and the journal is made locally in Southern California.

$26 | 👉 Purchase here


Tru Alchemy Mystic Mask

Tru Alchemy Mystic Mask.
(Tru Alchemy)

Sherman Oaks-based brand Tru Alchemy offers a wide array of skin care products, like its deep hydrating Quench Crème and its white-shiitake-and-licorice-root skin-brightening Glow Serum. But you know what would be a great stocking stuffer for someone who could use a break? The Mystic Mask. It works on two tracks: Kaolin clay and charcoal whisk away dirt and impurities, making way for a soothing-and-hydrating cocktail of vitamin C, skin-boosting niacinamide and betaine, and all-the-rage hyaluronic acid. Plus, it changes colors as it works, going from a vanilla hue to a blueberry one. A perfect excuse to slather some on, get a bath running and just relax after a long day.

$56 | 👉 Purchase here

Roller skates from Pigeon’s Roller Skate Shop

Colorful pink roller skates form Pigeon's Roller Skate Shop
(Pigeon’s Roller Skate Shop)

Admittedly, this is a highly personalized gift. You can’t really just guess what kind of skates someone will like. So, make a day out of it: Head to Pigeon’s Roller Skate Shop in Long Beach, and let the friendly and knowledgeable staff take over. Prices vary widely depending upon experience level, but expect a beginner’s pair of skates to run around $150 and up. (Don’t forget to check the shop’s clearance page, where you can snap up great deals. We recently found a pair of Rollr Grl outdoor skates in black and gold for $129.) When you’re done at Pigeon’s, explore the 4th Street corridor (where you’ll find Lola’s, Little Coyote, The Social List, Gusto Bread and more), or head to nearby Pine Avenue or the Promenade.

Starting around $119 | 👉 Purchase here

Los Angeles Times’ new crossword puzzle book

New L.A. Times crossword book
(Shop L.A. Times)

Sometimes, the best way to relax is by focusing your mind. Think of this new crossword puzzle book by the Los Angeles Times as your gateway to a meditative state where everything else falls away as you try to work out the answer to 14 across. The book features over 80 puzzles, ranging from easy to difficult. Estimated to ship by Nov. 9.

$14.99 | 👉 Purchase here

Tea Drops’ Mindset Experience With Meditative Stories gift box

Tea Drops Ultimate sampler kit
(Tea Drops)

It’s tea — only easier. L.A.-based Tea Drops makes organic whole-leaf teas pressed into fun shapes such as hearts, flowers and stars. And they’re bagless, which the company says means 15% less waste than traditional tea bags. Just drop one in a cup of hot water, and you’re good to go. Or, as the website puts it: “They melt in water — like a bath bomb, except it’s tea!” Says one verified buyer: “Love that there is no tea bag and once the hot water is added there is no steep time!” Flavors include seasonal delights like chocolate gingerbread and pumpkin spice in addition to traditional favorites such as Earl Grey and matcha green tea, all starting at around $14. Or, try the Mindset Experience With Meditative Stories gift box, which includes an assortment of caffeinated and uncaffeinated teas and a challenge to incorporate more mindfulness into everyday living.

$27 | 👉 Purchase here

‘I Am Magical’ Affirmation Rollerball from House of Intuition

House of Intuition Affirmaton Rollerball
(House of Intuition)

Perfect for stuffing a stocking: House of Intuition has a new collection of Affirmation (“I am beautiful,” “I am loved”) Rollerballs, each scented with a unique combination of essential and perfumed oils. We’re partial to the earthly florals of “I am Magical.” “Use them as part of the self-empowerment and self-love ritual that anyone can do,” according to the website. Also, for fans of House of Intuition and its dedication to the evolution of self, there’s a new book coming out, “Your Intuition Led You Here,” by founders Alex Naranjo and Marlene Vargas. The book chronicles how they “learned to listen to our intuition and tap into the magic within ourselves. Eleven years, and 10 stores later, the House of Intuition is a sacred space to many and a home of self-discovery, transformation, magic and miracles.” It’s scheduled for a late-December release — just in time for the new year — but can be preordered now.


$22 | 👉 Purchase here

Los Angeles Times ‘I’m a subscriber’ crew neck

L.A. Times 'I'm a subscriber' crew neck
(Shop L.A. Times)

Perfect for taking you from a hike to Sunday morning brunch with friends. This classic-cut crewneck from the Los Angeles Times also tells the world you support honest and accurate journalism — and the people who deliver it. It’s made from a cotton blend and comes in eight sizes, from S to 5XL, so you’re guaranteed to find the perfect fit.

$50 | 👉 Purchase here

Los Angeles Times Wellness magazine

L.A. Times Wellness Magazine
(Shop L.A. Times)

This special-edition magazine from The Times takes a deep exploratory dive into wellness and mindfulness, making it the perfect gift for beginners on their wellness journey. Inside, you’ll find tips for making health a priority. One that strikes a particular chord in today’s harried and frantic world? Learning to monotask.

$14.99 | 👉 Purchase here


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