By Gwenn Voelckers
This column is for all of you who have friends or family members who live alone.
In December, most folks look forward to joyous holiday time filled with family gatherings, laughter, cheer and gift giving.
This year will be different for all of us, but it promises to be particularly challenging for those who live alone or are temporarily isolating due to COVID-19. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety will likely be more pronounced.
What can you do to add a little “merry” to the holidays for those who live alone?
You can give the gift of time together — probably the most welcome and cherished gift of all — with phone calls, video chats and Zoom gatherings.
You can also give a thoughtful gift to lift a spirit, safeguard a loved one and warm a heart. Below, I’ve compiled a list of gift ideas for you. Some are practical, others personal, all are designed to put a smile on the face of someone who lives alone.
• A subscription to online lessons, classes, workshops and tutorials. Do you have a single friend who aspires to play the ukulele? Check out online music lessons. A divorced sister who eats supper directly from the take-out container? Consider a virtual cooking class. Or a widowed mother interested in life-long learning? A continuing education course might delight her. There are so many possibilities!
• A “Be my guest!” gift certificate (for the future) to a movie, concert, art opening or theater production. And, when things open up, insist on doing the driving.
• A bottle of Champagne and invitation to join you and others on New Year’s Eve for a virtual party. This can be a challenging night for those who are newly divorced or widowed.
Years ago, after my divorce, I popped the cork with my sister and her husband. I was deeply grateful for their invitation to spend the evening together. It got my new year off to a great start.
• An AAA membership. I don’t leave home without it. A flat tire, an empty tank, a lost key — I’ve been there.
Just last week, I locked my keys in the trunk of my car. AAA was there within the hour to pry my window open, unlock the door and release my trunk latch. This is a gift worth its weight in gold.
• Handy tools for emergencies or life’s unexpected moments. Consider a compact “no-battery” wind-up flashlight/radio with a hand crank. Or a Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose First Aid Kit. These are two of my prized possessions.
• How about a Swiss Army knife, complete with a screwdriver, scissors, toothpick and tweezers? It even comes with a nail file and a highly coveted corkscrew.
• A front-entrance motion sensor light that will illuminate your front porch after the sun goes down. This energy-saving device will light the way for visitors (a new suitor?) and may also scare off intruders and critters. Those who live alone will appreciate the peace of mind.
• A gift certificate for car washes. While not necessarily a “safety gift,” I always feel better when my car is clean (and that can’t help but make me safer on the road). Who doesn’t enjoy a clean, sparkling car? Choose a car wash near your recipient’s home or work place.
• An opportunity to be “treated like royalty.” How many of your friends who live alone indulge themselves in luxury services? My guess is not many, if they’re like me. But that’s what makes this the perfect gift!
Why not surprise her with a spa certificate for a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure? Or make his day with a certificate for a gentleman’s facial or deep tissue/sports massage. Note: As I write this spas and salons are open with mask and social distancing requirements. Check for updates.
• For women in particular who live alone — fresh flowers delivered. Do you know a single woman who lives by herself? When’s the last time she got flowers? It’s probably been years … don’t I know it.
Consider sending a bouquet of roses or tulips — red for love, yellow for friendship, pink for appreciation, and white for sympathy.
• And speaking of deliveries, check out gift of the month clubs. Coming home alone at any time of year can feel a little empty, but it can really feel lonely during the holidays. Discovering a package on the doorstep can change everything.
Go online and check out gourmet gifts and food clubs. You won’t believe the variety of delicious items that can be delivered on a monthly basis: chocolates, hot sauce, cheese, tea, cigars, wine, beer, pastas, olive oil, cookies, popcorn, pancakes or entire meals. I love this idea so much, I might treat myself.
• A donation to a good cause. Making a charitable contribution in someone’s name is a gift you can both feel good about. Think about your friend or family member who lives alone. What do they care about? Choose an organization that supports his or her values.
• A subscription to “In Good Health” or “55 Plus” produced by editor and publisher Wagner Dotto. Both periodicals are filled with inspirational articles and trusted health information. Consider a gift subscription for someone you love. Chances are good your holidays and theirs will be the healthier and happier for it.
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women, and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak, visit www.aloneandcontent.com