The holiday season is approaching, and along with it comes great pressures of gift-giving for our closest friends and family. It is a time of immense joy and equally for many, a time of great challenge. Specifically, for those who are new, or even seasoned in recovery, the time of year that is most associated with overindulgence can be difficult. Especially when they are still learning how to live a new sober way of life.

Because gift-giving is a rather large part of the season, it is important that as a friend, loved one or family member of a person in recovery, our gift to them is seen as supportive, too. There are many different things to consider, and if we are not in recovery or sober ourselves, we may not completely understand this person’s experience. 

What to Consider When Buying Gifts for Sober Loved Ones

  1. Don’t give anything alcohol, drug, or ‘using’ related. This one may seem obvious, but it’s important to be strict about this boundary. Even if it’s a gag gift for the white elephant exchange, it’s important not to give your sober friends anything that could be in relation to their addiction. This includes bottles of alcohol, joint wrappers, bottle openers, and anything else related to substance use.
  2. Try not to exclude them. One of the most difficult parts initially when forgoing the path of recovery, is the feeling of alienation. Having everything we once knew change, often including our closest relationships and experiences, is quite difficult for many. It is important to make our gift exchanges and parties inclusive for all. This includes white elephant gifts, having nonalcoholic drinks at parties, and not expecting anyone to do or be something that isn’t comfortable for them.
  3. Think about ways you can support not only their sobriety but their new way of life. When someone goes down the recovery path, it truly is a whole new way of life. How does this person now spend their time? Is there something they have always wanted to do? Did they take up a new hobby? How do they use their time now that they are sober? Thinking about these and then seeing how we can support this lifestyle is important.
  4. Give them an experience, and possibly even share it with them. Buy them online cooking classes, get them art supplies, canvas and an easel, or take them out on a special sober dining experience. On the recovery path, it is imperative we find new ways to find joy and pleasure in life without using or doing anything that was the way we had fun in pre-sobriety. Giving our loved ones experiences that are in favor of their new way of life is not only very special but also very important.
  5. Create something specifically for them. One of the great (and also often challenging) parts about getting sober, is having a newfound presence and appreciation for relationships and intimacy. Receiving a specifically made gift—whether it is a hand-written letter stating how proud one is of someone, a drawing or home-made card, or their favorite freshly baked dessert—can be very special and show true appreciation for who this person is.
  6. Books related to self-discovery, inspiration or recovery. There are many self-help books out there, and perhaps some that have even helped you on your own path. Giving an inspirational book, whether fiction or nonfiction, is always very thoughtful and supportive. It can pertain to recovery or just be an inspirational story itself.
  7. Self-reflection journal. A huge part of the recovery path is self-reflection, and coming to terms with a lot of who we are and how we can be our best selves. Having a journal that is meant for this type of reflection is a great tool and often a big part of our own internal support system.
  8. Meditation tools, music, books or experiences. Meditation has been proven to soothe the nervous system, ignite a deeper sense of presence and help the brain reset into its natural state. This helps to create a more present life with deeper, more meaningful relationships. Many people in recovery will take up meditation as a tool in which enhances and enlivens their recovery. There are many books, apps, music and classes that can be helpful for those either experienced or completely new to meditation.
  9. Camping trip or hiking day date. There is really nothing like getting out into the wilderness and embracing Mother Nature, and many modern recovery programs incorporate being outside and connecting with the earth as a part of the healing process. Going on a hiking day trip, and creating a special sober camping trip, can be a very special way to give to your loved one in recovery.

The holidays are a time to celebrate the ones that we love most, and giving back to those who have given so much to us. Not only supporting their recovery but supporting their new way of life with the gifts that you give, is such a special way to show the sober people that you love how important they are to you. 


If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, contact us at Pinelands Recovery Center today. We are here to answer any questions and help you on your recovery journey, even during the holiday season. Call us today at (877) 557-5372.