Holiday Gift Guide

Millennial therapist shares the No. 1 gift she's giving young people this year: 'It's simple yet profound'

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Christmas has always been a time of gathering with our loved ones. But with families separated and quarantined, many will find this season tinged with sadness, anxiety and loneliness.

As a therapist who works primarily with millennials, one thing I've been hearing over and over again from my patients, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, is a longing for deeper and more meaningful relationships.

So this year, I'm giving every young person on my gift list a box of blank note cards, along with a handwritten letter.

Why it's is the perfect gift for millennials

I know what you're thinking: Note cards and a letter? How underwhelming.

But here's why this simple yet profound gift can help them manage all the stress and loneliness in today's chaotic world:

  • Unlike a text, email or phone call, a handwritten letter is a tangible expression of gratitude — one that will be appreciated, kept and cherished forever.
  • Not only will your letter create a powerful sense of connection, but the set of blank notes will inspire and motivate them to reach out to the people they are thankful for.
  • Writing gratitude notes will help them nurture relationships with those who have made a positive impact on their lives.

In your letter, let them know how much you appreciate them, how they've made your life better, and how much they mean to you.

This gift is also about what you hope they will do with the cards, so encourage them to send out gratitude notes of their own — maybe even write one to themselves.

Research agrees, too

In positive psychology research, expressing gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. It helps people relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build meaningful relationships.

In one experiment, researchers found that participants who were asked to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to those who had never been properly thanked immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores.

This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for up to a month.

My top note card picks

Luckily, there is no shortage of note cards to choose from.

You can go with something slightly holiday-themed, or one that's more on the blank side so they can use it throughout 2021. (And don't forget to include a book of stamps!)

Here are just a few of my favorites:

1. Mrs. John L. Strong Motif Cards

Photo: Mrs. John L. Strong

This company was founded in 1929 and today upholds the tradition of handcrafting the finest stationery of the highest quality. I love that there are so many fun colors and motifs to pick from!

Set of five cards and envelopes
Price: $35

2. Fireplace Scene Cards

Photo: Mrs. John L. Strong

Engraved in blue and set inside of a debossed panel, the lovely scene features a family gathering around the fireplace. This is a great choice if you want to add a subtle touch of festive warmth.

Set of 12 cards and envelopes
Price: $125

3. "Together Apart" Pandemic Cards

A fantastic sentiment of gratitude for an atypical holiday season: We're all together apart.

Set of 10 cards and envelopes
Price: $35

4. Moglea Hand-Painted Cards

This Iowa-based letterpress studio focuses on the craft of artful paper goods. Production processes are done by hand and make each piece feel one-of-a-kind.

Set of six cards and envelopes
Price: $20

5. "Beautiful Thoughts" Postcards

These cards are stamped with quotes from writers, artists, thinkers, dreamers, doers and lovers of life. Each one offers the perfect words for moments when you need a shift of perspective, an uplift or simply a smile. 

Set of 60 postcards
Price: $24.95

6. Crane Regent Blue Framed Half-Sheet Paper Note Sheets

When you have lots to say, this half sheet with its fine navy borders provides plenty of space and is a pleasure to write on.

Set of 20 note sheets and envelopes
Price: $26

7. Ensso Minimalist Fountain Pen

The sleek fountain pen is crafted from a solid block of aluminum. Durable yet smooth, it offers an effortless writing experience that allows your giftee to express a unique and creative side in their note-writing.

One black-inked pen
Price: $79

Tess Brigham is a San Francisco-based psychotherapist and certified life coach. She has more than 10 years of experience in the field and primarily works with millennials and millennial parents.

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