Whether for inner peace, better sleep or a connection with nature, these gifts emphasize calm and tranquility.

Share story

The world is fast and furious. Why not slow it down for the holidays?

Ways to achieve that lofty goal are plentiful. Some ideas on how to give the gift of slow living.

A slower home 

Australian Brook McAlary is a 30-something writer and mother of two from the Blue Mountains near Sydney who suffered severe postnatal depression in 2011. That’s when she decided to embrace minimalism and simplicity in her life.

In addition to her Slow Home podcast, she has written two books: “Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World” ($26) and “Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life” ($14, both at booksellers)

Connecting with nature

For loved ones with a green thumb, and those who aspire, set them up with seeds and everything else they need to get their hands in the soil.

The shop SmartSeedsEmporium on Etsy offers a way to grow a living sculpture — the Queen Victoria agave plant. With a spiral of deep green leaves, it grows slowly and can reach a foot tall and wide. Mature plants, considered hardy and drought tolerant, can cost up to $1,000. But for $5 you can gift 20 seeds.

Queen Victorias can live for several decades and spike reddish-purple blooms. This Etsy seller offers a variety of rare, exotic seeds from the around the world, but the Queen Victoria seeds hail from the U.S.

From left: Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, $40 at amazon.com; Fashionable Canes Hazel Walking Stick, $54; Zen Life Sea Life Garden, $35
From left: Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, $40 at amazon.com; Fashionable Canes Hazel Walking Stick, $54; Zen Life Sea Life Garden, $35

A walk in the woods

People who aspire to walk more, appreciate the woods, get out to a local park or head outside to get the blood flowing can do it in style with a walking stick or cane.

In addition to specialty makers and hiking stores, bigger chains are in on the idea. Bed, Bath & Beyond carries a 48-inch twisted oak walking stick in red for $56. It has others in different wood and color schemes.

A site called Fashionablecanes.com is full of options, including a hazel walking stick handcrafted in Ireland for $54.

And antique canes and sticks are all over eBay if your gift recipient likes a more retro look.

A calming blanket

Do you know somebody who feels they’re failing at sleep? The folks at My Calm Blanket have borrowed a tool used to soothe anxiety and other sleep disrupters — a weighted blanket.

The cotton inner blanket uses glass beads to provide mild pressure based on body weight. The single-sized blanket should weigh 7 to 12 percent of the sleeper’s weight. For a person who weighs 80 to 100 pounds, for example, a 10-pound blanket would do. An outer duvet, in a gray quilted design, is made of minky, a soft polyester velour.

The creators caution that the blanket should not be used by anyone who cannot remove it on their own. Buying the right weight is key otherwise. It comes in four weights, from 10 pounds to 25 pounds, and costs $170–$200. Many other weighted blankets are also available. 

Buddha boards & sand gardens

A token gift or actually pretty Zen? Your gift recipient may get a tickle out of one of these either way.

Buddha Boards come in a range of styles and sizes. They provide a surface for creating fleeting designs with water, with a bamboo brush, a bowl and a stand to catch drips included.

Mini Zen sand gardens are a world onto themselves, with little tools, bridges, rocks, trees and Buddha statues available. One company, Zen Life, offers a desktop-sized sandbox where you can create a calming day at the sea for $35 at amazon.com.

Slow cooking

The multi-use pressure cooker may be all the rage, but you can slow it down with a simple, single-function slow cooker.

Consider a stoneware insert, make sure the lid is tight fitting, and look for easy, intuitive controls. Also, it would be nice if the handles stay cool.

The idea is to make it easy, but more importantly slow, providing the best aromatherapy of all: eight hours of pot roast wafting through the house.