15 Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

The holiday season is definitely here, and at least for most people, that means it's also time for holiday shopping. This year, though, I'm challenging you to consider gifts that can't always be put under the tree: experience-based gifts.

15 More Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

Like I shared last year, my family has been moving toward more experience-based gifts over the last few years, and I honestly find experiences - like a family vacation or eating at a restaurant I love with friends and family - even more rewarding than most gifted "items" or "things." And experience-based gifts can be especially awesome for the chronic illness warriors in your life because you can actually give them experiences that make their life with chronic illness a whoooole lot easier.

That's why I decided to write a part two to last year's post (13 Experience-Based Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones With Chronic Illness) and offer even more ideas of experience-based gifts you can give the spoonies in your life. So whether your loved ones have celiac disease, fibromyalgia or another chronic disease, I hope this list inspires some creative gifts that will spice up your holiday shopping this year!

1. A pottery, painting or other artistic class.

In recent years, more and more research has connected artistic activities with decreased stress levels, increased confidence, reduced anxiety, depression and pain, and a TON of other benefits for people with chronic illness. So not only could art classes give your loved one a new, fun hobby, but they could also majorly help with their pain and quality of life!

15 More Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

2. A "I'll make you dinner" card for nights they just can't.

I love cooking. Most days, I'm cooking at least twice a day, and sometimes it's even more than that. But when I get glutened or am having a really high pain day, cooking is anything but fun. So if you know someone who has chronic pain or just has reallllly bad days with their chronic illness from time to time, offering to make them dinner, bring them dinner or bring them takeout from time to time is one of the best gifts there is! (And if you need gluten free recipe ideas, you know where to find them...)

3. A gym membership.

Keep in mind, not everyone with a chronic illness can, should or wants to work out. But some people with chronic illness (including me!) feel a whole lot better when they get their body movin' and groovin'...so if your friend is one of them, a gym membership is a thoughtful and practical gift they'll enjoy all year long.

4. Tickets to a kickass conference, like the Gluten Free Allergy Friendly Expo.

One of the most challenging things about chronic illness, at least in my opinion, is feeling left out or alone in your struggles. So if you hear about an awesome conference related to your friend's chronic illness - like the Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Expo I looooove attending - tickets to it might be a sweet surprise. And if you offer to go with them, that's even more fun!

15 More Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

5. Chauffeur services and/or company to important doctor appointments.

Chronic illness = loooots of doctor's appointments, so offering to drive them to appointments every once in a while is a really kind and helpful gesture. And if a really important or intimidating appointment is coming up, you might offer to keep them company in the waiting room. Even if they say no, it's a kind way to show that you are there to support them in any way you can.

6. A voucher for something suuuuper relaxing, like a massage, manicure or sensory deprivation tank.

I mean, I think anyone would appreciate this kind of experience gift...but if your loved one has a chronic illness or struggles with chronic pain, they'd probably appreciate gift cards for massages or, if you want to get even more advanced, a voucher for a sensory deprivation tank. I personally haven't tried sensory deprivation, but I've heard great things about it from spoonies who have. As for the manicure, well, it's easy for people to put "pampering" on the bottom of their to-do list when medications are expensive and money is tight. So a mani-pedi might be exactly the special, mood-booster your friend needs!

7. A photoshoot at one of their favorite places.

As I've written about many times before, it can be challenging to have a positive body image when your body seems like it's constantly backfiring. So a cute and easy experience gift could be treating your loved one to a photoshoot at a place that always makes them smile! That way, even on realllly cruddy days, they can have visual proof of just how strong and happy and beautiful their body and mind can be. Bonus points if you're in the photos too, so they can always be reminded of how much people love and support them!

15 More Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

8. A patient, judgment-free ear when they need to vent.

Most chronic illnesses don't have an easy solution, so when your friend starts to vent, they probably aren't looking for magical answers or great wisdom. So focus less on offering advice or "fixes" to their problems and more on just being there to listen when your loved one needs that the most.

9. One special dinner or get-together that you design especially with your loved one's needs or accommodations in mind.

If you ask your friend or loved one if they've ever felt left out because of their chronic illness, I can basically guarantee they're gonna say yes. So what could be a sweeter gift than making a whole holiday or party or get-together totally spoonie-friendly? If they have celiac disease and need to eat gluten free, you could host an entirely gluten free Superbowl party. If they have fibromyalgia and need to take sleeping meds to fight insomnia, get together to celebrate New Year's Day instead of inviting them to a New Year's Eve party they won't be able to stay awake long enough to attend.

As someone with a chronic illness, do I expect these kinds of accommodations for every event I get invited to? Heck no! But would it be a super cool, creative belated Christmas gift? Most definitely!

15 More Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

10. A literal helping hand with physical chores.

Think about the household chore you absolutely hate the most. Now, imagine you have to do that chore...while also being in a ton of pain and fighting major brain fog. When a flare up happens, that's the reality of living as an adult with chronic illness...so if you give an open offer to help with the physical chores your loved one might not be able to do during bad days, your "helping hand" is seriously appreciated.

11. The ultimate bubble bath basket filled with goodies like Epsom salt.

Obviously, not everyone with chronic pain likes fancy bubble baths. However, when I'm having a fibromyalgia flare-up, soaking in warm water with Epsom salt makes a big difference. Some other items you could include are bath bombs, essential oils, a super fluffy bathrobe, fluffy slippers - whatever would make the spoonie in your life feel super pampered and relaxed!

12. A feel-good playlist or CD.

Research has actually found that listening to happy or positive music can make people remember positive events from their own life...so another easy experience gift is making a feel-good playlist for the spoonie in your life. Bonus points if you include upbeat music that is actually tied to sweet memories you share with that person!

15 More Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

13. No-pressure friend dates.

I don't know about you, but when I have friends over, I often feel like I need to have the house looking spotless, prep some delicious treats for us to enjoy and have tons of fun activities to keep us entertained. That's why no-pressure friend dates - when everyone brings their own food and just comes over to talk or watch Netflix or hang out with nothing in particular planned - is an awesome gift for anyone, especially people with chronic illness who might not always feel up to playing host.

14. A grocery delivery service subscription.

'Cause everyone appreciates yummy groceries delivered right to their door! If you need ideas for what grocery delivery service would be the best gift, check out this list of reviews for ideas.

15. Your flexibility and support.

As I always say, having the support and love of people who don't mind changing plans when my fibromyalgia flares up or is flexible enough to go to a restaurant I can find a celiac-safe meal at makes living with chronic illness sooooo much easier. So if there's ONE thing you can give your loved one with chronic illness that will actually make every single day of 2019 a whole lot easier for them, it's the reminder that you have their back and will do what you can to help them thrive with chronic illness.

15 More Experience Christmas Gifts for Loved Ones with Chronic Illness

The Biggest Takeaway of This Experience-Based Christmas Gift List

If you take one thing away from this post, I hope it's that you can have fun and be creative with your gifts this year! You don't have to stick to presents you wrap and place under the Christmas tree. You can also think about little (or big!) things you can do to help make your loved one's life better alllll year long. 

What's your favorite Christmas present of all time? Tell me in the comments!


  1. I love all these gift ideas and many I hadn't thought of. I don't have chronic disease but would enjoy any of these gifts.

  2. Oh wow these are such great ideas, I never thought about the ticket to a conference as a gift idea🤔 as for the gym membership, I lowkey want one lol

  3. These are great ideas! I love organizing and throwing things out. I always want to give the gift of me cleaning out peoples junk drawers or closets! LOL

  4. Love this and the idea of experience based gifts! Thanks for sharing :)

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