Holigay Gift Guide: Some Cheer For Your Sad Friends

Holigays 2019 Autostraddle

​The holidays can be hard, even if you have a great chosen family, great friends, and are generally happy. They’re even harder if you’re a sad person because when everyone is happy around you and there’s happy music playing and every commercial on Hulu also so fucking happy, not being happy feels like shit! And being sad already feels like shit! Just feeling bad on top of feeling sad on top of feeling mad at yourself for being sad — I wouldn’t know anything about that, but I hear it sucks.

Okay, just kidding this is about me. I’m your chronically sad friend. And I get it, you can’t make me feel better, it’s not your “job” to make me feel better, but the thing about sadness — at least my sadness — is that it is extremely isolating.

Sorry. We’re gonna get to the gift guide, I swear. Sometimes all I need when I’m feeling sad is to know that someone is thinking about me; really thinking about me. Not just “oh, I’ve got some free time and some work to do, maybe I’ll co-work with them” thinking about me, but “Al said it makes them feel good when people go on walks with them, so maybe I’ll make them an old school coupon for two free afternoons where we go on a walk,” thinking about me. The specificity is the thing. When we’re specific, we remind our friends — happy friends, sad friends, overworked friends — that we care about them.

So here are some gifts to show your sad friends you’re thinking about them. Remember, these are just guides, be specific, they’ll appreciate the thought you put behind it so much.

Look Good

1. Slippers ($14.99) 2. Aliebn Robe ($70) 3. Joggers ($48)

When you’re sad, it’s super easy to wear the same thing every day for weeks on end and just kinda be okay with it. These gifts are cozy, easy to wear, and will make the wearer look good. Yes I would go run errands in this entire outfit (plus maybe a cute tee from the Autostraddle merch store, you know?) three different days of the week. Okay, honestly I’d wear it every day. I’m wearing the same shirt going on four days right now and I plan to keep wearing it until I have an outside influence to change it. Everyone deserves a cute outfit to wear a week in a row.​

Smell Good

1. Air Purifier ($49.99) 2. Michelle Obama Incense ($11) 3. Serenity Candle ($9.71-$26.71)

You know what people don’t say enough? Being depressed literally stinks. Smells awful. I walked downstairs a few days ago and my first floor smelled like a literal trash can. Help your pal breathe in something good, instead of the smell of their sadness with these gifts. Plus, the Michelle Obama incense smells exactly like you’d hope Michelle Obama would smell, and if you live in NYC, you can probably find it at your favorite bodega.

Feel Good (Physically)

1. Stuffed Animal ($24.99) 2. Weighted Blankie ($47.99) 3. Weed (prices vary)

We need physical touch! And when your friends are sad, they’re probably a little lonely, and probably self-isolating, and sometimes they just need a blanket that weighs 20 lbs to lay on top of them and remind them that they have a body and that body deserves to feel things. And sometimes they need to smoke some weed to get taken outside of that body a little bit and just… vibe.

​Feel Good (Emotionally)

1. Homemade card/gift, with a picture of y’all together (free!!) 2. Audible gift card ($15+) 3. Blank journal ($19.99) 4. A Kitten 5. Puzzle ($13.99) 6. A Big Ole Log of Tourmaline ($8.50)

Here are the gifts for when you’re feeling all “listen I know this isn’t my job, but I need to try and get inside of that sweet little heart and remind you that you are loved.” Here we’ve got the homemade gifts, the book gift cards, the journals, the quiet activities to keep their little troubled brains busy, a kitten, even (Thank you Molly Adams for the suggestion)! The possibilities are endless.

​Be Good

1. Small donation to their favorite mutual aid project or non-profit 2. Homemade coupon to spend time together 3. Name a star after them!!!

Maybe your friend is working through “deserve” language with their therapist and you know won’t do well with receiving any gifts this year. Do something in their honor! Give some money to The Okra Project, or your other favorite mutual aid project. Make them a coupon like you did for your parents when you were seven. Name a star after them so that when they talk to their girlfriend, the moon, they feel a little closer to her.

​Eat Good

1. Graze gift card ($15-$60) 2. Tea Sampler ($19.50) 3. Thinking Of You Gift Tower (price)

Yo, I’ve been eating ramen and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day with an occasional chicken sandwich peppered in there about twice a week. It’s… not cute. I know, I know, I will feel better if I eat better, but like, who has the time? Who has the energy? Give your pals some good food to put in their house and I guarantee they’ll eat it. And what’s better, Harry and David has a basket that literally says “Thinking of you!” So they’ll know you’re thinking of them! Amazing!

I hope something in here made you go, “Yes! I could customize this for my sad friend perfectly!” Also! In a recently deleted tweet thread, so many of my friends helped me come up with these suggestions. Thank you. Y’all are perfect. You might not be able to cure your buddy’s sadness, but you can definitely bring some holiday cheer into heart this season.

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for the suggestion of making a card with picture(s). I was going to mail my bff a Hanukkah card & the AS Misandry pin, but will now add at least two pictures of us. There is a good one from our bday where we wearing matching outfits & not sober at an underground queer rave that would be perfect to include.

  2. I snort laughed at “Weed (prices vary)”. Will be buying some of these for my sad friend (the friend is me)!

  3. Especially in the winter when I can’t just open the window of the tiny little bedroom I reside in to air out the sad… that air purifier would be a fantastic. These are all excellent gift ideas.

  4. also in a fun turn of events i got MYSELF a kitten (really, she followed me inside) and I can vouch for this being a great gift idea because while I am sad still I am also forced to play for at least 2 hours every day.

  5. A someone who was diagnosed with a chronic depression instead of the recurring ones I’ve been dealing with for years – I agree with all of these!

    Except the slippers: I like warm ankles!

    My best friend took me for a 2 day trip for my birthday, we went for a long hike, went out for dinner, it was absolutely perfect.

  6. If the UK election is going the way it looks, I’m requesting ALL these plus food parcels for a good two thirds of our populace thank you

    • I wish wish wish I could say I haven’t seen the UK get steadily more xenophobic since around 2000, but much as it sickens me to say so, this election is not surprising me.

      • Just realized this may sound somewhat agressive/mean. Don’t mean it that way! I’m just upset with the results.

        • Ýeah, agreed!

          Just wanted to make sure, didn’t want to make you feel any worse about it.

          My parents live near “Hoek van Holland” (where the boats to Harwich leaves), in the “Westland” area where a lot of the flowers & veggies are grown and auctioned off. (And currently shipped to you and other parts of the world.) If there’s no proper deal it’s going to be a mess there.

          And internally the troubles in Northern Ireland might flare up again. Schotland might secede. It’s a shitshow.

          Hope you are going to be okay!

          And if not the offer for my basement still stands!

          • Don’t worry about making me feel worse either, ie have a very British approach to this thing ( ie a dark twisted cutting humour that could decapitate someone at a hundred paces in the dark!)

  7. WELLLLL FUUUUUUCK. Is anyone doing a piece on the state of the UK? I mean basically you could just re-run an American one and swap the orange fuckwit’s name out for his bastard evil twin…

    • Boris is like human white chocolate, light colored chum that’s not made of anything solid.

      And I dunno if fishing chum if purely and Americanism so I’ll just briefly say it’s what’s left of fish after you process it. Bloody garbage basically.

  8. What do you do if you’re sad and all your friends are sad because your country (UK) just voted (again) for a fairly far right government, and also you are pretty broke until you get paid so you can’t just buy presents?

  9. Related question. Would giving my friend a cute picture of herself along with photos of us also work or no?

  10. In the wearable category: FUZZY SOCKS. Either hand-knit wool ones if you’re the yarn-y type (me) or cute fuzzy slipper-socks from TJ Maxx (when I was ass-deep in a spiral last year my friend gave me a pair of cute fuzzy socks with little stuffed owls on the ankles that are now my new favorite moping-around-the-house socks). Same principle as slippers but they keep more of your legs warm.

  11. Warm cozy clothes with functional pockets+++++

    Consider if your sad friend lives close by and you can cook: double check their allergies and intolerances then make them something hearty in meal sized portions for freezing and easy reheating

    If you can’t cook or live far away consider: a big fucking box of snack bars you know they like and still important double check allergies and intolerances

    • Agreed! That’s a great gift!

      (Although I have issues with accepting help, so it would be difficult for me. But absolutely helpful!)

      Another thing you could give, if they have issues keeping their house clean and if they would accept it, is help around the house. Maybe just one deep clean together. It can make a big difference.

      • See I can accept food help as long I trust someone not to poison me but accepting cleaning help would be nigh impossible for me. Too many issues there.

        Tread lightly when making offers I guess?

        • yeah if a friend said “let me clean your house!” i would clean it first and let them like…sweep. BUT, if they and some pals pooled together and got me an hour of cleaning from a woman-owned cleaning service, i’d take it. a thought, if you know your sad pal struggles with cleanliness that i actually meant to put in the guide!

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