genius-gifts sober af

Buying gifts for people in recovery will be a challenge if you are the type to only gift bottles of alcohol or alcohol related items. That gets old after a while. Want to make an impression? Gift something unique, out of the box, unusual, or right on point.

Putting a bit of thought and effort into the equation will show your friend that you do indeed pay attention to their dreams, their current needs, and a way to spoil them. Spend some time to thoughtfully select something that will brighten their day

A lot of times people are plain scared of gifting something in early recovery. With the thought of triggers and relapse and back down the rabbit hole of substance abuse you go!

Ask some questions before selecting a gift. What do they do? What are their hobbies? What are they passionate about? Who is their favorite music/band? Do they have a wish list or something they have had their eye on for a while?

What is stopping you from getting together with a couple of other people and getting something truly memorable? Sober friends are just as epic as drunk ones, except you get to recall everything!

Just because people are in recovery this does not mean they want everything with AA/NA logos on it. They don’t want key chains, jewelry, or anything else broadcasting their membership in a sobriety ‘program.’ Unless they specifically ask for branded goods, best to steer clear.

They already have the Big Book or the NA book. Most likely they also have a bookshelf full of affirmations and inspirational texts. They don’t need a constant reminder of where they came from, so nix the branded stuff. Celebrating them in the now and acknowledging how awesome they are is the objective.

Here’s the best idea – ask them what they want. Easy. Simple. And on point!


There are several companies (depending on where you live) who put on these fun evenings. You get to create your very own masterpiece. A predetermined picture has been chosen for the evening. This is a lot like paint by numbers, without the numbers.

Your instructor will guide you step-by-step to paint a masterpiece for your wall. These evenings go by very fast and elicit a lot of laughter and grimacing!

If you sign up for a family version, it is under 18 and no alcohol is allowed. Or, sign up to take a group of sober friends to an over 18. There’s always mocktails. You’ll be so busy having fun you won’t even think about not having alcohol.


Is your friend a budding master chef? Or can they burn water?

A group cooking class could be just the ticket. Surf around the web to find out what restaurants or culinary institutes have cooking classes.

You could choose something exotic, or down-home farm to table, or perhaps dessert. In big cities the choices are endless.

Or host an event at your house. Arrange a group of friends and have some fun.


Whether your friend is still reliving the 60’s and 70’s, is into classic rock and hair bands of the 80’s, prefers classical or keeps up with the latest trends there is a concert for them.

Look at small and large venues that are non-smoking. Outdoor concerts where you can get out of the cloud of weed smokers or smaller outdoor venues at classy establishments will have lawn areas.

There are a lot of bands touring. If a favorite band is coming within the next few months, buy tickets in advance.


A lot of mid to upscale restaurants offer special tasting menus where you get multiple courses of bite-sized meals throughout the evening.

These can be a bit spendy. There are also other fixed menu options out there. I would be thrilled to get tickets to something like this.

This is an opportunity to try a lot of tastes, textures and flavors not found in your kitchen.

In recovery, your taste buds come back to life, and they totally appreciate good tasting food.


For the artist or amateur, bullet journals allow you to create your own pages of straight journaling or the creation of layouts conjured up on a whim.

Don’t forget to include some colorful gel pens. If your friend likes to draw, get good set of charcoal pencils. And don’t forget the glitter and the stickers.


Ask yourself the following questions and you may have the perfect gift idea. Does your friend have; specific goals; Suffer from anxiety or depression; want to make changes and not sure how to; be more assertive, or have better self-esteem and confidence?

There’s a workbook out there for any number of life challenges. With readings, inspiration, education and homework, and the ability to chart progress while practicing self-care and personal growth.

Having something concrete to work through when high anxiety hits is a life saver.

Sounds like a win-win to me.


Know anyone who always has earbuds in their ears? Giving an iTunes card is a legitimate way to build a music library. It also allows your friend the choice of downloads.

There is more than music. There are podcasts, videos, movies, tv shows, and other digital media available for download.

It’s like being given a gift card to your favorite music store to ferret out the vinyl version, or a tape cassette, or if you’re a little more aged, the CD.

Music is a lifesaver sometimes.


If you have been observant you will have picked up on favorite brands and stores your friend covets or prefers.

Again, ask some questions. Does your friend have a special place to shop? Do they wait for the sales to shop? Does their favorite brand only have an online store?

Gift cards allow taking advantage of sales, discounts and free shipping when they pop up. Having a gift card often times gives you an additional discount because of the way you pay.


What are your friend’s hobbies and favorite activities? Are they homebodies? Are they outdoorsy camping types? Do they work around the house? Do they love to spend hours in the garden? What about crafters who love nothing but spending hours on a project? Are they car buffs? Is there something they have been wishing for?

Gift cards to their favorite specialty stores are super useful. I always ask for gifts cards, it’s a guilt-free way to splurge a little during super sales.


Sometimes the budget doesn’t stretch to vehicle maintenance. Need new tires? Is it time for an oil change or tune-up? Do they need a good carwash and wax?

Paying for vehicle maintenance is a huge deal for someone trying to make ends meet. I think we all appreciate when some of our common responsibilities are paid for.

A lot of car maintenance tasks are not that expensive, but they may get missed as sobriety and recovery comes first. Someone busy pulling their life back together may overlook certain tasks.


Pay for a cleaning service, gardening service, or property management service as a one-time deal, or monthly service for a few months.

Is your friend too busy to get to spring cleaning once a month (who does that anyway?) Or do they forget how much time has gone by and the yard is a shaggy mess?

Gifting a one-time or series of deep cleans is a wonderful gift for someone whose schedule leaves them passed out in exhaustion during the weekends.


Vet checkups, shots, teeth cleaning, nail trimming, flea and tick treatment, or a bath and grooming session for the dog is a super unique and thoughtful gift.

If you have a pet, then you know how expensive vet and grooming is. Perfect gift for the animal lover.

Or, donate money or supplies to their favorite animal rescue service in their name.


Is there a picture, or a set of pictures of loved ones that you could have blown up and framed? Or is there a piece of original art they have their eye on (that doesn’t break the bank) but is a luxury for them?

Is there another piece of art or home décor they covet? You are going to have to ask questions and have them show you. Your taste is not their taste, so make sure you are clear on this one.


Do they have a favorite charity, service or community connection? Make a donation in their name and make someone else’s life better because of it.


It is almost a given that your friend in recovery has developed a taste for sparkling water. A soda stream is an affordable replacement for cans and bottles of the stuff.

They can make their own in a jiffy and add flavorings to it. For some reason, alcoholics are used to having a drink nearby, and the habit kinda sticks. On tap sparking water makes it easier to stay hydrated.


Offer to babysit/house sit/pet sit so they can have a night out or a weekend away.

Most people in recovery (and in general) need quiet time to regroup and decompress. Life can feel pretty overwhelming at times.

Do they need a break from responsibility for a few hours? Need some down time to relax and connect? So exhausted all the time a few days away would recharge the batteries?

If you are close to this person, you will know what they need.


Pay for that weekend away, spa treatment, restaurant, and local attractions.

This is kinda spendy but is such a wonderful gift. A weekend away in a cute town, a day at the spa and dollars to spend at local kitch stores is like hitting the lotto.


There are community classes available for meditation, yoga, gym membership, chiropractor, food delivery services, crafting, a book of the month, magazines etc. These are only limited by your imagination.

Consider gifting classes so your friend can experience enough of it to make an informed decision if they like it or not.


Get truly creative here and get tickets to something new and exciting and totally off the wall. Indoor or outdoor skydiving? Bungy jumping? Guided tours, dinner reservations, theatre, hair, and nails, do a local search and see what pops up.

You, of course, will be going along. So make sure you are up for an adventure.


YOU. Give your time, your ear, your patience, your love and compassion as your friend goes through ups and downs.

Be a constant, rock steady, reliable source of hope and faith. Call them on their shit, but help them formulate solutions too.

Be that pajama wearing hang out all night watching movies type of a friend.

This is priceless.


Staying clean and sober requires diligence in everything they do. Avoiding triggers, dealing with cravings, juggling life and responsibilities it is no wonder overwhelm is always one breath away.

Take the time to explore gifts that people want to receive. You can shop at any time of the year and put things up for special occasions.

You can be creative with gifts without breaking the bank. There is always the option to go in with other people and do something more upmarket.

People in recovery appreciate not being reminded of it every time a holiday or special day arrives.


Small trinkets are greatly appreciated as milestones come and go. To the person in recovery those days, weeks, months, and years mean something. They should be celebrated.

Getting and staying clean and sober is hard in the beginning. Celebrating milestones encourages faith and hope that they future will be a good one.

Simple things like a cupcake, or a special etched stone, or a cute card or something small will help keep motivation for recovery high.

Get out there and find something epic for your friend in recovery.

Let me know what you find in the comments below.

Do you know what your top stressors are? Evaluate your stress against the Holmes-Rahe Sress Inventory to see how you stack up.

Make sure you know how to identify and rid yourself of toxic people.

If you need some help with staying zen when things go wrong instead of turning into an irrational ball of nerves and panic, this article is for you.

If you liked this post please share on social media. I would greatly appreciate it.


    1. Thank you for your comment. I was hoping to inspire someone to think out of the box a bit.

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