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When I think, “holidays,” I typically do not think, “IBD.” However, recently in a quest to conserve my depleted energy levels, I considered asking my loved ones for a cleaning service for Christmas. The simple act of having someone else scheduled to do some house tidying would be such a massive help for conserving my energy for things that I genuinely enjoy. As I pondered what other things to add to my list that would help me conserve energy, I began to think of things that would be great gifts to improve my quality of life but are not items I typically have in my budget. To help me with ideas, I also turned to our GWG community. The following is our list, a Girl’s with Guts IBD and Ostomy Gift Guide.

Gift Baskets and Stocking Stuffers

Items such as Drip Drop (oral rehydration), Poo~Pourri, Calmoseptine Ointment, comfy socks, bath, and self-care products are great standalone gifts or combined into a themed stocking or gift basket. An “IBD on the Go” gift basket could include a box of Drip Drop, sample-sized packages of wet wipes or Charmin Freshmates, antibacterial hand sanitizer, pill storage container, hand moisturizer, Poo~Pourri, water bottle, and to keep in one’s car for any unexpected IBD emergency on the go. Or an “IBD Self-Care” gift basket or stocking could include comfy socks or slippers, an amazon kindle gift card for reading or music purchases, sample-sized bath products, face masks, and lotions. Other standalone small gifts that topped the list for GWGs included items like coloring books and colored pencils for relaxation, night lights to light the way for nightly bathroom trips, and electric razors to make shaving more manageable and less likely to result in cuts and nicks were all excellent suggestions from our community

Relaxation and Comfort

IBD comes with aches, pains, and various forms of discomfort. So, it is not a surprise that GWGs included comfort items at the top of their lists. Heating pads, hot water bottles, microwave rice bags, and insulated water bottles are great comfort gifts. One of the activities I engaged in over the past year was upping the comfort of my bed; after all, between disease flare-ups and fatigue, it is where I spend a great deal of my time. Mattress toppers, cozy blankets, and body pillows are all great gifts. Homemade blankets and afghans are both practical and provide comfort and provide a tangible reminder of the love their creators put into the present. For instance, one GWG mentioned that “A homemade blanket/Afghan is one of my favorite gifts. It is so comforting when I don’t feel well- I think of my sister that worked so hard on it.” For those IBDers who suffer from fever, cooling pillows like the Chillow provide some relief. In addition to coping with comfort, cozy socks, body pillows, jeans with stretchy waists, and slippers are excellent additions to either a gift bag or stocking or can be given as standalone gifts.

In addition to aches and pains, IBD can do a number on hair, nails, and skin. To that end, as one GWG noted, skincare tops her list as “dehydration has not done good things for my skin.” In addition to skincare, one GWG said Blender Bottles would be great for her to “easily make myself protein-filled shakes and smoothies while on the soft food diet,” while at the same time being portable and dishwasher safe. Finally, as many people with IBD spend an excessive amount of time in the bathroom and struggle with frequent bouts of constipation or diarrhea, a gift of a Squatty Potty or bidet to make the bathroom more comfortable. These gifts are a bit forward. Still, they have the potential to bring increased comfort to the IBDer in your life.

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Subscriptions and Services

This blog began as an idea I had to ask my loved ones for a gift certificate for a cleaning service. In addition to cleaning services, GWGs noted that laundry services, personal care services like massages and manicures, acupuncture sessions, and other gifts that help them manage to-do lists were so appreciated. One GWG suggested that a low-cost item she would love would be if her family gave her redeemable coupons for things like dishwashing, shoveling, and clean up tasks around the house. Another GWG said that she would appreciate the gift of a meal service like Hello Fresh. She explained that “They only take 30ish minutes, I can edit out ingredients that might upset my gut, and those weeks that I don’t have the spoons to grocery shop, I have several well-balanced meals in the house.” Other subscription services, like theme boxes, provide something to look forward to. Lastly, subscriptions to streaming services or magazines can be an excellent gift for entertainment.

For the Ostomate

For those of us with ostomies, small gifts designed to help us live our best lives can bring us so much joy. One GWG with an ostomy explained that she would like “a support belt for exercise, but also more of a lacy looking wrap too for general wear.” Other ostomy related gifts that topped the list were gift cards for ostomy supplies, longer shirts and maternity pants, and ostomy covers. Cute ostomy covers are a great gift idea as some GWGs note that they increase confidence and provide ostomates with alternatives to the standard bags that are clear or beige color. For those with ostomies that are self-conscious about any smell, in addition to Poo~Pourri, ostomy odor eliminators like M9 are great stocking stuffers. For those ostomates that have dehydration challenges, Drip Drop and Vidrate are oral hydration solutions that are recommended by the GWG community. Finally, while it is noted that this would be a big ask, a bathroom renovation to include an ostomy toilet would add some holiday magic to some GWGs’ holiday seasons.

More than any gift or item, knowing that my friends and family are in my corner and there to help me navigate IBD and ostomy life means the world to me. During the holidays, understanding from those I love about my dietary restrictions, need for rest, and the many ways illness impacts my life means more to me than any tangible object I receive. For me, it is this understanding that I hold onto year-round.

• About The Author
From a small town in Vermont, Jenny is a freelance writer and researcher. When she was nine years old, she, like her father and grandmother, was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Jenny attended Franklin Pierce University, where she majored in Philosophy and Sociology and completed her M.S. in Human Service from Springfield College. After a proctocolectomy in her early 20s, Jenny entered a period of remission, where she learned the joy of living a full life with an ostomy. Unfortunately, this remission period ended with a severe Crohn's flare that changed her life. As she sought how to cope with this life-changing disease recurrence, Jenny was immediately drawn to Girls with Gut's mission and vision. As the Director of Communications, she is excited to be part of an organization and larger advocacy movement that ensures that no one has to navigate IBD/ostomy life alone.
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