MCAS Holiday Wish List: 17 *Hypoallergenic* Gift Ideas for 2017
It’s hard to believe that it’s December already! Needing some help with gift ideas for your loved one who has Mast Cell Activation Syndrome? Check out the ideas below, all of which can be easily purchased online.
Disclaimer: nothing to state, this is a list of products I came up with myself with no outside influence from any company or site.
Keep in mind that this list may NOT be appropriate for everyone with MCAS. Just as the disease looks different between two people, the products we can tolerate also vary greatly. When in doubt, check with that person directly… or save a gift receipt!
The WOW Items: Looking for something big?
This year I finally took the juicing plunge, and it’s been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I’ve found I can make juice twice a day with ease; clean-up takes about a minute with this bad boy! Raw fruits can trigger reactions for patients with MCAS, but (anecdotally) many can tolerate most if not all fruits when they are put through a masticating juicer. (That may not be the case for everyone, but I was pretty surprised to learn this myself!) And it’s easy to add mast cell stabilizing root plants and vegetables into the mix, for the end-product of an absolutely delicious immune-boosting treat.
Heart Rate & Sleep Monitor Watch
Chances are, a patient with MCAS may also have POTS or Dysautonomia issues, or may periodically check their vitals for other reasons. There are tons of great heart rate monitor watches out there. This season the prices have dropped and the technology appears to be more accurate in terms of grabbing your heart rate at the wrist without having to wear an annoying chest strap. Most of the watches now also offer sleep tracking programs that sync up with smart phones, step counters, and other fun features.
A must-have for just about every MCAS patient, high quality indoor air purifying machines like the Levoit or Germ Guardian Air Purifiers are especially important. Make sure you find one that has a HEPA filter and is ozone-free. Depending on the size of the living space, you may need multiples to cover each room of the house.
Wireless earbuds are a wonderful accessory for any type of patient – whether they are home-bound or talk on the phone on the commute, these little cord-less gems come in really handy. You save the hassle of detangling or accidentally yanking your phone onto the ground. And, they also can be useful for waiting room Zen moments and staying calm before/during medical procedures.
Practical and Pretty
The Vogmask is a hot seller for reason. The company offers durable, high quality face air filtration masks with a huge option of fun colors, patterns, and styles. Their masks are complete with a particle filtering textile, carbon filter textile and exhalation valve(s). Great option for the mastie who is sensitive to cigarette smoke, perfumes, chemicals, or other odors. I throw mine on for house cleaning and have one in my purse for those unexpected emergency situations in public.
Flip Belt Waist Pouch
When I want to go for a walk with my friends’ dog or be hands-free (with my phone and mast cell meds) while I’m out and about, without having to carry a purse or backpack, I grab my flip belt. A waist carrier like the Flip Belt is the perfect solution for those who need to carry Epi-pens, Benadryl, and other medications. Many other brands are too small for Epi-pens, or don’t allow space for anything else with two Epi-pens inside. The Flip Belt has options with zippered pockets that are big enough to fit 2 Epi-pens, my phone, credit card, pepper spray, Benadryl, house keys and a small snack! These look good too – they don’t look bulky like a fanny pack, but instead blend in with workout clothing. And they double up as a good secret money and passport holder.
Re-usable Hypoallergenic Food Bags
Sick of plastic tupperware and ziplock bags? Several companies are coming out with some food storage alternatives that are much safer options for your food. I like Purifyou’s re-usable mesh bags for my produce – they avoid contamination with plastic and its associated chemicals, free up more room in my fridge and are easy to clean and dry.
Lately I’ve been digging books by author Anthony William. He has an interesting personal story and a novel approach to healing chronic disease. His book “Life Changing Foods” has some awesome information, great recipes, and beautiful color photos. Depending on the patient with MCAS, you could also look into a low histamine, whole foods, or gut healing-type cookbook.
Mast Cell Coloring Book
My Invisible Cosmic Zebra has Mast Cell Activation Syndrome: Now What? A Caretaker’s Workbook was created by Jessie Riley and published in May of 2017. This delightful coloring workbook is suitable for pre-teens, teens and young adults recently diagnosed with MCAS. It has sections on motivation, optimism, directions, encouragement, reassurance, guidance, comfort, enthusiasm, insights and inspiration. It may seem a little cheesy for an adult recipient- but then again, who doesn’t love coloring!
Attention all coffee lovers: If you haven’t entered the world of pour-overs yet, you’re missing out! There are some beautiful pour-over carafes with hypoallergenic paper filters that will take your coffee experience to the next level. These can also be cool gifts for that friend who has a regular cup of joe. My favorite is made of glass with a wooden handle, much like the Chemex pictured above. (There are also some nice quality more affordable knock-off brands around). Pair it with a unique organic breakfast blend and a set of filters and your java aficionado will be all smiles on Christmas morning!
OK, I confess, this one has nothing to do with MCAS, and it’s not the most practical on the list either! But -nerd alert!- this game rocks my socks off! A fun option for two-four players, this game is a great way to distract oneself and relax after a mast cell flare or long work day. Other fun options for game night: Ticket to Ride, Catan, Pandemic, & Cards Against Humanity are in the collection of newer hits. And, of course, there’s the classic favorites: Rummikub, Yahtzee and Sequence. You can’t go wrong with games!
“Safe” Stocking Stuffers
Many earplugs are latex-based and trigger reactions inside the ears for sufferers of MCAS. Hypoallergenic earplugs are affordable and make all the difference in the world for a good night’s sleep! They’re also useful to reduce over-stimulation in crowded areas or on airplanes. Make sure you find some that come in a little case and are easy to clean with simple soap and water.
If your gift recipient is a tea drinker, you’re in luck! Most tea boxes fit perfectly into that stocking on the mantle, or you can creatively gift them in an ornate soft bag. Amazon has a surprisingly large selection of organic teas online. My current favorites are Nettle Tea (antihistaminic properties) and Lemon Balm Tea (helps boost the immune system). You could also throw in a sample of some local organic raw honey. (Again, this idea is very much dependent on the food/beverage tolerances of the individual. Best to verify before-hand).
Whether it be regular journaling, symptom tracking, or recipe/food list recording, chances are that most patients with MCAS would enjoy some type of new and artfully-selected notebook.Just be sure to sniff it before you buy to make sure it’s unscented!(You may laugh… but I’m not joking!)
You can have a lot of fun with this one! It seems that nowadays you can order monthly or quarterly subscriptions for just about anything! Comfy socks… dog toys… organic produce at your door… fun spices for cooking. (On second thought, skip that last spice idea, ha). When in doubt, a subscription to some non-edible fun and entertainment like Netflix or a music app like Spotify could be useful if they don’t already have one.
Get creative with this one and it doesn’t have to feel so boring! Pair their favorite coffee or smoothie shop gift card with a fun mug or tumbler. Do a little investigating to find out the source of their natural beauty products and surprise them with a gift card to the store. If they are a massage person, set them up for an hour to get pampered in a fragrance-free environment. Consider a gift card to the Road ID or another medical alert bracelet company if that’s something up their alley.
For the “Advenurous” Gifter (well, not really…)
If you’re feeling a little “wild,” you could always try a tincture from a company that produces CBD oil, a growing trend in the MCAS, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, Lyme and insomnia patient communities. (Of course, CBD oil (meeting certain parameters) is legal in all U.S. states and does not contain THC, the ingredient in marijuana that produces the “high”). Lazarus Naturals and Charlotte’s Web (CW) Hemp are two companies that have been recommended to me, though I cannot personally vouch for either. This is tricky as a first-time gift, so make sure you know your gift recipient before you buy. And be cautious as some mast cell patients can react to CBD oil, just like any other new supplement or medication they are trying. Some MCAS patients swear by it, while others may not be willing to give it a try. To be extra sure, you’d best reserve this gift for someone who you know already tolerates CBD oil well.
The greatest gift of all, of course, is a little bit of (fake) mistletoe!
… Just kidding. The greatest gift patients with MCAS will embrace is your love, compassion and presence this holiday season. Often a card or hand-written note of encouragement is what brightens our day the most! Meet us where we are, acknowledge what we are going through, and love us anyway. After all, ’tis the season for spreading love, reaching out to others, and cultivating joy in God’s grace, no matter what the circumstances. Merry Christmas!
What did I miss? Do you have other gift ideas for patients with MCAS? Please share!
This content is Copyright © Mast Cells United and is not intended to diagnose or treat anyone. Always consult your medical professional for any health guidance or advice.