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For Kids and Sports-Minded Adults

  1. Assorted balls. With kids packing on the pounds, the holidays are a nice time to think about exercising as a family. Audrey Cross, PhD, a professor at the School of Public Health at Columbia University, says soccer is fun for adults and kids. "It develops good eye-foot coordination," she jokes. A volley ball and net, badminton set, or a basketball are also under $50. What house should be without a ball? If a portable basketball hoop is too expensive, see if there is a giveaway list in your area. Go to and sign up to offer and pick up items for free.
  2. Double-sided countertop grill. Those little grills are helping everyone eat meat and veggies prepared in a healthier manner, according to Beckford. "They are so simple to use." JoAnna M. Lund, author of the health exchange cookbook series and Cooking Healthy with the Kids in Mind, agrees. She tells WebMD that kids can grill with these if properly supervised.
  3. Apron for each child. Lund loves to cook with her eight grandchildren. "They all have an apron and put it on first thing when they visit and we make something," she says. "I am not stirring up food, I am stirring up memories they will always have."
  4. Blender or juicer. "You can 'cook' great treats using a blender," Lund says. For kids, this is a painless way to get servings of fruit and milk. Children also like to use a salad spinner, another great gift, and will appreciate implements with chunkier, easier-to-hold handles than the sharp wire-handled carrot peeler found in every kitchen.
  5. Healthy foods themselves. A gourmet basket of fruit, an assortment of nuts, bottles of almond or olive oil or balsamic vinegar, are all great gifts, Cross suggests. A plastic chopping board that washes free of meat juices is also a thoughtful present.

"Anything," Cross laughs, "but a deep-fat fryer. That would be an awful present!"

Happy holidays, all -- and good eating and playing!

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