Holiday Guide: Christmas Gift Ideas to Help Unplug, Recharge

In this increasingly digitalized world, we can’t go anywhere without packing the chargers, the battery packs, the DVDs and the game systems. But what about gifts for folks who don't need any more digital toys? Patch is here to help.

In this increasingly digitalized world, we can’t go anywhere without packing the chargers, the battery packs, the DVDs and the game systems. But what happens when the power goes out? How do we escape from it all? Yes, there truly is life and entertainment outside of the electrically-charged world. Here are a few gift ideas to help friends and family unplug and recharge.


Check out , the St. Olaf Bookstore, the Carleton Bookstore or Target for the newest bestsellers or tried-and-true classics. Bookstores’ shelves are stocked with adventures waiting beyond the front cover. Have a traveler in your posse? Check out the travelogues. So your mother-in-law is hooked on reality TV shows? You’ll find plenty of drama in the fiction section. Nothing beats cozying up in front of the fireplace with a book.

Board games

Classics like Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble and Uno are always great choices, and the perfect way to spend quality family time. Northfield gift shops or the Northfied Area Chamber of Commerce might even have board games specific to town. Hasbro has licensed many versions of its Monopoly games for university and other regions. Check local university bookstores or online at Amazon.com to find them. Got a card shark in the family? Find or print out a list of new card games to try, tuck them in with a new deck of playing cards, and watch what happens.

Concert tickets

For the music lover in your life, it might be hard to part with the MP3 player or iPod, but they’d easily hand them over for the chance to hear their favorite musicians live. Whether their music listening tends towards rock ‘n’ roll or opera, the options are limitless. Check out St. Olaf College, Carleton College, The Upstairs Reub and many other Northfield venues for upcoming acts.

Dinner out

Mom might be a great cook, but even great cooks want a night away from the kitchen. A gift certificate to her favorite restaurant might be a perfect addition to the menu. Try local favorites such as The Ole Store Restaurant or appeal to her adventurous side with a trip to the big city.


Maybe you’ve got someone in your family who loves the History or Discovery channels. What better way from them to unplug and recharge than through fun educational classes? Northfield Public Schools Community Services Division offers adult continuing education classes, everything from guitar lessons to photography classes. Dance lessons might be just the ticket. Cooking classes at are another option.

Exercise pass

For some, the perfect way to recharge is through exercise. If you’ve got a fitness buff in the family, a pass to try the latest exercise class might be just what they would love to recharge. Check the the Northfield Area YMCA, Snap Fitness or Anytime Fitness for class passes and other deals.

Maid to Order

There’s never time to unwind and recharge when the house is a mess. Help unplug that vacuum by giving the gift of a house cleaner for the day. Many local companies offer one-time house-cleaning services based on hourly fees. Check with friends or neighbors for suggestions.

Spa Gift Certificates

The ultimate in an unplugged excursion. No cell phone, no computer, just relaxation. Visit a local spa to find out what kind of packages they offer. Manicure and pedicures at a local nail salon are another great idea.

Weekend getaway

Give your loved ones a chance to get away from it all. With tickets in hand or a hotel room booked, it’s a lot harder to give excuses as to why they can’t unplug. You might not be able to confiscate the cell phone, but you can give them the chance to find relaxation away from the daily routine. Check out the rates at a bed and breakfast or local hotel like the Archer House River Inn.

Erin Wilson November 12, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Thanks for the ideas! I think another good idea is giving to a charity in someone's name. Heifer International (www.heifer.org) is a great organization that donates animals to families in need helping to end world hunger and poverty.


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