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Wellness-focused holiday gift ideas for event profs

By Janice Cardinale | Dec 7, 2023

There is one common thread when it comes to giving: MPI members are very generous, supportive and conscious. I would dare say that every chapter has at one time or another made giving a priority, especially during the holiday season.

But when it comes to mental health and wellness, we tend to shy away from giving gifts that could encourage education, resources and mindfulness. Why is that? Here are three reasons.

  1. Leaders do not feel that it is their responsibility to address any form of mental health, other than to offer a benefit package.
  2. Leaders are not educated on dealing with mental health in the workplace.
  3. The organization does not provide a caring culture, no safe spaces to initiate conversations or train management with the tools they need to support the employees.

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When I think about how blessed we are as an industry to be nourished by professional development, networking, initiatives and community, it seems that we have missed the mark on training our industry to be better leaders, teachers, coaches and mentors. The gift of caring is so valuable and cannot be given a price tag. The return on investment will sustain the business and the humans who work for you long term.

Before we continue to people-please in 2024, would it not be a good idea to look after our own first and possibly remove the internet label of the sixth-most stressful job, and instead work to the most mentally fit? Just think about the impact that would make. It’s huge.

While giving is purely a choice from one organization to another, the size of the gift does not really matter. What matters is that you thought about it and want to contribute to something greater than yourself.

This holiday season, gifts with purpose take center stage because of the value they bring and stories that provide a background to the “why?” Practical and thoughtful gifts shine a light on how some humans have gotten creative with their businesses, products or ideas over the last year. They help us create a community that connects us all.

I am sharing five gifts that matter because these ideas are thoughtful, selfless, empathetic and involve human sustainability. They encourage humans to help other humans.

  1. The LIGHTER Candle Project is a nonprofit initiative designed to bring joy and light into homes, all while honoring the memory of those who have battled darkness. More than a candle, it is a heartfelt tribute to Lauren Lighter, who died by suicide earlier this year. Lauren’s best friend Alexandra Toulch is the driving force behind this purposeful gift, with 100% of the profits from candle sales benefiting the Lauren Lighter Fund. This year’s goal is to raise $500,000 for the Douglas Mobile Outreach Project, and initiative that connects world-class mental health professionals with youth in need, offering support precisely when it’s needed the most. The Lauren LIGHTER Candle Project reminds us that even in our industry, where we create experiences for others, we must also take care of our own mental health and support those who are struggling
  2. Give your leaders, management and employees the gift of mental health support training with @WeCARE. This is the only such training specific to the event industry, with a micro-credential from Dalhousie University. If you’re thinking about employee appreciation gifts, then consider the gift of education? The value of training is priceless, and at $95 per license, you can facilitate online learning while initiating change and transformation within your organization. In this cycle of care and reinforcement, you’re nurturing the roots of organizational success.
  3. Feeling Feelings Cards are a reminder that you are worthy and when you need to remind yourself of that, you can turn to affirmation cards. These cards are the perfect gift for a friend or family member who always forgets what he or she means to the world. Plus, 50% of proceeds go to @The Loveland Foundation, which is committed to community and mental health, especially for Black women and girls.
  4. Let The Holidays Inspire Gratitude by helping others. Volunteering your time or doing something to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden relationships. This might even be a team idea that is done together in lieu of gifts. Adopt a family and consider dropping off a meal at the home of someone who does not have the means. There are many chefs during this time of year who are preparing dinners for many families, and they need help delivering those meals. Find one in your area. This is very gratifying.
  5. A trio of female grads came together from the University of Toronto in 2021 to launch an app that addressed both the dearth of affordable therapy and the industry’s overarching lack of cultural competence. Mind-easy was born, growing big enough to serve 20,000 users across 17 countries in over 100 languages and dialects. They provide made-to-measure mental healthcare using AI-informed avatars for $9.99 a month. After the infusion of $1.1 million by investors, the company is now in the process of expanding its “pre-therapy” platform, which is meant to act as a support for people on waiting lists and to support anyone looking to maintain their mental health in between clinical sessions. Female first and forward thinking.

The principles behind giving have nothing to do with money per se. One must feel good about their choices and carry them out with respect, kindness and heart. Just remember that you will be unwrapping adventure for others, embracing those who can’t and finding festive wonder that lights you up—as well as those who you have touched with your mindfulness this holiday season.



Janice Cardinale

Janice Cardinale, founder of Event Minds Matter, was named among the “50 Most Influential People in the Events Industry in the U.S. and Canada” by the Eventex People's Choice Awards. She is also in the Smart Meetings Hall of Fame, among the BizBash “15 over 50,” a Reiimagine “Powerful Woman in Business” and board chair of the event management and creative design program at Seneca College. Her mission is to build brave spaces to amplify the industry’s conversation on mental health and wellness.