With the holidays coming up fast we could all use a few extra ideas of gifts to help brighten the days of those we hold dear. College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty weigh in with gift ideas to help make this winter healthy and bright.

Contributing faculty members:


Julie Akers
I use the AllTrails app. It is extremely easy to use as it gives location, length of trails, and elevation change. I can customize hike difficulty based on which of my kids are going. You can also sort by activity for the trail including bicycle, horse, or motorized vehicle use.

Danial Baker
Some of the smartphone apps are very useful. My preference is an app that’s made for track running because it’s also useful for walking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and cycling records.


Taylor Bertsch
Know someone that has special interests or is working on a new hobby? There is a book for that, they make great gifts and can help others excel in any avenue of life.

Danial Baker
One of the many books about hiking in the Spokane area.


Jennifer Robinson
My favorite healthy holiday gifts are the ones in which facilitate spending time with my loved ones. This could be tickets to a concert, movie, symphony, sporting event or play. It could be a spa day, a fishing excursion or a planned day hike. The amount of money spent does not matter as long as the activity and the time invested is geared toward the interest of the intended participants. This year my 14-year-old son is requesting a cooking class with his grandfather and my daughter is wrangling for a fishing trip with her dad.

Often, we assume people want or need stuff when what we are really in need of is time and connection.

Damianne Brand
A gift certificate to participate in something creative like a painting or pottery class. We all get a little busy and need to “reawaken” our creative sides!

Finally, look for experiences where you are trying new things. Snowshoeing, sledding, or training to hike are great options to get your body moving but for it to not feel like just exercising.

Danial Baker

  • A Discover Pass (for Washington state recreation lands) is always a great idea. There are an amazing number of locations in our region to explore during any season that require a Discover Pass for parking and to help offset the maintenance of these great assets.
  • If you own a bicycle, inline skates, or walking/running shoes, find a parking spot anywhere along the Spokane Centennial Trail and enjoy! While this is a free trail, a donation to the Friends of the Centennial Trail is a great idea to help support this important community resource.
  • If your friend or family own a bike, give them a day pass to the Route of the Hiawatha.
  • Donate to the Dishman Hills Conservancy and go explore all the hiking just outside of Spokane. You would be amazed how many trails are in this location. You might see some wildlife and if you go in the spring or summer, you will see lots of wildflowers.

For the Home

Damianne Brand
I would suggest a gift certificate to a grocery delivery service specializing in organic and healthy foods (Misfit Market or Imperfect Foods) or a few months of meal kits or even Home Chef where they make it and you just heat it up. This could also be homemade and put in frozen containers for a “taste of home.” Food is always welcome when we need a good meal but do not want to plan and shop for all the ingredients.

Taylor Bertsch
Everyone’s life could use a little bit of green.

Something that can brighten your day and bring a little bit of produce/fresh herbs into your life is a hydroponic garden. You can buy these locally at plant shops, department stores or online. It allows for year-round fresh herbs like basil (can be made into a nice pesto when you have excess), dill (always pairs well with seafood or pickling items), thyme (excellent for poultry), sage, etc.

Plants! If you don’t have direct sunlight in your house or office, there’s an indoor plant for that! Have plenty of sun (like a south facing window)? There’s TONS of plants for that. I think there are serious benefits towards having a green house or office. Plants can last forever if you take care of them. My favorite is the fenestrated monstera.

Outdoor Gear

Danial Baker

  • A headlamp of any brand, but it depends on how much light you want. The best units are those that offer a bright white light of various intensities and the option for a red light when you don’t want it to interfere with your dark vision. I use them most of the time for walking in the very early morning and evening in the late fall and winter months (plus a flashing red light, like those sold for the back of a bicycle, to place on my back pocket or backpack). I also use it for riding the Trail of the Hiawatha and for snowshoeing before or after a day at work or alpine skiing during the winter.
  • Alpine skis, snowboards, cross‑country skis, or snowshoes are all ways to get you outside in the daylight hours or at night during the winter months. It is amazing how clear it is in the mountains on those gray and dreary days of winter at the lower elevations. I spend most weekends at an alpine ski resort and/or snowshoeing.
  • A backpack is always a great idea. Small ones are useful for short trips where you might need some water, snack, a clothing layer, or a place to store your keys and wallet. Larger day packs are very useful for longer trips where more clothing, food, water, binoculars, maps, and a first aid kit might be a good idea. A hydration unit or water bottles are both good options. Shorter hikes I tend to use a refillable water bottle and on longer hikes or rides a hydration unit. During the winter I tend to use a water bottle because the hose on the hydration pack can freeze up, unless you buy one with an insulation cover that surrounds the hose and mouthpiece.
  • A kayak or canoe can be purchased or rented. The Little Spokane River is not that far away from downtown Spokane and is a great escape from the urban environment and to see wildlife. Just remember to purchase a Discover Pass or use the commercial shuttle service that’s available during the summer months.
  • Bear spray is a must if you choose to hike anywhere outside of the urban area. Make sure you know how and when to use it before venturing out on your adventure. A great way to learn about this product is to go to the Bear Spray Introductory Video on the Yellowstone National Park website.