gift wrapping arthritis

Helpful Hints for the Holidays

Wrapping gifts and baking cookies can be a real challenge with arthritis pain and fatigue. We asked some experts for ways to make these time-honored holiday traditions easier and healthier.

Smart Gift Wrapping

Debbie Amini, of the American Occupational Therapy Association, recommends these tools and tricks to create pretty packages with less pain.

Pick the right paper. Small rolls of paper are easier to maneuver than large ones. Better yet, choose paper in flat sheets instead of rolls.

Make the cut. Reduce hand strain with Fiskars Titanium Easy Action Scissors No. 8 ($29, The spring-action blades earned them the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use commendation. Or try a rotary cutter such as Martelli Enterprises Ergonomic Rotary Cutter ($15,

Make it stick. Keep tape at your fingertips with Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser ($3,

Tie one on. Decorate packages with handy pull bows (12-pack starting at $6, or with accessories like silk flowers.

Think outside the box. Fold colorful tissue around small packages then place in clear party bags. Or cut the top off a deflated Mylar balloon, place the gift inside and tie it closed with ribbon.

Clever Cookie Swaps

Sara Haas, a Chicago-based dietitian and chef, offers tips for making holiday cookies healthier – with less butter and sugar and fewer empty calories from both.

Reduce sugar. Try using a quarter less sugar than the recipe calls for; you’ll still have a sweet treat.

Trim fat. Replace up to one-half of the butter or shortening with a fruit or vegetable puree. “Applesauce is the easiest, but pumpkin, prune and pear purees work too,” says Haas. (This makes the cookies more cake-like.)

Cut calories. Leave out sugary dried fruits, or use fewer and chop them for more even distribution.

Add nutrition. Try replacing some of the flour with ground flaxseed, and use dark instead of white or milk chocolate.

Try new recipes. “Instead of reinventing a recipe, you can always search for healthier cookie recipes,” Haas says. Look for those with whole-grain flours, nuts and seeds.

Go small. When only your favorite cookie will do, down­size it. “I like the taste of a pure cookie and feel satisfied with the real deal at a smaller size,” Haas says.


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One thought on “Helpful Hints for the Holidays

  1. Thank you for the helpful hints for the holidays. I like the idea to use bows and pull ties to wrap packages to help alleviate some of the pain. Also using different types of wrapping paper would help with trying to maneuver your wrists to hold it.

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