‘Tis the season of giving, and many of us are making our list, checking it twice, and trying to figure out what we can give that is nice.

Here’s a thought: Why not give the gift of better brain health? Engaging across the dimensions of body, mind and spirit is key to staying sharp and keeping vital. This is a wonderful opportunity to give something great that will also do some good for those you love.

This year, we are starting a new holiday tradition and are happy to share with you our first annual “Brain Healthy Gift Guide”, with 10 great gift ideas for everyone on your list that are fun, a bit different, and sure to give their brain health a real boost.

1. Juggle Away! Juggling has been associated with increased brain volume and improved intellectual skills, as it is a great workout for your focus, coordination and speed. Of course its also lots of fun for kids of all ages! Check out both basic and deluxe juggling sets for some cool, juggle-inspiring gifts.

2. So You Think They Can Dance? What better way to help the ones you love rev up their recall than get them on the dance floor? Studies have shown that dancing can improve memory and everyday performance, in addition to reducing dementia risk over the long-term. Give the gift of ballroom dance lessons and perfect your tango together. Or get their groove on with a Dance Dance Revolution DVD or a Nintendo Wii where they can play lots of those awesome dance games with or without you.

3. Food for Thoughts. Perhaps you are thinking that the best way to better their brain health is through their tummies? Help make their diet more brain healthy this year with a brain healthy cookbook. We love the beautiful cookbooks of Yotam Ottolenghi, with their amazing array of delicious options from Mediterranean cuisine, a dietary tradition linked with lowered dementia risk.  Want to give them a soup to nuts brain health diet plan? Check out our Brainpower Game Plan, which includes 30 days of meals (complete with shopping lists and recipes), as well as exercise and brain training.

4. Give Them Something to Do.  Sometimes the best gift can be one that opens the door to a something new. Challenging our minds is key to staying sharp and warding off memory loss. How about a gift certificate for lessons on an instrument they’ve always wanted to try, or to a craft shop? Have someone on your list that likes to tinker? Check out MAKE magazine for a gift subscription.

5. Support Their Skills. Games that we play against the clock are a proven way to maintain the intellectual skills that can change with age. Yet those are exactly the kinds of activities we are less likely to do as we grow older! Support their skills with the gift of a time challenge. How about a handheld game of memory mastery such as Simon (now in a cool clip-on version)? Or introduce them to brain fitness software with a gift certificate to Lumosity, which provides a full, customized brain workout.

6. Give Them Brain Healthy Choices. We all know someone who really appreciates the gift they get to choose for themselves.  Let them get exactly while keeping it in the brain healthy vein with a gift card to a great store full of brain boosting fun and games. Marbles the Brain Store offers a well-curated collection of brain healthy toys, games and other cool gifts (including our Good Thinking Kit).

7. Puzzle Their Minds. Puzzles are certainly one of the most popular “brain games,” and offer an often addictive way to tease our minds and get us thinking out of the box. Try changing up their puzzle routine by introducing them to brain teasers from Mensa (the genius society) or the gift of a large jigsaw puzzle that can be a fun family project.

8. Help Them Relax. Stress zaps our thinking by creating distraction and distress. Studies have suggested that the physiological aspects of stress may be harmful to our cognitive functioning, and could even have long term consequences to brain health. No doubt there is some one on your list who could use a little help learning to relax. How about a relaxation CD? One of our favorites is “Relaxmore” by renowned yoga instructor Jillian Pransky (Dr. Oz likes it, too!).

9. Guide Them to Their Inner Ohm. Yoga is perhaps the ultimate brain workout, as it provides opportunity for exercising the body, mind and soul.  Even your biggest yoga skeptic will love The Yoga Deck, a set of cards with easy instructions that anyone on your list can follow. You can sweeten the deal with a yoga mat, strap and other accessories.

10. Girls (or Guys) Night Out! What better way to boost your brainpower than in the company of friends? Studies have shown that socializing helps us stay sharp and may lower our risk for memory loss. Why not give the gift of an evening out together? Try something completely different and fun, such as a dance class, rock climbing, or …. ? The possibilities are endless!

Want to view all these items in one handy spot, as well as a few other ideas? Check out our 2012 Brain Healthy Gift Guide Store by clicking here.

Here’s wishing you and everyone on your list a brain healthy holiday season!