Last-minute shopping is synonymous with the holidays. So much time is spent aimlessly wandering through stores and fighting crowds just to find the "right gift". There are very few material things that we truly need, but good health is a univeral wish for every new year. Consider giving items that improve the health of a loved one or friend. Money put toward better health is always money well spent.

Food and drink, exercise, and even technology represent different categories of healthy presents. Chocolate is always a well received choice. Wrap up some gourmet dark chocolates to tempt the taste buds while offering a healthier alternative to sugary desserts. The higher the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the healthier it is. A collection of Alaskan salmon filets from Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics  (vitalchoice.com) makes a delectable gift. Vital Choice will ship fish throughout the country, and takes great pride in the freshness of their product and the care of their fish populations. This provides a very healthy source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids with a fantastic taste.

Grass-fed beef is another option for the protein connoisseur. It provides a better balance of healthy fats, and is a good source of iron and B vitamins. Sources for grass-fed beef include blackwing.com and grasslandbeef.com. Find a local source and learn how the meat was grown. Buying from a local provider also saves on transportation costs. Round out a gift basket with some organic red wine, mixed nuts or tasty trail mix.

Another route is gifts that encourage exercise and relaxation. Many people wish to start the new year or perhaps a birthday milestone with a new exercise program. Often these good intentions fall flat without proper assistance. Help a friend get motivated by purchasing some sessions with a personal trainer. Encourage wellness with some gift certificates for a massage or couples' massage. Other gift options to help people get moving include an iPod, for musical motivation and relaxation, as well as the Wii video game system. Yes, video games have finally added programs that require the player to stand up and move around, great for cold, wintery days. While the Wii can be fairly expensive, it does offer an option to help keep kids (and adults) moving instead of just sitting in front of the TV.

A basket of environmentallly friendly household goods is a useful gift that might just spark a new loyal consumer. Organic soaps, candles, and even toothpaste offer opportunities to make the home gentler for your loved ones and their families. If you are not sure what products they might need, consider a gift card for a local health food store or a larger chain such as Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com) or Trader Joe’s (www.traderjoes.com). Other options can be found on the Web site GAIAM.com, which sells products geared toward healthy lifestyles from yoga DVDs to water purifiers.