Many people feel depressed, isolated and alone over the holidays and, frequently, those of us who care about them don’t know what to do.

Mental health experts agree that one of the keys to responding to people who are depressed or in crisis is to increase their protective factors–connectedness to supportive and caring family and friends and their school, cultural and spiritual community is at the top of the list.

This “presence” is more important and has more positive benefits than any gift you could buy a friend or loved one.

With this in mind, Samaritans suggests you consider the following Presents to Cure the Holiday Blues for those you care about:

1. Make an appointment and go see the windows on Fifth Avenue or the Rockefeller tree and stop off for hot chocolate or a specialty coffee.

2. Get tickets to a dance performance, an art museum, a musical concert or other event you know they would enjoy.

3. Make a reservation to have high tea at one of NYC’s great old hotels, like the Waldorf Astoria, or some other tea parlor.

4. Bundle up and take part in a sport or pastime they like, such as ice skating, skiing, hiking or a walk around a nearby park.

5. If they are out of town, set-up a time for a special phone call or to video chat when there is no rush or interruption.

6. Invite them over for a special dinner, to watch a ball game, listen to music or just hang out with other family and friends.

7. Be sure they have an invitation and you strongly encourage them to join you, family or friends for special holiday meals.

8. Take a yoga class, attend a meditation or try one of the hundreds of adult workshops offered by the Learning Annex.

9. Arrange to go to a service or prayer ritual at a church, temple, mosque or any house of worship tied to their spiritual beliefs.

10. If it is difficult for them to get out, arrange to visit with family or friends, bring a game, a movie, popcorn, make it a party.

11. If they are an older person with set interests, join them at one of their own activities with their community of friends.

Connect, take part, followup, don’t just make it a one-time thing (like you have done your duty). Let the person know you care, not by just saying it but by spending your time, being attentive and present.

People don’t fall when there is someone there to catch them. And, if you are afraid of the dark, it is better to be holding someone’s hand, than sitting alone.

Samaritans Hotline is Always There! 24/7, if you need someone to talk to. Free. Immediately accessible. Completely confidential. (212) 673-3000

If you think someone is depressed and potentially suicidal, take it seriously. Do not leave them alone. Reduce access to lethal means. Expand your support network. To learn more on how to respond to someone who is depressed or in crisis, click here.