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10 Great Practical Gifts for Holiday Season 2014

Dec. 9, 2014
Holiday Tips & News, Shopping
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Every year when the holidays roll around, you accumulate more and more useless junk.

Don’t want to be that person giving others stuff they don’t need? Here are 10 great ideas for practical gifts that no one will throw out:

1. A Classic Swiss Army Knife

These classic pocket-sized blades come equipped with scissors, bottle openers and a host of other useful tools. Designed to last, Swiss Army knives from Victorinox make a handy gift for almost anyone on your list, and you can find great models for as low as $20.

2. Some Digital Backup

If there’s one thing you can never have too much of, it’s storage space for your digital files. For the computer users in your life, consider purchasing useful tools to back up or transfer their files.

These days, you can find flash drives with up to 128GB of storage for as low as $30, if you shop during sales. You can get 32GB of storage for less than $10. For photographer or smartphone owners, an SD card of 32 or 64GB can go a long way.

External hard drives make another great gift – whether for the novice computer user just learning the importance of backing up one’s digital life or the expert user who could always do with another drive. Aim for at least 1TB in space to maximize the usefulness and longevity of your gift.

Finally, you might look into cloud-based storage options. Unfortunately, most major cloud storage providers don’t yet offer gift subscriptions, including the popular Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Apple iCloud and Spideroak. The backup provider CrashPlan, however, does let you purchase a subscription for another person. The website offers unlimited plans starting at $60 a year, and you don’t even have to be a registered user to purchase a plan for someone else.

3. A Two-Wheeled Friend

For urban and rural transportation, there’s nothing like a bicycle.

Self-powered and inexpensive, a bike can quickly shorten walking distances and offers a relaxing weekend activity. If you have someone on your gift list who knows how to ride but doesn’t have his or her own two-wheeler, a bicycle can be the perfect gift.

If you can, throw in a sturdy lock to make sure your gift recipient can use the bike immediately.

4. Leafy Green Things

For those with a green thumb, a new plant can be a great addition to a botanical collection. Stop by your local nursery to pick up a potted plant.

For those who are less gardening-inclined, opt for a low-maintenance plant that will brighten up any living space and improve the air quality. The spider plant, a popular and hardy species, filters out carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene, and is safe for homes with pets. Perfect for a bathroom, the snake plant thrives in low light and humidity and is excellent for filtering out common air pollutants found in bathrooms.

And if the person you’re shopping for likes to cook? Pick up an edible herb plant that easily grow indoors, like parsley, chives or sweet basil, and your gift recipient will be able to add fresh flavor to any dish.

5. An Actual (Digital) Camera

Even in the days of smartphone photography, there’s nothing like a standalone digital camera. For higher-quality photos and more customizable features, opt for a point-and-shoot or even a low-priced DSLR.

6. An Actual Photo Album

Since the steady decline of the film camera, photo prints have gotten harder and harder to find. But browsing photos on Facebook or on your phone will never be the same as leafing through a carefully selected photo album. If you have the time to get prints done, select the best digital photos of you and your recipient and arrange them in an album to preserve your memories together.

7. Warehouse Store Membership

For shoppers looking to save by buying in bulk, a warehouse club can be the perfect solution. Since not everyone is willing to pay annual fees to gain access to these exclusive retailers, a gold-star membership to warehouse club Costco, priced at $55 for a year, can be a great gift that keeps on giving.

8. A Trip to the Salon

A gift card to a high-end hair salon might be just the motivation your penny-pinching friend or family member needs to get a stylish new do. If haircuts are a regular expense for the person you’re shopping for, stop by his or her favorite salon to pick up a gift card to save on the next visit.

9. Something Good to Eat

Practical and edible, food is a great gift for anyone on your shopping list. Opt for special items you know your gift recipients would enjoy but wouldn’t consider purchasing for themselves, such as herb-infused olive oil, handmade macaroons or exotic spices.

10. A Shopping Site Gift Card

Stocked with a broad inventory covering books to computers to groceries, Amazon has almost everything you might need. A gift certificate to the popular e-commerce site isn’t as tacky as giving cash, but it offers the same kind of flexibility, and once your recipients add the code to their Amazon account, the credit won’t expire until they need to make a purchase.

Written by Melinda Szell



Swiss Army knife image via Shutterstock