10 Favorite Practical Gifts to Give

In case you didn’t know by all the blow up Santas everywhere, it’s Christmas. You’d think that the season of joy and peace would actually bring people joy and peace, but it is quite the opposite for a lot of people! Between having to figure out travel plans, coordinating who is going to bring what to Christmas dinner, figuring out how to wrap a present so it doesn’t look like a Christopher Casey wrap job (it is bad, folks), and getting the string lights to work on the tree that seem to have a strand out every single year….there’s the ginormous task of getting gifts for everyone! I actually enjoy this part and have been told I’m a “good gift giver” (I have no clue what the definition of that is, but I embrace the title), so I thought I’d share my go-to practical gifts for when I ask someone what they want for Christmas and the response is “nothing.” My goal when I give gifts is that it will actually get used, is something unique, or even better, is something unique that will get used. Hopefully this can help you out a bit so you don’t end up like my dad when he got my mom clothes in a size XL for their first Christmas as a married couple (to all the guys out there, I advise against getting your lady clothes that are 4-5 sizes too big, it sends a bad message).

1. Shower Steamers

This is the perfect gift for all the people that shower in your life, which hopefully is everyone. You wouldn’t think that you’d have the need to spice up your shower time at all since it is just one of those tasks you do without even thinking about it, but showers can be turned into more than just an everyday act without the occasional excitement of getting shampoo in your eye. I got these for a gift one time and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would! I have never been much of a bath bomb person, but shower steamers changed the game for me. I love to use these after dumpster fire work days, or when I am so stressed out that I can’t seem to snap out of a bad mood. Adding a little excitement to something so mundane can be a good pick me up, and change in routine. The pack that I like comes with six different scents; each one having a purpose such as relaxation-peonies & pear, immune system support-orange, stress relief- Eucalyptus & mint etc. Do they actually do what they say they do? Maybe, probably not, it is most likely the Placebo Effect which is 100% effective for me in this case and I am ok with that. While they may seem a little girly, I can assure you the men in your life would appreciate these too even though they won’t dare show it upon opening them. A little added bonus is once you take a fizzie out of the container, a hidden message is revealed, because nothing makes you feel better after a terrible day like a piece of cardboard telling you that you are beautiful. Get them here !

2. Stasher Bags + Homemade Treat

I don’t know if this is a widespread phenomenon, but whenever I give something environmentally friendly to someone, they seem to love it. Additionally, whenever I give something I made to someone, they seem to love it. So why not put them both together? I present to you, Stasher bag + a homemade treat! If I were to take away the environmentally friendly and homemade part, this would equate to a Ziploc bag filled with store bought Chips Ahoy (maybe I should try that this year as an experiment and see the reaction). I personally have every size Stasher bag and I use them so much! They can be put in the freezer, microwave, fridge, are dishwasher friendly, and have saved me so much money from not buying Ziplocs that I use once and throw away because there’s a single crumb in it. Just like I am sure you know at least one person that showers in your life that might like the shower steamers, I bet you know at least one person that uses Ziploc bags, too. While I could just gift someone a lovely silicone bag, I like to make it a little more exciting by filling it with a homemade treat, and my go to are these “buttons” that people have come to know are my go-to because I can manage not burning them. Practical, easy, and probably won’t sit in their closet for years on end because baked goods don’t belong in there. Get them here !

3. Corn Bags

A bag of corn is the perfect gift for everyone. Yup, that’s right. My mom got me and my brother a therapy corn bag from a local Keep in Touch Massage years ago, and I now have 5 in total, in multiple sizes. Being a gymnast growing up, these were perfect for my sore muscles, but also my injuries since they can be thrown in the freezer and can double as an ice pack. Since then, I probably use them for everything but my injuries. Zach will tell you that I carry my corn bags with me all over the place since I am chronically cold. I love to cuddle up with mine while watching movies, or throw them in bed with me during the winter when blankets just aren’t doing it for me. I don’t know what your mind is imagining right now as to what they look like, hopefully not the freezer corn bags at the grocery store, but these come in all different fabrics, and designs! There are designs for all the dog lovers, sports lovers, beer lovers, and there’s even one for the Packer lovers. Find them at Keep in Touch Massage, or the actual Warm Hugs website here.

4. Useful Things with Your Face on it

As funny as it would be to just not explain what I mean by this one, I will provide an explanation, as it is one of my favorite things to give people. While this may not be the right gift to give for you (it takes the same cheesy sense of humor as me), it is still a viable option! Years ago, my mom gave me socks with my dog’s face on it and I absolutely love them! The socks even made an appearance in the pictures of me getting engaged, Gracie will forever be a part of that moment now. I decided to take it to the next level and gave my dad socks with MY face on them. Soon, I decided that my brother, my mom, and everyone I know needed a pair of Lauren face socks. It has now become a bit of a running joke in the family, and they never know what item with my face on it that they will get next. There are so many things that are used on the daily that now have the capability to be branded with your beautiful face on it; oven mitts, t-shirts, aprons, underwear, pjs, blankets, cups, etc. This is a perfect gift for the person with a sense of humor in your life, but also it could be perfect for your grandma that lives states away and could use a more exciting way to see you than the picture on their fridge that is your Christmas card from 3 years ago. Something like this is perfect for any occasion, and since I am 97% sure none of Zach’s groomsmen actually read my blogs, they will in fact all be wearing Lauren face socks on our wedding day. Start with face socks from my favorite site here !

5. An Infrequent Experience

I did Google to see if infrequent is a word – it is. This gift is perfect for those on a bit of a budget at the moment, as this can be redeemed anytime. This one may also seem a bit cheesy and bring you back to your childhood in more ways than one, but can mean more to someone than you know. Here’s the instructions: get a piece of paper and a pen (or a crayon if you want to embrace the flashback to childhood part), then write down something that you want to do with that person sometime that you haven’t done for a while. That’s it. Growing up, something that I always enjoyed doing and thought was so special is when my mom would take me to meet up with my dad during the work day and we’d have lunch as a family. It is something so simple, but was so rare and that’s the reason why I remember going to Champps and ordering mozzarella sticks 18 years ago. Because of this memory, I gave my mom on her birthday a “coupon” to have lunch with me sometime during the work week. I initially thought it was a bit stupid and not thoughtful to wrap up a piece of paper to gift to her, but I recently went to my parents house and the “Free Lunch with Lauren coupon” was hanging up front and center on the fridge. As we get older, everyday things that we used to do don’t happen as frequently anymore, and getting to experience those things again mean a lot more to someone than you know. But please, for me, don’t do the “free hug” thing like I definitely did when I was ten and gave to my brother.

6. Perfume or Cologne

These are two things that people use probably on the daily, and are socially acceptable and not disappointing to give as a gift unlike other things that people use on the daily to make them smell good such as deodorant, or a bar of soap. Perfume and cologne are on the VIP list while toothpaste and bandaids just didn’t make the cut. There are a few things that I love to get as gifts, but I just don’t buy for myself. My perfume is one of these things (and socks with my dog’s face on them), but perfume/cologne probably aren’t something that comes to someone’s mind when you ask them what they need/want. It is more often than not the neglected item that sits in the corner of your bathroom vanity, fully underrated. I know these can be pricey depending on if you’re going with something like Zach’s Versace cologne, or my Juicy Couture perfume, and that’s why the travel size tubes are perfect gifts to give, too! I would not dare travel with a ginormous bottle of perfume, but I feel naked without my scent on vacations. Does the person you’re buying for not wear any scent? Well this is your opportunity to pick out the scent you like for them and want to smell every time you get within a social distancing distance. It is also a great opportunity to get your teenage son off of the Axe body spray poison,or your daughter off the Victoria’s Secret PINK spray that makes your eyes water.

7. Something That YOU Like and Use Often

This is where you need to stop and reflect about how you live out your life in the most not – deep way possible. I do this often when trying to think about what to get people. What items do I use literally everyday and could not live without now? (Please veto ranch dressing or your favorite condiment). What are favorite outfit staples? Favorite brands? Home decor piece? What gadgets have I discovered that have changed my life such as the Scrub Daddy? If you don’t have a Scrub Daddy, go get one, also a great gift idea to pair with something more fun. If you don’t know what a Scrub Daddy is, this probably just got really weird sounding-there’s no scrubbing of your dad involved…although I guess you could…I digress. Some people don’t know what they need in their life until they get it! There was one year that I was having the hardest time thinking about what to get my mom, and then I looked down at my outfit which I happened to be wearing one of my favorite jackets that day. I thought hey, I think I look pretty hip, might as well give this a go and upgrade Mom’s wardrobe, too. It paid off! The same pattern went for Popsockets, certain cookbooks, my Stasher bag idea, and even went as far as my future mother in law and me bonding over shopping for undies together because I recommended my favorite brand. To all y’all looking to get closer to your in laws, go shopping for your delicates together.

8. Multi Purpose Gift Cards

I don’t know why people are so against getting gift cards or think they are boring. I personally love getting gift cards, especially when I don’t want to use my own money at Target to get toilet paper or laundry detergent! Again, just like giving someone Lubriderm lotion is weird, but giving someone Bath & Body Works lotion is perfectly ok, I have come to find that multi purpose gift cards have a little more ~spice~ and satisfy people’s expectations when it comes to gift cards instead of giving someone your average Target gift card. Maybe your loved one isn’t into getting a gift card to the staple Starbucks, but they may be into a gift card that allows them to use it at multiple places, or more of a niche place. Recently, I was gifted a card the could be used at popular Minneapolis restaurants/cafes owned by the same parent group, and it was great! Other honorable mentions have been the TJ Maxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls/Sierra combo giftcards, or the Noodles & Co/Panera/Chipotle combo! Don’t underestimate the power of simple choices and simple gifting.

9. Fashionable Comfy Clothes

When I think of this, I picture my dad in his baggy gray sweatpants and his sweatshirt from my rec sports days paired with snow boots ready to go snow blow the driveway. Comfy clothes are one of those things that have never thought to be trendy until now, and I know this for a fact because I recently was out shopping and found a $90 pair of gray sweats that could have easily be found for $10 at Walmart. But still, people don’t really ever upgrade their comfy clothes to the point where people are looking at you in public because you’re wearing a cute jogger set, rather than looking at you trying to determine if you’ve showered in the past week. I for one, basically live in my Alo jogger sets and they are one of the best investments I have ever made. Joggers are pretty trendy for both guys and girls in this day and age, and all ages probably will enjoy them. If you know someone that still wears the same graphic/logo sweatshirt from college or high school, or the black elastic waistband sweats with their last time on their thigh, it’s time to upgrade, and they will appreciate you for it.

10. Something They Need but Wont Ask For

As I have been making my wedding registry, so many people have told me “if you need something upgraded, now is the time to do it because you won’t ever get to again.” But that is so wrong! I could easily ask for new pans for Christmas, a new set of towels, or some replacement silverware. This is where a little observation comes in on your part of the things that your loved one or friend could use an upgrade on, but for some reason has an unwritten rule of that a Christmas list can’t look like a registry or super mundane thing. People get so used to their everyday items, that it takes a fresh set of eyes to see that it’s time to get a new one, or that there is a problem. A great example of this is Zach’s socks. He wears those things to death to the point where there are some pairs where the heels do not exist- I wouldn’t even define it as a sock anymore. I’ll tell him that he needs new socks, but he refuses and says they work just fine. No, they don’t! Maybe you’re in your friends bathroom and see their earrings all over the vanity, how about an earring book like I have gotten a few people (find it here ). Is your mom’s baking sheet the lovely rust brown color rather than silver? Time to replace that thing. Thoughtful gift giving actually does take some thought sometimes, you just gotta remember to think about doing it!

Well my friends, that is all the prime wisdom I have for you this time. Gift giving can be so hard sometimes (unless you’re in the Casey family and you all make wish lists with the hyperlinks to the exact item wanted and then create a group email chain to coordinate what has already been bought off the list). But realizing that most families simply don’t have the motive to do that, I hope at least one of these things rings a bell for you, or that you learned what a Scrub Daddy is. Happy Holidays to everyone near and far! I wish you a season of joy, togetherness, and less requests of asking for the gift receipt!