Sometimes, I feel like practical gift posts end up being a bunch of weird garbage. Like, no, my fellow gift guide compiler – I totally understand your headspace, but I don’t think that most of us have any interest in giving or receiving an at-home Egg McMuffin maker, you know? (Okay, well, I may want to receive one, but we all know that it’d only get used a few times before I’d think it was too annoying to clean, or hard to use, or something like that, and then it’d be stashed away in a cabinet for decades.) This post is not about Egg McMuffin makers.
This post is about practical gifts, though – things that I’ve tried and loved throughout the year (or, in many cases, things that I’ve had for a while that I still highly recommend). See, I grew up with a mom who crushed the usable gift game – stuff I didn’t even know I needed, but that I ended up using daily – and now I want to pass a few of those ideas on to you. Nothing here is super sexy or exciting, but they are the kind of products that make me say a little silent “thank you” every time I break them out (which is pretty lovely, if I do say so myself!). Let’s get it started with a few of my kitchen favorites from 2022…
1. Silicone Air Fryer Liners: Air fryer users, YOU NEED THESE. Buy them for gifts. Buy them for yourself. (I’m so enthusiastic about this that I’ll even buy one for you. What’s your address?) These silicone liners are a breeze to clean – grease and gunk roll right off – and you won’t have to spend any more time scraping hot fried food out of the nooks and crannies of an appliance. 5 stars are not enough stars.
2. 3-Tiered Cooling Rack: Is this a total revelation to anyone else? How did I go 31 years without knowing that collapsible stacked cooling trays exist? This is an unbelievable find for bakers who lack counter space (or for your friend who just really loves making cookies in enormous quantities).
3. Graza Olive Oil: Sweet branding, easy-to-use packaging, glowing reviews, and a really lovely mellow flavor. Everyone needs olive oil at some point (even me, the world’s worst home chef!) and this is a great choice that still feels a little special.
1. Silicone Lids: You know the old “every pot has a lid” idiom? Enter: these airtight silicone lids, which come in a set of 5 and eliminate the need for plastic wrap and aluminum foil. They take up no space, attach snugly, and are easy to clean – what else can you ask for?
2. Reusable Pot Scrubbers: Swap out steel wool for these reusable (and machine washable!) pot scrubbers. I find that while a lot of folks have embraced kitchen swaps like sponge cloths, far fewer know about these little scrubbing miracles – isn’t it time that you get to be the cool friend who introduces your circle to the new ~it~ product?
3. Lomi Composter: Splurge-y? YES. Worth it? Also yes (according to Bowser, at least). If you have a larger budget to play with, you can’t go wrong here. (Like, we all have food waste! It will be used!)
4. Double Decker Dish Rack: I have this dish rack. I love this dish rack. (I don’t have a dishwasher, either, so this puppy sees a LOT of use.) It has a tiny footprint and a slim profile, but it holds so much stuff. File this under “tiny upgrades that make big differences in your quality of life.” (Like, I don’t hate scrubbing dishes now? Incredible.)
1. Cove Litter Box: It’s a little splurge-y, but worth every penny. I’ve had my Cove for about 2 years and it’s transformed cleaning the litter box from a “daily chore I detest and dread” to a “daily chore I don’t mind that much.” Picking litter is never a blast, but the material here is SO much easier to clean and maintain (it’s kind of like if Apple invented a litter box). Treat the cat lover in your life to a Cove – they deserve it 🙂
2. Travel Carrier: Give your pet a nice lil upgrade from the standard black mesh carrier! This bag opens in a variety of ways, can be slid straight onto a suitcase handle (so you can roll your companion around smoothly and easily!), and the included travel mat doesn’t look disgusting after going through a washing machine (amazing).
3. Scratching Board: “Aesthetically pleasing” and “cat scratchers” are not normally words that you’d find in the same sentence, but this really threads the needle perfectly. Grab this board with or without wall mounting hardware and watch your cat enjoy!
1. Tushy Bidet: I have one. Jess has one. Bowser has one. Most of my close friends have one, too! It’s pretty easy to install (not my favorite task, but it was relatively quick) and it’s such a nice little luxury. Your gift recipient will never want to be without it (I promise).
2. Magnetic Toiletry Capsules: My boyfriend bought these for me (after seeing them on my 2020 gift guide – what a peach!!!) and they absolutely live up to the hype. I’ve traveled domestically and internationally with these containers carrying gels (shampoo, body wash, etc.) and true liquids (like a toner) and they’re the best toiletry items I’ve ever owned. The construction is SO efficient, they’re fun to use, and I’m excited to expand my collection!
3. Fabric Shaver: This is actually on my list this year – it’s something I need but always forget to buy. I’m excited to clean up some pilled sweaters and remove some snags on the microsuede bench my cat’s been clawing up lately! (If you’re planning to use this on furniture or larger surfaces, opt for the rechargeable version).
4. Period Belt: OBSESSED. My mom gave me one of these over the summer and I haven’t shut up about it since – basically, you strap this on near your ovaries, choose a heat/vibration setting, and cramps begin to ease almost immediately. My periods are still painful (like vomit-inducing bad), but this makes them so much more tolerable (if you knew how gnarly my period gets, you would be blown away by this review).
1. Moccasin Slippers: I love these LL Bean slippers SO MUCH and wear them year round (even in LA, even when it’s 110 degrees in my apartment). They’re cushy and comfortable and my all-time favorite Christmas gift – I got my first pair in 2019 and they’ve been near-permanently attached to my feet since.
2. Weighted Blanket: A weighted blanket that’s chic and simple enough to be displayed every day? SIGN ME UP. I actually love sleeping with weight so much that I opted for a permanent weighted comforter (this one!), but this knit is an ideal option for those who prefer to add and remove pressure as they see fit.
3. Knee Support Pillow: My mom gave me one of these for Christmas last year and I fell in love with it after a few weeks. I like it so much that I actually have one on both coasts (one at my apartment, one at my mom’s house!) – it’s small enough that it doesn’t disrupt sleep (like, it’s easy to roll around and keep this in place) but powerful enough to make a notable difference in my back pain. Big fan!!!
1. Vaccination/Passport Holder: I just got back from Europe and I wish I had thought to purchase something like this before leaving. I loosely jammed my vaccine card in my passport and nearly lost it about, uh, a million times. If someone you love is traveling somewhere with health requirements, save them the hassle of digging around for two key documents with a case like this one!
2. Portable Folding Chair: You never need a portable folding chair until you NEED a portable folding chair. I used to keep this one in the trunk of my car and it saved the day at least once a year. (I ditched the car and officially went vehicle-free in 2022, but kept the chair. Priorities!)
3. Clear Gift Card: I signed up for a free trial of Clear on a whim at the Seattle airport with Jess (because she already had it!) and thought I’d cancel – NOT THE CASE. It ended up coming in clutch on a flight out of LAX a few days later (hello, fellow Terminal 5 frequent flyers) and I’ve been really thrilled with the product ever since. You don’t need this and TSA Pre (and I’m too lazy to renew my TSA Pre, so Clear it is!) but it really has made travel way easier for me (a person who is prone to constantly losing their ID). I didn’t expect to love it, but here we are – it’s gift guide worthy!!! 🙂
4. Neck Pillow: This was a 2021 gift from my mom and it’s been awesome (she ended up buying one for herself, too). I spent a few hundred hours on planes this year and have been so grateful to have a tiny, reliable, easily-packable pillow at my disposal. I can’t do red-eye flights without it!
1. Temperature Controlled Mug: Full disclosure: I don’t drink coffee or tea, but y’all seem to LOVE THIS MUG. Every time we publish a gift guide, someone brings up the absence/presence of this mug (i.e. “you should have included it on this list” or “I also love this mug, but it should have been included on this list 10 times”). People who make hot drinks at home really seem to love this product. (Feel free to jump in with your experience down below, pals!)
2. Thermoflask: After a lifetime of trying and failing to drink more water, this was the water bottle that finally worked for me. I have the 24 oz and love the straw lid; my boyfriend, an advanced water drinker who doesn’t need to be bribed to stay hydrated, has the 40 oz and uses the chug lid. It’s easy to clean and comfortable to carry – huge fan.
3. Silicone Straws: These reusable straws are portable (those pods on the right are little cases, so you can always have a clean straw on the go!) and painless to clean (that’s a little brush at the bottom). They make perfect stocking stuffers and they’re great to have on hand if you also love to use a straw that doesn’t feel like sucking on a wet napkin (sorry, paper straw lovers).
1 AirTags: Consider me swayed – this is the one product that I’ve really grown to love in 2022. Slide one in your checked baggage to keep tabs on your bag while traveling! Toss one on your keys! Throw one in your wallet! Attach one to your friend who has a tendency to disappear on a girl’s night out! (It’s me. I’m the runner). There are a ton of great use cases here and you can’t have too many (or it’d be hard to accumulate too many, at least) – if you’re looking for a no-fail recommendation, this is it.
2. Rechargeable Electric Lighter: Pals, it’s almost 2023. We’ve gotta knock it off with the single-use BIC candle lighters. It’s time to make the jump. (Maybe pair this with a nice candle, a la Jess Bunge’s Gift Kit idea?)
3. Portable Jump Starter: This year, I finally parted with my beloved 2009 Subaru Legacy, which had been sitting dead in my incredibly tiny garage since the start of the pandemic. You know how we got it turned back on, out of said garage, and on to the purchaser’s tow truck? THIS PORTABLE CAR CHARGER. (But also, if you don’t ever want to have to ask a stranger for a jump…this comes in pretty clutch).
4. Charging Stand: Simultaneous wireless charging for your phone and your Airpods? SOLD. Courant’s products hold up beautifully – I bought 2 of the Catch 3 trays in 2020 and have gifted the Catch 2 a few times – but their customer service and shipping can be a little dicey, so be sure to order from a stockist (vs. directly from their website).
1. Wool Dryer Balls: My favorites. Cute colors, extreme efficacy, and they look the same after running through hundreds of cycles in my laundromat’s heavy-duty industrial dryers. There are definitely more affordable options out there, but these are the ones that I’ve tried and loved and can happily vouch for 🙂
2. Little Green Machine: The aforementioned boyfriend grabbed me this carpet/upholstery cleaner for my birthday after reading about how I wanted one on the blog (again, a literal dream!) and I LOVE IT. It cleaned a stubborn, frustrating, bright orange vomit stain off my taupe hallway rug (my cat’s, not mine – just for the record) in seconds and my white outdoor upholstery looks brand new again. A must-have gift for anyone with soft goods and pets in their home!
3. Dyson v15 Detect Absolute: This is the crème de la crème of cordless vacuum cleaners (and it’s also what I asked for this year, for the record!).
That’s it for me today – what say you, though??? Any favorites to recommend to the class? We’re all ears. HAPPY FRIDAY 🙂 xx
Opening Image Credits: Design by Arlyn Hernandez | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Arlyn’s Warm (& Sort of Last-Minute DIYed) Holiday Reveal