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Dec 072012
 December 7, 2012  Posted by  Hot Deals, Shopping
electric toothbrush

We like giving the “perfect” gift as much as the next person, but the “perfect” gift often is likely to be:

a) pricey.

b) dependent on the recipient’s taste, which may be finicky.

c) all of the above.

The bottom line is that it’s so easy to get it wrong.

Therefore, we often opt for the practical over the sexy when it comes to giving. Plus, the “perfect” gift that’s actually unwanted or unused is a waste of money. Sometimes the practical gift actually comes in handy, making it the item that’s remembered the longest.

We’ll never forget the story of the practical gift that saved a family — literally. A young man’s gift to his parents — a smoke detector — sat under the tree when a fire broke out in the house in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the giver had put batteries into his gift. Even though it was wrapped and under the tree, the smoke alarm did its job, and the family escaped unharmed.

We doubt our practical gifts will have so dramatic an outcome but you never know. If you’re out of gift ideas and want to go the practical route, here are 13 practical gift ideas:

  • Carbon monoxide detector.
  • Fire extinguisher for the kitchen.
  • Fireproof document box.
  • Electric toothbrush.
  • Rechargeable batteries.
  • Electric blanket.
  • First aid kit.
  • Emergency road kit.
  • Rolls of quarters (this gift is a winner with college students and apartment dwellers who need to feed the washer and dryer and urban dwellers who need to feed the parking meter).
  • Portable vac.
  • Book of stamps — yes, there are still folks who use stamps. Think of your Aunt Tillie and other relatives who don’t pay their bills via the Internet and who still like to send old-fashioned greeting cards by snail mail.
  • Photo calendar (for close relatives only). Select photos for each month taken during that particular month so the recipient can reminisce about what they were doing during the same month last year.
  • Coupons for a service. For example, the parents of young children would be thrilled to receive certificates from you that entitles them to a few hours of baby-sitting. Be sure to include an expiration date so they’ll redeem the coupons promptly.

What practical gifts would you like to give or receive?

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Kathie Sutin

Kathie Sutin has covered everything from construction to transportation. Features, however, are her specialty especially those about travel, food, health, parenting and people. Her work has appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Midwest Traveler, Southern Traveler, St. Louis Parent, Hooked on the Outdoors, Missouri Life, St. Louis Magazine, Air Tran’s flight magazine and Sauce Magazine and websites including and At her last fulltime gig, public relations writer for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, she developed a vast knowledge of all things St. Louis as she spread the gospel about free and things to do in the Gateway City. That came in handy when she launched St. Louis On The Cheap as did her lifelong strategy of paying less whenever she can.

  One Response to “Forget romance! 13 really practical holiday gifts”

  1. My favorite practical gift to give was a battery-charger that came with rechargeable batteries. I bought several and gave one to each of those very hard-to-buy-for people in my family. It was economical, practical, everyone loved it, and I’ve had a hard time topping it since.

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