Practical Gifts People Will Actually Use

Published on: Nov 1, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
practical holiday gifts people will actually usePhoto: Brittany Sturrett | Credit: theSkimm

Every holiday season, plenty of us inevitably give (and receive) gifts that, while thoughtful, wind up being stuffed in a closet and unused for ages. So when it comes to shopping for the person who hates clutter, there’s a fine line between finding something that’s useful but not too utilitarian. Luckily, we’ve sorted that out for you. These items are fun and giftable, but each serves a purpose and will actually come in handy. There are a few in here you’ll probably want to buy for yourself too. (You’re welcome.)

Want more holiday gifting ideas? Check out The Sleigh List — our guide to the perfect gifts for everyone on your A-list.


A zipper helper
A zipper helper if they’ve only got one set of hands to do the job…

Nothing is more frustrating than being home alone with a dress you can’t quite zip all the way. Cue this dress zipper helper they can clip to their zippers. They just pull the attached extendable cord to yank it up. Problem solved. ($29.77, Amazon)

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A lap desk
A lap desk to make their home office a lil’ comfier…

If they (like so many of us) tend to transition from office chair to couch during their work-from-home days, they’ll appreciate this bamboo lap desk. It has five angled positions, comes with a handy storage tray, and is available in three different finishes. Bonus: It also makes for an easy breakfast-in-bed situation. Double win. ($32.99+, Amazon

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Game-changing toilet paper for your eco-conscious friend…

Mother Earth would be so proud. This brand’s TP is made from bamboo (not the 27K trees that are cut down every day to make regular, schmegular TP). It’s also 3-ply, aka as strong as it is soft. And it is so. freaking. soft. Plus, it’ll ship right to your giftee’s doorstep in biodegradable, recyclable packaging. Sans plastic, ofc. And you can make their lives thaaaaaat much easier with a subscription and customizable delivery schedule. PS: Skimm’rs get 30% off subscription orders and free shipping with code SKIMM30. ($32.99, Reel Paper)*

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A wine-purifying wand
A wine-purifying wand to stop hangover headaches in their tracks…

The wine lover you know may enjoy their glass of merlot — but not the congestion and headaches that follow. A wine purifier can help by removing histamines and sulfites (the culprits that cause those ailments). Just insert the wand into the glass, swirl, wait a few minutes and then it’s ready to sip. (And nope, it won’t affect the taste.) Pair it with their favorite bottle for a gift that’ll be nothing to wine about. ($8.49/2 pack, Amazon)

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An AirPods case
An AirPods case so they won’t have to frantically search for that missing one...

If they’ve got a set of AirPods, chances are they bring those things everywhere. This pretty floral-designed protective case will keep ’em safe. The circular ring clip will also help them find it faster, so they don’t have to waste time digging around in the bottom of their bag. ($24.99+, Amazon

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Colorful snowflake socks that’ll keep their toes warm alllll winter…

And next winter. And the one after that. This holiday gift box includes four durable, cushiony pairs that are sure to turn (beanie-covered) heads. All made with warm, extra long staple cotton. Which means they’ll hold up for a loooong time and won’t shrink too much in the wash. Doesn’t hurt that they’re incredibly soft, too. The very best part? For every pair purchased, Bombas will donate a pair in support of the homeless community. Sock on. ($70, Bombas)*

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Sloth handmade ring holder
A handmade ring holder that’s equal parts cute and functional...

Whether they’re a self-identified sloth lover or just appreciate all things adorable, they’ll probably find themselves using this dish daily.  They can stack their rings on this guy’s little legs to keep them safe. It’s especially handy for mornings when they’re moving at, well, a sloth’s pace. No more scrambling to find their accessories. ($32.99, CKAPE Store on Etsy)

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pawp pet membership
A membership that’ll give your pet-parent friend some peace of mind…

Because with a rambunctious fur baby, they already have a lot on their food bowl — err, plate. Pawp is a digital clinic for pets that gives unlimited, 24/7 access to licensed vets and pet professionals. Sans appointments. Sans wait times. Sans overall hassle. Just an extra emphasis on that “peace of mind” part. Plus, your giftee will get access to a $3K emergency fund (that they’ll hopefully never have to use) regardless of their pet’s age, breed or pre-existing conditions. Oh, and one membership can cover up to six pets. Psst...Skimm’rs can save big for a limited time. Give them six months of Pawp for $99. Go, go, go. ($99 for 6 months, Pawp)*

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A guac storage container
A guac storage container that’ll keep it from browning overnight…

Guacamole is kind of magical: It’s the most delicious thing ever, but it only stays fresh for a short time. This storage container stops avocados from turning brown as quickly, so they can feast for longer or take leftovers to work for lunch. Time to guac and roll. ($19.99, The Container Store)

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A touchscreen cleaner
A touchscreen cleaner that’ll make their device look brand new…

There’s nothing that sucks the joy out of getting a new phone faster than seeing how quickly it gets covered in grimy fingerprints. A paper towel kind of does the trick, but this reusable roller does a much better job. Plus, it’s tiny enough to stash in their pocket. ($19.95, Amazon)

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A travel-sized diamond cleaner
A travel-sized diamond cleaner that will make their rock sparkle again…

Everyone loves a ring that glistens, but it’s just a fact that diamonds can get dulled and dirty over time. This cleaning pen is made with delicate bristles that won’t hurt the stone. Plus, it contains polymers that actually fill in the little scratches that may develop on the stone or setting. So they can brighten up their ring in no time. Bling bling. ($7.99, Amazon)

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A door opener
A door opener so they can avoid touching germy surfaces…

This set of three comes with gold, silver, and copper-colored tools. So they can easily avoid direct contact with door handles and elevator buttons. It can also work on touchscreens, thanks to the stylus tip. ATMs, we're looking at you. ($11.99/3 pack, Amazon)

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A file folder
A file folder so they can finally find last year’s tax returns…

Because getting organized is always more fun when it’s colorful. This file folder includes nine accordion folders and 100+ paper labels. And it comes in three designs: secret garden, daisies, or gold glitter. When they open the whole thing up, it will look like a rainbow, making whatever they have to file feel like less of a drag. ($20, ban.do)

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A pillowcase
A pillowcase to help hot sleepers stay cool...

Nobody likes night sweats. This Cool Side pillowcase uses technology that helps regulate their body temperature as it keeps a cool-to-the-touch surface. The jacquard pattern helps to prevent it from sliding (and is also just plain pretty). Sweet dreams to them. ($30, Coop Home Goods)

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A light
A light that will make waking up early a whole lot easier…

If the snooze button is their best friend, this SmartSleep light will help them out. Yes, it has an alarm, but it can simulate sunrise or sunset lighting (aka they can also use it to fall asleep), so they wake up in a gentler way. It also features five different natural wake-up sounds, so they can say buh-bye to their morning grumpiness. Rise and shine. ($99.99, Amazon)

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A soda machine
A soda machine so they can feed their seltzer obsession… 

There are so many flavored seltzers out there, but buying up packs can get pricey. The fix? This machine that carbonates their tap in just a few seconds. The Terra is the newest in the Sodastream line, and the Hydration Pack option includes lime-flavored drops to zhuzh things up. (You can also find more flavors to add on here so they can customize taste.) Plus, the reusable bottles are environmentally friendly. Truly a gift that keeps on giving. ($59.99+, SodaStream)

Buy it


A blow-drying brush
A blow-drying brush that’ll improve their morning routine…

Consider this a hair dryer and brush all in one. It features three heat and speed settings, plus a cool option for styling, making it easy to blow out hair without a tool in each hand. The oval design helps to smooth hair as it dries, and the ceramic base helps reduce heat damage. They’ll thank you for giving them a significant chunk of their morning back every time they use it. ($34.88+, Amazon)

Buy it


A vaccine card and passport holder
A vaccine card and passport holder for their next big trip…

They may have a passport holder, but this leather case is made specifically for travel in the COVID era. A leather flap holds their passport while a plastic pocket hangs on to their vaccine card. It comes in a bunch of colors and can be personalized, so you can find one that fits your fave globetrotter. ($19.90+, EvtodiCom on Etsy)

Buy it


A tote bag
A tote bag that folds into a tablet-sized pouch when it’s not in use...

If they’re in the market for a quality carry-on, you can’t go wrong with this bag. It measures 18” x 11” x 11.5” and is TSA compliant. Even better? When they don’t need it, it zips away into a tiny pouch they can tuck away anywhere. Bonus: Each bag is made from 22 recycled plastic bottles. ($70, Paravel)

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A dog toy kit
A dog toy kit that’ll keep major chewers entertained…

If their pup’s toys don’t last more than a few minutes before they’re ripped to shreds, consider this a gift for the both of them. Available in four color choices, this set comes with three tough toys: a triangle tug (made with a 100% cotton rope), a twist toss, and bolt bite. They’re made of rubber with a reinforced core, so owners can really let their pooch go to town on ’em without worrying. Time to pawty. ($36, Wild One)

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*This denotes a sponsored post. 

If you buy anything from this article, theSkimm may get something in return. Oh, and if something’s out of stock, oops, it was there (and all prices were accurate) when we published. Thanks.

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Skimm'd by Erica Cohen, Emmy Favilla