Shopping·12 min read

Practical Gifts That People Will Actually Use

Practical Gifts
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Our Place
November 1, 2023

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Sure, you could shop for a holiday gift based on the steepest sale or latest trend you’ve seen on TikTok, but there’s something so satisfying about choosing a product they’ll actually use for a long time to come. Forget those presents that’ll end up in the back of their closet (or worse, regifted), and get something practical that serves a real purpose. From a sleep-inducing pillow mist to a sleek humidifier, these gifts are bound to become their newest obsession.

Want more holiday gifting ideas? Check out our full list of gift guides for everyone on your list.

r.riveter tote bag

A sturdy canvas tote they'll use daily...

Because there's no such thing as having too many tote bags. This one's sturdier than usual, since it's made of cotton duck canvas that can withstand the heaviest collection of books, groceries, a laptop, and other odds and ends they'll collect throughout the day. Two exterior slip pockets provide an easily accessible spot for their phone and keys. The coolest part: Each part of the bag is crafted by military spouses across the country. PS: Use code SKIMM15 for 15% off sitewide until December 31. ($98, R.Riveter)

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Storage lids

Eco-friendly storage lids to keep leftovers fresh…

Practical and sustainable, this set of five airtight silicone lids is the perfect gift for savvy cooks in your life. They’re a much greener storage solution than cling wrap, and the neutral shades match any kitchen aesthetic. They can even double as saucepan lids and keep dinner warm after it’s come straight out of the oven. They’re heat- and cold-resistant as well, so pop them in the oven, microwave, or freezer. ($40, Food52)

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A gift card that’ll make traveling a breeze…

The holiday season usually translates to a very full social calendar. So make theirs a little bit less stressful with easy, reliable Lyft rides. Whether they’re headed to an end-of-year work party or the airport (which is covered by Lyft’s on-time pickup promise program in select regions), they’ll arrive right on time. Plus, Lyft’s new Women+ Connect feature increases their chances of matching with a woman or non-binary driver.* ($25+, Lyft)

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A trendy bag to step up their lunch game…

Bagged lunch just got a whole lot cooler (pun intended). This insulated lunch container will keep their food fresh, cool, and cushioned. We love that it’s made from recycled nylon and recycled polyfill. Choose from eight fun patterns or a classic black design. ($34, Baggu)

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Our Place

A modern pan that'll replace half their kitchen tools…

It’s a holiday MVP for a reason. The Always Essential Pan from Our Place is a gift of style and function, with a practical design that serves 10 kitchen purposes in one. It braises, sears, steams, sautes, strains, and more, so they’ll never be caught without the right pan. There’s a 100 day free trial, free returns, and free shipping, which we consider small-but-mighty wins. Also something to note — the pan comes with a nesting beechwood spatula and a steamer basket/colander. Truly, this nontoxic pan does it all. ($150, Our Place)

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Pillow Mist

A dreamy pillow mist to elevate their sleep…

We could all use a bit more sleep (especially during the holidays), and this gentle mist will coax them right into a full night’s rest. The subtle fragrance contains lavender, chrysanthemum, rosemary, and lemon essential oils to naturally boost relaxation. We suggest spritzing 10 minutes before bedtime. ($18, Baloo Living)

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tokki reusable gift bag

A reusable gift bag with a special touch...

Fact: Everyone needs a solid collection of reusable bags. These from Tokki's exclusive holiday collection with Target come in a few sizes and a range of festive decorations, like snowflakes, sparkles, and Santas, perfect for toting gifts (or as low-maintenance gift packaging). As an extra-special touch, each bag includes a QR code that allows you to create a video message, which they can then scan and watch. It's the 2023 answer to a handwritten card. ($5.99, Tokki; $5.99, Target)

Buy it at TokkiBuy it at Target
Clip on light

A clip-on light so they can read from anywhere…

A thoughtful gift for any book lover, this LED reading light features adjustable brightness levels and an easy clip-on design. Even better, it’s sleek, lightweight, and has an incredibly long-lasting battery (perfect for travel). ($15.99, Amazon)

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harness set
Wild One

A harness set to walk their pup in style…

Who knew pet harnesses could be this stylish? Every dog owner will appreciate this cute-yet-functional walk kit. Equipped with a lightweight harness, dirt-resistant leash, and matching poop bag carrier, this set will make them the envy of the dog park. You can even mix and match colors, with 12 options to choose from. PS: The harness has three spots for leash attachments so they’ll have full control, plus everything wipes clean with only soap and water. ($115, Wild One)

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Blow Dryer

A blow-dryer brush that'll make everyday a good hair day…

You can’t put a price on the perfect blowout. And yet, this all-in-one brush gives salon-like hair at a fraction of the cost (and in a fraction of the time). It’s smoothing, volumizing, easy to use, and will quickly become a staple in anyone’s routine. We’ve been using it for years and can attest to how handy it is. It’s even ideal for hair novices that want that blowout look, but aren’t experienced with handling a round brush. It has three heat and speed settings, plus a cool option for styling. Score. ($38.39+, Amazon)

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Toiletry Bag
Dagne Dover

A toiletry bag every frequent-flier will appreciate…

For all the jet-setters in your life, this toiletry bag from beloved brand Dagne Dover is a must-have travel companion. Say goodbye to cluttered, messy suitcases and give the gift of a chic and effortless packing job. The recycled fabric is water-resistant and incredibly durable, with pouches, pockets, and compartments for every type of essential. One editor on our team absolutely adores this pouch and also highly recs their makeup organizer. PS: Skimm'rs can get 15% until November 21 with code THESKIMM15. ($45, Dagne Dover)

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Blue light glasses that look great on everyone…

You know that friend who’s glued to their devices? This one’s for them. These functional glasses filter over 40% of high-energy visible blue light, with a modern square frame that looks great on every face shape. Opt for reading glasses or blue light protection only. Either way, you’ll be helping them to keep the headaches and eye strain at bay. ($29, Peepers)

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Water bottle

A self-cleaning water bottle for an eco-friendly lifestyle…

This is the gift they didn't know they needed. Anyone on your list will appreciate this sleek, self-cleaning filtered water bottle from Larq. It’s surprisingly chic, insulated (psst…there’s also a non-insulated option), and therefore can be used for both hot or cold drinks. Thanks to the technology, the bottle works to keep water clean of lead, heavy metals, chlorine, and more. This can noticeably improve taste — something we’ve all experienced when filling up from a public fountain. It’s available in two sizes and two colorways. ($49.95, Larq)

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Hand warmer

A set of hand warmers to ease the dead of winter…

A practical gift for staying cozy on the chilliest of days, these portable hand warmers are perfect for all your outdoorsy friends (or those who begrudgingly endure the cold). They heat up at the press of the button, maxing out at 131 degrees Fahrenheit. We love them because they’re rechargeable, and with three heat levels, they’ll be able to choose the amount of warmth that feels comfortable to them. ($55.99, Amazon)

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Screen cleaner

A genius screen cleaner to keep every device smudge-free…

They’ll seriously wonder what they ever did without this rolling screen cleaner once you gift it to them. A smart tool for anyone who loves their screen time, this roller provides a deep clean for touch-friendly surfaces, removing dust, fingerprints, and smudges with just a few quick swipes. It’s one of those items they’ll keep in their backup to use over and over again at the office. ($21.95, Amazon)

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Cushion Lab

A travel pillow that’ll come in handy more than once…

The perfect blend of relaxation and support, this cozy travel pillow will be with them on every future trip to come. Its smart, asymmetrical design will keep their head and neck stabilized, without sacrificing comfort. Plus, the whole pillow collapses into a tiny, portable pouch. Say goodbye to head-nodding and neck strain. Since it’s got a clip, they’ll be able to attach it to their luggage. ($55, Cushion Lab)

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Lip balm
Mario Badescu

A hydrating lip mask with a subtle, sweet scent…

Mario Badescu for the win. As the holidays wind down and winter ramps up, cold temps and nights spent by the fire are all well and good until chapped lips enter the group chat. Say hello to this moisturizing lip mask we actually swear by (we own it). A savior for dry, thirsty lips, this lightweight balm will live on their bedside table. We use it right before bed — just a swipe or two, and boom — supple lips in the morning. ($14, Mario Badescu)

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Bottle opener

A rechargeable bottle opener every wine lover needs…

Cheers to elegance and streamlined hosting. Help them pop the cork this holiday season with this electric bottle opener that opens up to 30 bottles on a single charge. It’s even got a foil cutter for easily removing seals, and an elegant design that they’ll want to keep on display. You can’t go wrong with a staple gift like this. ($34.99, Target)

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A facial humidifier to boost their winter glow…

Every beauty enthusiast knows winter weather can do a number on your skin. This wireless facial humidifier will keep them dewy and hydrated all season long, without needing to lift a finger. Since the device is pretty small, it’ll fit perfectly on their desk or nightstand. The battery can run for up to eight hours, while the extra-wide spout releases steam gently into the air. PS: We’ve tried this humidifier and loved it. ($59.95, Amazon)

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Keyboard brush

A keyboard brush to keep their workspace looking fresh…

Have you ever seen a keyboard brush so chic? Crafted from durable oak, this double-sided brush gets in all the little crevices of a keyboard (and it even cleans screens via the longer bristles, too). No one wants a dirty workspace, so consider this is the perfect gift for that one friend who has everything. ($28, Goodee)

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*This denotes a sponsored section.

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