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JLeslie's avatar

How do you feel about very practical gifts?

Asked by JLeslie (46156 points ) December 19th, 2013

My question was inspired by this question about gift giving flops. I like getting practical gifts. One jelly mentioned getting a vacuum for her birthday, and if I needed a new vaccuum I would be very happy to get one, especially if it was one that met all my requirements and showed the person knew what I wanted. I have no idea if that jelly even needed a vacuum cleaner, I’m not picking on her answer, her answer just made me think of this new Q.

I know many people think gifts that are about cooking or cleaning are awful gifts, especially for a wife. How do you feel about gifts that are practical? I remember when I moved into my second house we had a house warming and I was given wine, alcohol, chocolates, a really beautiful vase, a frame (both the vase and frame were not cheap, they easily were worth $75 and $40 respectively at retail) and one person gave pyrex baking dishes easily bought at a supermarket. I still have those baking dishes and it was my favorite gift that night along with some plastic cups for the patio that I had actually picked out and a friend bought for me.

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45 Answers

longgone's avatar

I like them, though I would not be happy with only practical gifts, I think. There needs to be a book in there, or maybe a DVD.

tom_g's avatar

I don’t believe they exist. If something is practical, then it is something that I need and want. If there is something that I need and want, then it is something that I have been researching for a long time, and one of three scenarios…

- I have not yet decided on the correct product. More research is necessary.
– I have purchased this.
– I know exactly what it is I want to purchase, but have not because I can’t currently afford it.

So, if I already own it, the gift is redundant. If I do not already own it and I’m simply saving to afford this, what are the chances that the gift giver knows exactly what it is that I am saving to buy? If the gift is similar, but not exactly what I had planned on purchasing, then I would have to return the gift. So, in fact, I was given a chore (of returning something) as a present. And I would likely be left with a credit to somewhere that doesn’t carry the item I want.

And more importantly, if I am saving to purchase something, it’s likely due to the fact that there is something else that is more important and practical that I currently need. So, a gift of money would be far more practical. In fact, what other gift would you need?

zenvelo's avatar

I haven’t received many over the years, but my ex’s dad, before he passed, used to give practical gifts for use around the house. The first year I was married and we had bought a house, he gave me an electric drill. I figured, that was odd, but something useful and I liked it.

The second year he gave me a leaf blower. That was useful, but not endearing. I thanked him profusely, but it was not a fond memory.

I guess, I don’t think of them as thoughtful gifts.

creative1's avatar

See to me giving a useful gift is giving a thoughtful gift because it shows the person really knows them and knows what they will use, want and need. To me if its going to sit there when I really didn’t want it or need it then what is the point keeping it. The gifts I love and use all the time are the ones I remember the people who gave them to me because it showed they knew me and knew what I needed and wanted most and if its a vacuum then everytime I vacuumed I would be remembering that person and thankful they thought so much of me that they gave me what I needed.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t mind them, unless it means I have to wait for a long time before I receive it. My birthday is one month after Christmas and I would hate to wait 10 months for a new vacuum cleaner.

My husband once surprised me with a small portable TV for my birthday and that was nice.

rojo's avatar

I don’t mind them either but I know better than to give a practical gift like a kitchen appliance or and iron or something to my wife for a present no matter how much we may need it. Or I should say ONLY such a gift. Presents for birthdays and christmas are for wants, not needs.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like to give and receive practical gifts. We all have too much, made in china, stuff already.
I give cheese, food baskets, Hickory Farms products, chocolates, battery assortment packs, MagLite flashlights, Leatherman or SOG tools, ammo (for my BIL – a bit of a joke), tools…. all Made in USA.
If someone wants an appliance I figure they are the best judges of what they need.

@zenvelo Ooooo! A leafblower! I’ll take it ! I would love a gift like that! Really!

Pachy's avatar

My favorite gifts to receive are the ones the giver knows I want, practical or otherwise. These are also my favorite gifts to give. That said, I’m grateful for anything I’m given.

picante's avatar

I feel exactly the same as Pachy . . . if the gift reflects the giver’s knowledge of me, that’s the best part. Just yesterday, as a matter of fact, I enjoyed a belated birthday/early Christmas gift exchange with a friend, and I received many wonderful gifts, each reflecting a remembrance of things I love, even if they’re “practical.”

CWOTUS's avatar

The practicaller, the gooder.

ibstubro's avatar

I think I’ve reached and age where, if someone feels bound to give me a gift, I’d just as soon it be practical or perishable. Honestly, I have all the impractical crap I can stand in my life most purchased by me.

As long as the gift is practical for me. My sister was famous for giving things that she liked. I gently said something to her about it once, and she explained (Duh), “I’m never in the kind of stores that sell the things you like!” Thus her presents resembled (and probably were) just things she hadn’t gotten around to using. The lavender scented Yankee Candle was the final straw.

Cupcake's avatar

My husband gave me deep plum, soft bedsheets for our first anniversary (or maybe second?). They are my favorite sheets ever. I would never splurge for more sheets unless ours were completely unusable. I mean, I even put flannel sheets on in the warm weather if that’s all that we have clean when it’s time to change the sheets (which I always seem to decide at bedtime).

I love practical gifts… but please take the time to find out if there is a brand or size that I am especially interested in.

That’s why I have created an amazon wish list.

Seek's avatar

@Pachy has it.

When I gift, I try to give things the recipient would enjoy, but wouldn’t think of getting for themselves for whatever reason. For example, my friend always orders Pina Coladas during our ladies’ nights. So one year I bought her a set of hurricane glasses, some long spoons, some little umbrellas, and some coconut cream and pineapple juice.

I’ve given new sheets and towels to spendthrifts (like me) who I know hadn’t bought new in forever. Yes, I did take note of their respective colour schemes. ^_^

And of course, there’s the baby shower basket which includes all the little things no one ever thinks of until they don’t have one: a nail clipper with attached magnifying glass, a bulb syringe, a thermometer, a medicine dropper (my favourite to give is the one shaped like a pacifier), a hair brush, some Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, and a comfy robe and pair of slippers for Mama.

Coloma's avatar

I think gift preference is personality based. I am a whimsical, creative type and no, I do not want to receive practical gifts. My favorite gift from my daughter last year was a multi-colored LED light bulb that has a little remote to customize the lighting features.
I have it in a 4 foot tall paper floor lamp and can either have it muting into different colors, flashing, fading, or, set it on one particular color.

I did appreciate my guy neighbor at my old house giving me a giant flashlight one year, but in general I prefer fun, creative gifts that suit my personality.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Shopping list for @Coloma
MagLite LED Flashlight

ibstubro's avatar

Happy brownies^^

Pandora's avatar

I think it depends on who is giving the gift. The closer someone is to me, like my husband or my kids or my siblings, I would expect them to give me something with some thought put into it.
As for those who are not involved in my everyday life and I feel they really don’t know me that well, I would be happy with any gift, so long as it isn’t something insulting, like mouthwash, or underwear, or a broom and a mop.
A young teen age girl once gave me 2 movie tickets, and someone once gave me a book that she thought I would enjoy. Those were perfect gifts for people on a budget. I even received a donation in my name to a charity I support. That was awesome. I actually like charity gift donations better. At least I then know the money will go to supporting someone in need than giving me something I don’t need.

As for my kids or husband, I can take a practical gift if I had asked for it. For a couple of years I had requested comfortable warm PJs. My kids resisted the first year but then they saw how disappointed I was that I didn’t get any. I love, love, love warm soft flannel PJs. My sister once gave me set and I wore them to death. So, for two years after that they got me PJs. The first year they gave me this stiff pj that I didn’t like because it was stiff feeling. It wasn’t like the first one I got. The second year they had to look high and low but they finally found the one I was looking for. Really I don’t care what I get or even if I get anything. I have everything I pretty much want. That is why I hate it when people ask me for my xmas list. I don’t like it when people spend their hard earned money on getting me something I don’t need and will just go to waste when there are so many people who need simpler things like food.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m all about practical and not wasting money on random thing’s I may or may not use.

I love movie passes, candles, and of course the redneck must-have’s underwear and socks. My auntie and uncle usually send a box of oranges or fruits from Florida, so that’s always welcome and used, too.

Coloma's avatar


Oooh, happy brownies and cool lights. Look at all the pretty colors! Swoon.

johnpowell's avatar

I generally can buy things I need. If I need a new knife I can buy it.

But here is a example of a practical gift I wouldn’t have bought myself. It was very cold here last week. We are talking negatives and that never really happens here. I have a old wool scarf my aunt got 30+ years ago in the air force. She gave it to me about ten years ago.

A nice scarf but it didn’t help much.

I mentioned my scarf woes to Allie and she sent me a awesome one.

I love it and I never would have bought a new one as long as my old one was good enough.

Kardamom's avatar

I love getting practical gifts, like new undies for Christmas. Vacuums, food processors, washing machines, fridges, it’s all good : )

Nimis's avatar

A combination of what @tom_g and @Seek_Kolinahr said.

I think a good gift is something the recipient wants—but doesn’t know they want.

If it’s something that I need, it would probably fall into one of the categories that @tom_g already mentioned.

When it comes to electronics and appliances, chances are it’s not the one I’d been researching for. I’d rather get a useless gift than one I’m forced to use.

wildpotato's avatar

I prefer practical gifts. I can’t think of too many impractical things I want, except for books. My family has no problem admitting we don’t know what the hell to get each other, so we ask for specific stuff all the time. I think the most boring thing I’ve asked for was an iron, and I love that little guy and use it way more than most gifts I receive.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

I would definitely prefer a practical gift. The issue is that not many people know the definition of what a practical gift means. One year, my aunt tried to give practical gifts for Christmas. I ended up with a sewing kit and clothes pins. I don’t sew and I never line dried my clothes. So that was a bust.

Adagio's avatar

I like that my family generally ask what I want, I usually choose something I have been wanting but avoiding spending money on, the arrangement works well.

fluthernutter's avatar

I think practical gifts that you ask for are very different from practical gifts that you hadn’t asked for.

Steam mop to clean my kitchen floor.

Soap dish from my sister. Okay, so we didn’t have a soap dish. But that was because I really dislike most soap dishes. They have drainage issues and they look ugly. Instead, I keep my sponge in a glass vase (the kind you see as center pieces at weddings) and filled it with river rocks. Drains well so my sponge doesn’t get nasty, it doesn’t look ugly and I don’t have to keep replacing it every few years. Plus, I think I can afford a soap dish if I really wanted one!

Katniss's avatar

@fluthernutter Very cool idea!

I’m fine with practical gifts. My fiancĂ© asked me what I want for Christmas and I told him a George Forman grill. He said no because it’s not personal enough.

Seek's avatar

^ That’s sweet, in its own way.

My son told me yesterday that I should have some new green earrings and a new green necklace, and a new green “one of these things” as he drew a circle around his wrist with his finger.

I told him he should talk to Daddy about all shiny things purchases, and also suggest some new warm flannel jammies and slipper socks. I love slipper socks.

wildpotato's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Green is the colour of her kind, after all.

Coloma's avatar

Last year I gave my daughter the worlds coolest cat condo/tower. It is black faux fur with hemp rope wrapped posts, has about 5 different platforms and cubbies and ramps.
A work of art.
I always include peoples pets on my gift giving list. :-)

ibstubro's avatar

Once again proving that pets are more fun that people. Was it on her cat’s registry??

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Haha

JLeslie's avatar

Cat registry. Love it.

Thanks for all the answers everyone. I really enjoyed this Q and found it interesting.

YARNLADY's avatar

One year I happened on a close out sale at a hardware store and got five household fire extinguishers for the price of one. I gave four of them to family members for gifts.

johnpowell's avatar

Just a note.. I would be thrilled if I got a fire extinguisher as a gift.

CWOTUS's avatar

LOL… I read that too quickly the first time, @YARNLADY, and I thought you said you got five thousand fire extinguishers for the price of one.

And after that I thought, sheesh, that’s pretty cheap; you only gave four of them as gifts?

JLeslie's avatar

Reminds me my fire extinguisher is very old.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@johnpowell I know! Right?!?! They even come in Festive Red! Slap on a green bow and Bingo!
One year I gave out a bunch of Kidde 3 pound Dry chemical extinguishers for ABC fires. I figured everyone should have them in the house and car.

Years later those babies are still along side my BIL’s fireplace. And where is that candle and nicknack decoration my SIL gave him? Probably at Goodwill or in the trash.

Coloma's avatar

I’m afraid of fire extinguishers, just give me a bucket of water. lol

ibstubro's avatar

Much like my old cat, @Coloma – scared of the vacuum but loved the broom!

Coloma's avatar

@ibstubro What can I say, I may be a bright girl but I have the typical, female, stereotyped fear of things exploding. lol

wildpotato's avatar

@johnpowell Good call! Adding to the list.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wildpotato Don’t forget the green stick-on bow!

Coloma's avatar

Best impratical gift I ever gave. Surprised my daughter on her 21st B-day with a sunrise launch, 3 hour, hot air balloon tour.
We had SO much FUN!
Drank 3 bottles of Champagne before 9 a.m.

Chaufferd by the balloonists.
Cost me more than I was planning after I tripped over my laptop on the floor at 4 a.m. and fractured the screen. Oh well…adventures cost. :-)

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