Choosing a gift that someone can actually use is really important to me. I don’t want to waste my money on something that’s gonna end up on the closet shelf or in the giveaway pile. I want my recipient to know that I’ve tried to select a thoughtful gift that they will actually find useful. So, I want to share my favorite useful gift ideas for grown-ups and my thoughts about what not to buy!
There are certain items that everyone finds useful. An umbrella is a good example. I might own several umbrellas, but I’ll inevitably get caught in a rainstorm and discover there isn’t an umbrella in the car I’m driving. You can’t go wrong giving someone an umbrella. It’s practical and useful.
But there are also lots of what I consider to be risky gifts. These are gifts that seem like a good idea, but they really aren’t. I consider a gift risky if I have to guess about what the recipient would like. If you know a person’s likes and dislikes well enough, you’ll be able to make a perfect choice. But, if you have to guess about what they’d like, you’re likely going to end up giving them a gift that’s useless.
Here are some examples of risky gift ideas:
- Cologne/Perfume – This is something everyone can use, but most people have a favorite fragrance/brand. If you don’t know what their go-to brand is, don’t try to guess.
- Food – Many people have food allergies and/or dietary restrictions. Plus, everyone has a list of foods that they just don’t like. You don’t want to end up giving chocolate and coconut candy to a diabetic who despises coconut. Unless you know their food preferences well, avoid food gifts.
- Clothes – Each person has a specific style of clothing (and usually a preferred fabric) that they love to wear. Let’s face it, it’s sometimes hard to choose our own clothes. We think we’ll love something, but after trying it on we see that it doesn’t work at all. So, unless you know someone’s style very well, don’t try to choose clothes for them.
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So, what are some useful gift ideas for grown-ups?
1. Charging Station for Multiple Devices – This is very handy for families with several phones/tablets. With two teenagers in my house, we have a hard time keeping up with chargers. The chargers get carried around the house and are eventually misplaced. This dock can stay in a central location and works for iOS and Android. Great gift idea!
2. Compact Umbrella with Carrying Bag – You can never have too many umbrellas! Put one in each vehicle, one at work, and one at home. Give a high-quality umbrella like this one that is tough to endure 65 mile per hour wind gusts! It also comes with a 100% Satisfaction Lifetime Guarantee.
3. Flashlight – This is another one of those items that you need several of, because it’s handy to have them stored throughout the house and in the vehicles. Even if someone already has a flashlight, it doesn’t hurt to have another one. It seems like we can never find a flashlight when we need one!
There are lots of options when it comes to flashlights: floodlights, lanterns, headlamps, mini-keychain lights, and compact lights to fit in your purse or pocket. If your recipient already has regular-sized flashlights, get them a compact one or a super-sized floodlight. Or choose a flashlight with a unique feature. The flashlights pictured below have a telescopic focusing system that zooms out to get a wide floodlight and zooms in to concentrate on a small area.
4. Portable Folding Chair with Carry Bag – It’s really helpful to have a couple of these chairs in each vehicle, so you’ll always have a seat when you need one. We like to use ours at sporting events and when we go camping.
5. LapGear Deluxe Laptop Lap Desk – When I sit on the couch, I’m usually juggling my iPad with keyboard, phone, and maybe even a snack. I try to use pillows as a lap desk, but it doesn’t work well at all!
This lap desk provides a stable work surface for laptops up to 17 inches, a mouse pad, and a media slot. I think this would be really handy for college students and for anyone who commutes to work on a bus or train.
6. First Aid/Emergency Preparedness Kit – My nephew got each of us a first aid kit for Christmas last year. I’ll have to say that it has come in handy more than once this year!
7. Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer for Office/Home Use – This gadget is great for keeping your coffee, tea, or cocoa hot. But, did you know that you can also put a jar candle on it? The warmer melts the candle wax allowing you to enjoy the scent without smoke or soot caused by a flame.
8. First Alert Fire Extinguisher – I know this isn’t a glamorous gift, but it is certainly practical. Every kitchen and every vehicle needs a fire extinguisher. We hope it’s never needed, but if it is ever needed they’ll be glad they had it.
9. Amazon Prime Membership – This is a gift that they’ll use all year long! Prime members get FREE 2-day shipping, Prime Music, Prime Reading, Prime Video, and more. They’ll be able to stream over 2 million songs, read FREE books, magazines, and audio books, and stream a wide variety of movies and TV shows – many of them totally FREE to Prime members!
10. Battery Charger with Rechargeable Batteries – This is another idea that isn’t glamorous, but it is totally practical. With this set, they’ll never be caught without a battery! This is a great option for parents, because kids’ toys can use tons of batteries. And, if someone has a limited income, this gift saves them the expense of having to buy batteries at all!
I think that most people prefer getting an item that they can use, instead of something that will just sit there collecting dust. This list has lots of great options for gifts that are thoughtful, practical, and really useful!
If you like my ideas, check out more of my favorite gift ideas: