Mental Floss
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES

15 Practical Gifts Everyone Will Appreciate

Molly Gregory
Philips/Amazon
Philips/Amazon / Philips/Amazon
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Holiday shopping can be one of the most anxiety-provoking experiences of the year. There’s pressure to get the “perfect” gift for everyone you know—and that “perfect” gift doesn’t always exist. To help you spend less time stressing and more time enjoying the holidays, we’ve rounded up 15 practical gifts that everyone will use and appreciate.

1. LapGear Ergo Pro Lap Desk; $32

LapGear/Amazon

This lap desk works just as well on the couch as it does in the office. LapGear’s Home Office Lap Desk not only has plenty of room for a standard-sized laptop, but it also has a built-in slot for keeping a mobile device close by. You can even adjust the angle of your laptop to better fit whatever position you're in. And if laptop heat is a concern—especially for those working long hours—the desk is built with a cushion to keep things cool from 9-5 ... and for the Netflix binge afterwards.

Buy it: Amazon

2. VIM & VIgr Compression Socks; $20

Amazon

Whether you're shopping for someone who travels often, or someone who doesn't travel much at all but instead sits at their desk all day, they'll appreciate these compression socks, which help increase circulation and ease swelling in the legs. VIM & VIGR offers a number of fabric options, including cotton and merino wool, as well as varying levels of compression—and all in fun patterns. You can shop the full collection at their Amazon store.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rapid Ramen Cooker; $16

Rapid Brands/Amazon

Ramen just got a major upgrade. The perfect gift for college students or quick-fix chefs, this microwave-safe ramen cooker is a secret weapon in the kitchen. Simply add a noodle block, add water to the top of the cooker line, and microwave for three minutes for perfect noodles, every time. The cooker is built with heat-resistant handles for easy handling and is also dishwasher safe, making the cooking experience almost as enjoyable as lunch itself.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Instant Vortex Pro Air Fryer; $110

Instant Pot/Amazon

From the same company behind the magical Instant Pot comes an appliance that’s even more handy. The Instant Vortex Air Fryer not only air fries food to crisp perfection, but it also roasts, bakes, toasts, and more. By rapidly circulating hot air around food to cook it evenly, the Vortex gets dinner on the table without having to turn the oven on. It’s large enough to fit two air fry trays (which are included)—making it perfect for cooking a main and a side at the same time—and comes with cooking accessories to help get the job done.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light; $100

Philips/Amazon

Waking up is hard enough, but a blaring alarm clock can make it downright awful. Have a more peaceful morning with Philips’s sunrise-simulating alarm clock. The clock goes through an incredible 1 million light stages when it’s time to rise, gradually brightening with a warm orange light to awaken sleepers. But it doesn’t just assist with waking up; it also has a sunset simulation for winding down at bedtime. And, with 10 additional light settings for non-sleeping use, the clock is an excellent replacement for a bedside lamp.

Buy it: Amazon

6. PETLIBRO Automatic Feeder; $70

PetLibro/Amazon

Whether pet owners have an erratic schedule, want to prevent early morning wake-up calls, or need to go on a quick overnight trip, PETLIBRO’s automatic feeder is a great way to keep their furry friend's meals on track. It can be programmed to deliver up to four meals a day, and it can be customized to fit the needs of smaller pets. Although the feeder is powered via a regular adapter, there is an option to install batteries as a backup source, ensuring that dinner’s on time even if the electricity goes out.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Oster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener; $20

Oster/Amazon

Wine lovers who have trouble with traditional corkscrews will love this electric wine bottle opener from Oster. Accompanied by a foil cutter that can easily remove a bottle’s seal, the opener removes corks with the touch of a button. Oster’s bottle opener can open up to 30 bottles on a single charge, allowing sommeliers to spend less time struggling with the bottle and more time enjoying happy hour.

Buy it: Amazon

8. TRENDOUX TouchScreen Winter Gloves; $12

Trendoux/Amazon

Winter gloves are always a practical gift, but winter gloves with texting capabilities take gift-giving to a whole new level. TRENDOUX’s touchscreen winter gloves are made from soft napping wool to keep hands toasty while shoveling snow or shooting off a quick text. In addition to touchscreen-friendly fingertips, the gloves feature a webbed silicone design inside each palm to prevent phones from slipping in wet conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

9. SOULWIT Cable Holder Clips; $8

Soulwhit/Amazon

SOULWIT’s cable holder clips will keep tech fiends organized—and, of course, always plugged in. The cable holders can adhere to most surfaces and hold standard cables for things like phone chargers, keyboards, and Ethernet cords. The clips come in a pack of three, so they can be placed in multiple areas of the home. For starting the new year off right, swapping tangled wires for mini tech centers is the way to go.

Buy it: Amazon

10. 5-in-1 Tool Pen; $25

Uncommon Goods

This tool contains a ruler, screwdriver, touch stylus, and bubble level in a single pen (which also has a clip!). It's a sensible gift for anyone from compulsive organizers to DIYers who might need access to a bunch of tools on the go.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

11. HNCNY Face Mask Lanyard; $14

Amazon

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that face masks aren't likely to go anywhere anytime soon. Help your giftee keep their masks close with these elastic lanyards, which come in a variety of colors. Hooking them onto masks straps will allow them to hang their mask anywhere and keep it from inadvertently getting lost if they need to remove it.

Buy it: Amazon

12. California Voyager Beach Blanket; $45

California Beach Co.

This 7-foot-by-7-foot water-resistant blanket is perfect for giftees who love to hit the beach or the park. Available in three patterns (Mini Mountains, Royal Rainbows, and Whimsical Waves), it has weighted corners, comes with stakes to make sure it's secure, and can be packed down into the attached backpack for easy carrying.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Uutensil Automatic Pot Stirrer; $35

Amazon

This gadget is a boon to home chefs who don't want to stand over the pot stirring continuously. All they have to do is place the stirrer in the pot, switch it on to one of three speeds, and walk away as it does the rest. When the dish is done, the stirrer's legs can be removed and washed in the dishwasher.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Palette by Pak Goops Glops & Glam Bundle; $53

Palette by Pak

Help your giftee say goodbye to buying travel-sized bottles of product with this reusable bundle, which is made of recycled materials. The wells of the leak-resistant and washable High Fiver, which Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy received to test, hold a surprising amount of product—they even press up so it's possible to get every last bit—and the Palette fits into the Wash Me Reuse Me liquids bag. It’s a great gift for frequent travelers who want to cut back on waste.

Buy it: Palette by Pak

15. HIGHEVER Magnetic Wristband; $16

Amazon

Help your favorite DIYer pull off a home improvement project without holding nails and screws in their mouth with this wristband, which has magnets to hold metal items in place, pockets for plastic parts, and even a spot to store a pencil.

Buy it: Amazon

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A version of this story ran in 2020; it has been updated for 2021.

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