You know the person. He thinks that brightly colored dress socks are a dangerously bold statement. She thinks that lacy underwear is only for special occasions. Some people would call them boring, but they’d just say they’re practical. They don’t want concert tickets or frivolous merchandise this holiday season, so give them what they really want: something useful. Note: this story was originally published in 2016, but has been updated to include the best products of this year.
For your brother who gets excited by wearing dress socks that aren’t a plain color. Or for your dad who works in a boring corporate job but desperately wants to show a bit of personality at work. As a bonus (for them), he or she can bore everyone around them with yet another rant about how much better the original Star Wars trilogy is. Better yet, get them for your sister in honor of the The Last Jedi premiere to celebrate bad-ass women as leading characters. This site doesn’t sell Star Wars socks for women, but socks don’t need a gender anyway—so just go ahead and buy a smaller version for all the ladies in your life. $20 for the set via Amazon
We all put off buying new underwear for too long, but let’s be honest: most of our undies are pretty shabby. It’s not an exciting purchase, but it needs to be done. Take one item off your boring relatives’ to do list by gifting them a monthly set of silky smooth underwear. They have lots of styles—none too outrageous—for men and women, plus variety packs for the slightly-less-dull family members who want to mix it up. $16 per month via MeUndies
We’ve all left our wallets at a restaurant at some point or another. Give the gift of security with a Tile. It attaches to virtually anything, wallets included, and connects to your phone so that you can find your valuables from anywhere. And what’s more practical than that? $25 via Amazon
What does a ¼ inch thick pie crust look like, anyway? No one except a professional baker would really know, and no one except a professional baker really cares. Except for your aunt, who insists on measuring precisely every time, dammit. Give her this rolling pin and peace of mind. [$21 via Amazon)(http://amzn.to/2gEXQWa)
For the co-worker who can’t stand to waste 20 minutes on lunch, there’s always Soylent. It’s not appealing or particularly tasty, but it gets the job done. After all, what is food if not fuel? Help your least-fun comrades be more efficient. $33 for a 12-pack via Amazon
There’s always one person at the party who can’t keep up their end of the small talk. For those people with nothing to say, give the gift of easy conversation. They can carry these handy convo starters around and slyly pull one out when the silence gets painfully awkward. No matter how dull their answers, there’s always another question close at hand. $25 via Amazon
Most of us don’t pack optimally. We shove our smelliest laundry and shoes into a suitcase, separated from that one nice outfit that's still clean by a protective layer of only-sort-of-dirty t-shirts, but it all gets mixed up anyway. But some more pragmatic folks invest time and money figuring out how to make the packing process better. Gift them these bags so they never have to worry about dirty shoes mucking up the process again. They're almost painfully practical. $30 via Amazon
Okay, so there is something uncomfortably phallic about this. But for that one person who just loves bananas and hates that they bruise easily, this is the perfect gift. It will protect their darling fruit inside whatever bag they want to throw it in, and when someone stares at it skeptically they can enthuse about the wonders of the Banana Bunker. $9.95 via Amazon
The edges are the best part of the brownies. This is not an undisputed fact, but it is hotly contested, and your loved one who insists on eating only the outside rim, this pan is basically the holy grail. You get crispy, chewy edges on three sides on at least two pieces, depending on how you cut it. That’s heaven right there. $35.95 via Amazon
Everyone thinks you know what julienne is, but do you really? What about the difference between chopping, dicing, and mincing? If so, congratulations and goodbye. This cutting board is not for you. It is, however, for those dullards who insist that the carrots be precisely ¼” cubes. You may make fun now, but those carrots will all be cooked to exactly the same degree while your haphazard orange mess are alternately crunchy and squishy. Amateur. $21 via Amazon
Few things are as satisfying as an evenly toasted marshmallow. This rotating skewer helps you achieve that pinnacle of satiety by spinning your ‘mallow slowly as it roasts, much like a tiny gooey chicken on a spit. Is $20 a lot for a marshmallow skewer? Maybe. But it’s a small price to pay for perfection. $20 via Amazon
These are not the prettiest oven mitts. They are vaguely off white, with an As-Seen-On-TV style logo, and they will look ugly hanging in the kitchen. They will also be the best hot mitts your loved one will ever own. People will come to her house and compliment her not on her beautiful stainless steel professional grade Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but on her Ove Gloves—and she will not begrudge them this, for they will be her savior. Never again will she struggle to grip a slippery pie plate, or slosh quiche all over the bottom of the oven as the pan slides out of your hands. Never again will she fear for your fingers as you feel them grow hotter inside your thin, mittened hands. And this most practical of gifts will be her favorite of all. $25 via Amazon for a pack of two
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