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25 Actually Useful Gifts All Practical People Will Appreciate 2019

useful gifts

It’s hard to know what to buy as a gift for the person you don’t know terribly well, or the person with unswervingly practical tastes. You ideally want something that doesn’t add clutter, and isn’t strictly decorative, and is maybe even something they never knew they needed.

There are some middle-of-the road choices you may be tempted to buy in this category, but let me steer you away from some of the more obvious ones: Socks are a practical choice, but rarely special. Candles and hand soap sets can be so meh they might end up in a donation box or stuffed in a cupboard, and things like phone chargers can feel so practical they’re almost not worth giving. To help you deviate from anything boring or expected, we rounded up some actually useful—but still surprising!—things that still feel special enough to give as gifts, from time-savers to space-savers to travel and laundry accessories.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Capra Designs Terrazzo Keepsake Box, $45

Keepsake boxes can be strictly decorative, but if you use them to store salt or little knick-knacks, they’ll do a lot more than just take up space.

Buy it: $45,


Herschel Supply Co. X-Small Settlement Travel Case, $20

This corduroy case is a nice add-on gift for keeping cords separate in a travel bag, or for stocking pens and spare toiletries.

Buy it: $20,


Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug, $80

This smart temperature-controlled mug makes it easy to keep your morning coffee or tea heated for hours without having to resort to re-heating it again and again in the microwave.

Buy it: $80,


SolarPuff Solight Portable Compact LED Solar Lantern, $30

Outdoorsy types will get a kick out of this solar-powered lantern that’s lightweight enough to pack flat in a backpack when it’s not in use.

Buy it: $30,


Alessi Dental Floss Dispenser, $16

This little guy from Alessi doesn’t look like much more than a toy, but you can place a roll of floss in his belly and use him as a floss dispenser.

Buy it: $16,


Black Blum Food Flask, $30

Anyone in the “bring your own lunch to work” crowd could find a use for this stainless steel thermos that can store office gazpachos, chilis, and anything that needs to stay hot or chilled: it even comes with its own spoon, so they won’t have to bring their own in. 

Buy it: $30,


Joseph Joseph Twist-Lock Wine Stoppers, $16

Any wine drinker could benefit from a set of wine savers that will help keep the rest of the merlot from going bad should they want to save half of the bottle. These ones from Joseph Joseph lock in place to create an airtight seal that keeps wine fresh for longer.

Buy it: $16,


Eufy Smart Switch by Anker, $30

Nothing could be more useful for a techie or frequent traveler, we think, than a smart switch that can control the lights from your smartphone, or any Google Assistant-, or Alexa-controlled devices.

Buy it: $30,


Sunnylife Isabomba Cooler Bucket Bag, $34

Here’s a colorful cooler bag that’s ideal for picnics and beach trips: it’s tall enough to tote a wine bottle or mini baguette, and has enough room for containers of fruit and snacks.

Buy it: $34,


Petsafe 2 Meal Automatic Pet Feeder, $40

Here’s a thoughtful gift for the person who travels a lot, and often needs to hire a petsitter, or just has a greedy cat or dog who likes to gobble everything up at once. It’s an automatic pet feeder that allows you to schedule two meals up to four days in advance.

Buy it: $40,


Oster Cordless Electric Bottle Opener, $18

As an alternative to fumbling with a wine key, this cordless electric bottle will be so appreciated by the person who consistently gets the cork stuck in the bottle.

Buy it: $18,


Hutzler Grapefruit Saver, $10

This grapefruit saver’s an easy gift for roommates to help clear up fridge clutter (and also just looks nice on a shelf).

Buy it: $10,


L’Occitane Reusable Magic Key for Squeezing Tubes, $10

This reusable key comes in handy for saving money on all types of products: it helps you squeeze out the last remnants of toothpaste or hand cream from the tube.

Buy it: $10,


Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook, $23

Not everyone’s naturally talented in the kitchen, and if you know someone who’s been trying to quit their Seamless routine, we’d recommend getting them Bon Appetit food director Carla Lalli Music’s cookbook from this year that has a bunch of unfussy, easy recipes for rushed weeknight dinners.

Buy it: $23,


Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush, $7

Anyone who needs some more pampering in the shower might enjoy this scalp massaging brush that could help you get that salon experience at home.

Buy it: $7,


Portable Luggage Scale, $9

This portable scale is a great gift option for travelers who tend to overpack, and falls just under $10.

Buy it: $9,


Steamery Pilo Fabric Shaver, $50

Pilled sweaters are a common enemy in winter, and this handy electric device helps tackle all the little bobbles at once (and will last for years to come).

Buy it: $50,


Wild One Poop Bag Carrier, $12

Yep, you are seeing things correctly. This is a poop bag holder, but a stylish one. It’s a nice “I don’t know anything about you except the fact that you own a dog” gift, but looks a lot more expensive than it is.

Buy it: $12,


TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball for Deep-Tissue Massage, $12

The person who works long hours or just loves to work out might enjoy this mini handheld massage ball for soothing sore muscles.

Buy it: $12,


Gingko Edge Light Alarm Clock, $56

This alarm clock pulls double duty as a dimmable night light, for people who are trying to be earlier risers.

Buy it: $56,


Nodpod Microbead Weighted Sleep Mask, $32

This sleep mask is a little different from your standard silk eye mask: it’s weighted to help you doze off faster and the microbeads in it mold to your face to prevent any light from peeking through.

Buy it: $32,


Sweaty Betty Tech Running Gloves, $45


Chocolate Note Pad, $8

For students and people who work a desk job, this delightful little note pad shaped like a bar of chocolate will come in handy (and also serve as decoration).

Buy it: $8,


The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo, $18

Cleaning gifts can be tricky, but anything from luxury laundry line The Laundress is going to appear more fancy than your standard Woolite or Clorox. This one’s a wash for wool and cashmere, so it would be a thoughtful choice for the person who practically lives in cashmere turtlenecks in winter.

Buy it: $18,


Hilife Handheld Mini Travel Steamer, $28

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