12 Practical Gifts to Ask for this Holiday Season

Not pictured: My two large packs of canned water.

Edited by Megan Munson


As the holidays roll around, you might be thinking about what you want to ask your friends and family members for this year. While we all might like to get a new phone, laptop, or cute outfit, a lot of basic items often go unnoticed because they are perceived as ‘boring’ presents. In an effort to show what we really should remember to ask for, I have outlined twelve practical presents for this season.


1.) Gift Cards – Let’s be honest: Gift cards are the best presents because they are basically free money. My favorite places are Target and Wal-Mart, because you can basically get anything from those stores (think snacks, body wash, lamps, and reasonably-priced professional clothes). Gift cards to gas stations, coffee shops, and fast food restaurants can also come in handy.


2.) Toolbox – Whether you live in a dorm room or an apartment, a tool box (or some variation of one) is a necessity. You never know when you’ll need a hammer or a screwdriver, and you’ll be glad to have one when you need it.


3.) Laundry Items – Hear me out: A good drying rack, an iron, a lint roller, stain remover, and a gargantuan jug of detergent will become some of your best friends when you are doing your own laundry. Laundry detergent is something that I find a lot of parents are willing to give in bulk, so ask wisely and receive gratefully.


4.) School Supplies – With the next semester approaching, ask for some folders, binders, notebooks, index cards, or highlighters that you know you will need for your upcoming classes.


5.) Office Supplies – My mini stapler has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. If you don’t already have one, I highly recommend asking for one. As a student, you can also never have enough pens, paper clips, tape, or Post-it notes.


6.) Coloring Book – A few of my friends actually have coloring books that are made for adults to use, because apparently, it’s a huge stress reliever. Ask for some crayons to go with it, and use coloring as a five-minute study break!


7.) Cooking Lessons, Dorm Style – How can I make a meal with a bag of pretzels, vending machine Pop-Tarts, and a can of Pepsi, while only having access to a fridge and a microwave? Maybe a relative knows how! Ask for someone to teach you how to make snacks or meals using only a microwave and a small refrigerator. I’m not talking about those cookies in a mug (because what college student has two tablespoons of flour laying around?), rather I’m thinking about how to make mac n’ cheese a little less boring. But seriously, if anyone knows how to make a dinner out of the items above, please let me know.


8.) Noise-Cancelling Headphones – Get some good headphones that cancel out both your upstairs neighbor and the loud study group in the library, so you can jam to music and focus on studying.


9.) Emergency Roadside Kit – As someone who drives a lot for work and school-related functions, my dad wanted to make sure I was prepared when I came to college last year. In my car, I have a seat belt cutter, jumper cables, a tool that breaks car windows, canned water, an emergency radio transmitter, a flashlight…the list goes on and on. These are items that I hope to never use, but am glad to have them in case I ever need them.


10.) Homemade goodies – Ask to borrow some Tupperware and bring back to school some homemade desserts! If my dad shows love by making sure I’m prepared, my mom shows love by baking up my favorite treats.


11.) Cleaning Supplies – Clorox wipes, paper towels, a vacuum, and a broom with a dustpan go a long way in an old dorm or apartment room and bathroom. My parents gave me a tiny vacuum cleaner for my car last year and I still think it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.


12.) Donation to charity – While in the midst of the holidays, remember those around the world and in your own community who may be without basic necessities. My mom and her best friend have started a tradition where they each pick out a charity and make a contribution in each other’s name for Christmas, and it’s a great way to learn about important organizations and stay connected.


Hope your present-opening experience is full of wonderful and useful items. Happy Holidays!


Send comments to mkmunson@email.meredith.edu


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