practical buffywiggle

We love practical gifts — after all, we spend a lot of time thinking about what makes the perfect example of any given product. So when we find the best-ever travel pillow or an absolutely perfect cooler, we want everyone we know to have one.

When giving a practical gift, however well intentioned or thoughtful, you risk disappointing the recipient — or worse, outright offending them! Our general advice when it comes to giving a practical gift is to find the sweet spot of items that are useful but also feel like a true gift to your friends and family. Ahead, we’ve rounded up our favorite gifts that do just that. Need more ideas? Check out our gifts for him, gifts for her, Nordstrom gifts, favorite Amazon gifts and gifts for everyone else on your list.

Reader Favorite

$15 at Amazon

Noted by Post-it Printed Notes Gift Box
We live in an increasingly paperless world, which is great, but sometimes you just need to jot something down by hand. This gift set from Post-it includes a round notepad, a to-do list notepad, a prenumbered notepad and five felt tip pens, all in a festive red and pink colorway.
Reader Favorite

$6.95 at Etsy

ThreeBlueBirds3 Winter Cardinals Swedish Dishcloth
Swedish dishcloths are incredibly versatile reusable cleaning rags that can take the place of sponges, cotton dishcloths and paper towels. They also come in loads of colors and patterns, like this Winter Cardinals motif, that make them feel festive and more present-y than a stack of flour-sack dish towels.

$25 $12.99 at Amazon

SameTech Pineapple Corer Slicer
As an organizing expert, I typically avoid single-use kitchen tools like the plague. But I bought this pineapple corer and slicer after seeing it on “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” and quickly fell madly in love with it. It makes quick work of hollowing out the flesh of a pineapple into rings, and by my back-of-the-envelope math, it paid for itself in three pineapples. (Precut pineapple is expensive!) As a bonus, the tool leaves the exterior of the pineapple intact so you can serve drinks in it, which I have done several times and which is currently my most impressive party trick!
CNN Underscored Best Tested

$49.99 $39.99 at Amazon

Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
The Pure Enrichment MistAire was our pick for best humidifier for the bedroom, because it’s whisper-quiet. A good humidifier can improve your skin, your sinuses and your sleep, making it a great practical gift for almost everyone on your holiday shopping list.

$19.99 $18.99 at Amazon

Tundras Hot Hand Warmers Long-Lasting, 40-Pack
If the person on your gift list lives in a cold climate or is a fan of cold weather activities, a set of hand and toe warmers will be a very welcome gift indeed.
Reader Favorite

$11.95 at Amazon

Oxo Good Grips 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer
Everything you need to prep an avocado — from slicing to pitting — in one compact, dishwasher-safe tool. It’s an Underscored reader favorite.

$12 at Amazon

W&P Peak Silicone Water Bottle Ice Tray With Protective Lid
Ubiquitous items like mugs or water bottles don’t make great gifts, because most people have enough of those. But items that are related to those things can make useful and thoughtful gifts, like this silicone tray that makes ice perfectly shaped for use in a water bottle.
CNN Underscored Best Tested

$129 $99 at Tushy

Tushy Classic 3.0
A gift for someone you know really, really well … to say the least. Our pick for the best bidet attachment, the Tushy 3.0 is incredibly easy to install on a wide variety of toilets, and even easier to enjoy. It’s a complete bathroom game changer we can’t recommend enough.
Reader Favorite

$18.95 $15.95 at Amazon

Drill Brush Power Scrubbers
If chances are high that the person you’re shopping for owns a drill, then this tool set can turn that device into a cleaning machine. If they’re a bit of a neat freak and are itching to make that grout and those baseboards look brand new, this is the gift for them. It’s a true Underscored reader favorite.

$99.95 $82.99 at Amazon

AeroGarden Sprout with Gourmet Herb Seed Kit
An indoor LED grow light garden is a perfect gift for a budding home cook, providing fresh herbs right when you need them. The easy-to-use gardening system comes with a gourmet seed kit featuring six herbs — Genovese basil, curly parsley, dill, thyme, Thai basil and mint.

$44 at Pura

Pura Smart Fragrance Diffuser
I was sent a Pura smart diffuser a few months ago, but I set it aside because I already had a traditional plug-in diffuser and I figured there wasn’t much difference. How wrong I was! When I finally set up the Pura I was absolutely WOWED by it. I love the scents, I love that you can program it to go on at certain times, I love that it allows you to adjust the scent’s potency and I especially love the customizable night-light feature. This thing is so cool, I’m giving one to everyone I know this year.

$35 at Flourish

Flourish All-Purpose Plant Food Kit
If you’ve got a plant parent on your holiday gifting list, this organic plant food kit is the perfect thing. The set includes Flourish’s organic plant food and a limited-edition dilution vessel that makes feeding plants feel like a formal affair.
CNN Underscored Best Tested

$39.99 at Amazon

Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow
In our testing of travel pillows, The Cabeau Evolution S3 stood out among the competition: Our reviewers call it “the Goldilocks of travel pillows.” They praised its design, which is firm enough to support the head and neck but soft enough to fall asleep on, and noted that it is eminently portable, thanks to its being made of springy memory foam that enables you to compress it to half its size.

$16 at Liberty

Liberty Margaret Annie Print Square Measuring Tape
A small tape measure is one of those items that is absurdly handy, and a pretty one, like this Liberty print, is a great small gift idea. Toss it in a bag or a junk drawer and marvel at how many times you reach for it!

$20.97 at Home Depot

Klein Tools 11-in-1 Magnetic Screwdriver/Nut Driver
A really clever and space-saving tool, like this 11-in-1 screw and nut driver, is a great gift for someone who is moving into a new home or just starting a tool collection.
Editor Favorite

$799 at Hyperice

Normatec 3 Legs
One approach to practical gift-giving is to go big! Our reviewer loves the Normatec 3 Legs compression system, which provides a customizable massage experience to help improve athletic training and recovery.

$12.99 at Hex

Hex Performance Dual-Action Gear Wash Kit
The care of sporting equipment like protective pads, gear bags, workout gloves, etc. is often overlooked, resulting in nasty-smelling gear. Hex’s Gear Wash Kit is designed to deep clean a variety of gear and apparel and makes a great gift for the sporting sort on your holiday shopping list.
Editor Favorite

$18 at Clevr

Clevr Frother for Perfect Prep
A milk frother is a simple tool that elevates a cup of morning coffee to a work of art. Our associate beauty editor, Sophie Shaw, loves Clevr’s frother, which she praises for being super easy to clean, store and charge.

$12.50 at Etsy

TheNorthBeeShop Wax Sachet
Sachets are small scented deodorizers designed to be used in drawers or closets to keep the contents smelling fresh. Typically, they are made of bags filled with botanicals like lavender, but these pressed wax sachets are a more modern approach that make a surprising and lovely gift item.
CNN Underscored Best Tested

$149 at Patagonia

Patagonia Women's Torrentshell 3L Jacket
In our test of rain jackets, the Patagonia Torrentshell outperformed all other jackets in key areas. Our reviewer calls it “ridiculously waterproof” and praised it for being “extremely breathable, durable and comes with Patagonia’s lifetime Ironclad Guarantee.”
CNN Underscored Best Tested

From $189 at Parachute

Parachute Linen Sheet Set
Really good sheets, like Parachute’s linen sheets, which were our pick for best linen sheets, are such a great gift. For more recommendations and gift ideas, check out our guides to the best luxury linens and the best cooling sheets.
Editor Favorite

$199 $179 at Therabody

Theragun Mini
Massage guns are popular tools for post-workout recovery, making them a great gift for the runner, powerlifter or Pilates devotee in your life. While many massage guns can be bulky, loud and quite expensive, the Theragun Mini gets high marks for being quiet, small and comfortable to use, and its under-$200 price tag makes it a reasonable option for gift-giving.

$138 $117.30 at Buffy

Buffy Wiggle Pillow and Cover
Buffy, the maker of those cloudlike duvets, took the pregnancy pillow and redesigned it for the masses. The Wiggle Pillow is a floppy yet supportive, tie-able pillow that offers full-body support for sleeping or lounging. A removable, machine-washable cover is available in three colors: Cream, Puff and Toast.

$46 at Uncommon Goods

Gardener’s Tool Seat
The outdoor gardener in your life will love this super-handy work stool that combines the features of a folding chair and a tool bag. The stool has 21 pockets to hold tools of all different sizes, keeping them right at hand when they need them for repotting, weeding and pruning.

$289 at Uncommon Goods

Sarah Burrows and Nick Behr Growlight Frame Shelf
For the indoor gardener, this frame-style shelf fitted with a growlight is a functional showstopper. The frame is also fitted with a timer, and is the perfect way to keep indoor plants and herbs happy and thriving in low-light settings.

$45.99 $35.09 at Amazon

Asakuki Essential Oil Diffuser With Oils
An essential oil diffuser serves two functions: It will fill your home with the aroma of essential oils — which are thought to be major mood boosters. This diffuser has multiple mist modes, seven different LED colors and an automatic shutoff safety feature. It comes with six bottles of essential oils in lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, tea tree, sweet orange and peppermint.

$12.99 at Amazon

AWinjoy Gold Kitchen Scissors
Kitchen shears are such a useful thing to own, but they’re a bit on the practical side to give as a gift — unless you elevate the form by picking a luxe-looking style. These gold-handled kitchen shears fit the bill perfectly.
CNN Underscored Best Tested

$28 From $26.60 at Frontgate

Frontgate Resort Cotton Bath Towel
In our test of bath towels, Frontgate’s Resort Cotton Bath Towel was among the most luxurious-feeling, making it our pick for best towel. “Thick, soft and snuggly,” our reviewer says, “this product truly feels like a fine hotel bathing experience,” which elevates towels from home basic to luxurious gift.
Editor Favorite

$125 at Magic Linen

Magic Linen Linen Bath Robe
When asked about our own favorite robes, senior lifestyle editor Rachel Lubitz declared of this linen number, “The sleeves are a perfect length and it drapes so elegantly from my shoulders. If you’re looking for a linen robe, this is the one to buy.” The robe comes in three colors: light gray, gray blue or woodrose and a dusty pink shade.

$11.99 at Target

Aquaphor Ointment Body Spray & Dry Skin Relief
This is my own personal recommendation: I have never met an ointment I didn’t love, and when I learned that Aquaphor was offering their beloved ointment in spray form, I flipped my lid. This stuff is amazing, and honestly I think you should buy a case and put a can in the stocking of everyone you know.
CNN Underscored Best Tested

$88 at Lululemon

Lululemon Reversible Mat
Exercise mats have a life span; when they lose their loft or start showing signs of wear and tear like nicks, shredding or curling, it’s time for a new one. The Lululemon mat is our pick for best overall yoga mat, and it makes a great gift for the home workout enthusiast or yogi who is super happy to be back to in-studio classes.
CNN Underscored Best Tested

$29.99 at Amazon

Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light
The Emart ring light is our pick for the best ring light. It comes with a fully adjustable tripod, giving users a lot of flexibility, and it has three light modes along with 11 brightness levels. Just think of how great you’ll look in your daily Zooms.