Looking for the best products to gift — and to get — this holiday season? Check out Underscored’s Holiday Guide here.
We love a practical gift in these parts — after all, we spend a lot of time thinking about what makes the perfect example of any given product category. So when we find the best-ever cast-iron pan, or the absolutely perfect bath towel, we want everyone we know to have one.
But when it comes to these types of presents, there’s a pitfall: When giving a practical gift, 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, 16 gifts that do just that.
Morgan Banded Organic Cotton Sheet Set (starting at $169; potterybarn.com)
Really good sheets are such a great gift, and while you absolutely cannot go wrong with a plain white sheet set, we like Pottery Barn’s Morgan line because it offers classic banded sheets in both red and blue, making them excellent for Christmas or Hanukkah. For more recommendations and gift ideas, check out our guides to the best luxury linens and the best cooling sheets.
Buffy Wiggle Pillow and Cover ($110.40, originally $138; buffy.co)
Buffy, the maker of those cloud-like 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.
ThreeBlueBirds3 Winter Cardinals Swedish Dishcloth ($6.95; etsy.com)
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.
Gardener’s Tool Seat ($44; uncommongoods.com)
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.
Sarah Burrows and Nick Behr Growlight Frame Shelf (starting at $139; uncommongoods.com)
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.
Asakuki Essential Oil Diffuser With Oils ($35.99; amazon.com)
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.
Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier ($39.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
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.
Tushy Classic 3.0 ($129; hellotushy.com)
A gift for someone you know really, really well…to say the least. Our pick for the best bidet attachment of 2021, 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.
Little Cook Gold Heavy-Duty Kitchen Shears ($4.99; amazon.com)
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.
Frontgate Resort Cotton Bath Towel (starting at $21.60, originally starting at $24; frontgate.com)
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.
Magic Linen Linen Bath Robe ($96, originally $120; magiclinen.com)
When asked about our own favorite robes, 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, a dusty pink shade.
Theragun Mini ($174, originally $199; therabody.com)
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.
Aquaphor Ointment Body Spray & Dry Skin Relief ($11.99; target.com)
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.
Lululemon Reversible Mat ($88; lululemon.com)
Exercise mats have a lifespan; 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 makes a great gift for the home workout enthusiast or yogi who is super happy to be back to in-studio classes.
Noted by Post-it Printed Notes Gift Box ($19.99; amazon.com)
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 pre-numbered notepad and five felt tip pens, all in a festive red and pink colorway.
Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light ($29.99; amazon.com)
The Emart ring light is our pick for the best ring light of 2021. 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.