Last-Minute Holiday Gifts That Are Still Useful, Five Years Later

Financial IQ

Still haven’t finished your holiday shopping?

Don’t worry, you’re just one of the millions of Americans who are pounding the pavement in search of last-minute holiday gifts.

But just because the pickings are getting slim, that doesn’t mean you have to resort to snagging random items from your local drug store or gift cards from the gas station.

Sometimes it’s the practical or out-of-the-ordinary Christmas gifts that end up being used most frequently and longest.

If you are still willing to brave the crowds of your fellow last-minute shoppers, here are some last-minute holiday gifts that are incredibly useful and long lasting.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool

For under $25 you can give someone a remarkably useful multi-tool that comes with a 25-year warranty. Here are some of the useful features on this remarkable tool:

• 3 screwdrivers (small, medium, and Philips)
• Needle nose pliers
• File
• Wire cutter
• Bottle opener
• Can opener
• Wire Stripper

One Amazon reviewer praised the Leatherman Wingman as “big enough to really do the job, and includes the tools you really need, without much extra.”

Another said, “Considering the price I think this is the perfect multi-tool.”

Kidde Full Home 3-A:40-B:C Fire Extinguisher

No, a fire extinguisher isn’t romantic or fun, but having one on hand at the right moment is one of the best gifts a person can have.

This particular model is for use in the home, garage, or workshop, it’s UL listed, and has an easy-pull safety pin that prevents accidental discharges.

The pressure gauge indicates clearly whether the unit is still in working order. It has a discharge time of 13 to 15 seconds and a discharge range of 12 to 18 feet.

Said one reviewer, “The initial outlay of money for these extinguishers is tiny when compared to what [the] fire almost cost us.”

The Joy of Cooking, 1997 Edition

The Joy of Cooking is America’s most popular kitchen reference because it contains just about everything.

Along with having most any recipe you can imagine, it’s written in an encouraging, you-can-do-it style and has loads of helpful hints on how to develop your basic cooking skills so they can be built upon in countless ways.

It’s the one cookbook that’s great for everyone from beginners to experienced cooks who need a great kitchen reference on hand.

One reviewer found it to be the perfect lifelong companion for the beginner: “My roommates bought me The Joy of Cooking for my 23rd birthday. I do not know how I lived before owning this comprehensive and indispensable book.”

Camelbak “Eddy” Water Bottle

If you or someone you love has vowed to cut back on soda and drink more water in 2014, a Camelbak “Eddy” Water Bottle is a great gift.

It comes in three sizes, is BPA-free, and has a patented flip-top bite valve that lets you sip without tipping or spilling.

You can hook the integrated loop handle onto a carabiner and attach it to your belt loop or bag easily. It also has a wide-mouth opening that makes it easy to add ice.

Said one reviewer, “I use them every day and take them practically everywhere I go. The no-tilt, spill-proof design has made drinking water effortless and convenient. Needless to say, they pay for themselves in a matter of weeks.”

12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

This gift can last for generations. Your grandmother probably had one, and so do many chefs.

A pre-seasoned cast iron skillet offers even heating, superior heat retention, and versatility for use with almost any heat source, including grills and camp fires.

With a cast iron skillet, you can make just about anything from cornbread to bacon and eggs to pineapple upside down cake.

The following review is echoed by just about anyone who owns a good cast iron skillet: “This is by far the most used pan we have in our house.”

Want to go the extra mile for your recipient? Send a stamped envelope addressed to the recipient to all your mutual friends and ask them to mail them their favorite recipe.

MagnoGrip 311-090 Magnetic Wristband

Need an inexpensive gift for the handyman, DIY-er, or crafty person in your life?

Magnetic wristbands like these may seem novel, but they can quickly become a can’t-live-without-it accessories.

They’re handy for easily hanging onto nails, nuts, small scissors, or sewing items – like having someone to stand there and hold the things you need for you.

One reviewer described it as “like having an extra hand.” Not bad for $6.98!

Sometimes we find that the gifts that don’t get a lot of oohs and ahs on Christmas morning are the ones that we end up using the most.

And often you don’t have to spend much on these gifts, so it’s a win for giver and receiver. Feel free to share your own gift ideas in the comments.

Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.


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