No one absolutely needs these everyday luxuries, but they sure would be nice to have!
Like many women, I often say that I don’t want or need anything when it comes to birthday or anniversary gifts. But are there luxury items or convenient services that I would love to have if I could afford to spend money on everything I wanted? Of course!
Next time you hear your girlfriend say she doesn’t want anything, think about the kinds of practical luxuries or expensive items that she wouldn’t normally buy for herself but would love to have. Here are 5 indulgent services I would love to buy if I was willing to spend a little extra on myself.
Membership to One Medical
For $150 bucks a year, you get a membership to One Medical, a high-end exclusive primary healthcare network that allows you to book same-day appointments on your iPhone and never wait for another doctor’s appointment again. You can also make live video calls to nurses to ask any health questions you want 24/7. If your girlfriend hates wasting time going to the doctor and waiting for appointments 2 months out, this is a really nice luxury to have. You can buy a membership in 5 minutes online.
I love massages but never get them because they’re expensive. I would love to be gifted an hour long massage at a decent massage place – it doesn’t need to be a fancy spa! It’s easy to go on Groupon or Yelp, find a reputable massage spot near you, and buy a gift certificate for your girlfriend. She will love the hour of relaxation.
Michelin Star Reservation
I don’t have Michelin star meals very often, but I sure do enjoy them when I have the chance! And lunch reservations are a lot less expensive than dinner reservations if that’s an option. Make a reservation online, and you’ve got a thoughtful gift and an exciting evening planned in under 5 minutes. Check the Michelin website for Michelin star restaurants in your area. If there aren’t any near you, search Yelp for any nice restaurants with tasting menus you could try.
House Cleaning Service
I rarely pay for housecleaning, but if I wasn’t so frugal, I would definitely hire a cleaning service more often. I hate cleaning but I love living in a clean place. If your girlfriend is a neat person who often spends a lot of her own time cleaning, a gift certificate for house cleaning will be useful right away. You can find great deals on Groupon or Angie’s List.
New Experience or Extreme Sports
Has your girlfriend ever expressed interest in skydiving, chocolate-making, bartending, salsa dancing, hiking, or jet skiing? Groupon offers lots of local adventures and experiences in your city. Scroll through the list for fun activities that you can do together. Experience gifts are unique and show that you put more thought into her gift.
Do you often talk about traveling more or going on more adventures but always end up hanging around at home instead? It’s easy to surprise your girlfriend with a weekend trip somewhere nearby. All you have to do to show that you put thought into it is to make some quick hotel reservations online.
Looking for more birthday or anniversary gift ideas for women?
I could name lots of laptop accessories and gadgets that I would love to splurge on. I use my laptop for at least 8 hours a day, and there are always new and interesting devices that would make my life easier.
If I had to pick the best accessories that I would love to receive, this would be my Top 10 list. You can easily find all of these gadgets online with overnight shipping if you’ve waited until the last minute.
Portable Laptop Power Bank
This is a must-have gift for people who are on-the-go laptop users. I’ve been in many situations where I can’t find an outlet and I’m low on battery. Like a portable cell phone charger, I use this gadget all the time to get last minute power to my laptop, especially when traveling. These compact blocks have serious juice and can fully charge 10 cell phones on one charge but they also weigh a little more, usually 2-3 pounds.
Laptop Docking Station
This gift is primarily for people who like to plug in an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse into their laptop, whether they are working at a home or office work station. Whether you are using a Mac or a PC, a dock allows you to plug all of those cables and wires into a single compatible brick. It feels good to clean up the mess of cables on your desk, and you can find these online or at electronics stores at the last minute.
Airpods are probably the best options for wireless earbuds, but they are also the most expensive. There are plenty of less expensive Bluetooth earbuds on Amazon that work just fine as last minute gifts but are a bit less convenient in terms of quick syncing when you want to switch back and forth between speakers and earbuds.
Ergonomic Laptop Stand
Working on laptops is terrible for your posture because you sit for hours with your head tilted down towards the screen. The ideal position for sitting naturally is to place your laptop on an elevated stand so that the screen is at eye level, then use an external keyboard at the level of your elbows. For people who work on laptops frequently, a laptop stand is an inexpensive way to reduce neck and shoulder pain. There are sleek-looking laptop stands and functional-looking stands, so you can pick your last minute gift based on how much your recipient values style.
Adapters to Project to TV Screens and Monitors
This is a great last minute gift for anyone who just bought a new laptop or who likes to project to TVs. The newest laptops today are lightweight but contain few ports, so connecting to TV screens and external monitors usually requires adapters. Older laptops and newer laptops have completely different ports, so you usually need some kind of adapter to keep using your old devices when you’ve purchased a new laptop. One of the most popular adapters is a Mini Display Port to HDMI adapter, which allows you to project most laptops onto a TV screen.
Many laptops today come with touch screens, and a stylus is an easy way to interact with a touch screen, regardless of whether you are working on artistic projects or taking notes. Some stylus pens now come with a clicker that can advance Powerpoint slides when giving presentations or that allow you to open up designated programs with just a click. They’re a relatively inexpensive but useful last minute gift.
Extra Power Supply
I have two chargers for my laptop – one at home and one at work. This setup has been very useful on more than one occasion. I hate carrying around the power supply because it is extra weight and doesn’t fit neatly in a laptop sleeve. Power adapters can be quite expensive depending on what kind of laptop you have, but having more than one is a nice luxury. The best gifts are often accessories that are not must-haves but are nice to have.
Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard
Give the gift of pain relief. After working on a laptop keyboard for hours, you may feel your wrists, forearms, or shoulders getting sore. That’s because most laptop keyboards are small and cause you to hunch your shoulders inwards in order to type. It’s not a natural position for your body to be in – that’s why many laptop users choose to dock their computers and use external keyboards that are more comfortable. You usually don’t see students doing this because they are too young to have sustained computer-related pain, but it’s never too early to pay attention to these things.
If you know someone who has felt the pangs of carpel tunnel pain in their wrists, consider gifting them a vertical mouse. Traditional mice cause you to twist your forearms into an unnatural position, which can cause pain after hours of work. The more natural position is for your hands to be tilted vertically with your thumbs on top, as they are when you are standing at ease with your arms relaxed by your side. Vertical mice allow you to keep your arms in this relaxed position. These are an investment but a very nice gift that can be purchased at any electronics store at the last minute.
Give the gift of hardware protection and style in one. Laptop users love having a few different cases or sleeves to rotate between. Whether the material is sleek leather, gray felt, or waterproof fabric, sleeves are a great gift for both professional or casual use. You can also find these at the last minute at department stores or electronics stores.
I’m a picky shopper when it comes to travel jackets – they have to look stylish, fit me well, keep me warm and dry, and have functional pockets. The weather in Europe can be cold, wet, windy, and snowy depending on how many places you are visiting. These are the top brands for adventurous travelers to consider.
Pros: Patagonia jackets are super trendy and designed for a more stylish look. I like that they are warm, functional, good quality, and come with a good warranty. The jackets are also made with recyclable and sustainable materials in a supposedly responsible manufacturing process. Patagonia takes every opportunity to tout itself as a socially conscious brand.
Cons: The jackets are expensive. Patagonia’s brand perception is a bit yuppie and elitist. You see a lot of corporate types walking around with Patagonia vests over their dress shirts.
Pros: North Face deserves credit for popularizing the use of outdoor jackets as trendy casual wear. There was a time when it seemed like everyone owned a Denali jacket – students, business people, serious hikers, travelers, etc. Their jackets are warm, functional, good quality, so you can’t blame them.
Cons: North Face jackets are high end and expensive, though not as trendy as Patagonia at the moment. The North Face brand perception is more outdoorsy and less elitist though.
Pros: Marmot makes a good quality product. Their jackets are warm, functional, and generally long lasting. They are a good option for the serious athlete.
Cons: Marmot jackets can be even more expensive than Patagonia and North Face. They are a real investment, so you are more likely to find them on truly outdoorsy people rather than casual shoppers following the latest trends.
Pros: REI makes good quality jackets that are functional and versatile. The REI brand perception is for real outdoors adventurers who need gear for serious camping and sports.
Cons: REI is fairly pricey, though generally less expensive than North Face and Patagonia. They also have a more limited jacket selection because REI stores carry all the other major brands as well.
Pros: Arc’teryx is a Canadian brand known for making high quality, functional jackets for law enforcement and military wear, but backpackers and climbers love their well-designed line of outdoors jackets.
Cons: This is the most expensive brand on this list and probably overkill for the casual traveler. If you are planning on scaling the Alps, on the other hand, this is a great option.
Pros: Mountain Hardwear makes good quality jackets that are functional and medium-priced. They are more affordable than Patagonia and North Face while carrying a lot of the same styles.
Cons: The brand tends to be more expensive than Columbia but offers little additional brand cache or style. The jacket designs are functional for outdoors wear but don’t look especially fashionable or fitted if that’s what you’re going for.
Pros: Columbia jackets are the most affordably priced and easy to find. If you want a generic winter jacket that doesn’t cost too much, this brand is available at a lot of stores and a good starting point.
Cons: The quality is not as high as the more expensive brands, and there is clearly less focus on style and fit. This is at risk of becoming the brand of middle-aged dads who wear clothes that are two sizes too large. Find a style that fits you well, and you’ll be okay.
Scrambling to find a luxurious last minute gift for her that’s under 100 bucks? It’s easy! Just rely on her favorite brands.
Every time I go to the Apple store, I see accessories that I would love to have but are a little too expensive for an impulse purchase, like a wireless charging pad, a leather iPad case, a portable wireless keyboard, or new earphones.
Fortunately, these nice-to-have Apple goodies are often under $100 and make delightful gifts to pair with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop! You can order them online for last minute gift delivery or pick something up at your nearest Apple store.
Tiffany & Co. Jewelry
Okay, maybe not under $100 but pretty close! You can actually find necklaces, bracelets, and perfumes priced at $125 on the Tiffany & Co website.
Even if it’s a simple piece of jewelry, there’s no denying the magic of un-packaging a high end brand name gift like Tiffany jewelry. Even if there’s no Tiffany store near you, you can easily order online at the last minute and select quick delivery.
There are many generic gifts under $100 at Lululemon that any Lulu fan would love to have, like a sporty jacket or a tote bag. You can’t go wrong with high quality items that are useful for casual wear, working out, traveling, or just lounging around the house.
You can swing by your nearest Lululemon store at the last minute to pick up a gift, or order online for quick delivery.
Concert or Show Tickets
Does she have a favorite band or artist? Go to Ticketmaster, check out what concerts or Broadway shows are coming to your town in the near future, and surprise her with tickets!
It only takes 15 minutes to make a purchase online at the last minute, and she will love the thoughtful gift. Many event tickets will cost you less than $100.
All chocolate fans know that these are not your average luxury chocolates. During the Obama administration, the White House gifted special boxes of Fran’s Chocolates to foreign visitors. The packaging is high end and beautifully executed, so it’s not surprising that they were selected by the White House.
Fran’s is known to be expensive, but there are plenty of lovely gift packages available online for under $100. Plus Fran’s has very quick delivery options because they don’t want those chocolates melting at the last minute!
I’ve figured out the secret to finding perfect gifts for your sister or sister in law: the power of well-known brands! From my experience, they love receiving a high quality item from Kate Spade or Lululemon whether it’s something they really need or not.
Put yourself in their shoes – I would be delighted to receive a “nice to have” gift from a high end brand that I like! I don’t care if I already have 20 scarves – it would still be exciting to receive a luxurious new Burberry scarf.
Imagine when you go shopping and stop to look at a watch that is way too expensive to buy for yourself since you already have a watch. Wouldn’t you still love to receive it as a gift?
Here are some lovely gift ideas for your sisters from the most popular brands today.
Kate Spade Wristlet Handbag
My sister gifted me a Kate Spade clutch last year, and I loved it even though I didn’t need it. I can’t think of a time when I did not personally enjoy receiving a new designer handbag, purse, clutch, wallet, etc. When your sister unwraps that delicate Kate Spade box and sees the beautiful leather item inside, you’ll be glad to see her smile.
Lululemon Hoodie or Jacket
I will admit that I rarely exercise, yet I still appreciate the comfort and quality of a warm jacket or hoodie from Lululemon. To be honest, I even wear their yoga pants and I don’t do yoga very often. If you have an active sister or sister-in-law who loves to work out and stay fit, she is probably a Lululemon fan. These products are expensive, so people really appreciate them.
Sephora Makeup and Skincare Gift Set
Sephora is a great source for gift sets for women who like to experiment with new make up and skincare brands. My sister in law gifted me her favorite eye liner from Sephora last Christmas, and I loved the personal product recommendation!
I received this as a gift a few years ago in the fall, and I was really excited to wear it that winter even though I already have a huge collection of scarves. Scarves are one of those accessories that women love to receive, but they have to be differentiated to stand out from the rest. Burberry is definitely an investment that your sister will appreciate.
Anthropologie Home & Kitchen Gift Sets
If you’ve ever browsed through an Anthropologie store, you’ve probably come across some beautiful household items that you’d love to have… before you see the price tag and immediately set it back down. That’s why these little splurges can make a nice gift for your sister or sister-in-law.
Kiehl’s Skincare Gift Sets
The signature Kiehl’s box is always a delight to receive. You know you’ll find some creative, fragrant, high quality skincare and hair products inside. I love the shampoos.
Longchamp Travel Purses
I received one of the expandable Longchamp purses as a gift a few years ago, and of course you see them everywhere at the airport. It’s like every other woman has this purse in a different color. They are super lightweight and convenient to carry around casually or when traveling.
Nike Running Tops
Athletic tops are another great gift whether your sister works out or not. These are so comfortable, warm, and stylish for serious running or just running errands on the weekend. Nike pullovers are a high quality investment, so your sister will appreciate the thought.
LUSH Fresh Cosmetics Gift Set
If your sister is a fan of bath bombs, shower scrubs, and moisturizers, LUSH has a lot of great gift set options that are well packaged for a delightful surprise. Everything is “fresh” and handmade, so you get that real texture and fragrance that so many people love.
Don’t forget the tech savvy sisters out there. There are lots of cool Apple and smartphone accessories that are kind of a splurge, but that I would love to have – like these wireless airpods! I hesitate to buy them for myself because they are expensive, but I would love to receive them as a gift!
Like many people, I get restless sitting still on long haul flights for 10 hours, and I have trouble sleeping on planes. If I don’t plan things to do in advance on the flight, then it will feel like an uncomfortable eternity. Fortunately there are a lot of fun activities I’ve found to make the time pass more quickly.
Tablet Loaded with Movies and TV
Before you go, download some movies or TV series that you’ve been wanting to watch for a long time. Addictive TV series work well for long haul flights because unlike at home, you actually have the luxury to sit there and marathon a whole season of a TV series, all 12-24 episodes of thrilling cliffhangers.
It’s worth investing in some comfortable, noise cancelling headphones so you can really lose yourself in the entertainment instead of struggling to hear punchlines over the roaring jet engine in the background.
Organize Your Photos or Files on Laptop
I have files and photos saved everywhere – in Dropbox, on my laptop, on an external hard drive – that I need to sit down and take a few hours to organize. A long haul flight is the perfect time to do this. It’s actually enjoyable to look through old photos, and while it’s time-consuming to organize them, you can take your time doing it when there is nothing else to do for the next 10 hours. You’ll feel both productive and relieved having checked this huge task off your to-do list.
I call them one-way magazines because I take them on my long flights and they don’t come back with me. There’s a pile of magazines at home that I haven’t gotten around to reading but I’m saving for my next long flight. My rule is that nothing in the pile is allowed back in the house. So I end up reading magazines and leaving them wherever I finish them. I leave them on the plane on the way there, in the hotel, in the recycling bins I walk by, and on the plane on the way home. You actually feel pressure to read them on the plane because the sooner you read them, the less you have to carry off the plane. It’s a great feeling when your bag gets lighter and lighter until the final magazine is gone.
The long haul flight to your destination is a great time to do a little reading about your destination and figure out what activities you want to do when you get there. Trip planning takes a lot of time because you are reading reviews of landmarks and attractions, calculating distances and driving times, looking up wait times and ticket prices, making reservations, etc. Pick up a travel book before you go (or pay for the in flight wifi) and get excited about your trip on your way there.
Walk Laps or Stand in Line
On an overseas flight, the plane is usually pretty large. Combat the negative effects of sitting still for too long by getting up and walking around the cabin. Pause where there is a little room and stretch down to touch your toes. Reach your arms over your head a few times. Stand in line for the bathroom just to stand up and get your circulation going for a few minutes. Even if you’ve been sucked into a marathon of that new Netflix drama that just won an Emmy, take a break once in a while and take a lap around.
Answer a Prompted Journal
Are you one of those people who wish you journaled but never get around to it? There’s no better time to catch up than on a boring long haul flight. Make it easy for yourself by using a journal that prompts you with questions that you just have to think about and answer. Staring at a blank page is too difficult.
Organize or Back Up Photos and Videos on Your Phone
People often complain about running out of memory on their phones. I have the same problem, so I spent about 3 hours on my last long haul flight backing up photos onto my computer and sorting them into folders so I could delete them from my phone and clear out the memory. It’s a task that I never get around to doing but that I know is inevitable. It feels great to get it done on the plane so you don’t have to spend any more time doing it when you get home.
Design a Custom Photo Book
As anyone who has created a custom photo book on Shutterfly or Mixbook or any other website knows, it takes hours to organize the photos in the order and layout that you want. If you’ve been meaning to take some time to create an album of family photos or a photo book book of you last vacation, you finally have a few free hours to sit down and do it.
I’ve found that long haul flights are a good time to read books on optimizing your goals and re-evaluating the priorities in your life. If you are frustrated in some aspect of your life, whether it’s a career that’s stalling or a lack of balance in your home life, it’s a good idea to pause and reflect on how to rebalance your life for the better. Some books I recommend: Decisive (Chip & Dan Heath), Essentialism (Greg McKeown), Thinking Fast & Slow (Daniel Kahneman), and 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership (Dethmer and Chapman).
After reading these, you’ll want to take more time and jot down lists of what’s going well and what’s not going well in your life, as well as action steps to resolve things.
Listen to Audiobooks or Podcasts
The one caveat I have with this one is that unless it is a very entertaining audiobook or podcast, you will fall asleep. If your goal is to fall asleep on that long haul flight, great! If you want to be able to spend a few hours or so engaged in a story, wearing comfortable, noise-cancelling headphones make a big difference here.
Make an iMovie
The iMovie app is a standard app on the iPhone that makes it incredibly easy to make movies on your phone with video clips you’ve taken. One of my favorite ways to make time fly on my flight home from vacation is to make a movie of my trip. During the trip, I take a lot of 6-10 second video clips. On the plane, I drop all of them into iMovie, rearrange the sequence of clips, trim or fast forward certain clips, and add a soundtrack to the background. It’s fun making movies, and it actually takes a surprising amount of time once you get started editing (similar to editing photo books).
Stitch Up the Hole in Your Sweater
I have 3 sweaters with minor holes in them that I’ve been meaning to stitch up, but I’ve been too lazy to sit down, get out the needle and thread, and just take care of it.
So on my last long haul flight, I brought two of the sweaters and finally did the sewing I’ve been putting off for months. If I had had more time, I would have altered two pairs of pants that I have been meaning to hem up.
Locally made, artisan foods make a wonderful gourmet corporate or personal gift that people are always delighted to receive. Think fresh cheeses from a California dairy, award winning Seattle chocolates, authentic Texas BBQ, fresh cookies from a Brooklyn bakery, and small-batch toffee from Colorado — what home or office wouldn’t love to sample some of these delicious treats?
Fortunately these delicious gourmet food brands also make beautifully designed gift packages, so you know that your gift will arrive with a lovely and professional presentation.
Cowgirl Creamery Cheese
Cowgirl Creamery, based in Point Reyes, CA, operates a historic dairy in the heart of the rolling green hills of central California, where you see more cows than people.
You may have seen their nationally recognized cheeses in gourmet grocery stores, but they also offer beautiful gift sets of cheeses on their website that come in rustic wooden crates. One gift box might includes 3 different artisan cheeses (aged cow, sheep, and goat’s milk cheese) made in their local dairy, as well as gourmet salami and organic flatbread crackers to pair with it.
I love to gift these boxes as business or personal gifts because people love them and immediately open them to start tasting the food. Few people live close to a real dairy, so it’s a real treat for these fresh goodies from the farm to be delivered to your doorstep.
There are lots of gourmet chocolate makers these days, but Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle simply does an outstanding job with gift packaging and presentation. Sure, they are an award-winning chocolate maker and certified organic, but the gift sets and baskets also look gorgeous. Giving gifts is as much about presentation as anything, and Fran’s elevates a few bars of artisan chocolates into a high-end experience.
Did I mention they’re delicious? I love getting a call from a friend has just received a gift box and is raving about the unique flavors, like chocolate covered ginger, or the famous salted caramels.
The Good Batch
This Brooklyn based bakery makes fresh and delicious cookies that can be ordered online and delivered anywhere. Their indulgent flavors and ingredients are delicious and will be immediately consumed by whoever is lucky enough to receive this gift box.
The Good Batch sampler gift sets include baked goods like oat chocolate chunk cookies, double fudge cookies, brown butter salty cookies, ginger molasses cookies, and brownies. Send these a corporate client, and they will disappear from the break room in minutes. Send them to a family, and the kids will love them.
I still remember the first time I had Enstrom’s toffee. I had to pause because it was the best toffee I had ever tasted. Since then, I have gifted the toffee several times to friends and family during the holidays and for other special occasions.
Enstrom is a family run business based in Grand Junction, Colorado, and they make small batches of artisan toffee that happen to taste amazing.
Enstrom’s gift tins are very affordable and would be appropriate for business or personal gifts. If you’re looking for a business gift, they can customize the gift boxes with messaging on the sleeves or to include a custom card.
The Salt Lick BBQ (Austin, Texas)
Salt Lick is one of Austin’s most popular barbecue spots, and it is truly a gift that you can order their delicious brisket, sausage, ribs, pulled pork, and dry rubs online to be mailed anywhere in the US. Their famous meats, sauces, and dry rubs are delicious and perfect for your next party or as a gift for your favorite people.
You select whatever delicious combination of meats you want on their website, and your barbecue loving friends and family will thank you for it.
We are not affiliated with any of these brands. We are just fans.
It was an hour before my friend’s housewarming party, and I didn’t have a gift ready. But with the clock ticking down, I decided I couldn’t show up empty-handed. When I stopped by the grocery store on my way to the party at the last minute, I was delightfully surprised by the practical gift ideas I found there. If you’ve found yourself in the same situation, here are some unique ideas for you.
Most grocery stores sell beautiful potted plants (think orchids or azaleas) in the flower department that are longer lasting gifts than a bouquet of flowers that will wither in a week. Orchids make lovely gifts not only for housewarming parties but also for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day, and you can always pick one up at the last minute.
Cupcakes, Cakes, or Pies
Desserts are a great gift for many occasions, and the grocery store is a convenient last minute source of cakes and pies. If you’re attending a housewarming event and aren’t sure what to bring, cupcakes are an easy winner with large groups. Gourmet grocery stores also carry individual dessert portions of tarts, napoleons, creme brulee, etc. Buy a box of 10 beautiful panna cotta cups and you’ve got a practical and delicious gift for the housewarming party.
Wine + Gourmet Chocolate
Most grocery stores carry a selection of artisan chocolates that are more expensive and perfect for special occasions like celebrating a new home. Pair a box of gourmet chocolates with a bottle of wine in a gift bag, and you’ve got a great gift for the housewarming that you can pick up at the last minute.
Gift Basket with Olive Oil, Balsalmic Vinegar, Honey, Pasta, Cookies
You can always assemble a practical gift basket of non-perishable staples like gourmet olive oils, pasta and pasta sauces, olives, balsamic vinegar, honey, cookies, crackers, and wine. It’s a very useful housewarming gift – anyone who cooks (some people) or anyone who snacks (all people) will at least get some use out of it.
A handwritten card is always appreciated and is a lovely gesture when paired with any of the items on this list. Even if you feel that an orchid or gourmet chocolates or cupcakes aren’t unique enough for a housewarming, when you add a nice handwritten note to any of them, you’ve immediately made your gift more thoughtful with only last minute planning.
Visit the cheese section of your grocery store and you’ll find a huge variety of high-end cheeses that you could combine to make a delicious cheese board to bring to the housewarming. Pair the cheese with gourmet water crackers and Italian salami, and you’ve assembled a lovely and delicious spread at the last minute.
You may not have noticed the gift card display at your local grocery store before, but most chain stores carry a huge variety of gift cards. You can find practical gifts here that almost anyone would appreciate and use, including gift cards for restaurants, coffee shops, electronics stores, sporting good stores, grocery stores, Home Depot, movie theaters, and the all powerful Amazon.com. Any new homeowner could make use of a gift like this, and it’s easy to pick up at the last minute.
Coffee and Tea
The variety of gourmet coffee and tea carried in your average grocery store these days is growing. If there’s a gourmet or specialty grocery store near you, you can probably even find high quality coffee cups and mugs or tea sets as a nice housewarming gift. You can even run over to your local Starbucks or Peets store at the last minute and find a practical gift for a coffee lover in their merchandise section.
You’re supposed to throw out your spices once a year because they lose their taste over time, but how many of us actually do this? I still have cayenne pepper in my pantry from 7 years ago because I rarely use it. But spices are supposed to be fresh – food is not supposed to last forever just because it’s been dried. So do your friend a favor and refresh her spice collection with new gourmet spices as a housewarming gift. Put the spices in a nice basket, and give her an practical excuse to throw out the old stuff and turn a new leaf in her new home.
Any time there is a holiday coming up, whether it’s Easter or July 4th or Valentines Day or Christmas, the grocery store will usually set up a special aisle with seasonal items and potential gifts for a month before the event. You can find some practical gift ideas in these aisles that are usually not carried by grocery stores but can be appropriate housewarming gifts.
When shopping for toddler gifts, I look for fun toys that kids will absolutely love and play with for hours. At the same time, these are bright little minds that are full of energy, and I want gifts that will help them with basic learning and coordination. Here are the best gifts that my granddaughter and grandson received around the 2 year age mark.
Melissa & Doug Puzzles
Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles are a great learning and coordination tool that toddlers also seem to really enjoy. These are one of the few toys at this age where you see smart kids start to concentrate and focus on a task. With other toys, even the smartest toddlers might quickly lose interest and move on to new toys within a few seconds, but they tend to stick with puzzles until they complete them.
Fly Bike Foldable Glide Tricycle
The best feature of this little Fly Bike Foldable Toddler Tricycle is that it’s foldable and easily transportable. The sweet spot for this foot-powered gliding three wheeler seems to be age 1-2. Beyond that, your toddler may be too tall. It does take some strength and coordination to figure out how to push it forward smoothly, but once they get it, they will take off and be active for a long time.
Eggsnow Play Tent
Toddlers are always actively building forts and climbing into small spaces where they feel safe and secure. The Eggsnow Kids Play Tent is beautifully decorated, well-sized for the corner of the room, and easily collapsible into a lightweight, flat mass when you want to store it away. I thought I’d need to store mine in the closet, but it is now a permanent fixture in the family room.
Smart young toddlers around age 1.5 will love Mega Bloks even if they are not coordinated enough to construct anything yet. They will at least be able to stick a few pieces together, and it’s fun for them to assemble more and more pieces (and higher and higher towers) as their coordination improves beyond age 2. Parents will also love that this is a relatively quiet toy to keep kids occupied for a good while.
Crocodile Creek Playground Ball
The Crocodile Creek Playground Ball is not as large as a kid’s kickball but is made of that same rubbery, bouncy texture. Toddlers love the texture of the ball and that it’s small enough for a 1 or 2 year old to hold and throw. They also come in attractive designs and colors featuring the solar system, dinosaurs, wild animals, and underwater animals. These are too small for older kids wanting to play kickball but perfect for young toddlers.
Little Tikes Toddler Basketball Hoop
You’d be surprised how much the young ones who have just learned to walk love to put the ball through the Little Tikes Toddler Basketball hoop. It’s a great exercise in coordination and a welcome distraction from throwing their toys behind the sofa. Probably most suited for age 2-3, both active boys and girls will love the goal-oriented nature of this starter sized basketball hoop.
Indoor Ball Pit
This convenient Eggsnow ball pit is durable, super lightweight, easily folds flat for storage, and makes active toddlers squeal with delight. Remember to also buy a bag of balls online (don’t worry – they’re inexpensive), and prepare to deal with stray balls all over the room, and maybe even the house. But the kiddos will love it from as early as age 1.
Little Tikes Inflatable Bounce House
This is definitely more of an expensive investment, but the Little Tikes Bouncer will allow the active kids to burn off a lot of energy outside or even inside if you have the space in your home. High energy toddlers love it and will be more than ready for that afternoon nap after hours of fun bouncing and sliding.
Power Wheels Lil Quad
When your smart 2-year old is ready to start driving, the Power Wheels Lil Quad is a great option. Ok maybe not full blown driving, but they will absolutely love this first “car.” Power Wheels contain a surprising amount of power and battery life, and even your older kids will want to drive them around. Your little ones will love the freedom of cruising around like the big kids do.
Play Doh has stood the test of time – toddlers today still love it as much as toddlers 30 years ago did. Play Doh is a great creative and sensory toy that will occupy your smart 2-3 year old toddler for hours and is something they will come back to every day. The sets are inexpensive and you can easily order new ones when your old ones inevitably dry up because your toddler has left it sitting out for too long. If you are afraid of the mess, you can buy a Play Doh mat that will keep your floors mostly Play-Doh free.
The Step2 Sand Table is a nice alternative to a full blown sand box if you are space constrained. Active toddlers love the sensory nature of the toy and can surprisingly stay entertained for a long time with the help of just a few toys in the sand box. Best to dust them off outdoors unless you want sand tracked into the house.
As a foodie and cooking enthusiast, I already have a lot of the tools and gadgets that I want in the kitchen, but there are always new things that would be exciting to have. This is my personal list of kitchen gift ideas for friends or family who also love to cook and eat. When I’m in a hurry, I can order anything here to be delivered at the last minute with expedited shipping.
Premium Steaks or Meats
I love to gift premium steaks or meats from a high-end gourmet meat producer like Snake River Farms or Lobel’s of New York. These farms offer fresh prime cuts of meat that I am always delighted to receive myself. Snake River Farms, for example, offers beautiful cuts of Kurobuta pork and Wagyu beef or pre-assembled gift packages for grilling or barbecue. You could also go with the popular and more affordable Omaha Steaks, which offers very nice gift packages for prices under $50 that you can order at the last minute.
Le Creuset Cookware
You’ve undoubtedly seen the signature cast iron Le Creuset dutch oven in someone else’s home if you don’t already own one yourself. Le Creuset makes attractive, essential cookwear for every serious home cook, which you can order at the last minute online. The cast iron pots are versatile enough to go from the fridge to the stove top to the oven, and can be used for roasting meats, baking bread, or slow-simmering stews. The pots look so beautiful and classy that you can serve food right out of them on the dining table. I already have a few sizes and colors, but wouldn’t mind receiving more as a gift!
500 Food Journeys of a Lifetime
The beautifully illustrated Food Journeys of a Lifetime book from National Geographic will inspire you to plan your next foodie vacation right away, and you can order it online at the last minute for next day delivery. It’s a great coffee table book for foodies – anyone who sits down will pick it up and start leafing through the beautifully photographed pages right away. While it’s not a kitchen gift per say, I’ve found that foodies and non-foodies alike can’t put it down.
Every home cook knows that you can’t trust your oven temperature reading. You set it at 400 degrees and yet the food isn’t cooking as quickly as the recipe says it will. More often than not, it turns out that your oven is only 350 degrees. This huge variable in the success of your cooking can be easily fixed with the gift of an inexpensive oven thermometer, which will tell you the real temperature inside your oven. Taylor oven thermometers, which are very affordable and can be ordered at the last minute, can also tell you the real temperature inside your refrigerator or freezer.
Leave in Thermometer
This ThermoPro Thermometer is another essential kitchen gift for cooking meats on the grill, in the smoker, in the oven, or on the stove. Live, real-time thermometers come with a metal probe that you stick inside the densest portion of meat. The probe is attached to a long, heat resistant wire that feeds into the visual output unit. When a recipe says to bake something for 20 minutes, that is really just an average cooking time, but it depends a lot on the oven and the size of the piece of meat. You can easily undercook or overcook meat at the last minute if you don’t know the temperature inside the meat. This probe makes it super easy by beeping when the meat has reached the temperature you want, so you pull it out of the oven or off of the grill at the exact time that meat is perfectly done.
Indoor Herb Garden
I love having fresh herbs at my fingertips when I’m throwing together a last minute dinner on a Tuesday night in the middle of January. AeroGarden indoor herb gardens are high-tech and low-maintenance, and you can actually order them online at the last minute for next day shipping. You can easily grow fresh herbs, vegetables, and salad greens in your home under energy-efficient LED lights with a hydroponic water system. I love having cherry tomatoes and strawberries readily available, and it’s fun for everyone in the house to enjoy this kitchen gift and watch the plants grow.
1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die
1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die is another wonderful last minute gift that foodies will love to read through, particularly those who love trying new and exotic foods and learning the history behind foods from other cultures. Authored by long-time food writer Mimi Sheraton, it’s more of an encyclopedic book to reference before your next vacation so you know what local foods to look out for wherever in the world you are visiting. Her knowledge of international foods is extraordinary. Some of the dishes mentioned in the book also come with recipes and names of specific restaurants they recommend.
Outdoor Pizza Oven
It’s actually affordable these days to have a small pizza oven in your backyard, which will make you a really popular host, especially among kids. It’s really simple to slide a pizza in and pull out a steaming hot pie in only a few minutes. Fire up the PizzaCraft Outdoor Pizza Oven next to your grill at your next party and let your guests design their own pizzas. It’s a lot of fun even for people who don’t normally cook, and you can order it online at the last minute for a fantastic surprise gift.
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling is a bestselling book that was gifted to me last year and has helped me serve perfectly cooked meats at so many dinners. This past Christmas, I had a rack of lamb thrown at me at the last minute to prepare for dinner that night. I flipped to the rack of lamb recipe in here, followed the exact temperature directions but in the oven instead of on the grill, and it came out perfect. Thank you, Meathead. Thinking about grilling and cooking meats as a science has helped me improve tremendously as a cook. Meathead convinced me that a leave in thermometer is critical, and he was absolutely right.
High-end Knife Block Set
Many aspiring home cooks will splurge on one or two really nice knives that they use all the time, but may not splurge on a whole set. Or, like me, they invested in a starter knife set when they first started cooking seriously and have only upgraded one or two knives since then. I would love to receive a new high end set of knives from JA Henckels or a Japanese manufacturer as a gift. And these sets are so easy to order online at the last minute.
With everyone becoming more health-conscious these days, I’ve noticed more and more people making their own yogurt at home. A really easy and affordable way to make delicious, homemade yogurt is with a simple Euro Cuisine digital yogurt machine. It’s quick to put together and beeps when it’s ready. Most importantly to me, I can customize the flavors and sweetness to my liking. This is a great last minute gift for healthy foodies and cooking enthusiasts.
French Press Coffee Maker
This gorgeous Cafe Du Chateau French Press maker has the best filtration system I’ve ever used. I can’t stand coffee grounds in my coffee, but I love the weekend morning ritual and the flavor of the French Press. This makes a delicious, smooth cup of coffee every time. Any coffee lover would appreciate this gift, which can be ordered online at the last minute.
Cocktail Shaker Set
This Professional Home Bar Set from Rare Fool is a great last minute gift for people who love to host parties or just enjoy making delicious cocktails at home. These sets, available online, are nicely packaged as gifts and contain all the important tools for making any drink you want, including a shaker, strainer, double jigger (hourglass-shaped measuring device), and muddler.
Gift Card to Nice Restaurant
I love a good excuse to go to a nice restaurant. If you need a last minute gift for a foodie friend or a family member who loves to cook, you can easily go to Amazon or restaurant websites and order a gift card at the last minute. Print it out, and you’ll have your gift ready in less than 10 minutes.