Smart gifts that grateful loved ones and friends will love

Practical Presents that Are Sure to Please

by Shaunna Privratsky

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It is that special time of year again. Time to start budgeting, making lists and checking them twice. Perhaps you are not really in a giving mood. Let us say that you are tired of giving expensive presents that either get taken back to the store or sit around gathering dust. You want to be generous, but also practical. Here are some super smart practical presents that are sure to be used by your grateful loved ones and friends.

  • College Care packages - Cure homesickness with a stationary gift. Include pre-stamped envelopes, labels and attractive notes. Don't forget e-mail addresses and prepaid phone cards!
  • New Neighbors - Welcome the new family with some home-cooked meals. They are probably sick of eating out and will appreciate the break from cooking.
  • New home or apartment - Pack a cleaning bucket with cleaners and supplies. Offer to join a cleaning party. Bring some lively music and your elbow grease.
  • The travel kit - Pack audio books or magazines, a soft throw and an unbreakable picture frame, so it feels like a home away from home. Throw in a gas card for even more practicality.
  • New mom - Offer maid service for the first month or a week of pre-cooked meals. She will enjoy your company as much as the service.
  • The handyman special - Pack a toolbox with basic tools and offer your know-how with future projects.
  • Distant relatives - Make them feel like part of the family again with home movies of birthday parties, graduations or reunions. Or send lots of pictures in frames or mini photo albums for instant updates. A newsy letter will be just as welcome.
  • Home from the hospital - Do you know a friend or loved one that just had surgery or recovered from a long illness? Offer pre-arranged visits to ease them back into a routine. Ideas are weekly grocery trips, mowing the lawn, cleaning, picking up and returning library books or movie rentals, or a ride to a follow-up doctor visit.
  • Car care kit - Get a bucket and fill with cleaners, soft rags, leather conditioners, glass cleaners and maybe a new trash container. Throw in some coupons for a free car wash.
  • Bathing buddy - Fill a handy shower caddy with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap and some luxurious lotions. Add a colorful sponge or body brush.
  • Office assistant - Pick up some attractive desk organizers and fill with home office supplies. These can be picked up at clearance prices when the stores are offering back-to-school sales.

Another idea is a gift that is job related. For instance, a writer would love a postage scale, a journal or writing supplies. A lawyer would appreciate a new briefcase. An elementary teacher would be grateful for a year's subscription to Family Fun or Nickelodeon Magazine. A stay-at-home Mom would love a paid gym membership or an invitation to join a book club or class.

Don't forget the ultimate in usefulness: gift cards. Virtually every store offers them in any amount that you choose. The recipient can pick out exactly what they need or desire and you can be sure that it is the perfect fit. Young or "experienced," anyone will appreciate gift cards.

During this holiday season, concentrate on filling your gift list with practical presents. Instead of the traditional reindeer sweater that will join the ranks of the unworn garments cluttering up closets across America, think of the needs of the recipient. Forget expensive knick-knacks and unused exotic appliances. Try giving practical presents that is sure to please.

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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