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An Ode To Practical Gifts For The Holidays

Because a candle is great, but a toothbrush is better.

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My Sonicare DiamondClean Toothbrush ($180) is one of my most cherished gifts to date.

Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

I understand how $180 might seem like an absurd amount to spend on a toothbrush. It's the very reason why I held off dropping that much cash on one for myself. Somehow I can justify spending that kind of money on, say, a coat that will keep me warm through the bitter New York winter for several months out of the year, or a small and by all costs unnecessary tattoo. But a tool designed for optimal dental hygiene that I'd likely use every day for at least the next several years? Meh.

So I decided to put it on my Amazon wish list, thinking, Wow, I sure would be happy if someone decided to by this *for* me!, and a few months later, there it was on my birthday, thanks to my very generous and thoughtful parents. (And in case you're wondering, it makes my teeth feel cleaner than I ever realized they could possibly feel, comes with a handy rechargeable travel case and rechargeable cup (!), has five cleaning settings, and buzzes every 30 seconds to remind you to move to a new quadrant of your mouth.)

Get it from Amazon for $180.43+ (available in six colors).

Side note: You can save *tons* of $$ on toothbrush heads — you should replace them every three months or so — by buying non-Philips brand heads. I use these DiamondWhite ones; they're $12.33 for five, as opposed to $19.99 for just two Philips replacement heads. Throw those on your wish list too, why don't ya.

Since then, it has come to my attention that a handful of the everyday household items in my apartment have been gifted to me.

Most of them from my mom, because moms, but also because I've specifically *asked* for many of these things. Maybe this is what happens when you're in your thirties, or maybe I'm just one gifted body lotion set away from combustion and trying to save myself from an untimely death (seriously, I have enough body lotion to last until the apocalypse), but I'm a real sucker for practical gifts.

Whenever a loved one asks, "So what do you want for [the holidays/your birthday/other special occasion]," instead of responding with yet another shrug and a "I don't want anything/Just your presence" to the person who most definitely intends to gift you something in addition to their presence, I'd advise having an everyday item on deck that you truly, actually will use regularly — so you'll both be satisfied with the exchange once said gift is a-gifted.

Here's why practical gifts rule:

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1) They reduce waste.

2) Every time you use the gifted item (which, presumably, will be frequently), you'll think about your loved one!

3) People *want* to give gifts the recipient will love (or at least find useful). This makes that end goal not only very much attainable, but also quite easy for the gifter. And when it comes to the people you are especially close with — like your parents, children, or partner — who are often planning to throw down a significant amount of cash on holiday gifts anyway, why not make it worth it and less stressful?

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"But what about the joy that comes from the element of surprise!" you may be shouting, unamused by an old curmudgeon advising you to turn the holiday season into a home-appliance exchange.

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Look, no one's telling you to send a product link in an email to your S.O. titled "BUY ME THIS." (You can do that too, of course, as I, an enthusiast of efficiency and a person with very specific tastes, do!) But a soft nudge, a general idea ("Hey, I could really use a cool [insert item of your choice here]"), or even an Amazon wish list dedicated to practical gifts will also do the job without stripping the holidays entirely of the giddy excitement that comes from wondering what, exactly, is hiding in a box below the tree.

Just to be clear: practical ≠ expensive. This soft AF bedding set, which has been reviewed by more than 30,000 Amazon customers, is under $30 and also a gift I asked for and received for the holidays (twice!).

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You can never have too many sets of nice sheets. Especially ones with a cult-like following on Amazon! I've had these sheets for nearly three years now and they still feel as good as new.

Available in 33 colors and patterns (though let's be real — you can never go wrong with a set of white sheets) and in sizes twin through California king, you can get this bedding set from Amazon for $19.70+.

These towels? Yet another cherished holiday gift.

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Honestly, Target's Fieldcrest towels are the only towels I ever want in my bathroom from here on out. They are ridiculously soft, thick, and luxurious feeling — I look forward to wrapping myself in the biggest one after I shower as much as I look forward to the shower itself — as well as ridiculously inexpensive.

Get a set from Target, available in 13 colors: the bath sheet (the biggest, and best towel) for $13.99, bath towel for $9.09, hand towel for $6.99, and washcloth for $6.29.

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...this tea kettle (I really like cats, okay?)...

Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Hot tip: You can't go wrong gifting someone who's just moved into a new place (or their first real place) functional kitchen items!

This specific tea kettle seems to only be available on eBay, but you can find a similar model on Amazon for $34.97 — or a non-cat-shaped tea kettle for $14.99+.

...and this air purifier.

amazon.com, Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Another gift from mom, this Honeywell True HEPA Air Filter helps remove mold, dust, dander, and other icky crud circulating in the air. When it's on, it also generates a soothing hum that helps me fall asleep more easily. Clean air and better sleep = the gift that keeps on giving.

Get it from Amazon or Jet for $156.99.

How about a monthly vitamin subscription for the person you love and want to see stay healthy forever and ever?

Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Talk about a truly ~happy and healthy~ new year: Care/of is service that makes taking daily vitamins easy, customizable, worry-free — and, dare I say it, kinda fun. The recipient will first have to answer several questions about their lifestyle and goals, but they offer gift cards as well if you don't wanna ruin the surprise. Also...who's to say you can't gift yourself a practical gift this year?

Get Care/of products from Takecareof.com starting at $5/month (and free shipping over $20).

TBH, I would not even be mad if someone wanted to gift me bulk supplies of everyday household goods like paper towels and cleaning supplies!

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Okay, obviously assess your relationship with the giftee before doing something like this. Llike, maybe you don't want to gift the new person you've been dating for few months a jumbo pack of toilet paper — but a care-package-style gift from, say, an aunt to a young-adult niece might not be that weird.

BJ's membership, anyone? Get a one-year membership from Groupon for $25 (that's 50% off the regular price).

Jet is also a great source for buying things in bulk, btw, because for most products on the site, the more you buy, the cheaper the cost per item.

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And, of course, the universal crowd-pleaser: socks.

Happy Socks

"What do we want?!"

"Socks!"

"When do we want 'em?!"

"Literally always!" —Everyone on the planet

I'm a huge fan of Happy Socks, which come in tons of quirky and colorful patterns, as well as in adorable gift sets like the Beatles one pictured.

Get 'em from Happy Socks for $7.50+ per pair.