Practical Gift Ideas For Anytime

This is not your typical gift-giving guide. Those tend to be centered around specific holidays, whereas I wanted a date agnostic one. I plan to revise this one continually. Also, keep in mind that these prices fluctuate during the year, so they may not be in the category I specified. Typically, prices go down unless a new model is introduced.

My Selection Criteria

For these ideas, I was looking for items that met these criteria:

  • I’ve tried the product. This isn’t to say I’m an expert on gift-giving. Instead, I just thought it important to have bought and used the item. Sometimes this might be an older model.
  • The gift has to enhance your life in some way. It either makes you more productive, organized, healthier, or removes some sort of pain point.
  • It shouldn’t have a big learning curve.
  • It can be easily purchased online. However, if an item is carried by a local retailer in your neighbrhood, I’d go there first. Local businesses need our support.

I also wanted to mix things up a bit by breaking the recommendations into categories. I also explain what type of person might appreciate the gift.

And don’t forget that if you can’t find the perfect gift for someone or it won’t arrive in time, you can always make gift certificates with Word and Excel.

Where to Get these Gifts

You’ll notice below that the link to the items goes to the Amazon website, but sometimes you can find these products elsewhere. There were a couple of reasons why I chose Amazon. Because I’m an “affiliate,” I can get access to their API. This allows me to pull in prices, review counts, and images dynamically. This makes the format standard across products. It should also dynamically update,  so I don’t have to check prices.

If you’re not familiar with the term “affiliate,” it means that I may make a small commission if you purchase from a link on this page. This doesn’t impact your price. It helps me offset the cost of running the site.

The readers here are from different countries. For most, there is an Amazon site for their location.

In some areas, Amazon has something called “lockers.” These are storage lockers in various locations where you can have your package delivered. For example, your local supermarket. While this might be great for gift delivery, it can pose a problem. On several occasions, Amazon hasn’t been able to deliver to the lockers because they were full. People don’t always pick up their packages in a timely fashion. The problem is that you don’t know when the package will get back into a locker. I had to cancel my orders and place new ones at my home address. Pain in the butt. Just something to consider if time is an issue.

Subscriptions & Online Options

Anyone who has been shopping lately has noticed that lots of items are unavailable or have long shipping delays. So, I decided to add some gifts you can buy that won’t have these issues.


Best for: Book and podcast lovers

Gift Description

Audible is a service that offers narrated books and original content ranging from bestsellers to the Wall St. Journal. You can access the content via an app or through the web. Gift subscriptions are available in various durations even as short as a month.

Why I like it

I’ve been a fan of Audible long before Amazon bought them. It was at a time when they had a dedicated audio player. Yes, that was before iPods and MP3 players too. Since then, the catalog has grown immensely and includes original material. And if you don’t like your book selection, the company has a generous return policy.

Inspiration & Creativity

Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck

Best for: Creative thinkers, tinkerers, & lifelong learners

Gift Description

Like the Creative Whack Pack, this card deck also spawns ideas. The idea is to take an existing idea and change it to make a new one. Each of the 56 cards has a specific strategy based on one of nine themes.

Why I like It

It’s too easy to get stuck in our thinking and not see other possibilities and perspectives. This may happen as we get older and lose our sense of creativity that we had as kids. I love to stick this deck into a travel bag and get away for “idea” days. Or, if I’m in a rut, I’ll pull random cards out and see what pops to mind. These cards are also a good tool for engaging others.

The author of this deck, Michael Michaolko, has written several books on creativity. My favorite is called Thinkertoys. The book and card deck work well together.

Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card DeckPin
Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck
Michalko, Michael (Author); English (Publication Language); 64 Pages - 06/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Ten Speed Press (Publisher)

Rocketbook Beacons – Reusable Whiteboard Stickers

Best for: Brainstormers, Teachers, Meeting Leaders

Gift Description

These are a small set of 4 reusable plastic stickers that you apply to the corners of a whiteboard. Using your smartphone and the Rocketbook app, you convert the whiteboard content to searchable PDFs. You can direct where you want the content to go, such as Google Drive, DropBox, Slack, Email, and so on.

Why I like It

Whiteboards are a great tool for capturing ideas. But what if you need to share those ideas with a colleague or wish to save them? It’s not like you can put a “Do Not Erase” sign and hope it’s honored. And simple photos rarely work. Instead, you can use this app and be assured that your notes and images are retained. There is also a feature where you can “cast” your notes. It’s not a streaming service, but you do get a shareable URL that periodically updates.

Rocketbook Beacons - Digitize Your Whiteboard - Reusable Stickers To Upload Your Whiteboard Notes To The Cloud with Carrying Case (1 Pack), BEA-A4-KPin
Rocketbook Beacons - Digitize Your Whiteboard - Reusable Stickers To Upload Your Whiteboard Notes To The Cloud with Carrying Case (1 Pack), BEA-A4-K
Convert your standard whiteboard into a smart board with four reusable beacons; Micro suction technology makes the beacons portable, Washable, and endlessly reusable

I should also mention that I don’t have a typical whiteboard. Instead of being hard, it’s a 6′ x4′ vinyl sheet that clings to my wall. These are less expensive than the ones you secure to a wall. However, they take patience to apply, so you get the air bubbles out without tearing. This is especially true of large ones like mine.

Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil

Best for: People who have iPads

Gift Description

Basically, this is an electronic or digital pencil you can easily pair with your iPad. And it’s less expensive than the Apple Pencil.

Why I like It

Sorry, but doing mindmaps, process flows, or drawings with your fingers is not fun. And then you end up with smudges on the screen. The pencil adds another layer of precision especially if you use Paperlike screen protectors.

Just remember that will all iPad accessories, you need to make sure you get the correct ones for your device.

Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil for iPad Pro 12.9-Inch (3rd Gen), iPad Pro 11-Inch, iPad (6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Gen), iPad Air (3rd and 4th Gen), iPad Mini 5, iOS 12.2 and Above - OrangePin
Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil for iPad Pro 12.9-Inch (3rd Gen), iPad Pro 11-Inch, iPad (6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Gen), iPad Air (3rd and 4th Gen), iPad Mini 5, iOS 12.2 and Above - Orange
Write and draw naturally without fear of missing a single line or detail.; Draw and write comfortably for extended periods of time.

Paperlike Screen Protectors – iPad

Best for: iPad owners who don’t like the glass feel & digital pencil users

Gift Description

These are high-end screen protectors for your iPad that have a textured background with a paper-like feel.

Why I like it

Yes, I get it. Screen protectors don’t sound like a wonderful gift. I bought these after I bought my Logitech Crayon and the difference is amazing. The protectors take away that glass feel, that I don’t like. It makes using the digital pencil and swiping more enjoyable. These will make you use your iPad more.

Just remember that will all iPad accessories, you need to make sure you get the correct ones for your device.


Tile Sticker or Tile Mate

Best for: People who lose things, people with valuables

Gift Description

Tiles are small tracking devices that allow you to locate items. The items can be anything from keys to bikes. You attach the item to your device and link it via an app for your smartphone. It works with either iPhones or Android phones, but you’ll want to check for compatibility. Most newer phones should work fine. And these devices can also be used to find your phone. What’s appealing is that even if the lost item isn’t near you, the tracker leverages the other Tile users’ signal to find your device.

Why I like It

I’ve been a Tile user for a long time and did a product review on the first & second generations. During this time, Tile has continually improved the hardware and software. This year I bought a combo pack that includes a slim Tile I put in my wallet.

Over the years, they’ve introduced models with replaceable batteries and louder tones. They’ve also managed to maintain a huge user base that can help you locate your lost article. Even though I have a routine where I hang up my keys, I’ve still misplaced them. On occasion, I’ve put my keys in a fleece vest only to open the door and realize I should add another layer. Upon coming home, I realize my keys aren’t in the outer pocket and the Tile clues me in that they are one layer underneath in the vest.

I also remember being at the ATM, and someone left their keys on the top ledge. Because I’m a Tile user, my app reported to the owner the keys had been seen. The nice part is this is transparent as I don’t know the owner and vice versa.

There are several Tiles, but I like the two below. My preference is the Tile Mate as it’s smaller and has a replaceable battery. I’ve not tested the company’s Slim product or new tags, so I can’t comment.

Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger

Best For: People who need portable power.

Gift Description

This isn’t your typical battery pack. It’s a beast both in terms of build and capacity. For starters, its capacity is 26800mAh, probably a multiple of the small portable ones you own. This also means the size is bigger (about “7”) and heavier (1.1 lbs) than most portable chargers.

Why I like It

When it comes to accessories and gadgets, I’m an Anker fan. I’ve owned everything from their USB cables to diffusers. I have to say they excel in the power category. This device has 2 inputs for charging the battery and 3 outlets to charge your devices. In other words, you can recharge this external battery twice as fast.

I think I’ve mentioned my power situation has been a bit unstable lately. When the power goes out, it’s nice to know I have enough juice to keep my devices running. I always have this charged and ready to go. Instead of recharging one device, I can hook up multiple ones.

Things to Consider

This is a battery pack, so you will need to get your own cables and wall plug. It does include 2 USB micro cables. I’m guessing most people already have cables. Also, this unit doesn’t do pass-through charging, which would allow you to charge the unit and charge another device simultaneously.


The High Performance Planner

Best For: Goal setters, planners

This planner was developed by Brendon Burchard and is based on science and his testing. Each journal lasts 60 days or 2 months. You can also buy a yearly bundle with 6 books. The planner comes in multiple colors, so be careful when making your selection. I thought I ordered green. Oops.

The product image below reminds me of those boring black yearly planners. The good news is the inside is radically different. Each day has two sections: “Morning Mindset” and the other “Evening Journal.” Within each section, you have a list of prompts or questions that help you structure and evaluate your day. It’s unique.

The High Performance PlannerPin
The High Performance Planner
Planner; Language: english; Book - the high performance planner; Burchard, Brendon (Author)


Vornado 460 – Whole Room Fan

Best for: Home Office and people who don’t like air-conditioning

Gift Description

This is a compact 3-speed fan that can cool your home office in no time. The design pushes more air than any other fan I’ve bought. It’s also extremely light and relatively quiet.

Why I like It

I realize a fan doesn’t sound like an exciting gift. But when you’re sitting in a home office with one, you’ll consider it a luxury item. I’ve bought 3 of these in the past year for friends and family. They are extremely efficient and well made. There is also a slider that allows you to adjust the angle.

Philips Wake-Up Light

Best For: People who don’t like to wake up to alarms.

Gift Description

This is a popular “go-to” gift for friends and family. At first, I’m greeted with the usual skepticism because people don’t think they can wake up to a gradual light queue. You can see their gears spinning and thinking, “who can I regift this gizmo to”? They’ve been conditioned to use an artificial sound. However, in all but one case, people have raved about the gift and how it has helped their sleep.

Why I like It

Well, because I’m not too fond of alarm clocks or even the watches that vibrate. This is much more civilized because the light gradually gets brighter as it simulates a sunrise. And you can do the reverse and have it simulate dusk as you go to bed.

This is the simplest of the Hue Wake Up lights. They have a whole range of products that have additional features.

Philips SmartSleep HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation, WhitePin
Philips SmartSleep HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation, White
SMART FEATURES: Tap to snooze and reading lamp; MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: 90 Day No Hassle Money Back Guarantee from Philips

Anova Sous Vide Cookers

Best For: People who like to cook, perfectionists, and people who believe they can multi-task.

Gift Description

Sous vide is a French term for “under vacuum,” but that doesn’t fully explain this kitchen tool. It’s basically a cylindrical water circulator that controls the temperature of a water bath. The device lets you cook food in a precise and consistent manner. The food is sealed in a container, like a Ziploc, or maybe a mason jar. You don’t need a vacuum sealer. And because the water is at a constant temperature, it’s difficult to ruin the food.

Why I like It

I could make an economic argument for buying this device. I have overcooked items throughout the years through poor planning (multi-tasking) or gotten interrupted at the wrong time. The results were inedible and wasted food. When I first saw these devices, they were in the $300 range,  which was cheap compared to commercial ones. All the same, I waited until the prices dropped to the $100 range.

Since buying one, I’ve experimented more with recipes. There are countless ones out there, and even YouTube has channels dedicated to sous-vide. Regardless of your cooking skills, there are plenty of things you can cook with these devices ranging from meats to yogurt.

And while I didn’t buy the Joule (works only with an app), I do love the videos the folks at ChefSteps produce. They are as informative as they are entertaining.

Kindle Paperwhite

Best For: Readers

This is NOT the latest edition of the Kindle Paperwhite, but one generation behind. This one doesn’t have the “warm light”, but I think it’s fine. It is also slightly smaller than the latest generation, but it’s a size I prefer.

I like the form factor. It can fit into my back jeans pocket. I also have a Kindle Fire HDX, but there is something about this new one that makes reading easier (especially when the power goes out). The only issue I’ve encountered so far was a Kindle Unlimited book that was a “print replica.” That book worked fine on the Kindle Fire HDX, but not this new device. It shows in my library, but it fails when downloading. However, I think this is a rare format caused by someone who self-published their book. After calling support, they pointed me to an area to see if the book would work on a specific device.

Another tip is your local library may have Kindle books. I subscribe to a free newsletter at that alerts me to new books, movies, and music.

Even though I own a Kindle, there are some books I prefer to read on the Kindle for PC. This is the free reader for PC, Mac, or phones.

Kindle Paperwhite – (previous generation - 2018 release) Waterproof with 2x the Storage – Ad-SupportedPin
Kindle Paperwhite – (previous generation - 2018 release) Waterproof with 2x the Storage – Ad-Supported
Now with Audible. Pair with Bluetooth headphones or speakers to listen to your story.; A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours.

Office & Home

UPS Backup System

Best For: People with computers, monitors, or sensitive electronics

Gift Description

This isn’t the prettiest (or lightest) of gifts, but your recipient will “thank you” when their critical document isn’t lost when the power goes out. In a nutshell, this tower sits between your wall outlet and your critical electronics. If the power goes out, the tower will switch to its battery backup. This unit also conditions the power to intercept any spikes that come down the line, which might harm your electronics.

Why I like It

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how important it is to have the proper power setup. Many years ago, I lost a hard drive when the building’s power abruptly shut down. And now I have to contend with California’s unpredictable power supply. This unit offers a lot. It has 10 outlets with surge protection, and 5 of those can use the battery backup. I can also see my estimated run time for the battery, although that varies based on what you have hooked up to your unit. When the power fails, I hear an audible alarm, and the power shifts to the backup batteries. It gives me enough time to save my documents and safely shut down the equipment.

I also like that the alarm isn’t blaring. It’s enough to get your attention but not jolt you like a smoke detector.

NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Mesh WiFi System

Best For: People with wi-fi weak spots

Gift Description

Let’s start by indicating this is a Mesh system and not a wi-fi extender because there are big differences. Wi-Fi extenders are pretty cheap and split and repeat your signal. It can be like “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” They also create a new SSID. Mesh networks can use the same SSID as your existing router and work with satellite units that efficiently distribute the signal and reduce weak areas.

Why I like It

My wi-fi setup was fine in my home office until we installed some Blink security cameras. Long story short, I had to upgrade my plan to accommodate the cameras and move my DSL router. The result was my bandwidth dropped in the office a lot. I first tried a Wi-Fi extender, but that made things worse.

I bought the Orbi system with 2 satellites and have been very pleased. The throughput is significantly better and almost gets the advertised carrier speeds just about everywhere. The system comes with a phone app that makes the setup very easy. I decided to create a new SSID and split my traffic. Now, I have security cameras and “Internet of Things” devices like Alexa that go through the original network. I then put the computers on a separate SSID. The phone app also gives you options for controlling specific devices or setting up parental controls.

Disclaimer: Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. I may receive an affiliate commission on these products if you buy. Updated: 2022-02-21