Gifts that Keep on Giving

As I’ve been thinking over my latest decluttering efforts, I’ve also been reflecting back on the whole practice of gift-giving. Specifically, the tradition that birthdays and Christmas are celebrated with gifts, and that you have to give a “really cool gift” to ensure the birthday and Christmas is successful.

I’m not against giving gifts at all, but I’m thinking I’m becoming more and more against giving something just to have given something. Each year, people ask me what I want for my birthday and Christmas. Each year, I ask people what they want for their birthday and Christmas. And a fair bit of the time, I think we end up thinking a lot about what we want, even though we don’t really want anything (let alone *need* anything). But we still ask for things, just to make the gift giving easier.

Giving money is okay. Yes, it’s not something that takes a long time to come up with, but it’s definitely better than giving a thing that won’t be used.

Of course, in an ideal world, you find a gift that’s perfect. That ends up getting used over and over again. That’s what this blog post is about. I decided to think back over the gifts I’ve gotten and given to see the ones that have been the best of the best.

Blendtec Blender: My family uses this high-end blender at least three or four times a day. There’s a counter on it that tracks how many uses it’s had, and ours is up to around 2,000. It makes smoothies, hummus, milk shakes, and more. It doesn’t have sharp blades, so you don’t have to worry about cutting yourself, and the end results are smooth and wonderful. When this breaks, I’ll replace it in a heartbeat.

Boot/Glove Dryer: If your family is outdoors in the snow a lot, this is a must. For my family of skiers, this gets used constantly in the winter. It lets you properly dry out boots and gloves without having to remove linings or wait for hours. Denisa frequently talks about how handy it is. Score!

Nintendo Switch: It’s gone with us to Europe. It sees constant use in the house by my 14 year old, 10 year old, and 5 year old. It’s family-friendly and easy to use. Games that are favorites are Breath of the Wild, MarioKart, Smash, Rabbids, Mario Odyssey. The Pro controllers were also great gifts for it, as was the carrying case and screen protector.

Oculus Rift: Yes, you need a high-end computer to be able to use it, but this has been a continued highlight for Tomas and DC at times as well. It’s a hit at parties, and the computer itself has come in very handy as well. It was expensive, but I’ve never regretted the purchase.

Board games are big at my house, but not all board games end up being played. Ones that have been played many times by my family in the last few years include Splendor, Seven Wonders, Sushi Go, Hanabi, Azul, Kingdom Builder, Seven Wonders Duel, and Codenames.

Kindle Fires: I bought the cheaper ones for the kids when they were on sale. In hindsight, I wish I had paid a bit more money for the slightly higher end ones. They’re inexpensive (relatively), and it lets each kid have their own device. Way less arguing, and they get used constantly. (Except when they inevitably run out of batteries . . .)

Amazon Echo and Dot: I wasn’t sold on these when I first read about them, but we use them all the time in our house now. Even the five year old loves them. We’ve got them hooked up to work as an intercom system in our house as well, which is really useful. (Even if you can’t help wondering who might be listening to you from time to time . . .)

Stove Fan: It runs even when there’s no power, and it does a great job distributing the heat more evenly throughout the room and house. I got the higher end one, and I’m glad I did. I would recommend these to anyone who uses a wood stove.

Snow Blower: For that matter, I have no idea what I’d do without a snow blower. (Actually, I do. I remember the first year in Maine without one. It wasn’t pretty.) If you live in a place with a lot of snow, and you don’t want to pay or rely on someone to plow your driveway, a high quality snow blower is a must. My Honda has been dependable and a life saver, year after year. 11 years and counting now! (For that matter, don’t forget a roof rake, either.)

High-end Rechargeable Batteries: I love my Eneloops. I bought a few to see if I’d like them and they were reliable. I’ve bought a ton more. These are so much better than the old style that you never could rely on to actually be charged.

Home Theater Projector: It’s been a bit since I got mine, so I’m not sure what the latest and greatest is these days, but getting a projector (and an actual screen) has been so much easier than I thought it would be, and I love mine. When it comes to controlling the system, my favorite remote is definitely the Harmony. It’s basic, and it takes some setting up to work, but it controls just about anything, and you don’t even need to point the controller in the right direction.

Apple TV: Who needs cable when you’ve got Apple TV? I especially love how it feeds in my pictures for a screen saver, so we can see all our favorite pics from over the years whenever there’s a lull in using the TV.

Electronic Sketch Pad: One of the five year old’s favorite things. Great for quiet time.

And of course, my favorite mop. (Read my review here.)

That rounds it out. Having gone through all my Amazon purchases for the last few years, it’s a bit depressing how many things are on there that were just so-so. I can definitely do better in not buying as much stuff. (It’s saved money, and it’s tax free!) But when you find just the right present, that’s a wonderful thing. Any gifts that you’ve gotten over the years that have been great?


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