Plenty of women like frivolities as gifts, but often the holidays call for practicality -- items that we'll actually use yet wouldn't buy for ourselves. Here are five gift ideas that will bring wrapping-paper joy to the no-nonsense recipient on your list.
Five Gifts for a Practical Woman: Packing Cubes
I know, I know, not sexy. But you know what's not sexy? A mish-mosh of clothing tumbled inside a suitcase as a lengthy trip rolls along. This is a solution: an Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set. I actually rolled my eyes with an "Oh gawd" huff when I read about these in an online conversation among travel writers. You know what happened though. A whole bunch of these ladies swore by packing cubes, and several specified Eagle Creek as the best. So I ignored my own cynicism and ordered two sets of packing cubes: this one from Eagle Creek and also an Amazon Basics variety.
I used packing cubes from both sets for a two-week trip, putting pants in one, tops in another and so on. Guess what? Those travel writers were spot-on. Using these was like having a mobile bureau. I always knew where to find the type of article of clothing I was looking for. And, I easily kept the clean apparel away from the worn-but-not-hamper-ready pieces.
Both the Eagle Creek and Amazon Basics packing cubes worked well, but I prefer the Eagle Creek because they are much lighter weight, and every fraction of an ounce matters when you're packing one suitcase for two weeks. But, the Amazon Basics packing cubes have mesh see-through windows, and that is handy.
Five Gifts for a Practical Woman: Kipling Angie Solid Convertible Crossbody Bag
This couldn't look more dull, I know. But let me tell you something. We ladies are always on the lookout for a handbag/pocketbook/purse that is just the right size with whatever requirements are important to each of us. For me, the Kipling Angie Solid Convertible Crossbody Bag has every feature I require. It's big enough to easily fit my phone, wallet, lipstick and Kindle, yet not so big that I have the option of loading it with a load of other, heavier items. It's has a cross-body strap, which is the only kind of purse I use on a regular basis.
That's not all. My mother always said a handbag needs to have a good zipper across the top so contents won't fall out and thieves can't easily reach in. This has that. It also has two small and two large outside pockets, which are great for the phone, the lipstick, the business card case, etc. And, it has a zippered interior department. If you're carrying a prescription, a passport or jewelry, it will be safe tucked away there.
I have the black Kipling Angie Solid Convertible Crossbody Bag, but that's because I need one purse that I can use every day. I'm not one for switching it up daily to match an outfit. If you want color, boy can you have color. The Angie is available in all kinds of playful hues and patterns.
Five Gifts for a Practical Woman: Healing Butterfly Ginger Matcha Green Tea Powder
Tea? For $30? That hardly sounds practical, I know. Trust me, readers. This stuff is amazing.
Matcha is a powdered form of green tea that's said to be a superfood with all kinds of benefits. Again, I paid no attention. Then I was assigned a feature about the owner of Healing Butterfly. After one hour of interviewing and sampling, I was sold. Now that I drink a cup daily, I'm an evangelical.
The small company that makes Healing Butterfly Ginger Matcha Green Tea Powder imports its tea from an organic farm in Japan, then flavors it in a United States facility -- sourcing high-quality ingredients. I like the ginger and mint best among the varieties I've tasted, but you may prefer the plain, pumpkin spice or chocolate, among others.
The Healing Butterfly matcha green tea is a cinch to prepare. Heat (but don't boil) some water -- a microwave Beverage setting will handle that. Then briskly stir in a teaspoon of the fine powder. The tea will give you a gentle caffeine boost without making you shaky.
Five Gifts for a Practical Woman: UE Boom Bluetooth Speaker
Friends make fun, but this is the truth: Since I moved out of my 12-foot-by-12-foot Manhattan apartment many years ago, I haven't had good stereo sound. In one small room, I turned on music and Pow!, my home filled with harmony. As my abodes got bigger, and I had to compromise on budget issues, my sound devolved. Either it came from TV audio parts or bleeped out of my iPad.
Then, on a whim, I ordered the UE BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. I expected mediocrity. Shockingly, I discovered a clean multilevel sound. Is it as good as excellent speakers in my 12x12? Of course not. But it's still wonderful. And, it's portable, so I can move it from room at room with me. I generally play Pandora on the iPad and set it up so the sound magically emits from the UE Boom speaker. My kid was so impressed that he requested one for his birthday, and he rarely likes the same things I do. I guess a dorm room is smaller than 12x12, but still.
Five gifts for a practical woman: Alaska Bear Sleep Mask
I lied a bit here. I posted the pretty Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask above, but I have the simple black one pictured below. It's $9.99 instead of $12.99. For a gift, though? You might want to spend the extra $3.
Why a sleep mask? Here's why. One day I was shmoozing around Marshall's with my friend Patricia. She picked up a $4 sleep mask and insist that I buy it. Insisted! She said she bought one and slept way better. Her husband made fun, but she made him try one and then he was hooked to. "Weird, right?" She kept saying that as she walked me to the register.
Hooked. Me, and both kids too (they have the $10 black one also). First off, as it turns out sleep masks in general are great. They block out light. Duh. IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE! I sleep under a ceiling fan, and my eyes have been less dry since I've gone Alaska Bear. Turns out my lids must open a sliver while I'm out cold.
I've tried other brands, and they've all helped, but the Alaska Bear is my favorite so far. The fabric is very soft, so it's kind of an indulgence each time I place it over my eyes. The strap is adjustable so it fits all head sizes; it doesn't tumble off during the night. The mask is a little thick, and so a little warm sometimes, but usually that's not an issue. I give these Alaska Bear sleep masks as gifts all the time, saying, "Weird, right?" until the recipient becomes a convert.
So there you go.. Five gifts for a practical woman, tried and true by an enthusiastic owner. If you give any of these, or buy them for yourself, please report back. I'd sincerely like to know your personal pros and cons.
Disclaimer: If you buy one these by linking through this blog, I'll make a smidgen of profit. Don't like that? Buy it elsewhere. No hard feelings. I'm all about matching the right gifts with the right people. If you need more gift ideas, check out the Rona Recommends Amazon Influencer page.