Gifts to Use – And Use Up


I love, love, love to give gifts.

It’s so much fun to give something that is unexpected, wanted and ultimately loved by the recipient.

Not everything is a home run, of course, and increasingly I’m finding myself wanting to give gifts that aren’t really stuff.

Don’t get me wrong: I love stuff. 

But I have too much, and in that spirit, I’m looking for gifts that can be used – and used up.

One of my favorite gifts to give for weddings is a case of wine, but this would work well for the holidays, too. Most wine stores will give you a discount of 10-20% when you buy a case, so ask! I usually mix it up and keep the price per bottle within what I call the Tuesday Night Range, meaning the wine is decent enough not to be diesel fuel but not in the 1964 Chateau Margaux category.

Another gift that was satisfying to give was the Gift of a Clean House. When my awesome co-worker J. had a baby last year, I asked our Fancy Pants Ranch cleaners if they would do a one-time clean/sparkle/polish at J’s place when her baby was a few months old. This would also be a great idea for a post-holidays deep clean (and tree removal) for in-laws or other family members who are on host/hotel duty for the extended clan during the holidays.

A truly unique gift that Spouse and I gave to his parents last year was a new toilet. Yep. You read that correctly. They have a small half-bath on the first floor of their house with a toilet that was old and poorly set. Every time someone used it, it rocked back and forth and required a major side lean to maintain equilibrium. We hired a plumber and in less than an hour, there was a shiny new, totally level throne installed. They were thrilled.

This next one I consider a real win-win, since MGM (7) wants it and I need him to burn off some major boy energy: karate lessons. I’m planning for him to find a uniform under the tree with a promise for lessons to follow. (And yes, this is really a gift for me).

If you love this concept but are stuck for ideas, check out Unstuff Gifts, which specializes in experiences based on the recipient’s personality such as Daredevil, Hipster, Foodie, Geek, and – laugh out loud – Snob. Some fun ideas include luxury sportscar rentals, cooking demos, subscriptions to music streaming services, and sommelier training. Online magic lessons, anyone?


Other ideas:









Valentine’s Gifts

When I was a kid, my mom always gave me a small gift on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes it was candy, maybe a small stuffed bear, and once there was even a red sweater. It wasn’t big, it wasn’t necessary, but it was nice.

As an adult, I’m not crazy over Valentine’s Day. In fact, I usually barely remember and find myself selecting a card for Ever Patient Spouse from a picked-over rack at the grocery store (“To a Special Dog Walker.”)

But as a consummate shopper and gifter, I am susceptible to sweet ideas like these, if you are so inclined:


  • Cristal. Rappers love it for a reason. It’s delicious. Don’t knock it until you’ve tasted this splurge-y champagne.



  • The title of this clever book by Leanne Shapton is a mouthful: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry. It’s a love story from start to end presented as an auction catalog. Beyond original. 

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Order now and you’ll look like a star when February 14th rolls around.