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Discount Diva: Practical gifts stand the test of time

Whether I’m giving or receiving, my favorite kind of gift is a practical one.

They’re so much more likely to be used, and isn’t that the goal?

But not all practical items make good gifts. If you’re in the market, here are some of my go-to’s.

• Gift cards. Many people find them too impersonal to give. But I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like receiving them, and buying whatever their heart desires. If it doesn’t feel special enough, wrap it up in a nice little box with a pretty bow and add a card with a heartfelt message.

You can’t go wrong with a Mastercard or Visa gift card, even though you’ll pay a couple of extra dollars in fees. They’re good for people who don’t shop online because they can use them anywhere major credit cards are accepted, in person or online. For Amazon fans, an Amazon gift card would be great. And for teenagers or millennials who can’t be pried from their iPhones, an iTunes gift card will make them very happy.

• Socks. Yes, we all groaned when we received these as a kid. But we all used them, didn’t we? And we all appreciated them more and more as we got older.

To elicit smiles instead of groans, hand out unisex Odd Sox. My nephews actually requested these funny, funky socks last Christmas. You can find them at Nordstrom Rack, Zumiez and They start at $9.99 and are adorned with graphic prints of everything from kittens and emojis to dollar bills and professional wrestlers.

For girls only, try Yaktrax Cozy Nordic Cabin socks. You can find them at Dick’s for about $12.99. They are the softest, warmest, coziest, loveliest socks I’ve ever worn – and I’m kind of a connoisseur. They’re lined and last forever.

• Underwear. There’s only one way to make undies fun, and that’s with Underoos. If there’s anyone on your list who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, they will absolutely squeal when they open a package of Underoos. It will be the opposite reaction you would get if they were opening a normal pair of underwear.

Underoos are underpants and undershirt sets themed to look like superhero costumes, such as Wonder Woman, He-Man, She Ra and Superman. They run about $19.99 on
Target has some similarly fun ladies undies for about $6 (Pink Floyd, Spiderman, Wonderwoman). Men’s boxers, at $8.99, come in such gems as Batman, Star Wars and the Lucky Charms leprechaun. And of course, when it comes to kids, there are all kinds of fun options.

• An umbrella. Not a travel umbrella. A really nice, big, strong, umbrella that can withstand the wind without turning inside out. Something with a sturdy, curved handle.
It will be a luxurious upgrade and the recipient will think of you with gratitude every time it rains. You can go classic with hunter green or whimsical with a rainbow print like mine.

• Luggage. My sister gave me luggage as a wedding present a decade ago and I’ve gotten more use out of it than any other gift by far. It was my first set of real, honest-to-goodness luggage and I loved it. Until then, I had lugged everything on my back in a hiker’s backpack and maybe a couple of duffel bags. Luggage makes a great, practical present – especially for someone just starting out.

• A hoverboard. Just kidding.

Got consumer tips or questions? Email, like or tweet @DiscountDivaSam.

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