Home-Ec 101 2017 Gift Ideas

Heather says:

I overthink gifts. I want the recipient to not only be excited to get the gift but I need to know that this gift will actually get used. I know I feel guilty when I receive a gift and never use it. I worry about making other people feel guilty. (Yes, I am aware I need to chill.)

Important: You only have until Dec 15, if you’ll be using the USPS ground shipping to send your gift in time for Christmas. 

A note quick note many of these links are affiliate links. These do not affect your price and I would not link to an item I wouldn’t (or haven’t in many cases) purchase(d) for my home and family

I feel guilty when I receive a gift and never use it. Here are gift ideas for the home that are useful and still have a bit of fun.

If you’re an Amazon Prime Member (which we love it for the expedited shipping, streaming video library, and music) you have a little more time. Did you know you could give a Prime Membership for just 3 months? I suppose it’s a little like heroin, they just want someone to start using and then they have them for life. That said, we don’t have cable and between Amazon and Netflix, we’re very rarely lacking entertainment. This makes it a great idea for the cord-cutter in your life.

Speaking of cord-cutters, if someone you know is looking to cut cable the Roku has been a hit here for years. And, while we’re discussing electronics Spotify, iTunes, and Netflix all make great clutter-free gifts. I love my Kindle Paperwhite, it’s perfect to use while monitoring the kids at the pool, waiting during buffer time, or reading in bed. I used to think I’d never make the transition, but here we are.


I cannot emphasize this enough, do not give your significant other a vacuum for Christmas. Period. End of story. Just don’t. You can, however, give a vacuum to a young adult that recently started out on their own. If that person happens to have long hair, I highly recommend the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser I mentioned it here after buying one this summer, I still haven’t had to clean the roller brush. That last link is a how-to.

The tea lover in your life may really appreciate an electric kettle. My secret Santa gave me one and I’m stoked. I work from home and have colleagues that also occasionally work from here. They both love tea and I know they will be excited to not have to use the microwave to heat the water. It’s also a great idea for college kids who may not be allowed a microwave. They can not only make tea, coffee (with a french press), and hot chocolate, it’s also great for ramen and instant oatmeal.  

A rice cooker is a much more versatile appliance than its name suggests. Last week I gave a quick review of the Rosewill 10 cup Rice Cooker. This one is great for couples and young families. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Instant Pot. My circles have exploded with conversation, excitement, and buzz about this gadget. There are communities popping up on Facebook with 200k people sharing recipes and tips. My only irritation is that the 8qt version has yet to go on sale. The 6qt frequently does, keep a close eye on it over the next few days, you may get lucky.

Utensils and Tools:

If you know someone still using a glass cutting board, for the sake of their knives would you consider a cutting board or mat? Then, for the sake of their fingers, would you please sharpen their knives? If you choose a wooden cutting board, don’t forget the food grade oil.


Chicago Cutlery 3 Piece Walnut Set

I still have two of these three knives, I use them all the time. I also haven’t ever properly taken care of them (except for the sharpening) and they have taken the abuse. The chef knife is the one I reach for on a daily basis. It’s so cheap that I really don’t worry about eventually replacing it. I know that probably puts me in some form of culinary sin, but there you have it. I’ve had these knives for a very long time, but I have no idea where the paring knife went.

Chicago Cutlery 3 Piece Walnut Set 

Chicago Cutlery Knife BlockI’m torn on suggesting the knife block. Really all a beginner cook needs are the three knives pictured above, but some cooks like variety and this one includes the sharpening steel. They will still need a sharpening stone. Please remember that knives are pretty personal. Some people swear by Henckels and Wusthoff, those are both fantastic brands and I used them when I cooked professionally and my restaurant footed the bill, but at home, these are the ones I reach for time and time again.

Chicago Cutlery Walnut 10 piece knife set with block 

A peeler is another kitchen essential that can help take the drudge work out of cooking. A good peeler with a comfortable handle is an absolute kitchen necessity. Get rid of the chintzy all metal, rusted thing in the tool drawer and replace it with my favorite version. (I kind of like Oxo as you’ll notice in this list).

Oxo Good Grips Peeler 

Need something super cheap as a stocking stuffer for a baker? How about a good biscuit cutter? I swore by using a glass until a friend sent me an actual biscuit cutter. What a difference. Go ahead and include this recipe for these excellent no-knead biscuits.

Biscuit Cutter (If you aren’t ordering enough for free shipping, just wait until you see one at a box store like Target)

Want good gravy? A good fat separator makes making pan gravy so much easier. Insert the plug, strain the pan juices, use the drippings on top to make roux, and then remove the plug and whisk in the  delicious pan juices. So easy. So good.

OXO Fat Separator 

Taylor ThermometerThermometers are essential in the kitchen. I loved this one until I left it beside the grill and an afternoon thundershower did it in. That was totally my fault, not the thermometer’s.

Taylor Thermometer 

So this one might be slightly off topic, but if you have a wine drinker on your list, a waiter’s tool is a great gift. The wine reps used to hand these, with their logo, naturally, out and we’d snatch them up. A wine tool is far superior to a standard cork screw and doesn’t take up much room at all in the kitchen.

Waiter’s Wine Tool averages from $5 to $15

OXO Manual Can Opener

The newbie cook on your list will be the hero of the apartment complex during every power outage. Having an emergency food pantry really doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t get into the supply. Manual can openers are a must for every kitchen. Yes, even yours.

OXO Manual Can Opener 

If you have someone who is starting to get serious about learning to cook, a set of ramekins may be exactly what they need. Why? There’s a technique called mise en place where cooks line up their measured ingredients. It’s an especially useful technique when you’re just learning and want to set yourself up for success. Going through the recipe and measuring ingredients beforehand helps reduce errors and ensures all the ingredients are actually on hand.

6 Piece Ramekin Set 

I won’t lie, I’m a big fan of Pyrex. Next up, we have a few of my favorites from that brand.

Pyrex Bakeware with lids – 

Pyrex 1 Cup Glass Liquid Measuring Cup (Yes, glass is far superior to the crappy plastic ones you see)

Pyrex 1 Quart Glass Liquid Measuring Cup  Not only is this handy for measuring liquids, it’s great for heating them in the microwave before adding to a recipe.

There are many more Pyrex items I’d add to the list, but I’m trying to keep this post under control, but still my glass mixing bowls are always handy, as are the 8×8 baking pans. You get the idea, I am a Pyrex fan for their price and quality.

I wish you the best of luck finding something for everyone on your gift list. 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.