Instead of putting on a bunch of items that we would all love to own for ourselves on a list, here’s some stuff that may be handy to buy for other people.1
Disaster Kit Items
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I am sure there are more than a few people in your family that would very much appreciate items that will help them stay safe in case of another disaster.
Personally I’d start with buying people a nice flashlight. I’ve mentioned a couple before, but they are pricey and likely not something that others would appreciate — not to mention they require hard-to-find batteries that make them a poor choice for disasters. So let me introduce you to the Fenix E11 LED flashlight. Some key features: runs at 105 lumens (that’s pretty bright) for eight hours off of just one AA battery and it is waterproof up to 6.5 feet of water. So in a flood, in rain, and in the dark this is great option to have at your disposal. The bonus part about this is that flashlights are handy even if you aren’t in the middle of a disaster.
Since we are talking about being prepared for wet weather, may I introduce you to the dorkiest thing that I own: Outdoor Research’s Seattle Sombrero. Personally I have the forest color. Now this is a rain hat, but you have a hood on your jacket, so why buy this? Well it is awesome. That’s why. You have full peripheral view, a dry head, a warm head, and it won’t easily blow off like so many other hoods. Seriously dorky, seriously great in the rain. I swear by mine.
Since I brought up Outdoor Research, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the Neoplume Jacket — as it may just be my favorite jacket I have ever owned. It works great as a base layer under a rain shell, or as just a cold weather jacket. I love this thing — this is an updated version of the one I own. I wear mine most days from October to April.
The last disaster related item I will share with you is something that isn’t likely to be a great gift for everyone, but is awesome none-the-less: Coghlans Fire Paste. This is basically napalm in a tube. Squirt it on some fire wood, light it, and boom you have fire. I know how to make a fire, but that doesn’t mean I want to dick around with a fire all the time — sometimes you just want a warm fire, and when you want that, Fire Paste is what you need.
I’m the Tech Guy/Gal in the Family, I Have to Buy Gadgets
I’d start by giving out a Doxie, the Go is the one I own a few of and they are great. I use them for mobile employees and at home. Doxie has the new One scanner coming out too, that looks like an even better option for a parent. A scanner is one of those things that you don’t think would be handy, until you actually have one and then you can’t get by without one.
If you want a no-brainer gadget, the Apple TV is about as good as it gets. Even if someone has one already, they’ll likely be pretty happy sticking another one on a different TV.
Now, even though I don’t own a new one, I wouldn’t hesitate to give out a Kindle (not the Fire) to anyone in my family. It’s a great gift for people that are more low-tech as the learning curve is nice and easy. Not to mention it is a device that really doesn’t fail — so the support on it is also minimal for you. Just don’t be a jerk: buy the version without the ads — I mean “special offers”.
The Last Ditch Things
Let’s say you just want to give someone a really solid gift, but they are impossible to buy for. For that situation I present Mont Blanc’s Meisterstuck Classique Gold Rollerball. I’ve had mine for over a decade. Yes, people don’t write as often anymore, but that’s all the better reason to write with something great when you do write.
Now, if that is out of your price range, I re-present to you Air Swimmers. My dad bought these for all of us last year and they are flipping awesome. Don’t get it for someone that can’t follow assembly instructions as you do have to build them — oh and you need helium to fill them — but they are really fun. Did I mention they are also cheap? They are.
I’m sure other’s will have more comprehensive options and guides out soon, but I wanted to offer you some (mostly) unconventional choices.
Let’s emphasize the “may” portion. ↩