Gift Ideas

19 Boring Gifts That People Will Secretly Love

Nobody likes getting socks—until their feet are cold.

The moment I realized I’d become an adult was the day I asked my parents for socks for Christmas. Somehow, the gift that kids dread receiving the most had become the thing I wanted more than anything. I was forced to ask myself one of those difficult questions that arises as we go through life: Am I boring?

Maybe, but maybe not.

The truth is, as much as we like to make fun of people who gift socks or power tools, most of us would rather receive something useful than some unnecessary trinket that will live at the back of our closet until we end up giving it away during a spring cleaning frenzy a few years from now. So here’s to boring gifts, long may they fill our lives with secret joy!

If you’re okay with giving people something they’ll use—even if they don’t end up gushing about it on social media—here are some gift ideas to make this holiday season the most happily boring one ever.

1. Smartwool socks

You didn’t really think I’d start this list with something else, did you? Home to the ultimate sock gifts, Smartwool is where it’s at for comfort and warmth. Anyone who complains about getting these socks clearly doesn’t deserve any presents at all.

Image: Smartwool

Get them for $12-36/pair online.

2. Heat-sensitive “Game of Thrones” mug

This mug features the wolf symbol of House Stark and turns from black to white when filled with a hot beverage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the capability to detect poison, but it can at least keep someone from burning their tongue.

Image: Amazon

Get one for $35 on Amazon.

3. Travel spice kit

You know that person who’s always asking for extra hot sauce, salt, pepper, parmesan or other condiments? Make their life easier with this beautiful, travel-friendly spice kit by Chef’s Daughter. The kit includes mini containers of 12 artisan spice blends.

Image: Amazon

Pick one up for $44 on Amazon.

4. Costco membership

It’s not glamorous, but the best things in life aren’t always flashy. By giving a Costco car, you’re basically saying, “I care about you so much that I never want you to be hungry ever again. Also, can you buy me some mac & cheese?”

Flickr | Mike Mozart

Annual memberships from $55.

5. Moleskine notebook

You never think to buy a new notebook until you’re on the last page of your old one. Keep your friends and loved ones from this terrible fate with the gift of a whole new set of blank pages, wrapped in everyone’s favorite sturdy, colorful covers. (Check out this Harry Potter version for the HP fans in your life.)

Image: Moleskine

Various prices by size, from $10 online or at your friendly local bookstore.

6. Fleece-lined leggings

They’re leggings—filled with fleece. It’s so simple, yet so brilliant. They’re basically the most socially acceptable way to wrap your legs in blankets in public, and they’re all any of us need to get through winter.

Image: Anthropologie

Grab these for $24 at Anthropologie.

7. Coffee grinder

Help the caffeine connoisseur in your life make their mornings a little more blissful. Having a grinder on hand means you can keep coffee in its pure bean form until just before you’re ready to brew it, helping preserve flavor and freshness.

Image: Amazon

Get the Hario Ceramic Skerton Coffee Mill for $40 on Amazon.

8. High-tech backpack

The Ghostek NRGbag Laptop Backpack puts the “cool” back in school (or the office, or photo studio, or wherever). The extra padding and water-resistant exterior keeps devices safe and dry, while the rechargeable battery powers up your smartphones or tablets while you wear it. It’s the perfect gift for any James Bonds in training.

Image: Amazon

Get one for $90 on Amazon.

9. All-purpose knife

If you have a good knife, you can get through just about anything—even butternut squash! Make someone’s kitchen a little more colorful with this eye-catching blue all-purpose knife.


Get it for $11 on Amazon.

10. Starry salt and pepper shakers

Anyone can be a wizard with these magical salt and pepper shakers! They’ll add some spice (and sparkle) to any dinner table, at a fraction of the cost of an Ollivander’s wand.

Image: Amazon

Pick up a pair for $10 on Amazon.

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