Small gifts that recipients are likely to hang on to?
December 12, 2009 4:48 PM   Subscribe

Help me, MeFi elves! What are some tiny, practical, long-lasting, and fun gifts for twentysomethings? Specifically, gifts that are not likely to get thrown out or given away, due to moving far away - so, no books or voltage-specific electronics. I've already done the Swiss Army Knife, and a USB drive is a little too practical. What now?
posted by Xere to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
very nice watches last a lifetime.
posted by paperzach at 5:00 PM on December 12, 2009

Speaking as a geeky twentysomething male, the most useful gift I've ever been given is a little LED torch that clips onto my keyring. I use it practically daily. The one I've got looks very similar to this - metal-bodied and slim, so it lives with my keys quite happily.

Also on the same keyring, and also pretty useful, is a little multitool (one of these). May be a little too much like the Swiss Army knife, I suppose (although I always carry one of those, too).
posted by ZsigE at 5:03 PM on December 12, 2009

I know you said it's too practical: but what about a USB drive loaded with photos of the place and people that s/he is leaving behind?
posted by katopotato at 5:09 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nice quality headphones for an mp3 player

A money clip or nice wallet

A moleskine notebook - maybe the kind with maps of the city they're moving to, if possible.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:12 PM on December 12, 2009

Are any recipients photographers? My parents gave me a Gorillapod a few Christmases ago, and I love it.

You've done the Swiss Army Knife, but have you done the knife sharpener?

A good quartz watch is probably in your price range. I think you could even get a radio-controlled one that syncs up with some time station somewhere for under $40. (Make sure that the part of "far away" to which they're moving receives a signal from a station compatible with the watch.) If they're horology geeks, you may even be able to get a mechanical watch for that price.

Garments and textiles are useful, especially if they're going somewhere cold--I'm thinking of blankets and warm jackets right now.

This might be a little specific, but whenever I get new shoes, my first step is to chuck out the crappy insoles they give you and put Superfeet insoles in. They're a little expensive for insoles ($30-40), but they last a long time and they work really well.

You may already know about these, but Cool Tools and Uncle Mark's are my go-to sources for inspiration in this vein.
posted by tellumo at 5:12 PM on December 12, 2009

A nice flask, with your initials on it.
posted by Eleutherios at 5:22 PM on December 12, 2009

Have you browsed Many items that combine practicality with wackiness.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 5:24 PM on December 12, 2009

Not tiny, but potentially quite useful: lightweight backpacking pack. Smacks of adventure while still being extremely practical and not something many 20-somethings can get a nice version of themselves.
posted by shownomercy at 5:34 PM on December 12, 2009

One of those write anywhere Fisher Space Pens or one of it's innumerable copies.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:37 PM on December 12, 2009

Is a small French press (or a nice teapot, or corkscrew, bottle opener, etc.) too big?
posted by box at 5:44 PM on December 12, 2009

A nice zippo? I always have a lighter, knife, and a pen in my purse. In case I get stuck somewhere, I like knowing I have fire and a knife handy.
posted by shinyshiny at 5:48 PM on December 12, 2009

Cast iron skillet.
posted by Jon-o at 6:21 PM on December 12, 2009

(A small one, that is.)
posted by Jon-o at 6:23 PM on December 12, 2009

I also really love my little LED flashlight. This one from Fenix has excellent build quality, takes a standard AAA battery that lasts forever and puts out plenty of light. It lives in my pocket at all times and I use it several times a day.

More information about these twentysomethings would be helpful. Do you know their interests/professions?
posted by contraption at 6:41 PM on December 12, 2009

Crap, bad link: This one.
posted by contraption at 6:42 PM on December 12, 2009

Winter gear (scarf, gloves, hat, coat)
High thread count blanket
Wool socks
In-ear headphones
Gift cards for activities near campus
Water bottle
Safety razor kit (if it's a guy)
Small cube shelves
Whiteboard and markers
A nice umbrella
A lighter, if s/he smokes

Also, be careful about gifting a kitchen appliance if he's still living in the dorms, as they might not be as useful/allowed.
posted by yaymukund at 6:54 PM on December 12, 2009

Secret family recipe.
posted by hishtafel at 7:26 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

It might be too hokey, but fact is that I would have loved to have had this upon moving on out into that big ol' world on my own, they'll always know they're covered with this kit in a case, small enough to travel:

ten colors of thread, four buttons, two needles, magnifying glasses to sew with, a lighter, small hotel soap, aspirin/tylonol/ibuprofen, comb, led flashlight and 1 extra battery, cheezy tiny fm radio and phones, small knife, small pliers, small scissors, pen, various bandaids, small tube triple antibiotic, two condoms, $10 bill, and three folded sheets of paper, two blank, one with two poems, two proverbs, two nice photos, and your name, address, email and phone and instructions to call if ever they need a friend.

Not sure if you could do this for twenty bucks but thirty for sure -- the dollar store is your friend here -- and they'll like it, and keep it, too, I'd keep it just for the love in the note*.

*I've got this absolutely ridiculous book of Hallmark 'poetry' on my shelf that a good friend and neighbor Charlotte** gave me twenty-two years ago when I wandered again, I've not seen her nor heard her voice since but she covered the damn thing in love and I just can't let it go, I keep a very small book shelf and go through pruning it to keep it small, I've held that book in my hands dozens of times to let it go but I won't

**Had she not been married to Donald I'd probably not have left just then; regardless her taste (?) in poetry, she sure was a sweetie...

posted by dancestoblue at 8:39 PM on December 12, 2009 [5 favorites]

What about a personalized prepaid calling card?
posted by Cody's Keeper at 8:48 PM on December 12, 2009

Or a Christmas ornament? (Only if the recipient celebrates Christmas of course.)
posted by Cody's Keeper at 8:50 PM on December 12, 2009

Building on katopotato's suggestion, how about one of those digital-picture keychains with photos from home on it?

Preferably one from a good brand rather than those cheapos you see in the checkout-line impulse-buy rack at Walmart.
posted by Target Practice at 1:44 AM on December 13, 2009

Muji screwdriver set. I've bought this as a gift several times. It's small, sturdy and very useful.
posted by iviken at 2:18 AM on December 13, 2009

Just got a laser touchless thermometer gun for a couple of my male friends. Very practical, loads of geeky fun.
posted by cross_impact at 6:20 AM on December 14, 2009

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