Do You Like Your Gifts Practical or Fanciful?



With Christmas coming up I’ve been in full radar mode trying to find the perfect gifts for the friends and family on my list. I generally divide people by whether they prefer practical or fanciful gifts. It helps to narrow down my choices for each person.

One of my all time favorite gifts was a kitchen compost bin. Yes. A compost bin. I was bowled over because I had never told anyone I wanted one. I used to eye them wistfully on my Amazon wish list.

I know. It doesn’t take much to excite me. 😀

No one believes me, but I really do prefer practical gifts, and for really practical reasons. If I can use it, it’ll never be a wasted gift.

Greg is my polar opposite. Give him toys any day of the week, especially expensive big boy toys. (Please note huge groan of aggravation.) At least it’s easy to buy for him–if I can afford it.

In true form, he in turn always bought me expensive gifts that he felt any woman of taste might like. It took a few years before he realized that jewelry and clothes were not my personal delights. Although he can never go wrong with a new dog! It’s my Achilles heel, though we both know that whatever pets we get now may be our last ones, so we’re more careful about choosing a candidate.

My mother used to load us down with decorative items that she loved, thinking I would love them too. We do not have the same tastes in decor. Far from it. Eventually I was able to convince her not to buy us gifts.

Taste is very subjective. I can only think of two good friends whose tastes are impeccable. I love going to their homes. Their decor is elegant without being ostentatious. My tastes run on the traditional side with a slight bend to the eclectic. If either of these two friends bought me something decorative I know it would be something I would love.

But on the flip side I would be hesitant to buy anything decorative for someone else. I would hate to buy something that would go unloved, or worse, regifted. I don’t mind spending money on gifts my friends and family would love, but I’d hate to think it was wasted on something that will end up in their closets.

Although Greg and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts anymore, we still give each other gifts for no reason at all. It’s kind of fun to give something when nothing is expected.

What about you? Do you prefer practical or fun gifts? What do you like to give to your significant other? Is there anything on your wish list this year?

This post may contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links cost you nothing, but they do help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting MariaZanniniHome. I appreciate you!

All original content copyrighted by Maria Zannini 2016 - 2018.


  1. I’m good both ways – I enjoy gifts I can use but something that tickles me is always appreciated, too. I used to have a problem with gifts from my parents, which were always lovely and expensive but often inappropriate (i.e. I could never get them to remember I’m allergic to wool), until we discovered the Lands End catalogue. I’d peruse it with Mom and we’d both point to things we liked while making note of what the other wanted. This evolved into phone conversations like, “Oh, I love the pants on page 21 of the issue with the snowflakes on the front, in Navy, size…”. It might have reduced the surprise factor a little but everyone was happy on Christmas morning.

    • Linda: I played it safe and sent you some of each in your care package. 🙂

      I didn’t know you were allergic to wool. Yikes. That was smart sharing the Lands End catalog. I should try something like that with my mom.

  2. I’m always flummoxed about buying gifts. Some people live in very tiny apartments and I hate to give them something else to add to the limited space. Even toys for the grandkids have to be well thought-out.

    Like you, I prefer practical gifts. I hate anything in the knick-knack category – if it’s not useful, why add it to the clutter? I do like clothes or jewelry, but it’s not to my taste, I just won’t use it. So that’s always iffy.

    My hatred of clutter makes it difficult for me to buy for other people. Unless I know a gift is useful to them, I usually won’t get it. I know gift cards aren’t personal, but we usually end up giving those. I’m trying to put more thought into gifts though, because it’s so gratifying to know you gave someone a gift they’ll enjoy.

    • Marlene: Agreed! This is why so much stuff ends up at garage sale or regifted. Not that I have anything against regifting, but it makes me sad that I didn’t choose an appropriate gift for my friend.

      Gift cards are safe. I generally give restaurant gift cards unless it’s my mom than I give her American Express or Visa, so she can get whatever she wants.

      I want the giftee to be happy with the gift.

  3. JackieBCentralTexas

    For myself practical is always my first choice and one of my best memories was the time my boyfriend (husband later on) gave me a gift both practical and fun. He surprised me with a set of crayon fruit flavored lip glosses for no reason, he just thought they were neat and different so bought them for me.

    I kept those things for years even though they were no longer used it just made me smile every time they crossed my mind.

    Buying gifts for others has always been a pain, except my Mom. She loves animal figurines, sleep shirts, cartoon character pajama pants and anything to do with predicting the weather or measuring rainfall.

    • Jackie: That was sweet of him. I love when husbands buy sweet gifts like that. It shows they really thought about you.

      I wish my mom was as easy to buy for as yours. She’s elderly now and like us, we’re more careful about collecting more stuff that just gathers dust.

  4. One of my favorite gifts from my husband was a waterproof notebook so I could jot notes to myself in the bathtub. Practical and fun! 🙂

    I love giving and/or recommending books to people. I read a lot, so if I come across something my sister might like or my Mom, etc, I make a note of it for birthdays or Christmas. They always tell me I pick out good ones, so I must be doing something right. 🙂

  5. My husband and I both like practical gifts also. I usually buy him clothing because he hates shopping for it and appreciates me doing it for him. I don’t buy my children decorative gifts either. They grew up in my house and are all about the no bric-a-brac thing. My mom used to buy me gifts just like you described that yours did.

  6. When I was younger, I wanted fanciful gifts so imagine my”dismay” when our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, hubby brings home an ironing board! Now in all honesty, I needed an ironing board, we didn’t have one and I was ironing on the carpet. But it wasn’t the romantic idea I had, LOL. Nowadays we don’t exchange gifts on Christmas, birthday, anniversaries, sometimes not even a card. I remember my MIL giving us gifts of clothes for birthdays/Christmas. Thing is she bought for her tastes, not for ours. The kids got used to saying “thank you” and being appreciative, but they rarely wore what she got them and because hubby didn’t want to hurt her feelings, we never asked for the sales receipts to exchange them (not that we could because she bought from the Navy Commissary and you had to have a military ID to get into it. Nowadays, I usually buy gift cards for those on my list 🙂


  7. I ask for DVD I never watch. My family is tolerant. So I guess neither practical or fanciful. I also ask for expensive hisky of course and that’s both. This year I’m causing great confusion because I’ve asked for a touch iPod. The betting is I won’t use it…but I beg to differ.

    • Mike: iPod? Is that the one for music?

      I bought Greg one of those and it sits in a drawer somewhere. He used it for a couple of months before something else caught his fancy. Sometimes I’m surprised he hasn’t replaced me with a newer model.

      Le sigh.

  8. Well if its an iPod classic sitting in his drawer, he’s lucky. All the newer models have fancy gizmos but hold less music. We’re budgeting for an iPod touch with 32gb storage which should hold between 4k to 7k songs. Keeping an eye on the falling pound. Two months ago they cost £200, now it’s £229. Might be wise to not wait until Christmas 🙂

Say a few words for our audience.

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