2011 Best Gifts for Grownups
By: Meredith L. Phillips
Each year, more and more people are looking for money-saving gift ideas, not just to help with their own holiday budgets but also to help their loved ones with gifts designed to save money all year long. With this in mind, I have chosen many of this year's top gifts keeping in mind that a good gift can help you enjoy life while saving you money. I have also tracked down the most current pricing at some of the most popular online retailers to help stretch your holiday budget even further with the best available deals. Happy Holidays, and let the spirit (and affordability) of giving begin!
Holmes Tower Air Purifiers - HEPA-type filters remove up to 99% of airborne particles for a cleaner, fresher home or office. Different filters are available to target your worst problems. Air Pollutant filters zero in on dust mites, pet dander, and smoke. Smoke and Odor filters target smoke, garbage, and pet odors. Allergen and Pollen filters filter ragweed and tree pollen as well as dust using silver technology, which helps to kill common cold and other germs in the air. This helps keep your home smelling fresh and possibly save money on doctor bills and prescription costs. The Holmes Air Purifier we use is a medium size model number HAP9424B-U for average family rooms and bedrooms, about 11 x 15 feet. It has three speed settings, a filter change indicator, Ionizer button to help gather and filter smaller particles in the air. Arm & Hammer baking soda is used to help with odor control. $77 on Amazon.com
Barista Bath & Body - To start the morning feeling as revived as if you just had your morning cup of joe, we recommend B3 products. We love the espresso-colored Perk It Up shampoo, creamy Calm the Jitters conditioner, invigorating One Lump Or Two sugar scrub, and buttery yet non-greasy Room For Cream lotion. There is even a line of men's shaving products featuring coffee grounds for exfoliation and coffee oils for beard softening. For a safe and natural spa experience at home, try these products and more that incorporate organic coffee, shea, mango, and cocoa butters, and antioxidants into beautiful beauty treatments while avoiding parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. Pure essential oils and a balanced pH maintain healthy hair and skin. Citric acids are used for preservatives, while natural salts are used to create lather. And of course, the caffeine in coffee has amazing effects on the appearance of cellulite. Whether your gift recipient is conscious of using safer products and natural ingredients or is just a coffee lover, baristabathandbody.com has the perfect gift! $4.50 to $28 each or $22-$150 for gift sets
Keurig Special Edition Brewer - The Special Edition coffee brewer from Keurig features 6, 8, 10 oz settings, a large 48 oz reservoir for fewer refills, and a bonus 12 k-cup variety pack perfect for gift-giving. Programmable water temperature, clock, and auto on/off make your favorite cup quicker and simpler. A removable drip tray for taller cups and travel mugs satisfies the on-the-go types. Keurig Cafe Escapes k-cups are now available in more varieties, including Mocha and Chai Latte. The beautiful chrome K-cup carousel holds all your favorite flavors in reach and in style and makes a great gift for those who already own a Keurig. Cut out the expensive trips to the coffee shop and brew up your favorites right at home. Brewer model B60 $150 Walmart & Target
Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit - This starter kit does double duty, first as a gift for those foodies eager to start saving money by learning to can. Ball has also provided a wonderful way to create your own homemade gifts of jams and jellies. With three one-pint glass jars, a simple instruction guide and a heat-safe propylene boiling rack and lifter, this simple set has all the essentials for starting your own canning project or getting a budding homemaker on the right track. $11 Amazon & Walmart
Sunbeam Premium Heated Comforter - This machine wash and dry electric comforter is a great weight for cozying up on chilly nights. The fluffy Premium Comforter comes in a few colors to match your decor or can be used with a bottom-closed duvet to personalize or add weight and thickness. The full/queen and the king sizes come with dual controls for couples who prefer different heat settings. It is also available in a twin size. A total of ten settings and a preheat function feature a 10-hour automatic shut-off for safety. We find Amazon.com to have the best holiday prices on this luxurious comforter right now. Twin $100, Full/Queen $150, King $219
Wahl Lithium Ion Grooming Kit - For any family looking to save more money, the Wahl line of haircutting kits are a great place to start, and a generous gift idea. With easy instructions, a website for more even more step-by-step styles, and a full set of trimmer guards for getting hair just the right length, there is no need to worry if you are a first-timer. The Wahl Lithium Ion Grooming Kits are almost foolproof for simple guy cuts. We tried these out on a wiggly toddler and had great success getting an up-to-date boy cut that would have cost at least $20 at the local salon. Add up the savings over the course of a few months or family members, and this Wahl set easily pays for itself in no time. We love the 15-minute quick charge that gives 12 minutes of cutting, enough to do a whole haircut. The set comes with a pocketed case for holding the clippers, bonus trimmer, and all the included guards, combs and accessories. We found this on Walmart.com with free shipping to your home! $60
Dyson Hot - We love the compact Dyson Hot for both a space heater and cooling fan. It heats a whole room rather quickly using its ceramic plates, which create no heat smell due to staying below dust-burning temperature. An automatic shut-off kicks in when tipped over. There are no blades or grills, so the unit is easy to wipe down when cool. The no-tip base is the only piece that must be assembled but quickly snaps in place. The 70-degree oscillating unit also tilts up and down, has 10 quiet airflow settings, and has a full temperature range from 33 to 99 degrees F. At 32 degrees, the Dyson Hot operates as a cooling fan. From 33 to 99, heat will kick on when set to at least one degree above the ambient temperature and kicks off when the desired temperature is reached. The remote control magnetically attaches to the top of the unit and includes an easily replaced watch-type battery. The sleek, stylish unit is just over 5 lbs but quietly, safely and efficiently does a big job. Dyson Hot has a two-year warranty.
Sunbeam Touch Up & Go Finishing Iron - This travel iron comes in a heat-safe pouch for the traveler on your list. The handy Touch Up & Go has a triangular tip for touch-ups on any area. Though created for clothing, we find it handy for wrinkled curtains and other around-the-house touch-ups, as well. We also appreciate the included lint rollers and the spritz bottle for steam pressing. For the sloppy traveler or those who strive to be always perfectly presentable, this iron is great for gift recipients who are always on the go.
HoMEDics Pedicure Spa - In an uneasy economy, we are all looking for a way to de-stress but cannot always afford a trip to the spa or even a simple pedicure. Get the royal treatment right at home with HoMEDics Pedicure Spa. A quiet, heated footbath with massaging bubbles, the Pedicure Spa features toe-touch controls and includes pumices, nail brush, buffer, and more. This one is such a hit, we are thinking of giving one to everyone we know who needs a little pampering. Or maybe we will just keep it for ourselves. $40 at Amazon & Walmart
Oster Grillini - I was a bit intimidated when the Grillini first arrived. I never grill, not even indoors. I want to, but it always seems so messy and dangerous for me to tackle. The same for Sunday brunch - I just do not want to ruin a good meal with messy clean-up of pancake batter and bacon grease. I am not much of an outdoor type, either. I do enjoy a panini now and then, so the idea of making one in this gadget made me just curious enough to check it out. This combo from Oster allows you to cook the way you want with just one machine. Use two grill plates open, or close the unit for a panini maker. Use two griddle plates with the unit open, or close to make sandwiches and other items without grill marks. Choose one grill plate and one griddle plate, and do two jobs with the unit open. Who needs four different small appliances when one can do the job? Not only is the Grillini versatile, but it is also convenient. The four removable plates swap in and out with a simple click and release system. The top plate props open for safety and with the push of a button folds down again. The plates also pop into the dishwasher for a no-mess grilling experience! Never again will I dread the idea of a big Sunday breakfast or of grilling burgers for the family. For the busy cook, this Grillini is one great gift! FYI, we found a price cut on this at Target.com, but you will find it listed as an "Oster 4-in-1 Panini Grill." $75
Hershey's - Whether you are giving a box of chocolates to a last-minute arrival or filling the candy bowl for the arrival of party guests, Hershey's has something for everyone. Boxes can be gift wrapped for a single present, and bags of minis can be used to fill stockings. The Pot of Gold Premium Collection has a new look but the same delicious chocolate treats. A one-pound giant Hershey Bar, bags of red, green and gold foil wrapped Reese's cups, miniature Kit Kats, and Hershey's Kisses all add to the joys of the holiday season. CelebratewithHersheys.com has recipe ideas for even more ways to share your favorite sweet treats. In a variety of flavors and price points and available just about anywhere candy is sold, Hershey's is a gift guaranteed to melt any Scrooge.
Balanzza Mini Digital Luggage Scale - Wow! The airline charged you HOW MUCH for that overweight bag? Well, you are first on my list to receive this handy scale that not only weighs your luggage but also slips right inside with ease without weighing down that overstuffed bag even further. Never again pay for overages or have to worry about airing your dirty laundry while re-sorting it in a busy airport with the Balanzza Mini Scale. Just attach the scale to your luggage handle, lift, wait for the beep, put your bag down, and read the weight. The digital reading is available in kilograms and pounds, up to 44 and 100, respectively, and keeps you from embarrassing or expensive airport disasters and delays. This is one item you will not hesitate to pack! $20 at Walmart.com
Rachael Ray Meatloaf Pan - For a healthier meatloaf, try the new two-piece pan from Rachael Ray. Rachael has long been known for her quick and simple approach to mealtime, and this pan helps make a comfort food favorite easier and healthier. We love that meatloaf has always been a tasty way to make a little meat go a long way. But this is not just another way to save money - it also helps you do it in a healthier way! The perforated tray lets fat drain away for a less soggy loaf bottom and a lower fat meal overall. The durable non-stick coating keeps your loaf intact and attractive for serving. In addition, we love the silicone grips for safer removal of a hot pan from the oven. $20 from Amazon
Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame & Museum Official Board Game - Board games encourage family time, and this pop culture trivia game brings together two to six players from ages 10 and up for a rousing game combining knowledge and strategy. Answer questions about musicians, songs, events, and more to go from "garage band" to "Hall of Fame member." The first one "inducted" into the Hall wins! This gift is a great brainteaser for the music lover and a fun way to bring everyone together for a lot of entertainment without spending a lot of money. $23 at Walmart.com
Soft Kitty T-shirt & Plush - The Big Bang Theory has begun a cult following with the introduction of "Soft Kitty," the song Sheldon's mother sang to him when he was sick as related to Penny. His mother even recently appeared on the show to sing it to him as an adult. The soothing, catchy song has sprouted a combo of collectibles, a print tee featuring the "Soft Kitty" lyrics and the plush version of Soft Kitty herself. Tees come in adult men's and women's as well as girls' sizes. For purchase alone or as a combo, these make great gifts for fans of The Big Bang Theory. Tees, Kitties, and Combos from $19 to $48 at StylinOnline.com
Fun in the Fridge Snowman - From Hallmark, this festive snowman comes boxed in a cool retro fridge. Not your typical wall decoration, he is interactive and belongs on a shelf, and he prefers a cold one. Sit him in the fridge and wait until the door is opened to surprise your friends and family. This jolly snowman greets you with a silly song or funny phrase about how he is enjoying the cold and how important it is to keep the door shut. He is also good at picking up your spirits as you go about the task of whipping up a holiday feast. Three AAA batteries are included to get him in the spirit and ready for some holiday fridge fun. $17 from Amazon