Let’s define “adult,” real quick, shall we? Legally, of course, an “adult” is anyone over the age of 18. But that doesn’t quite cut it as a definition because there are still some things 18-year-old adults can’t legally do. They can’t drink (which is absurd), they can’t buy tobacco (absurd), they can’t rent a car in many states (which is also absurd), they can’t run for US Representative (25), US Senate (30) or US president (35), and they can’t gamble in Las Vegas (absurd), but they can at some tribal casinos. So what’s that leave 18-year-olds? The ability to vote and pay taxes? Psssshh. Sounds like a raw deal if you ask me.
But then again 18-year-olds are often still in high school or just starting college and don’t really know much about the world around them, so I get it. Which means that for the purposes of this article, “adult” won’t necessarily include 18-year-olds. But I still haven’t defined “adult,” so let’s do that now.
For the purposes of this article, and adult is anyone who is: 1) 18 or older; 2) has a full-time job (including homemaker); 3) has regular bills to pay; 4) has at least one other person relying on them for some need; and 5) pays their own taxes. That’s what an adult is right here, right now at Cosas Totum.
And what do you get an adult for Christmas? I mean, with kids it can normally be video games, toys, or things you can get for kinds but not really adults like posters, novelty piggybanks, paintball guns, and all sorts of other gadgets and trinkets. But adults don’t always need that kind of things and don’t always have room for stuff like that. So what do you get an adult? Luckily, I have some ideas.
1. Alcohol (For Adults Over 21)
Alcohol is a great gift, even for folks who don’t drink (unless they’re a recovering alcoholic, but then again you should probably know that beforehand). It can be used to cook, it can be kept for guests, and perhaps most impressively, it can be poured into a glass and consumed at the end of a long day of doing adult stuff like sending emails and filling out reports. If you know the person well, get them whatever you know they like. I generally get at least a bottle or two of bourbon every year and it’s awesome. But if they’re a gin or beer or wine or vodka person, then get them that.
If you don’t know what the person likes but you know they drink, a safe bet is either a bottle of red wine or a bottle of vodka. Red wine is so versatile. Sure, it pairs well with beef, but it can also be used in cooking for sauces, marinades, soups, stews, and even desserts. Vodka is also a great option because vodka tends to pair well with just about anything. Vodka and Gatorade, vodka and orange juice, vodka and Red Bull, vodka and vermouth with some olive juice, vodka and Sprite, vodka and tea, etc. Even vodka added into a can of White Claw is pretty good. I don’t drink a ton of vodka, but we always have it around because it mixes with anything. Alcohol is a great gift for an adult.
2. Amazon Gift Cards
Have you met anyone under the age of 75 who doesn’t use Amazon at least sometimes? I haven’t. Sure, Amazon is a huge, soulless company run by a dude who seems to be trying to become Lex Luthor, but it is super convenient. Dog food, books, toilet paper, clothing, video games, music, tools, cookware, bedding and linen, cleaning supplies, sports equipment, kitchen gadgets, batteries, smoke alarms, security systems, computers, comic books, newspapers, musical instruments, air filters, car parts, go karts, luxury watches, and even this $54,000 chandelier can all be found on Amazon. Unreal.
I bet my wife and I get at least two Amazon packages a week. I have several items on subscription, like dog food and paper towels, but then we also need random items now and again. I love getting Amazon gift cards for Christmas because unlike many other types of gift cards, there’s a 100% chance I will have a legitimate use for an Amazon card. Someone got me a gift card to Pier 1 one time. I was 23 and lived in an apartment and had literally zero need for a Pier 1 gift card. Plus, it was like a $20 gift card and the least expensive item in Pier 1 was something like $40. Just go with Amazon. It’s great.
It is a bit of a cliché that the gift that you hate to get as a kid becomes the gift you love as an adult, but there’s truth to it. I love a good pair of socks. Funny designs, extra comfort, whatever. I’m a big guy and I’m fairly active, so I go through a lot of socks. One year of golf or gym use and I’ll have holes in most of my most comfortable pairs of socks. Socks are great.
There are a couple of caveats here. The first is to make sure the socks will be the right size. I’m tall and I come from a tall family on my dad’s side and sometimes the standard socks aren’t big enough for our feet. That said, as long as the person you’re buying socks for is under 6’1″ or so (or 5’9″ or so for women), I think you’re probably good. And go nuts! I have some really wacky pairs of socks that I absolutely love. Before we were married my wife went to Australia and got me a pair of socks with orange, yellow, and blue kangaroos all over them, and they’re my favorite pair. I wear them to court when I have to go. It’s phenomenal. Socks are awesome.
4. Something Job-Specific
This one’s a little controversial, I admit, but it’s useful. If you’re buying gifts for someone and you know what their job is, maybe something that you know they use a lot. I’m a lawyer and so is my wife, so pens, legal pads, folios, and desktop tchotchkes are great gifts. My mom always gets me a pack of blue pens and it’s always a great gift. If you really want to go the extra mile, get something slightly personalized but still useful. I’ll give you an example.
I have a friend who works in construction. He’s not a laborer anymore but still occasionally has to do physical work, and one year someone got him a really nice tape measure with his initials engraved in it. I thought it was cool. I don’t know anything about construction culture and maybe he got a whooping as if he’d just told someone they had a case of the Mondays, but I thought it was a cool gift and it was something useful because not only was it a tape measure but it had something on it to denote that it was his and therefore was less likely to be walked off with.
5. Something Hobby-Specific
I saved this one for last because it comes with a couple of huge caveats, which we’ll get to in a minute. Most adults have some form of hobby. Podcasting, blogging, golf, exercise, model building, video games, camping, etc. Hobbies are great. Hobbies are what keep us halfway sane when the rest of life gets a little intense. And hobby-specific gifts are a great way to help someone foster that hobby. I play a lot of golf, so I normally get golf balls, tees, gloves, etc. and it’s awesome. I’m also a huge audiophile so I get a lot of music related stuff as well, which is equally awesome. If you know someone has a hobby, then a gift that feeds that passion is generally a good idea.
But here are the caveats. For one thing, you have to kinda-sorta know how into the hobby they are. Don’t get something advanced for a person who’s been at it for a month. Likewise, don’t get beginner gear for an expert. When in doubt, a gift card to hobby-specific store is a great cop out here. I got one to the PGA Store one year and it was cool because normally I would never go there because everything’s so overpriced, but with a gift card I didn’t feel like I was getting ripped off as badly. Another caveat: if they mention something they’ve wanted and you want to get them that thing, get that thing and that thing exactly. I also cook a lot and occasionally get cooking equipment. One time someone asked what I wanted and I told them I wanted a blender. They got me this complicated machine that had like 25 settings and could do almost anything under the sun, but it was huge, not at all machine washable, and didn’t have a pulse button. What kind of blender doesn’t have a pulse button? It was the kind of thing someone would buy if they didn’t know the first thing about cooking, and therefore was a disappointment. I still said thank you and tried to use it, but as soon as was socially acceptable I cleaned it really well and donated it to the Salvation Army.
There are a few things you should never get adults: diet and exercise equipment that were not specifically requested, gift cards to inconveniently-located places, clothing other than socks unless you 100% know that person wants that thing in that size, cleaning supplies that weren’t specifically requested, tickets to anything that you don’t 100% know that person likes, and hygiene products like deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. because that will probably come across as telling the person they stink. If they do stink, just tell them. Don’t be passive-aggressive about it.
Whatever you choose, though, have a safe and merry Christmas. Tomorrow’s Quick Hits will be the last new article until after Christmas because all of us here will be out of town for a bit, but stay safe and don’t forget to leave something awesome out for Santa.