2010 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Kits

For high school graduation, my uncle bought me an emergency kit for my car. At the time, I thought it was the most boring gift ever. I tossed the kit in the trunk of my car, wrote my uncle a generic thank-you note, and quickly forgot about the kit.

When my car broke down the winter of my freshman year of college and I was stranded on the side of the road, I didn’t even remember the emergency kit was in my car. In an act of desperation (remember, only the very wealthy had car phones back then), I opened up the trunk, and was surprised to see an emergency kit ready to help me.

I lit a flare, put up a “Driver in Distress” orange sign, wrapped myself in the silver blanket, and crawled back into the car to wait for someone to drive down the quiet country road. While I waited, I snacked on the granola bar that was also in the pack, and did some word searches from a game book my uncle had put inside the kit. Two hours later, an elderly woman drove by and said she’d call a tow truck for me when she got home. Half an hour after that, the tow truck driver and I were on our way to the mechanic’s shop down the street from my dorm. The emergency kit from my uncle turned out to be an amazing gift, one that I didn’t appreciate until I desperately needed it.

A kit can be an extremely practical gift, one that could make a real difference in an emergency situation. Some of the items in these kits overlap, so I can’t imagine that you would give more than one of these kits to one person. However, a gift like this could be a lifesaver to someone you love:

  1. AAA’s Road Assistance Kit, a practical gift for anyone who has a car and doesn’t already have a kit like this.
  2. Total Resources’ Emergency Medical Kit is nice for the home, office, boat, RV, and on a camping trip. The convenient carrying case makes transporting it with you extremely simple.
  3. SurvivalKit’s Disaster Emergency Kit is perfect for someone who lives in an area prone to natural disasters.
  4. For someone moving into his or her first place, a Stanley Tool Kit is a good starter tool kit. The carrying case also makes these items easy to store in an organized way.
  5. A bike enthusiast in your life might enjoy a Bicycle repair kit in a nice travel bag. These kits can be strapped to the bike so they’re available when they’re needed.

These specific kits might not work for someone on your list, but you can build one tailored to your recipients’ specific needs. If you do, aim for practical and utilitarian items, and be sure to include a storage case so all of the kit items can be stored together.

Check out our complete listing of items in Unclutterer’s 2010 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

22 Comments for “2010 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Kits”

  1. posted by FatStupidAmerican on

    Typically I advise against buy tool kits such as the one mentioned in the post. The tools are almost always poor quality made from steel produced in China. This is not to say there aren’t any good kits out there.

    If you are considering a tool kit, make sure it isn’t so cheap-o kit. Cheap tools can break but will do fun things like strip screws and ware down nuts make the job exponentially more difficult.

  2. posted by Erin on

    One more to add to your list if give gifts to a knitter is a knitter’s kit which could include stitch markers, a crochet hook (for dropped stitches), row counter, tapestry needle for weaving in ends, etc. Knitpicks.com sells a nice one that is reasonably priced, however a local yarn shop could also help you assemble one. Make sure to add chocolate!

  3. posted by chacha1 on

    I would also recommend first-aid kits. First responders say it’s best to have one in the house, and one in each car – so it’s not a bad thing for a family to get duplicates. Also, many drugstores sell a tiny version (bare minimum supplies) for about two dollars, which makes a great stocking stuffer.

  4. posted by FatStupidAmerican on


    Number 2 the Total Resources’ Emergency Medical Kit is a first aid kit….

  5. posted by FatStupidAmerican on


    I take that back…. 3 of the 4 have first aid.

  6. posted by chacha1 on

    FSA, true, but a $30 “outdoor” first aid kit might not meet everyone’s needs – or budgets.

    And in my experience, multi-use kits often result in confusion as pieces are used and not replenished. Dedicated, small kits seem to function better for most people.

    Basically, the bigger and more complex a collection of items is, the more likely people are to shove it in the back of a closet. The best first-aid kit is one that is small enough to stash in an immediately-accessible place and cheap enough to buy in multiples.

  7. posted by Eitan on

    When I got my training in Wilderness First Aid, I learned an useful lesson – the commercially packaged first aid kits generally have many things you don’t need, and not close to enou of the things you do need.

    More useful than a kit – get someone training as a gift, then they’ll know what to put in their own kit.

  8. posted by Sky on

    I love practical gifts….

  9. posted by Dmarie on

    Bought my daughter a can of Fix-A-Flat when she went off to college, and she seemed truly thankful for it. When I visited, there it sat inside her apartment on her dresser! (y’know, where it would do her the most good)

  10. posted by Flora on

    I am thankful for Unclutterer.com.

  11. posted by Mary on

    Me too, Flora — thankful for Unclutterer and for Erin, who shares her time and knowledge with us.

  12. posted by Ruth Hansell on

    Flora and Mary, thanks for the thanks idea! I’m thankful for Unclutterer and Erin, and very thankful that the Forums were created. I’ve gotten many wonderful ideas there as well.

    Happy Thanksgiving, All!

  13. posted by Living the Balanced Life on

    I think the overall theme is finding items that will be useful to the recipient. My adult daughter asked for books on how to fix and DO stuff. Averything was geared towards home repair (not what she wanted) Hubby searched high and low online and put together a kit of books an tools she needs for her trade (stage technician)

  14. posted by alison p-h on

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    I am thankful for unclutter.com too. I appreciate the posts with its insights to addressing clutter, whatever form it may be for us. Thanks Erin. And I appreciate the readers input too. I have walked away with great ideas from the comments.

    Our Thanksgiving (Cdn) was last month but having lived in the States for many years, it is a treat to recognize Thanksgiving again!

  15. posted by priest's wife on

    Nice ideas!

  16. posted by Volker on

    I’m always struggling with Emergency Kits. They don’t hold forever. They won’t fit all the needs – beside the (not always!) low quality.

    How often will you forget a “5 year shelf”? Same with medication. For me it makes more sense to create yourself one (e.g. with bad tasting army food which has way over 10 year shelf (less waste)) and check it once a year – e.g. while proceeding the spring cleaning guide.

  17. posted by Grammie Linda on

    My kids sand nieces are very grateful for their grandmother’s gift of a AAA membership.

  18. posted by FatStupidAmerican on


    I am a fan of building my own kits myself. When it comes to things like medicine and other chemistry that expire after a while, I place a white label on it’s packaging and mark its expiration date. I do the same of batteries.

    In the house I don’t have a separate first aid kit and emergency kit. I keep it all together, this allows me to keep up the maintenance on the kit.

  19. posted by Denise on

    I am grateful for your uncle, who gave you that Emergency kit. I

  20. posted by Deb on

    For anyone who has done a first aid course, one of these plastic masks is a great thing to have on hand (and they don’t seem to end up in many standard first aid kits, so can be bought as a top-up)


    There’s a one-use disposable version also

    I’d suggest that the best (and cheapest) option might be a keyring version – perfect for stocking stuffers

    and if you’re buying for someone who hasn’t done a first aid course – particularly a parent – then a certificate for a course is an obvious solution – they may save your life one day!

  21. posted by chrisbean on

    One of the best presents I ever got was a “new job kit” that a friend put together for me as a congratulation gift.

    It was a cute makeup bag that she had stocked with a stain-remover pen and disposable nail polish remover pads, needles and thread, safety pins, fashion tape, a tiny box of mints, aspirin, tea bags, band-aids, lip gloss, and other similar items. Having that in my desk drawer at work has saved me so many times!

  22. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    When I was about 7, my 13 year old sister was given a saucepan for Christmas by an aunt or grandparent. I thought that must be the most *boring* present ever.

    For my own 21st I asked people to give me things that would help me when I moved out of home. Family members obliged with assorted kitchen utensils.

    When I first started moving out of home (a temporary arrangement for a summer job), my parents gave me things like a 13 piece set of screwdrivers and home-made hardware tools (Dad’s great at turning old hacksaw blades into mini scalpel-like knives). By that stage I thought they were the coolest gifts.

    Now that we’re older, I expect I’ll have to fight at least one sister for Dad’s small hand-powered drill and ball-head hammer when he dies. :-0

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