Most people are all too familiar with the feeling of unwrapping a gift and thinking, “What am I going to do with this?” As well-intentioned as a present may be, sometimes it’s more stressful than fun to figure out how to incorporate a new item into your home — without adding it to the “donate” pile next year. Luckily, Apartment Therapy’s 2023 Small/Cool NYC pop-up (and the virtual experience, which you can browse here) wasn’t only rife with design inspo, but it was also chock-full of gift ideas that will be of stylish use in any home.
Below, check out 10 of our favorite multi-purpose products that will make surprising presents in the best way possible.
10 Cool/Surprisingly Giftable Products
What better gift can there be than a sound night’s sleep? This white noise machine from Tuft + Needle takes the form of a sweet, squat cylinder that’s just the right size to perch on a nightstand. It’s understated enough to go with any bedroom style and will be a godsend for any new parents or troubled sleepers in your life.
For $30 this multipurpose pegboard organization system is kind of a steal. You can use it, as designer Anita Yokota did in her Small/Cool bedroom, to stylishly store everything from notebooks to handbags to headbands on your wall. Or, you can gift it to your crafty friend who's always looking for ways to stash their various supplies, or your fashion-forward friend who has tons of accessories to display. It’s a practical storage solution for all kinds of uses.
A potted plant is a lovely present, but unless you know the recipient has a natural green thumb, it can also bring with it the burden of keeping said plant alive. Instead, opt for this self-watering option from Easyplant. This Heartleaf Philodendron is just under $40, and all your pal will have to do to keep it looking happy is fill up the reservoir with water — then the plant will take in the water it needs to.
Have you seen chicer storage tins? These are a perfect little luxury to gift someone who can never find anything in their bag. Loose earrings? Loose change? Whatever the trinkets they’re looking to corral are, these circular brass tins from Burke Decor will do it beautifully — and let the giftee know how stylish you think they are.
Wall hooks might not seem like the sexiest present, but highly functional and incredibly giftable are not mutually exclusive! Peep them in digital creator and interior designer Maitri Mody’s colorful Small/Cool kitchen and you’ll quickly see why. These Urban Outfitters hooks come in lime, blue, or orange, so pick them in your friend or family member’s favorite color and let them be put to good use hanging oven mitts, tote bags, coats, or whatever other hook needs they have.
Okay, door knobs are another not-so-obvious gift. But you’d be hard-pressed to find cuter doodads than these fruit and vegetable clay knobs from Etsy. You can’t miss giving these to your friend with a quirky sense of style — maybe even in a gift bag along with a few of their pantry favorites. Bonus: It’s a renter-friendly swap that’s easily undone when their lease is up.
For your friend who, like me, can never have enough canisters or utensil holders around their apartment, this trendy container from Urban Outfitters is a functional-meets-fun gift. It’ll add a dose of joy to their countertop while also organizing their spatulas and stirring spoons.
If you’re looking to splurge a bit on a gift for someone who either a) already has every kitchen appliance out there or b) likes to cook but has little kitchen to speak of (you can spot it in Apartment Therapy’s Style Shopping Editor, Blair Donovan’s, Small/Cool dorm room here), you should add the Wonder Oven to cart. This frankly adorable powerhouse from Our Place comes in a range of warm colorways and is a six-in-one appliance: It air fries, it bakes, it roasts, it toasts, it reheats, and it broils. And its petite footprint means it takes up hardly any space.
This may be my hottest take for a useful-yet-cool present, but if any of my loved ones are reading this, I would be thrilled to unwrap this organizer! Rather than giving a cleaning tool, which connotes chores (bleh), give them this bamboo wall-mount storage solution which will whisk their brooms and mops off the floor and into a tidy station (yay!). Personally, this gift would *sweep* me off my feet (sorry).
Who couldn’t use a catch-all tray around their home? They’re endlessly useful, and these bestsellers from Open Spaces (you can see them in Apartment Therapy editor Megan Baker Detloff’s Small/Cool space here) are particularly so. Each set comes with a small (wooden), medium (hard plastic), and large (aluminum) tray that nest inside each other, so you can create a three-pronged organizer in one spot or sprinkle them in different rooms all around your home.