Preparing the Unprepared: Practical, Prepared Presents

The holiday season is here.  Time for the annual dilemma of what to get for (fill in the blank), who has everything.  One more tie for dad?  Another pair slippers for mom?  A generic gift card for your aunt or uncle?  Why not give a prepared present that helps friends and family members become better prepared for life’s eventual curve balls, without being “that prepper person” that elicits the slight shake of the head or the eye roll?

Since some of us have developed a reputation for being the tinfoil hat-wearing, conspiracy theorist, crazy person, we might as well embrace it.  However, giving a bucket of 25-year shelf stable food would be considered odd to say the least (although I would appreciate it).  So how do we help those that don’t see the need for preparedness despite the writing on the wall?  And here at the end of 2021, the wall writing is everywhere.  Heck, even the main stream media is reporting on it.  Yet there are still those friends and family members that, despite the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, continue to live oblivious to the signs that only having this week’s groceries in the house is not a particularly smart idea.  Short of staging an intervention, there’s not much that is going to convince them otherwise, so stealth is necessary.

Helping our non-prepping friends and family without shoving preparedness in their face requires some creativity.  Here are some ideas that are “Prepper Friendly” without being over-the-top-in-your-face preparedness gifts.  This list is not just for Christmas.  This can easily become a yearlong endeavor to sneak a little prep into the lives of others that matter to us; think housewarming gifts, birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day, anniversaries, etc.

Prepper Friendly Gifts – Prepared Presents

  • Knives or Multi-tools – who wouldn’t enjoy having a beautiful and useful knife?  The selection of knives is nearly endless.  Consider the hand size of the individual you are shopping for and the potential uses.  Swiss army knives are great for general use and present a myriad of other implements.  Multi-tools are essential to have in every household vehicle and they make great stocking stuffers.
  • Oil Lamps – You could go for a vintage antique look, or one of the more contemporary designs. Look for these lamps at flea markets, yard sales, or antique stores.  Not only are they beautiful, but they can light a room and throw off a little heat during a power outage.  If you are giving the lamp, don’t forget a spare wick and a bottle of lamp oil.
  • Mini car battery starter packs – these are so nifty and can really save the day.  To look at them, you’d never think they could jump your car, but they can.  Lots of options to choose from and plenty of great reviews. 
  • Phone size solar chargers/power banks – these are so handy.  I keep one on the dashboard of my car constantly.  Not only can I drop it in my pocket when I jump out of the car for a hike or a long store visit, it comes in handy for the back seat video gamers.  I don’t have cords wandering through seats and fights about who needs the car charger slot more.  Mom always wins that argument as the GPS trumps all video gaming and music streaming.

Note:  I’m in the northeast and these hold up well on my dashboard.  Your local dashboard temperature on a summer day should be taken into consideration, although most of them are designed to take those kind of temperatures.

  • Candles – You can pick up candles anywhere.  You can purchase them from Yankee Candle, your local Wal-Mart, Ollies, and most odd-lot stores.  Dollar Tree and General Dollar have ridiculously long burning alter candles for a buck.  Wrap them in twine, decorate them, sticker them, glitter them, or personalize them and hand them out!  There are lots of DIY boards about decorating the candles, including this one here.
  • Battery or solar powered lamps.  This may seem obvious if given alone, but combine it with some additional small camping items and it’s disguised as a camping lantern for their next excursion into the woods!
  • AAA Memberships – either buy them one or renew it for them.  This is as basic for preparedness as it comes.  These are especially helpful for those who may not have the physical prowess to change their own tire if needed.  Add your kids to your program and sleep better knowing they can have a flat fixed, a tow, a lockout opened, or gas delivered when they are stranded.  My kids all called me after they used it for the first time providing the entire story of how they did it themselves and how quick it was. 
  • Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Costco membership – these memberships nearly pay for themselves with just the gasoline discount.  By their nature, these clubs encouraged stocking up since it is rare to find things in smaller quantities.  A side note, watch their flyers for tire sales which include stems and mounting and free rotations as long as you watch your mileage and come in on time!
  • Mini survival kits – for the DIYer’s, grab an Altoids or Sucrets tin and create a mini emergency kit for a backpack or purse.  You can find lots of these online or on Pinterest.  It’s amazing how many handy and “save the day” items you can fit in these little boxes.
  • Crank NOA radios – some are also solar and have USB charging ports and built-in flashlights.  A few cranks and you have weather and emergency broadcasts.  This is another one of those “hard to disguise” items, but try to tie it into a car survival kit below, or the solar powered lamp camping kit above.
  • Blankets and throws can make great gifts as well.  Make it a basket by including microwave popcorn, a cool bowl, and a post-apocalyptic movie DVD (Twelve Monkeys or 28 Days Later) and call it a movie night package! 
  • Flashlights – look for the zoom style that can light a room.  The newer LED flashlights are incredibly bright.  Include extra batteries to round out the gift!
  • Jar meals (add boiling water only) – here is a link to homemade instant oatmeal to get you started.  Use your imagination and your dehydrated berries and get creative.
  • Tools – Tools are the perfect gift for the neighbor or relative who seems to see your garage as the local Rent-it-all.  That spade, ladder, or drill that is constantly being borrowed can be given a rest.  Shop the sales at the big box hardware stores and get them their own.  Not only is this practical, but it might give someone a hint!
  • French Press or Campfire coffee maker and a bag or two of gourmet coffee beans or grounds.  Your friends will think you’re simply feeding their caffeine habit when you have just set them up to have coffee when the power goes out.  A gas grill and a campfire coffee maker will make their morning after a storm that takes down the local power lines.
  • Cast iron pans/Dutch Ovens – these kitchen workhorses last a lifetime and can be handed down through generations.  I have my grandmother’s cast iron and my kids will most likely fight over it.  Perhaps I should break it up in the will?  At first glance, this seems to be just a kitchen pan, but it can be used in a fireplace, on a wood stove, a gas grill, or a fire pit with no harm.  No one wants to spoil their expensive Martha Stewart pans in a fire pit!

Again, shop yard sales, flea markets and antique stores to find vintage ones.  Don’t worry if it’s not pristine, they are easily brought back to life with not much work.  This article explores several restoration options.

  • Foraging/edible books – it will be hard to disguise this as anything other than prepper literature, but perhaps you tell them it makes a great coffee table book because of the beautiful pictures?  You could also tuck an edible book into a garden basket (next).
  • Gardening supplies can be given year round.  Tools, gloves, seeds, and more can be tucked into a cute planter or gardening bucket.  Think outside the proverbial box and set up your gift in a beautiful hanging basket.  Include some additional thoughtful prepper items such as bug spray and a hat.
  • First Aid/CPR/Stop the Bleed/Life Guard course – Giving a gift certificate to an American Red Cross course can mean a potential summer job as a lifeguard or babysitter for a teen and a lifesaving skill for just about anyone else.  Explore your options for potentially free programs as well.  They are often provided at low or no-cost through local churches or school groups.  Consider gifting a CPR/First Aid course to a group of friends and family.  You can host it at a local church or community center and meet for a lunch afterwards.
  • Plants – think herbs, seasonal vegetables, and aloe.  Why send cut flower arrangements that die within a week when you can send a wonderful rosemary bush, ginger, or basil plant?  Include a recipe calling for the fresh herb you’re gifting along with some additional ingredients.  Think rosemary chicken or an herb bread mix to include with the plant.  Write or type the recipe up on a beautiful card and attach with a bow to the planter.
  • Luminade floating solar rechargeable lanterns – These are great to have in a vehicle, camping, or just having around in the event of a power outage.  They are a quick recharge and provide a substantial amount of light.  An added bonus is that they are submersible.  You can find them here: LuminAid 
  • Winter car survival kit – here in the northeast, a blanket is essential for the car during winter months.  You can simply gift a car blanket in its own case, or create a trunk survival box.  Include windshield fluid, energy bars, bottled water, jumper cables, flashlight with spare batteries, duct tape, a collapsible shovel, fire extinguisher, extra jacket or windbreaker, and gloves and a hat.  Keep it compact enough so that they aren’t tempted to move it out of the vehicle and then neglect to put it back in.  Pick up a small to medium size tool box and fill it up.  I can personally speak to how important this box can be in the winter when stuck on a highway waiting for the tow trucks to clear an accident.  I’d also add a compressed or partial roll of toilet paper for potential hours-long stranded situations where nature will definitely call during your layover.  For those in southern states, alter the box for warmer weather.
  • Battery Buddy – I have an old version of this and it is fabulous.  Not only do they safely and conveniently store your batteries, they often come with battery testers so you can check remaining battery life.  No more “is this a fresh battery” guessing game or rummaging through drawers to find the right battery.  Plus, having a box with specific size slots for batteries will often compel people to fill it up (our goal)!  I know every time I glance at mine I add AAA or C batteries to the list, depending on the vacancies.  Ontell has a really nifty one out that’s under $20.  Add a rechargeable battery station and some rechargeable batteries to get them started as well.
  • Magazine subscription – Two that come quickly to mind are Mother Earth News and Backwoods Home.  Both are paper magazines that are reference materials as well as entertaining.  The options are many, and it’s a gift that has staying power on the end table.  It’s also an opportunity for prepping conversations later in the year with a “hey, did you read that article in Backwoods this month about composting/chickens/making jerky?”

Adding a little preparation into everyone’s life isn’t as difficult as it seems.  Prepping is simply have the extras at our fingertips that smooth the inevitable bumps in the road.  If we can slyly sneak in a little prep to our friends and family, so much the better.  Being prepared should be shared.

Author: This is a guest post by Kate Paparazzo.

While you are on this topic, you might want to read this article – Community Preparedness: Six Considerations When Bringing Your Neighbors Along in Preparedness.

Prepper Friendly Gifts

2 thoughts on “Preparing the Unprepared: Practical, Prepared Presents”

  1. FLAPrepper1

    A few years ago my son went off to college taking his 19 year old car with him. It was the car we brought him home in (He went from a baby seat in the back to the driver’s seat in that car). It might be old but it is reliable. Still, without “dear old dad” not able to come to the rescue, that Christmas I got him some trunk supplies. He had a toolbox already but I got him: a Tire Inflator, Car Battery Starter, First Aid Kit, I made him an Ah-$hit Survival Kit in case he needs to hike home.
    He was very happy with the gifts. He’s has used the tire inflator and the First Aid Kit.
    Dad for score!

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