Practical gifts: These gifts meet needs without taking up space


If you are running out of time to find that special gift for that special someone, this might be the year when the thing to give isn’t a thing at all.

As Christmas approaches, here are some practical gift ideas that can make life easier and more enjoyable for your loved ones, as well as others that will help them help someone less fortunate – and they don’t take. of place.

Cocooning services

Nothing makes a body more special than a relaxing massage, a rejuvenating facial, a stylish haircut, or a cool manicure or pedicure.

That’s why a care gift is ideal, said Mia Z, assistant at A Finished Appearance Salon and Day Spa in New Kensington.

“Gift certificates are our biggest seller,” she said. “A lot of women get their hair done or have their hair done every week or every two weeks, so it’s all about maintenance. ”

For others, it’s an expected occasional treat.

For couples, visiting a salon or spa together can be a carefree day and a cherished memory.

At A Finished Appearance, Mia said, the best seller is the $ 100 cash gift certificate that includes a $ 15 bonus.

“And it never expires,” she added.

Meal delivery

We all know someone who lives alone and thinks cooking for one is too difficult, a couple with a baby who doesn’t have time to prepare meals, or a young professional who works hard and survives on coffee. in the morning and take out in the evening.

Don’t they all deserve a good home cooked meal?

Meal delivery services abound these days, and there are ways to feed a loved one while supporting the local economy.

Made in Pittsburgh, a website featuring local cuisine, art, events and innovation, offers a list of Pittsburgh-based meal delivery services. Vegetarians and meat lovers alike will find mouth-watering dishes, with many departments also committed to sourcing local ingredients.

Among the options, the Bleu Box, which promises delivery within 50 miles of the city.

Art classes

Those with a creative bent might appreciate the gift of an art class.

“We’ve definitely had people who signed up a friend or family member for a class,” said Michael Tusay, executive director of the Latrobe Art Center. “Usually they register themselves too, so they can take it together. ”

The center offers courses for February and March. Topics will include oil and watercolor painting, mixed media, and possibly book creation, although the timeline has yet to be finalized.

“We usually take time off in January because people don’t like traveling here in bad weather,” Tusay said.

The Greensburg Art Center offers gift certificates that the recipient can use to pay for a class or make purchases in the Artists’ Market.

Classes will resume from mid-February to the end of February, said member Rosemary Sovyak. On the program, oil painting and watercolor, engraving, introduction to mosaics and portraiture, a course that was taught for the first time in the fall.

Help around the house

It takes a lot of work to keep the house clean and the yard looking presentable. Not everyone has the time, physical ability, or interest to clean indoors or to plant, mow, weed, prune and rake outdoors.

“This year, two families got (a cleaning service) for their parents. They’re older and they’re just late, ”said Darla Cuppy of Vandergrift, who cleans and paints for individuals and rental properties. “A family told me it was the best gift they’ve ever received.”

“I just had a lady call me to do her father’s garden,” said Josh Bright, owner of Bright Lawn Care at Latrobe. “She didn’t know what to get him and thought maybe she could get him this and have the whole family share the bill.”

Bright also suggested another option for a seasonally appropriate gift – someone to clear the aisle and walk when the snow falls.

Vacation getaways

Imagine opening a card on Christmas morning that says, “Congratulations, you are on your way (your dream vacation destination)!” ”

Vacation Station Travel in Greensburg can organize this kind of surprise.

“It’s usually a husband who comes in at the last minute and says, ‘I want my wife to take a cruise, but I don’t know where or when’ or ‘My wife talked about doing Paris,'” said the owner. Michel Philopena. “We will prepare a sample itinerary for him for Christmas, and then finalize the plans later.”

On the other hand, a woman could surprise her husband with a long weekend at a golf resort, Philopena said.

“It’s about splurging and pampering yourself,” he said.

“Travel gifts make memories, and people don’t want to return them,” said Colleen Peterson, owner of Port of Call Travel in Greensburg.

Disney trips are popular for giveaways, as are gift certificates that can be applied to future trips, she said.

European river cruises and spa packages are also popular right now, Philopena said, and travel to Mexico and the Dominican Republic has remained “relatively easy throughout the pandemic.”

“A lot of (bookings) have been relatively last minute, something put together within a couple of weeks,” Philopena said. “There are a lot of plans going on for 2022, but everyone is saving and holding their breath.”


It’s great to visit a museum or watch a show at one of the theaters and performance halls in the area. Why not ensure that a loved one has continued access to artistic and cultural events by supporting the sponsoring organization?

Membership not only provides financial support to a preferred institution, but it also comes with benefits.

All members of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg receive discounts on events and programs, as well as on purchases in the museum store and in the Marchand Café. They are also invited to special member-only programs.

The higher the membership level, the better the perks – including sneak previews of temporary exhibitions only for members, tours by curators, and mutual benefits at other museums across the country.

Frequent visitors to events in the Pittsburgh Cultural District could be members of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

There are different levels of membership, starting at $ 25, with perks such as access to special presales for selected performances, discounts at participating Cultural Quarter restaurants and invitations to exclusive events for members. such as loadings of shows, evenings with the actors and program luncheons.

Circles level members have access to a special lounge in the Benedum Center.

Charitable donations

Sometimes the most satisfying gift you receive is one that helps someone else.

Donations and ticket sales at the Casino Theater in Vandergrift keep “the focal point of the city” open and provide quality entertainment, Treasurer Janice Oberdorf said.

The theater board is raising funds for a fire escape that will serve the theater and the nearby Vandergrift public library. The names of the donors will be inscribed on a plaque near the structure.

Your gift could also be honored with a nameplate on a seat in the theater, Oberdorf said. The cost is $ 250 for a seat on the first floor or $ 200 for the second floor.

Donors can also send “whatever they want to be used for whatever is needed,” Oberdorf said.

“We are 100% volunteers, so you can donate to volunteer,” she added. “You don’t even need to have a special skill; you can take tickets.

“We receive honoraria and memoirs throughout the year, but especially at Christmas,” said Jennifer Miller, CEO of Westmoreland Food Bank. “A lot of times people say to their families, ‘We don’t need anything, so just donate on our behalf.’ ”

On average, every $ 1 donated to the food bank buys about $ 10 worth of food, she said, so a little can go a long way. The food bank purchases its purchases far enough in advance to be unaffected by recent supply chain disruptions, Miller said.

Animal lovers might prefer a donation to a shelter or rescue group. Those concerned about the fate of Earth or its inhabitants might choose to support a nonprofit environmental or human rights organization.

To help you determine if a charity is using donations responsibly, the Federal Trade Commission recommends checking a website such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, or GuideStar to see where the donations are going.

Shirley McMarlin is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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