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'Outside-the-Box' gift ideas for the homeowner

Gift-giving season is upon us! And while we here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor are the experts in most things housing – not necessarily in gift giving – we still have several things to say on the topic!

First, we know from experience that Christmas is often the time of year that derails people from sticking with their household budget, sometimes taking years to dig out from under the debt caused by overspending. Don’t let that be you!

Second, at the same time, we do know how important the Christmas shopping season is for small businesses in our communities. So, we do want to encourage you to not just spend your money wisely, but also spend it locally!

Did you know that “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, was given its name because traditionally that would be the day that many businesses would no longer be in “the red” financially, but would begin to make a profit and thus be in “the black”? That just demonstrates how important the last month of the year is to keeping many small businesses in business into the next year.

Third, we do have some ‘Outside the Box’ gift ideas that fit right in with the goal of NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor to encourage and safe, comfortable and affordable housing for all.

Some of these are crowd pleasers for that office gift exchange, or are perfect for that hard-to-buy-for individual on your list. Or, maybe you are the one who is hard to buy for and need something to put on your wish list. Take a look at the following gift suggestions!


  • A good quality fire box or fire safe to protect important financial and personal documents. Standard fire boxes run about $30. Some even protect against water.

  • An All-Hazard Weather Radio. They can be purchased at local hardware stores or box stores and have a price tag between $20 and $50.

  • A first-aid kit for either home or car.

  • An “emergency kit.” You can buy pre-assembled or customize one yourself, putting items into a backpack, a plastic tote or a small travel bag for the car or closet. The kit can contain things such as energy bars, water, a radio, flashlight, light sticks and a first-aid kit.

  • A box containing an emergency three-day supply of easy-to-prepare food items and water. Don’t forget to include food for the pets!

  • An extension ladder stand-off attachment. These provide a great way for do-it-yourselfers to get things done safely!

  • New smoke detectors for a home. (Did you know they should be replaced every 10 years?!)

  • A carbon monoxide detector. (Some smoke detectors have them included.) These are especially helpful for any home that has some type of fossil fuel heating device such as a woodstove, fireplace, gas or oil furnace or kerosene space heater.

  • A 5-pound ABC fire extinguisher for the kitchen or garage

  • A gun safety lock for each gun.

  • A “second floor” escape ladder. These collapsible contraptions fold up and out of the way until needed. They are available at local hardware stores or through a fire equipment supply company.

  • An emergency blanket for the car.

  • Battery-operated décor candles (for the ambiance of candlelight without the risk of fire).

  • A doorbell with built in camera.

  • Outdoor security cameras.

  • A whistle to go on a key chain or perhaps in an emergency kit.

  • A small emergency generator.

  • Maybe someone you love is ready to make the switch to a safer artificial tree. Get one on sale for them this year with the promise of a safer Christmas next year.


Sometimes the best gifts aren’t things at all, but gifts of time, service and peace of mind. Is there someone on your list who would appreciate any of the following?

  • A renter’s insurance policy for a year. (It is more reasonable than you think. Shop around for a policy that provides affordable coverage.)

  • A gift certificate for a chimney maintenance/cleaning.

  • A gift certificate from a local contractor to clean gutters and inspect the roof.

  • A gift certificate for furnace cleaning or gas fireplace cleaning services.

  • A window washing service (The recipient may want to wait until spring to redeem.)

  • A few hours of work from a handyman, painter or plumber.

  • A gift certificate for a tree trimmer.

  • Change out incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs to reduce electricity use.

  • Perhaps a homemade certificate for you to deep clean a garage, attic or basement. (And, make good on it!)

  • A certificate to make a dump run. You could offer your own truck or trailer to take a full load and pay the fee! (This could be in addition to the deep cleaning gift.)

  • A gift certificate for a spring clean-up lawn service including raking, trimming, etc.

  • A lawn mowing service for one or two months.

  • Landscaping service gift certificate.

  • Gift certificates for gravel or beauty bark.

  • Gift certificate to pay to paint one interior room.

  • Offer to buy and help plant spring bulbs and/or sign up the recipient for a Master Gardeners class.


Here are some fun, home-enhancing odds and ends that you could help Santa deliver:

  • A bird feeder with bird seed

  • A bird feeder with a built-in camera!

  • A decorative bird bath for the garden

  • Pre-built garden boxes and several bags of soil

  • And, an odd but oddly appreciated gift--a heated toilet seat.


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