Six gift ideas for very practical people


Not everyone likes to receive smellies and chocolates for Christmas. NZ Lifestyle Block editor Nadene Hall’s gift list might provide some inspiration for the person in your life who prefers practical, useful presents.

Words: Nadene Hall


I knew I had a problem when I fell in love with a chandelier that cost more than the entire lighting budget for my house. No shiny crystals for me, but two of my favourite-ever gifts are light sources I use at least a couple of times a week. One is a head lamp so I can see in the dark, hands-free, and the other is a rechargeable torch which can shine a light from one side of my block to the other, usually to try and spot Olivia the cat chasing rabbits when she should be inside asleep. Best daily-use presents ever.


The rats around here are huge. I’m prone to exaggeration, but I’ve found rats that could literally heave the bottom of my hen house. They were so big that when I persuaded my best hunting cat (Olivia) to inspect the coop, then carefully lifted it up so she got easy access to their nest, she chose to leave the vicinity at top speed. The best Christmas gift (other than a dog-proof, child-proof, almost Nadene-proof bait station) are stainless steel bins to hold livestock feed. Pretty, and rat-proof.

Almost 10 years ago we did a story on Stephanie Kimpton who had started concocting beauty products on her Oxford lifestyle block, then started Oasis Beauty. When I read about one of her first products, a cream to help her mother after she had an allergic reaction to something in her garden which turned her skin as ‘hard as a rhino’, I knew it was the cream I needed. My poor hands tend to bear the brunt of a lot of filth and therefore a lot of hot water and scrubbing, leaving them looking rhino-like, so this cream is great.

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When my Dad and I finished building my house, I had grand ideas of creating a huge cottage garden. Then I discovered how much work it is to create and maintain a cottage garden. The garden beds remained empty until my Uncle Graham and Aunty Val turned up with a boot-load of dahlia tubers. They warned me they were big, blowsy, very pink and prone to taking over and that’s exactly what they’ve done with almost no intervention from me for the last 10 years. My kind of gardening.



This was a home-made present which makes it even better. NZ Lifestyle Block’s designer Rebecca is one of those amazingly clever crafty people and after hearing me complain about a sore neck, she made this beautiful, wheat-filled heat pack out of leftover fabric from another pretty project. I used it every day until it finally gave up from its 1000th trip around the microwave. I’ve bought replacements since, but none have come near the quality, longevity or cuteness of this one.



This is the latest design in moveable coops that makes managing your flock so much easier. The Eglu Cube Chicken Coop is the ideal way to keep up to 10 chickens in a town or country garden. It is based on the same revolutionary technology as the original Eglu plastic chicken house, with slide-out dropping tray, hose clean surfaces, anti-tunnel skirt, twin-walled insulation, and no maintenance. It comes complete with everything you need to get started, including wheels, fitted roosting bars and an integrated nesting booth. To make collecting your eggs easy, the Eglu Cube has an eggport which gives you instant access to the nesting box. Upkeep is a breeze thanks to the innovative slide-out dropping tray and fully removable nesting box partition and rear panel door. Unlike wooden housing, you don’t need to treat your Eglu Cube, and because it’s made from energy efficient polymers using modern construction techniques, it will last for years and can be 100% recycled.

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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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