Gift-giving is not my forte, and I don't like receiving them, either. I only see the point of exchanging presents when it's something either I or the recipient really needs. My family has learned to adapt over the years, while my employees get cash, the most practical gift of all. They seem to appreciate it, and so does the IRS.
But as a proud Kentucky manufacturer, I thought I'd take this opportunity to make some last-minute, practical gift suggestions -- and a couple less practical -- for those who feel compelled to give gifts but are short on ideas. Everything on the list is manufactured in my fair state. Not included are big-ticket items like Camrys, Ford trucks, and even, believe it or not, Tiffany and Co. engagement jewelry, made just a stone's throw from us. Instead, I've included items suitable for purchase by the case or by the piece for either the company or the individual on your list. All but the last two should be available at most 24-hour convenience stores.
1. Reynolds Wrap. Everyone knows the king of foils, but few know it's made in Louisville. By the box or the crate, it's a great and practical gift: Use it to cook and store food, and crumple it to clean up pots and pans. If you have a tin-hat conspiracy theorist in the family, give them a box and tell them to go crazy.
2. Jif peanut butter. The aroma of roasting peanuts wafts across Lexington from the Jif plant when conditions are right -- we used to be across the street, so we caught many a whiff. And in Louisville, a Kentucky company called Algood Foods churns out private-label peanut butter for stores across the country. As long as your intended recipient isn't allergic, a jar of peanut butter can make a great last-minute gift.
3. Post-It Notes. Before they came along, books were more dog-eared and reminders less perky. This fabulous invention is made not far from us, in Cynthiana. If your New Year's resolution is to learn another language, you can use Post-Its to label items in the house and annoy everyone you live with.
4. Dixie Cups. I'm a bit of a clean freak, so I think everyone needs Dixie Cups. They're made in our hometown of Lexington. We even have a giant water tower in the shape of a Dixie Cup. Some people consider it an eyesore, but the more enlightened ones recognize it as a roadside attraction.
5. Duct tape. Possibly the most practical gift of all, it can be used to make everything from hammocks to clothes to wallets, and it can stop leaks and mend fences. Berry Plastics in Franklin, Ky., is the largest U.S. manufacturer of the stuff.
And because not everyone shares my taste for the practical, here are two Kentucky-made gifts that are always welcome:
6. Bourbon truffles. Delicious, but so distracting when you're trying to work. The best are made in Kentucky, of course.
7. Bourbon. If America's Native Spirit is made anywhere but Kentucky, it's not bourbon, I don't care what anyone says.
Happy gift-giving, if that's what you're into!