In my first year as a single parent, I yearned for practical things that would prepare me for any disaster -- like random daycare closings, flat tires and the off-chance my car might swerve off the bridge I took to work each day and land in Lake Washington.
In short, I wanted to be ready for anything, and my Christmas list said as much:
Car window hammer. Perfect for self-rescue, this item should be kept in the driver's side door pocket because you never know when you're going to need it, but when you do, the last place you're going to look is the glove compartment.
Pocket-size Swiss Army knife. Great for trimming rogue bang hair.
First-aid kit (2). One for the car, one for the home.
Survival kit. Not to be confused with the first-aid kit, the larger, more robust FEMA-compliant survival kit provides several days' worth of food, water and supplies to help you ride out the apocalypse. Bonus: The container your freeze-dried food comes in also doubles as a toilet.
Electric blanket. Not a necessity, but a nice-to-have. Upside: It never steals the covers because, well, it is the covers.
Now that I'm a few years into this single parenting thing, I've added a couple more must-have items to my list to make the heavy lifting a little easier, like that emergency cell phone charger I could have used to charge a dead phone and call my ride home from the airport -- who happened to be waiting in the cellphone lot.
Nobody should have to experience that kind of irony.
You really can't be too prepared for those little inconveniences life throws your way. And what better way to show the single parent in your life how much you care than with a signal mirror and stormproof matches?