If you are normally big on environmental stuff anyway and have (perhaps recently) added a side interest in emergency preparedness, may I suggest a rain barrel as your new love? It’s not as cheap as canned beans and clothesline, but the holidays are coming up!
Paul found me one on Freecycle.org, slightly broken on the top but still works, just doesn’t keep out the bugs as well as one might prefer. Already the thing is FULL of water. The water is not quite absolutely clear, but for washing or flushing it would be TOP-NOTCH. And we have a bottle of bleach and a bunch of old t-shirts in our emergency-preparedness supplies, for filtering and disinfecting the water if necessary.
Anyway, the rain barrel. In non-emergency situations, the water it collects is excellent for righteously watering things outside. The main downside: if you live in an area where the temperature gets below freezing, the rain barrel is useless during that time—and you MUST remember to empty it before the temperature drops, or else you get a giant rain-barrel-shaped ice cube sitting among the shards of a rain barrel, ask me how I know. This is non-ideal if some of the emergencies you like to prepare for are ICE STORMS and BLIZZARDS.
Another good gift idea is this camp stove that runs on gasoline:
Keeping the cars pretty full of gas is a good “doesn’t cost any more than NOT doing it” emergency-preparedness idea anyway, and it’s even more satisfying if you think of your cars as giant expensive camp-stove-fuel storage devices. (Or you can get a gas can, I GUESS.) The stove comes with a filtering funnel, so don’t get tricked by Amazon suggesting that you may want to add that to your order. You could, however, add a couple bottles of liquid fuel, in case you’d like to start with a short-term solution that doesn’t involve trying to suck gasoline out of your car as the tornado swirls overhead.
There’s a gasoline-powered lantern, too:
Fire starter, for those of us who never learned to start one with two sticks and are not really clear on how to do it with a couple of pieces of metal?/stone?/whatever either:
A nice bulk pack of inexpensive emergency blankets, inexplicably marketed “for men” (ladies, in a pinch I think we can still use them):
Can opener, because this is no time to be hacking with a screwdriver at a tin of fruit cocktail:
Hair elastics, because I am NOT getting caught in ANY situation without ample hair elastics (you may think I am kidding, but I for real added these to our emergency kit):
This reflective nylon rope is in festive green! And look: you could use it as a wreath!
Water purification tablets, if you’re not so sure about the life choices of the bugs in the rain barrel:
Life Straw personal water filtering device:
$20 is beyond what I like to spend on an individual item for a stocking, but this would FIT so nicely. It’s like one of those plastic candy-cane-shaped containers that come with Hershey Kisses or M&Ms inside! …Perhaps not quite as festive.