My Father is the King of practicality, particularly when it comes to gift giving. One Christmas, he gave my boyfriend at the time a jug of windshield wiper fluid for "driving in the cold New England weather". I was horrified.
Growing up, we had both a fireplace and woodstove in our home. The woodstove provided significantly more heat to our house and was also the inspiration for a rather interesting maple syrup making experiment (which may or may not have involved tapping our neighbors' trees). Every late Fall, my family and I would spend hours stacking firewood for the season. I quickly learned the value of quality firewood and especially, kindling.
One of my favorite "never fail" seasonal gifts is L.L.Bean's Fatwood Sack. The kindling comes in a burlap sack and is the perfect practical component to a warm winter fire. It's a great gift to bring to friends that have fires in their home, or if you're headed north to Vermont and other snowy states for a ski weekend, you'll make instant friends after a cold day on the slopes. Dress the bag up with a fun ribbon and voilà!