Instead of making a list of wants at holiday time, I tell my family what not to buy. My closet is stuffed with more flannel shirts than what you can find in an LL Bean catalog, over a dozen fishing rods suspend from a garage ceiling rack, and camping gear could fill a moving van.

One Christmas led to a surprise gift. “Santa Claus is coming today,” Nancy said, with a Cheshire cat grin. Sure enough, a flatbed truck from Home Depot pulled up and unloaded a large cardboard box with my name on the address label. Uncovering two layers of shrink wrap and plastic binding revealed a 4.5-cubic foot, “Magic Chef” refrigerator/freezer.

“Now you won’t stink up the kitchen refrigerator with rotten nightcrawlers,” Nancy remarked. My take on the gift is a secure location to stockpile favorite libation, store sturgeon bait, and hide candy bars.

A garage fridge is handy, but it’s not for everyone. First on the gift list should be replacements for everyday items lost or worn out from constant use.

Let’s start with inexpensive and practical. Every gear bag has room for an extra pocket knife, multi-tool, or filet knife. The Clark Fork fillet knife by CRKT is useful addition to a sportsman’s arsenal of bladed instruments. Its 6-inch locking blade folds up into a reinforced nylon sheath, allowing for easy access in a tackle box or safe storage in a back pocket. Mine is often the first knife I reach for when it’s time to fillet a batch of eater-sized walleyes.

            Sooner or later, the blade on every kitchen knife, hatchet, and dull fishing hook needs attention. The WorkSharp Guided Field Sharpener incorporates five stages of sharpening or honing. One such sharpener nestles among corkscrews and spatulas in the kitchen drawer and another moves back-and-forth among tackle boxes, depending on the fish of the month.

            Polarized sunglasses are another essential item that end up stolen, lost, stepped on, or crushed when left vulnerable on seat of a vehicle. I keep a pair handy on my boat, one tucked in fly vest, and one hangs from the rearview mirror of my truck. LED headlamps are also a great stocking stuffer. Backpackers, walleye anglers, and night owls who read under the bedcovers will appreciate this useful gift.

Moving on to big ticket items, ones that require loosening up the wallet, consider possibly saving someone’s life by replacing their WWII-vintage “Mae West” life jacket with a durable, comfortable version a kayaker, water skier, or boater might actually wear. Or, gift a user-activated inflatable PFD that provides the highest level of floatation without interfering with free movement.

A compact pair of 7×26 Bushnell binoculars, gifted to me one Christmas while my siblings tried to hide jealous looks, is among my most prized possessions. Binoculars are rated by magnification (usually 8X and 10X) and objective diameter (typically 42 and 50). For the latter feature, a larger number allows for more light to be transmitted to the eye. Other considerations include closest focus distance, weight, and size. A decent set of everyday binoculars can be purchased for under $200. Higher quality optics for a serious birder operate at a higher price point.

What could be more fun than capturing midnight visits from creatures that roam your back yard? Or record the behavior of game animals prior to a hunt? The trail camera used to watch raccoons steal bird suet at our cabin is modestly priced at $120. Look for a model with a minimum of 10-megapixel image resolution and motion-activated infrared flash. Other important features include trigger speed, detection and illumination range, memory, and battery life.

Do you know someone who dreams of preparing smoked fish or venison jerky? Check out a wood chip-burning, front-loader Little Chief electric smoker for under $150. Or, a more versatile charcoal burning smoker/cooker for twice the price. Would you rather watch football than monitor fuel load and temperature all day? If so, step up to a digital, automatic pellet-feed version.

Some folks wish to know their whereabouts without relying on the sun, moon, or stars. Google “handheld Global Positioning Systems” and the word Garmin most likely comes up. Their GPS Navigator units for hunters, hikers, and golfers allows for position location with a high degree of accuracy in real time. Units feature topographic maps, compass readings, wireless connectivity, and even two-way texting. Expect to spend at least $300 for this popular adult toy.

If none of these items strike a chord, give that special someone a generous gift certificate to Cabela’s or a local outdoor store. Let them pick out what they want and return it if the color, fit, and model isn’t exactly what they imagined. As I have done more than once.