It is T-minus four days until Christmas. All the places to get last-minute gifts are careening dangerously close to the deadline. Shipping cutoffs have already begun, and the idea of heading into your neighborhood big box store to sift through the dregs of the remaining holiday offerings requires an iron will and a sturdy heart. It's that, or picking up an array of weird bric-a-brac from the nearest Walgreens or gas store, and trying to pass it off as somehow deeply symbolic or ironic. But fear not: No trip to the mall is necessary. The best, cheapest stocking stuffer gift is one you can probably find at your local wine or liquor store. It's a champagne stopper.
A champagne stopper is at the nexus of kitchen equipment that is extremely specific and extremely useful, at least for anyone on your list who enjoys wine on the semi-regular. It's a pretty simple device—just a wine cork with two hinged arms that hold the neck of the champagne bottle, securing the whole she-bang so that you don't wake up to a fridgeful of flat champagne. (If you've ever tried to cork a bottle of fizzy wine with a regular wine stopper, you'll know that the pressure of the carbonation can do extremely unkind things.) With New Year's Eve coming up and champagne being popped, a stopper of champagne will prevent that last half-bottle of the night from going to waste. I am extremely anti-champagne-going-to-waste, and a stopper is a much simpler method than decanting a half bottle of Moet into a mason jar as this writer may have done after our office holiday party.
Best of all, it's a gift that won't set you back more than $10, maximum, and probably less—champagne stoppers generally run in the $2 to $7 range. Even if your gift-ee already has one, they're useful to have around, particularly in a party situation. My esteemed colleague Kat Kinsman carries one with her in her purse, because she lives the casual champagne lifestyle, and you just never know when you'll be called upon to cap off the prosecco. Paired with a nice bottle of something bubbly, a champagne stopper is thekind of present that someone will actually appreciate. Unlike, say, a semi-ironic bumper sticker that reads A Drinking Town With A Fishing Problem.