The inexpensive "just because" gift is the best kind of gift to give. That's because — for once — there are virtually no stakes. There is no occasion and no pressure; anything you do is light-years beyond what was expected, because what was expected was nothing.
You can buy a "just because" gift for no other reason than that it is fun. It does not need to be useful, or expensive, or beautiful, or particularly meaningful. It just needs to be delightful — the kind of thing nearly impossible to justify buying for one's self, because it is so clearly an excess, and so obviously an impractical allocation of personal resources.
The point: A "just because" gift should be an unnecessary indulgence, a whimsical reprieve from the world. It should not be digital. It should not be practical. It should not be a cheap-o version of a more expensive thing. Also, I would argue that it should not be a scented candle, although I understand this is a matter of some debate.
The options are limitless, but time is not. Here are 10 no-reason gifts I wish someone would give me (and, more generously, that I would feel very magnanimous giving to someone else).
- Manatea Tea Infuser, $10 at World Market: This little guy clings to the edge of a mug and turns hot water into tea, just like a regular tea infuser, only more adorably.
- Midori D-Clip Mini Box, $7: Do you know someone who needs gold paperclips that are shaped like dachshunds? Just kidding. Nobody in the history of the world has ever needed paperclips that are shaped like dachshunds, but it is hard to argue that they wouldn't make someone happy. (If the dachshunds don't have you whipping out your credit card, consider the turtles.)
- Standard Baggu, $9 at Baggu: When I am a better person than the person I am now, I will keep one of these in my bag at all times for spontaneous purchases and unplanned grocery store trips, and I will feel great about it. Give the gift of that feeling. Give this tote. (Does your recipient already have a reusable tote? Great! Now they have one more. It is impossible to have too many.)
- Peanut Butter Honey Sea Salt Jar, $10 at Compartes: The merits of this are self-explanatory. Sea salt, honey, and peanut butter, but together, and in a jar.
- Tony Moly Hand Cream, $6: This tastefully peach-scented hand cream from Korean beauty brand Tony Moly is the gift that keeps on giving, because after the recipient finishes the cream itself, she'll still have the tiny peach-shaped box (or an apple-shaped box, or a blueberry-shaped box).
- Violet Pastilles by Abbaye de Flavigny, $5 at Smallflower: These tiny French candies are weirdly hard to find (but I've tracked them down for you!). They're also incredibly delicious, in a light, floral sort of way. Supposedly, it takes 15 days to make a batch of them, and it is worth every one of those days.
- Finger Puppets, $7 each at The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild: A few years ago, my mother gave me Klimt, apropos of nothing (I mean, I like Klimt, I guess, but I'm not like, into Klimt). A few years after that, I got Monet to keep him company. Now, they are both stuck to the metal shelving unit in my kitchen (they're also magnets), and while they are 100 percent useless, I am never not happy they are there.
- Mini Tabasco Sauce 6-Pack, $5 at World Market: These are lovely, in the way that all miniature things are lovely. Also, they are arguably (kind of) useful! Certainly, they are the best way to tote around tiny servings of Tabasco sauce, if that is something your loved one wants to do. There are so few things we can control in this world. Shouldn't the spice-level of eggs be one of them?
- Pale Blue Notebook Collection, $10 at Cotton & Flax: This arty set of three pocket-sized mini-notebooks is made for doodling, list-making, and writing down other people's email addresses. Mostly, though, they are extremely pretty, which, in this context, is fairly important.
- Tangerine, Basil & Poppy Seed Bar Soap, $10 at Meow Meow Tweet: Fancy exfoliating bar soap in cute packaging turns washing up into a luxury experience (that is also vegan and organic). Does soap have to cost $10? No. Would I buy this for myself? Absolutely not. Do I want someone else to buy it for me? Very much.