Some of us occasionally fall into a fantasy about a holiday season without consumerism. If the children in the family are old enough, the holidays could involve travel instead of presents. Or, you might actually succeed at implementing a gift exchange made up entirely of handmade items. But it’s likely that we’ll eventually go back to buying stuff. Goods. Things to unwrap, with the hope of earning satisfying gasps of delight. So how do you buy actual presents yet still emerge from the holidays feeling as if you’ve done something worthwhile? The trick is not to spend a lot of money because the best gifts are virtuous in some way: They support causes worth supporting, or encourage the best parts of the gift receiver’s self. Give presents that fit into at least one of three categories: presents that fulfill a need the person didn’t even know they had, those that last the rest of the recipient’s life, or gifts that give back—not only to the giftee but to the world at large. Here are a few to get you started.
Mjölk is one retailer specializing in “heirloom-quality goods,” which justifies their relatively high prices by being worth keeping for life. This Azumaya copper tea kettle from Japan ($250) will darken in colour while filling a lifetime’s worth of mugs, mjolk.ca.