For the last few years, the kickoff to our holiday gift guides has always been the “Heddels Extravagant Wish List”. A lot of the things in our world are relatively expensive (many of them for good reason), and the Extravagant Wish List was a way for us to lust after the things none of us—at least none of us writing here at Heddels—could reasonably afford.
A $1,200 cashmere cardigan, a $5,000 shell cordovan valise, shearling lined bespoke Edward Green boots; all things that you would never expect as a gift or buy for yourself but are fun to think about in a “slip a sable under the tree” kind of way.
This year, however, with so many people hurting financially and physically from a once in a century pandemic and food lines stretching for miles, highlighting a pair of shoes that costs more than the median monthly rent feels more cruel than it does fun. Extravagance doesn’t necessarily need to be obscenely expensive, just add something nice to someone else’s life that they wouldn’t consider adding themselves. So here are my humble picks in starting off this year’s suggestions, all under $50.
1) Malden’s Sea Salt Flakes
This is the definition of extravagance to me. It’s seven bucks for a half pound of sea salt, but by god is it worth it. Malden’s has been written up for years in a bunch of foodie publications and now you’re getting it here. I was gifted a box of it a couple years ago (thanks Liz!) and I’ve used it at least three times a week since and I just bought a replacement box for myself. Malden’s salt is in these big cuboid flakes so it’s perfect for seasoning finished things like salads, cookies, proteins, pasta, what have you. The flavor doesn’t just dissipate like with regular table salt but stays cohesive so you get little salty crunches spread evenly throughout your dish. It’s dirt cheap and will make you happy if you cook at all.
Available for $6.68 at British Corner Shop.
2) Toilet Top Bidet
I’ve already written extensively on my love of bidets, so here’s your opportunity to splurge on yourself so you can splash on yourself. Bidets aren’t something reserved to the $500 robot toilets that greet you in Japan (although that is on the list if I ever get a toilet to call my own), there are plenty of serviceable options for 30 bucks and you can hook up in half an hour on whatever you’ve got at home. Save yourself fighting for TP and surprise yourself with how much cleaner life can be.
Available for $30 at Target.
3) Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator
A PO-33 Pocket Operator is easily my best (of my admittedly limited) quarantine purchase. Pocket Operators are a family of dozens of musical instruments by Japanese synthesizer brand Teenage Engineering. They’re the size and shape of a tiny calculator, they’re very cheap, and they are an endless amount of fun. There’s Pocket Operator drum machines, lead synths, basses, voice modulators, samplers, and many many more. If you want to hear one in action, check out any of the recent episodes of our podcast, I did all the intro and transition music on mine by sampling my sewing machine, ripping fabric, and a steam iron.
Available from $49 at Teenage Engineering.
4) Handwoven Zapotec Coasters
I feel like we’re no longer a coaster society but we still have to put our drinks somewhere. Why not on a tiny woven wool blanket? I picked up four of these when I was in Santa Fe last winter and I fall more in love with them everyday. There’s something much more satisfying about the soft embrace of wool on a glass instead of the harsh clank of wood. I also use mine to rest my phone on my desk so it doesn’t do that “death rattle” of vibrating across a hard surface. 10/10 will buy more.
Available for $35 at Etsy.
5) Reusable Face Mask
We’ve gotten to the point of the pandemic where people have enough masks, they just need to wear them. I can tell this is the case because you can find half a dozen of those blue paper jobs in the gutter of any street in my city (also Cover Up Colorado charitable requests have dropped off significantly). Cut down on the waste and wear one that you actually like. My favorite has been this corded one from our mask donating partners in crime, Winter Session. It wraps around the back of your head with paracord and clip, saving ear strain on longer wearing spells. It also has a filter pocket (with included filters), a metal nose piece, and comes in a variety of colors.
Available from $12 at Winter Session.
6) Charitable Donation – Direct Relief
In our very profit-oriented economy, being able to give back without expecting anything in return is unfortunately quite the luxury. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of billions of people and has left millions more homeless and hungry. Direct Relief is exactly what it sounds like, all money given to their organization goes directly to where it’s needed most. In January, they were rushing masks and gowns to Wuhan. Now, they’re supplying hospitals in the United States, Lebanon, Uganda, and dozens of other locales in need.
Learn more and donate at Direct Relief.