11 Luxury Gifts You Can Actually Afford
A flight to Bali in a private plane is one definition of luxury, but not every indulgence has a super-high price tag. Plenty of small luxuries are affordable even on a small budget. Everything in this gift guide offers unmistakable quality and sensuousness for less than $30. The items are either the best in their class or a thrifty way to enjoy something truly special.
Most exclusive shaving products cost an arm and a leg, and some even require an expensive brush for application. A pre-shave oil is easy to apply with the hands and softens the beard to make a razor glide effortlessly, adding a bit of luxe to a daily routine. The Art of Shaving has pre-shave oils made of pure ingredients in several scents, or none at all, for $25.
The most expensive coffee beans can cost $100 a pound or more, but to many aficionados it's all in the roast. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters of Southern California, whose products have been called "delicate ... yet deeply and originally complex" by the prestigious Coffee Review, has a Holiday Bean coffee ($19 for 12 ounces) that benefits the school serving families of their farm workers in Guatemala.
Blooming teas combine tea leaves with a variety of flower blossoms, usually jasmine, marigold, or tiny lilies. This rarity makes the pouring of a cup of tea into a feast for all the senses. Take a little gray ball, place it delicately into a glass kettle or tumbler, add boiling water, and watch it bloom into a flowering tea that is as much a work of art as it is a soothing drink. A sampler of 12 little tea balls from Teavivre costs $15.
Yes, a spiral-bound notebook costs next to nothing, but there are good reasons to spend on a Leuchtturm1917 notebook: The covers are durable, the pages are bound and numbered like a book, and there is an index page for organization. The paper is a creamy color that's easy on the eyes and thick enough that ink doesn't soak through. The popular medium notebook is going for $17 on Amazon.
Little is nicer on a snowy day than something blooming on a windowsill. Amaryllis light up a room and bring a bit of spring to a gloomy February. They last for weeks -- almost as long as winter. For less than $15, John Scheepers has an assortment of bulbs that come with a pot, growing medium, and complete instructions, so even the blackest of thumbs can enjoy the beauty of this flower. (There's a separate order for people who want a flower to bloom for Christmas.)
There is chocolate and then there is chocolate. While some of the most delectable is handcrafted in New York, Oregon, and France, Japan has come up with one of the finest chocolates of all. Royce gained fame for its chocolate-covered potato chips and white chocolate flavored with green tea, but a box of Nama Chocolate Champagne suits this celebratory season. An $18 box from Royce holds 20 small morsels.
Sleeping on a plane can be a trial, and it's especially vexing to those who spend a good bit of time in the air. A neck pillow is a little transportable luxury that makes it easier for road warriors to rest up. One of the best is a $30 pillow from Bucky. It contains buckwheat hulls that conform to the contours of the user's head to avoid pain or stiffness on awakening.