But when we think of some of the best gifts we've been given over the years, function isn't always what wins out. Curiosities, little tchotchkes that have a story, found doo-dads, and vintage once-essentials past their functioning prime—these are some of our favorite things.
To give a functionless gift? It might sound like blasphemy, but get out there and break some rules. Here are a few we've loved and let fly over the years, plus some ideas for finding some yourself.
Something that'll make them think of you: What might sounds selfish is actually a very welcome exchange between close friends—the gift of having them near, all the time. In the image above, for example, the large yellow ceramic piece being wrapped is a vintage mold that passed between our founders: Merrill, who collects them, once gave it to Amanda, to bring her into the fold of a tradition Amanda's been hearing her talk about for years.
The start of a collection: A very dear friend of mine is absolutely obsessed with bundts—she makes them all the time, Instagrams them, mentions them in job applications. So when I found a very pretty enameled bundt pan at a thrift store that was too old to be considered reliable for her baking purposes, I got it for her anyway. Commence the bundt pan collection.
Relatives of their favorite things: The most literal approach: For the cat-lover, a tiny brass cat figurine. For the cook, a whisk necklace. For the skier, a little etching of some mountain somewhere.
Oddities you work hard to procure: Also pictured in the first image in this article, The World's Tiniest Yahtzee Set, a creation by our very own Kristen Miglore. It consists of five minuscule dice living within a glass vial, a compilation she sought out the parts for and arranged for her brother. In this case, Kristen also gets bonus points for coming up with such a glorious idea, but anything you spend time putting together will mean quite a lot.
Emblems of places they've been (and loved): The kitschiest version of this would be bringing someone a cupful of sand from their favorite beach—but you could also opt for a pressed leaf or flower from their home coast, or a license plate, or any old thrift store cute thing with "made from" and the place of meaning imprinted on it.
What have been some of your favorite function-less gifts? Tell us in the comments!