I’m sure you’ve felt stressed or overwhelmed by finding and buying the perfect gift for a loved one. Or maybe you’ve felt the need to be overtly grateful for a gift given to you… that you didn’t really want? Taking a minimalist approach to celebrations and gift giving can change the way you feel about these events. Read on to find out how.

What is a minimalist?

While many people would classify themselves as a minimalist, I would hazard to say that they have their own unique definition of what this means to them. It’s not purely about living with next to nothing. However, in a general sense, minimalists don’t want stuff just for the sake of having more stuff. The things they want around them are things they love, which, unless you know them inside out may be hard to get totally right! Read more about Minimalism here.

Image shows a woman holding a present, in a square box wrapped with brown paper and ribbon around it.
Graphic reads: What to buy that person who has everything.

Prior to minimalism how did we do gifts?

Before adopting this lifestyle, and before having a family, I approached gift giving as something you had to do. I had been raised to learn that a present was given to show how much you love someone. So, while I would try to select something the recipient would like – I never really questioned the purpose of the gift, or if it would be something the recipient would value. 

I definitely didn’t set a budget when buying gifts, and didn’t even really look at the price. Once I met my now husband, things changed a little and we naturally started to do more experiences rather than gifts – dinner out to celebrate our anniversary, a weekend away for a birthday etc. Recently, for the kids we have been trying the “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.” which I initially thought was going really well! After reflecting though, we’ve decided to ditch that ha! The kids are still super little (think 3 and under) and don’t really have comprehension or appreciation for the 4 different presents – so this year we have decided to buy one present for each child based on what they want. Still using the same budget but hoping to be a bit more individual and thoughtful about the whole thing!

Are all Minimalists anti-gifts?

Absolutely not! I would say that most minimalists still appreciate and enjoy giving (and receiving) gifts. I imagine that for many people gift giving may be their love language – and so giving and receiving presents are of value to them. For many minimalists, as with anyone, their love language may be different and so their priority is less about material items and more about experiences: think spending time with their loved ones, adventures or time away, words of appreciation and affection and so on. 

Ways to approach gift buying and giving as a minimalist family

So what do you do to not get caught up in holiday or occasion gift giving madness? Here are some tips to consider:

  • Create a Budget + Sinking Funds

Have you got a budget for gifts? For birthdays and holidays? If you consider the amount of occasions you need to purchase or give a gift throughout the year, it actually adds up to a fair amount (think birthdays, Mother’s + Father’s Day, Valentines Day if that’s your buzz, kids birthdays, friends birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas). It’s super easy to get caught up in a last minute panic, buy something beautiful and spend a bunch of money. To counteract this, take some time to sit down and consciously draft up a budget. You could even list the people you know you’ll need to buy for throughout the year and how much you’d like to spend. Then, to level up – work out how much the annual total is, and equate this to a weekly amount to put away in a sinking fund. This way, you always have money to purchase gifts which is one step away from panic buying! 

  • Be Accountable

It’s easy to go to the shops with an idea of what you want to purchase and then end up buying a bunch of other things to go with it. Being accountable and mindful about gift giving is the key here.  Again, this requires you to be consciously thinking about the recipient and what they may want. 

What would bring them value? 

What is the purpose behind the gift? 

What would they really appreciate and find thoughtful. 

The answer probably isn’t always something material (and not always what you think is beautiful / cool / desired).

  • Buy Throughout the Year

Now that you have a list of presents you need to buy, and money put away throughout the year, you can buy ahead of time. Another step away from panic buying! I aim to have all my Christmas presents purchased prior to October. This stops me from having to hit the malls right on peak madness time too!

  • Avoid Sales

You’re thinking: What?! Why would you avoid a sale and end up spending more money!? Well, there’s an exception to every rule… I say avoid sales unless you are sticking to your list. Use your noggin – if you know that it’s your partner’s birthday after the Easter sales, then sure – hit them up. But stick to the gift you had previously written down on your list! The key here is to not be tempted with all the “savings” and “discounts” that so desperately attempt to lure you in. Why? Because this is when you end up buying shit for the sake of having more to give. And the person you’re buying for ends up with a bunch of junk cluttering their house.

  • Think Outside the Box

Not all gifts need to be material items. Not all gifts need to cost a fortune. Engage your creative brain and think outside the square. You could make something, bake something, donate something, buy an experience and so on (keep reading for some awesome gifts for minimalists).

Ok, so you have an idea of how to change your behaviours, but are stuck with the idea of not buying more objects… 

Gifts for Minimalists (or anyone for that matter!)

Remember, the key here is to not waste more money on a gift that will create more clutter in someone’s house and/or life. So what do you buy for someone who wants “nothing”? Here’s some ideas to get you thinking!

  • Adventure

Think adrenaline pumping, thrilling adventure experiences: sky diving, bungy jumping, rafting, caving and so on. Great for the person who has a bit of a wild side and loves trying new things. This doesn’t always have to be full on though, think: wine tasting, boating or fishing.

  • Tickets

Depending on the recipient’s interest you could buy them tickets to: a play, concert, movies, sport event. For a family you might want to buy a family annual pass to the zoo or other local animal park, the museum, or indoor playland.

  • Time

Take the recipient out to spend time with you. Think: paying for brunch, going to the movies, taking them to a high tea, packing a picnic and spending some quality time hanging out at the park. Remember, gifts don’t need to be expensive – for many, the gift of time beats any money spent!

  • Hobbies

As with all of these ideas, this is completely dependant on the recipient. If they’re into a particular hobby you could buy them something related to that. Think: gardening → some new plants or pots. Other ideas: Some art materials, or a book, a new cooking utensil or recipe book etc. 

  • Subscription

There are loads of subscription boxes around these days, with a multitude of options. Also, a subscription to a magazine is always a great option! It was one of my favourite baby shower presents – a subscription to a parenting magazine – probably the only present for me rather than the baby and I love that it symbolised a few moments of me time to chill and relax! 

Spending time can be one of the best gifts to give.
  • Class

Another awesome idea for someone who enjoys trying new things and learning new skills. Many people are interested in learning something new but don’t want to spend the money on themselves. You could purchase a class or lesson for something. Think: cooking, dancing, photography, musical instruments.

  • Food & Drink

Who doesn’t like food? I love this as a gift idea as it is consumable so won’t take up space, everyone loves eating and if it’s something they don’t love they can gift it onwards lol. Think: voucher for a restaurant, take them out for a cocktail night, or do a cocktail night at home with a cooked meal, a food hamper or make your own bag of goodies. 

  • Charity

This one I think is quite particular to the recipient – a) if they would want a gift given in their name and b) if they did, then to what cause. I feel that you’d need to really think about this one thoughtfully and know your recipient.

  • Make Something

Get your creative hat on and get making something! Think: DIY baking jars, actual baking, art, homewares (as long as you know their style and sticking to the rule of not just adding more shit into their house !).

  • Food Box

Ok so this is just like a previous category but I feel like it needs its own shout out. Snack boxes. Think: donut boxes, junk food boxes, snack boxes. There are so many on the market today and while they are a more generalised gift, who doesn’t love some sugary goodness!

  • Gift Card

Another somewhat ‘general’ gift, I actually believe that gift cards are amazing to give to people! Why? Because it literally gives them the freedom to buy something they need or something they want and actually like! Think: their favourite shop, the mall itself, or practical gift cards like petrol or groceries.

Hope this has been helpful! I’d love to know which of these gifts would you love to receive?

Related:

6 Benefits to Being a Minimalist Family

Why Simplifying Your Life is More than Throwing Out Your Shit

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