I had a conversation with a co-worker about the upcoming winter break in which I expressed looking forward to extra time for myself to pursue passions. She told me that she wasn’t looking forward to how busy she was going to be. I asked why she would be so busy and she responded with, “I have to do so much Christmas shopping!” Later in the afternoon, I contacted a friend to wish her a happy birthday and ask how she was doing. She responded back with, “I’m doing good, busy with looking around to buy gifts for Christmas.” In both of these exchanges, I informed the women that I was not purchasing holiday gifts this year for anyone and had requested that people do not buy me gifts. I then rattled off my reasons – most of which were addressed in my previous post. Overall, I thought about the huge sense of relief I get from knowing that I don’t have to buy gifts this year!
But then, it got me thinking. What does one gift to a minimalist, especially if they really want to continue in the holiday ‘tradition’ of buying gifts for their friends and family? I came up with ten things a minimalist would love. Most of these gifts are also great for people who aren’t considered minimalist:
1) eBooks. eBooks are perfect. They can be cheaper than hard copies and a minimalist can have an entire library of books in one device! A person doesn’t actually need a Kindle or alternate eBook device to receive these books; several eBook apps are available for various smartphones. I have the Kindle and Borders apps on my own iPhone. Personally, I would rather have a hard copy of a book because I love the ability to borrow and exchange books as well as flipping through pages, but I wouldn’t turn down an eBook.
2) Restaurant gift cards. This is actually one of the gifts I requested (and received) during a Secret Santa gift exchange that I had to participate in last weekend. I don’t want things. I don’t need things. But I definitely appreciate a nice meal out! Good food goes a long way.
3) Tickets. One thing I have come to value lately are experiences. Experiences matter so much more than possessions. As long as it matches their interests, tickets to a concert, movie, art show, sporting event lecture, etc. will provide your minimalist friend with rich, memorable experiences they can take with them wherever they go.
4) Gift memberships. Whether it be a year’s membership to a local gym, museum, zoo, and other cultural endeavors or a six-week yoga course, a membership is a wonderful way to allow a person to enjoy exercise and culture in a meaningful way.
5) Charitable donations. If your gift recipient is passionate about a cause/charity/organization, a charitable donation made in their name is a very thoughtful gift.
6) Something handmade. While minimalists may not like to acquire stuff, they would prefer a handmade item over something that has been mass-produced in the store, purchased, and handed over without thought. Going handmade means you put consideration into the item you give them – whether it be knitting a scarf in their favorite color (think grays, blacks, and whites – perfect for a minimalist wardrobe!), painting a beautiful picture of their favorite spot, burning a mix CD (or even better – a playlist that can be transferred to their mp3 device), or framing a great photo of the two of you.
7) Wine. Cheese. Chocolate. Coffee. Minimalists prefer consumables over things that just take up space. Consumables will be appreciated and enjoyed without creating much clutter, so don’t be afraid to buy them that wonderful glass of wine or expensive chocolate!
8) Cash. Can’t make a decision? No one turns down a cash gift – the gift receiver can use the cash however he or she wishes and the gift-giver will have peace of mind knowing that the person is using the gift exactly how they want to – whether it be for living expenses, a nice dinner, or to help save up for a trip!
9) Time. Good company and conversation is always appreciated! The two of you can bond more over a cup of coffee than you would during a simple gift exchange. It’s not too often that people take time out of their busy schedules to sit and talk with another, so this valuable time can be quite a gift. You can even stretch it out into regular occasions.
10) Nothing. They probably requested that you don’t get them anything and the best thing to do is exactly that!