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Minimalism and Gifts: How To Give Minimally

Every year on my birthday, my friends and family want to buy me stuff. They know that I’m a minimalist, so they are often lost about what to buy me. This is a guide on how to buy gifts for a minimalist (or what to tell your friends and family if you’re a minimalist).

1. I’ve Made A List of Things that I Was Planning to Buy

Giving MinimallyThis is a win-win situation. Around my birthday, I always end up needing something. I don’t keep a physical list (because that way I might write something down that I’d otherwise forget about), but I keep a mental list of things that I know I’m looking for. I’ll find the exact item I want, down to the color, size, material, everything.

I will make a very detailed list (I even include links to websites to buy the product from) and give that to my family. This way, they can get me something they know I want and will use, and I’m happy with what I get. This tactic usually works best for close family (or good friends, depending how your relationship is).

2. Ask for Dates

One of my favorite gifts to give and receive is a quality friend/family/sister date. This is something that you plan to do together. It can be as simple as going for a walk together or having a cup of coffee, or it can be a whole day of experiences in which you are connecting with each other. This can be fun for everyone involved, as you get to plan it however you’d like!

3. Donate to a Charity that You are Passionate About

If you don’t need anything and can’t spend quality time with someone (or you just don’t want to), ask for a donation to a charity that you’re passionate about. This way, the person feels like they are giving, and you get to feel the benefit of giving.

Minimalist Gifts

4. Ask For or Give Consumable Items

Consumable items are a great gift, because you get to give a physical item and enjoy the process of giving and receiving, but it won’t contribute to clutter. My favorite consumable items include a bottle of wine, a high-quality package of whole bean coffee, loose leaf tea, or homemade treats.

5. Ask For or Give Something That Will Help The Environment

The only exception I make to the list above is buying something that will help save the world. I like to give the gift of high quality reusable bags (to those who don’t currently use them), high quality to-go coffee cups, or even a batch of cute reusable produce bags.

These are my favorite tips for gift giving and receiving as a minimalist. These tips have held steady for me for the last few years. Once your friends and family understand why you don’t participate in traditional gift giving, life as a minimalist is so much easier – so make sure to have that conversation early on.

Your Turn!

  • How do you give minimally?
  • Which of the above tips are your favorite?
1 Comment
  1. I like the idea of sharing the wish list of items with friends and family so that I get what I actually want. Recently I have resorted to service and experience gifting. I feel it is more thoughtful, clutter free, eco-friendly (no shipping, no packaging) and most importantly builds memories.

    I use GiftVolo (an online site) to create a wish list of services I desire and these are personal services ranging from hair cut/color, massage to carpet cleaning, maid service, wine tasting, flight lessons, art classes, car washes, oil changes etc. I can use a single click to share with friends and family and let them know what I want. They can with 2 clicks gift me what I want from GiftVolo. It is super simple. I like the selection because it is 100s of personal services that we use in our daily lives and also some new experiences to try. Plus it extends my wallet. You can gift services and experiences in Bay area, CA; Sacramento, CA and Anaheim, CA from GiftVolo. You will love it and your loved ones will thank you for introducing them to something new.

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