As Christmas time is approaching, many are already puzzled about what gift to give to each particular person. Most of us don’t have unlimited budgets, so the gift choices people make might be for the sake of a gift, not what a person really needs.
How many times have I involuntary overheard conversations among people discussing what to give, and every time people say they have to buy “something” because they “need to”!
Relief that pressure
But why must the gift be materialistic? The internet and commercials are forcing these ideas into our heads, telling us we must buy this and that thing to make the perfect gift. People feel pressured to buy gifts, and most people spend more on gifts than they can afford. On top of that, the families who receive a bunch of gifts often just end up with a pile of clutter. However, the great news is that things have started shifting. According to this survey, 70% of Americans are ready to give up gift exchanges if their family and friends are ready to do it as well.
We didn’t call it Minimalism
About 9 years ago, one of my girlfriends and I decided to give up gift giving and instead made a trip to New York city, where we had a really great time admiring Christmas decorations, shopping, and having dinner at the end. I was somewhat anxious to ask how she felt about giving up gift giving, because I didn’t want her to misunderstand me. But we happened to be on the same page. I remember only a few materialistic gifts, but moments like this stay in my memory forever, because they involve emotions. We didn’t call it minimalism back then, though. Haha!
My husband and I gave up gift giving a long time ago. Instead, we would rather plan some fun activities together.
Our daughter hasn’t received any materialistic gifts for her first birthday from us, besides a little bouquet from her father. She had a blast tearing it down later. We did not throw a party which she would not remember anyways. But we spent an entire happy day out as a family. The only gift she received from her little friends was a gift certificate for fun activities in the LEGO center and two dresses from our close friends. I have to admit we had to fight with her grandparents who were trying to bring tons of plastic into our house, but we eventually won after BEGGING them not to for a while…(No blame on them, they were raised this way). Kids have more pleasure playing outside and doing fun activities than receiving a toy that would interest them for 30 minutes.
Best gift ideas for minimalists
As the minimalist movement is on the rise, chances are, you have at least one minimalist friend or a family member who would appreciate clutter-free gifts. And I truly think the choices are limitless. Here is just a small example of what a minimalist would appreciate.
1. The best gift is the gift of time
Instead of spending hours and hours shopping for things that most likely will collect dust on shelves and in closets, spend valuable time together:
Invite friends and family for some fun games at home – for example, a poker tournament or board games night
Go to the movies
Have a dinner at a nice restaurant
Plan a trip
Take a painting (dance, pottery, etc.) class together
2. Give them a gift of experience
If you physically can’t be near the person, think of the activity he/she would love to do, and give the gift of experience and self-investment:
Cooking class gift certificate
Wine/beer tasting class
Deprivation tank floating session
Movie theater ticket
Spa salon gift certificate
Personal style lessons
3. What if you just can’t show up without a gift in your hands
Buy something edible and drinkable
A bottle of a good wine – if you know the person is a wine lover, give a gift of a fine bottle of wine, pair it with cheese and fruit, wrap it – here you go! Your minimalist wine lover will appreciate it! Same with coffee for coffee lovers.
A box of fine chocolate
A gift certificate to a coffee shop or restaurant for foodies
If you bake – bake a cake for a sweet-tooth
Think about what the person really needs
If it is something you can’t afford on your own, ask friends and family if they want to contribute. A long time ago, one of my friends knew I wanted a 12-string guitar that I could not afford. Guess what? On my birthday, a bunch of friends showed up with one gift certificate for a large amount of money to the Guitar Center store. I got the guitar I wanted, I still use it, and it always makes me thinking of my thoughtful friends.
Just remember, that the most important ‘things’ in our life are not things.
Also, don’t be afraid to bring this topic up with your friends and family. As most of us are overwhelmed with consumerism, I bet the majority will be happy to skip gift giving (at least in the traditional, materialistic way).
Please share in the comments your clutter-free gift ideas. Maybe something you would love to give or wish to receive as a Christmas gift (if you write it down, chances are your wish will come true! wink).
Also published on Medium.