Minimalist Gift Ideas


Discover these minimalist present concepts:

Experiences Providers Subscriptions and Memberships Consumables Charitable Donations Learn how to Navigate the No-Items Dialog

For many of us, the vacation season entails loads of household, meals, and … presents. Many, many presents. Items that want manufacturing, presents that want packaging, presents that want transport and bins and ribbons and wrapping.

People throw out 25 % extra rubbish between Thanksgiving and Christmas than at some other time of yr — to the tune of almost 6 million tons of further trash. That’s not simply wrapping paper, both. Loads of presents go straight into the rubbish or make their method there quickly sufficient. (We’re you, bobbleheads.)

Present giving generally is a messy enterprise.

So how will you step again from the clutter-clogged vacation machine and scale back even a few of this waste with out curbing your beneficiant nature? A technique is to decide out of giving and receiving bodily presents altogether. However that doesn’t imply renouncing the gift-giving ritual. In any case, exchanging considerate presents will be an necessary approach to present you take care of and recognize family members.

Lowering waste on the holidays simply takes a bit mindfulness about what you’re giving. In that spirit, we’ve gathered some concepts for largely waste-free presents to swimsuit everybody in your listing.


If you wish to give a present that lasts, take into account that experiences could present extra enduring happiness than bodily presents, in line with one examine carried out at Cornell College.

For instance, Megan McKeever, a Brooklyn-based editor and mom of two, as soon as acquired a ticket for a skydiving lesson from her husband. “Roy made a scrapbook of all our adventures: photos, napkins and matchbooks from eating places, live performance tickets, and so forth. He even printed out the emails from establishing our first date. On the finish of the scrapbook, he made a bit pocket that mentioned one thing like ‘And right here’s our subsequent journey.’ Inside was the present certificates to go skydiving.”

The present of expertise may embody lower-adrenaline choices:

walking-tour map of a metropolis somebody is planning to go to is a superb concept; so is a strolling tour of landmarks in your personal metropolis. The latter can double as a candy alternative to spend time collectively, making it much more significant.

Tickets of every kind — to concert events, performs, reside podcast performances, standup nights, or no matter your recipient likes greatest — make glorious choices. That is one other current that units you as much as spend time with somebody.

One other deal with for the traveler: language classes. Positive, they may be taught from an app, however nothing beats in-person follow conversations for growing fluency.

cooking class is an excellent present for novice cooks who love meals, in addition to for skilled cooks who need to be taught a specialised ability, like making pastry.

Restaurant present certificates are reliably welcome. Who doesn’t chill out extra over dinner realizing that the tab is already paid?

Dance classes are a enjoyable current to your favourite social butterfly — or anybody in your listing who’s trying to get out and meet individuals. Classes for dances that require a accomplice, like salsa, tango, or swing, additionally make a terrific present for a pair or as one thing you propose to do with a good friend. Many studios additionally welcome solo dancers to partner-dance lessons.

Lots of your foodie pals will probably be delighted to go to wine tastings, and you could possibly additionally shock them with a tasting for cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or tea.

Journey-themed presents are at all times a candy shock to your footloose household and pals. You possibly can switch a few of your personal frequent-flier miles or lodge factors to the recipient’s account, purchase them an airline present card to allow them to begin a visit with some bills coated, or provide a present certificates for a lodge or resort the place they like to go.

It may also be enjoyable for a household or group of pals to pitch in for a weekend getaway collectively — in lieu of exchanging presents. That additionally provides you one thing optimistic to anticipate within the new yr.


The present of service is a terrific approach to honor what individuals actually need. Do you might have pals who’re busy dad and mom? Supply to babysit to allow them to get pleasure from an evening out with out the youngsters. Likewise, busy canine dad and mom would possibly love a coupon e book for per week’s value of canine walks or dog-sitting.

For an growing old relative who struggles with family or outside duties, or for householders with busy schedules, think about hiring a cleansing, yard work, gardening, or landscaping service. Your relative will probably be relieved realizing another person goes to plant the annuals this yr, weed the backyard, or shovel the stroll. You would possibly purchase a present certificates for particular duties or rent somebody for a set interval, like a season or a yr.

Likewise, you would possibly know an entrepreneur in your life whose web site wants updating; hiring somebody to revamp it generally is a nice present of help. You may rent a photographer to take new headshots, or spring for internet hosting by prepaying for a yr.

Then there’s the present of luxurious — companies that individuals are typically reluctant to purchase for themselves. A present certificates for a therapeutic massage makes a wonderful current for nearly anybody.

Grooming companies are additionally a deal with to provide and obtain. A present card to somebody’s favourite stylist or for a facial, a detailed shave, or a mani-pedi is assured to be welcome. Supply to affix the recipient and make it an outing.

And in case you’re not particularly useful however nonetheless like to help? Rent somebody by a service like Taskrabbit to do family chores or errand operating for the recipient; this will help somebody who’s settling into a brand new residence (and desires to hold curtain rods or construct cabinets) or growing old family members making an attempt to maintain up with residence upkeep. If somebody wants assist decluttering, you could possibly rent a skilled organizer to assist begin (or end) the method.

Subscriptions and Memberships

Studying in print affords its personal sort of pleasure, so subscriptions to publications that the recipient loves are beautiful — a present that may be recycled. (On-line subscriptions, whereas much less enjoyable to learn within the bathtub, do stop the muddle downside solely.)

A subscription to Netflix, Hulu, or some other streaming video service is one other candy present, particularly in case you connect an inventory of your personal favourite exhibits and movies to that service to provide the particular person a spot to begin.

Likewise, the music lovers in your life are sure to understand a one-year subscription to a streaming music service like Spotify or Apple Music. Offering a playlist of your favourite tunes makes it private.

If somebody goes by a tough time, a present subscription to an app that will assist them chill out could be a considerate gesture. “I lately gave a good friend of mine a subscription to a yr of a meditation app, and she or he actually favored it,” says Miss Minimalist blogger Francine Jay, creator of The Pleasure of Much less and Frivolously.

You may additionally provide a handful of visitor passes to your well being membership or a punch card for somebody’s favourite yoga studio — wholesome motion is a superb anxiousness reliever too.

A yr’s membership to an area museum or botanical backyard typically comes with further perks, like preopening events and store and restaurant reductions, and it’s appropriate for people or households.

Once more, foodies are simple: Supply present certificates to their native gourmand grocery retailer or, if they’re starved for time, a subscription to a grocery-delivery service. A membership to a web-based grocery retailer, like Thrive Market, may also be a welcome useful resource.

Lastly, for that somebody who actually does have all the things, there’s at all times flowers — particularly, a subscription for weekly or month-to-month flower supply.


Any present that will probably be sipped, supped, or in any other case consumed is a perfect minimalist current, as a result of it is going to take up area for under so lengthy. A bottle of wine is a traditional providing, particularly for the host of a gathering, but in addition for family and friends — holidays are an opportunity to provide them a pleasant bottle they won’t purchase for themselves.

Likewise, hand­crafted goodies or high-quality aged cheeses that somebody won’t usually hunt down are a delight to obtain. You would possibly provide the tea lover in your life a specialty tea, resembling pu’erh or genmaicha, that doubles as a present of expertise.

Espresso drinkers reliably recognize a bag of high quality espresso beans, and present playing cards to espresso outlets are one other considerate current. (Notice: Espresso store present playing cards generally is a shock hit with hard-to-please teenagers.) Like restaurant meals, a deal with in a café is extra enjoyable when another person is shopping for.

Skincare merchandise are a considerate present: They encourage self-care, add one thing particular to each day routines, and are quickly sufficient used up. (Merchandise are additionally fairly private, so if somebody favors a selected model, steer in that path.)

On the minimalist rating, be aware about artificial scents and substances, which might have well being penalties. You possibly can store with confidence about ingredient security at a clean-beauty web site, like Credo or The Detox Market.

They technically take up area, however vegetation make beautiful presents for inexperienced thumbs. Potted contemporary herbs are enjoyable, particularly for foodies — and hew to the consumable theme.

For a beer or kombucha lover who additionally likes a DIY venture, think about a brewing equipment. Craft a Brew makes good ones; it additionally sells wine kits. (The much less artful beer or wine lover in your life would possibly like a present certificates or information to native breweries, distilleries, or wineries.)

Charitable Donations

The truth that many people genuinely don’t want extra stuff is a luxurious. It additionally permits us to help others by charitable donations. Donating in somebody’s identify to a trigger they care about exhibits that and respect their values. For instance, as an alternative of a e book for the writers and readers in your life, you could possibly donate to PEN Worldwide, a corporation that aids persecuted writers and promotes literature and free expression.

Your favourite healthcare supplier would possibly recognize a donation to Medical doctors With out Borders, an unbiased group of medical volunteers that gives companies in battle and catastrophe zones and different areas of want on the planet. And just about anybody can recognize an opportunity to help the well being of households all over the world by a donation to The Starvation Mission. Different considerate potentialities: Make the animal lover in your life right into a “chimp guardian” with a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute. Or undertake a cheetah, sloth, vampire bat, or bison by the World Wildlife Fund. You may additionally help an orphaned elephant, rhinoceros, or giraffe on the Sheldrick Wildlife Belief. Or maintain it native and donate in the one you love’s identify to an animal rescue or shelter of their group.

Lovers of the outside would in all probability recognize a donation to The Nature Conservancy or an identical group. Or have a tree planted in somebody’s identify by the Arbor Day Basis or A Dwelling Tribute.

At a time of the yr when many people are having fun with the prospect to collect with family members, it might really feel good to assist others be with their households. A technique is by donating airline miles, bank card factors, or money to a corporation referred to as Miles4Migrants, which helps reunite households which were separated.

In the identical spirit of serving to others, native homeless shelters and kitchens at all times want monetary and materials help. Test their web sites to see what’s on their vacation want lists. You may as well donate time: Serving meals or washing dishes will be a good way to get to know your neighbors through the holidays or spend time with household.

Lastly, if none of this feels fairly proper — or in case you’ve given all of it earlier than — think about giving the present of your undivided consideration. Supply to prepare dinner a dinner to your sibling or your greatest good friend, or plan a day journey for the 2 of you. Jay suggests that oldsters plan a complete day with every of their children, doing regardless of the child desires to do.

She does one thing comparable along with her pals on the holidays. “We’ve gotten to the purpose the place, as an alternative of [exchanging] presents, we go to lunch or espresso. It’s such a terrific expertise — it’s a busy time of yr and we’re making time for one another. Our present to one another is our presence fairly than presents.”

When a Materials Present Is the Option to Go

Skilled organizer Felice Cohen makes one exception in the case of bodily presents: “In case you’re changing one thing that an individual wants, I don’t think about that muddle,” she says. “Like a brand new pair of sneakers in the event that they prefer to run.” Or a brand new coat or canine leash.

The factor it’s changing is more likely to be on its method out, so muddle just isn’t a problem. “One factor in, one factor out,” she explains.

In case you’re undecided what somebody actually wants, ask them or somebody near them straight. For lots of people, a helpful present is way extra priceless than the pleasure of shock. And if somebody wants a big-ticket merchandise — like a brand new guitar as a result of the final one was stolen — think about becoming a member of forces with household and pals to chip in to cowl the prices.

Lastly, some bodily presents are merely well worth the area they occupy, says Seattle-based journey author Amanda Castleman — particularly those who have deep which means to the giver and receiver. “After an extended, rambling Jap European street journey, I used to be exhausted and requested my BFF to inform me a bedtime story,” she says. “He concocted one about my childhood stuffie being a magic bunny king who helped all of the rabbits discover their true callings. Later, he illustrated the story, in magnificent Thurberesque Sharpie, and had it certain.” He even managed to discover a picture of her beloved childhood stuffie and put that on the duvet. That good friend died seven years in the past, at age 53. “His e book stays one among my most cherished possessions.”

Learn how to Navigate the No-Items Dialog

Altering a present ritual will be troublesome for individuals, so be sure you give loads of discover, says skilled organizing advisor Geralin Thomas. “Thanksgiving just isn’t the appropriate time to inform your loved ones that you just don’t need presents on the holidays,” she says. They could already be planning their purchasing — or completed with it.

As an alternative, Thomas suggests beginning the dialog in the summertime. Let individuals know, in a simple and lighthearted method, that you just gained’t be giving or receiving materials presents this yr. She additionally recommends introducing the subject gently, with one thing like, “We understand this will upset individuals, so let’s go forward and discuss it now.”

You then would possibly provide one thing like “We’ve simply decluttered and we’re on a ‘stuff food regimen’ — however in case you’d like to provide us one thing, we’d welcome a donation to those organizations!” You may as well provide family members a “one much less present” certificates. (Right here’s an instance from Jay: It releases every of you from the accountability of discovering a gift — and provides you each the present of time.

This text has been up to date and initially appeared as “The Present of Giving” within the December 2019 print subject of Expertise Life.


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