10 Minimalist Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season


With Christmas just around the corner (seriously where did the year go??), I’ve started thinking about ways to be more mindful and minimalistic with my gift-giving this year. Historically my family have been big gift givers and that often results in several things I really appreciate and use, but also several more that end up gathering dust until the next time I play the Minimalism Game or have a bout of KonMari-inspired decluttering. So rather than spending lots of money on things that won’t get used or that take up precious space, this year I’m working from my very own minimalist gift guide. Keep reading for 10 minimalist gift ideas!



First off, I do everything I can to buy from small businesses. Whether it’s buying local or bringing back items from trips, shopping from small businesses often results in more unique gifts that have longer staying power in people’s lives. If I’m buying stuff, I’d rather it has an interesting and meaningful story behind it. Just think of it this way: which is more likely to be held onto in a belongings purge - some earrings bought at Target or some earrings made by a friend of a friend crafted with stones from your favorite beach in Washington (an actual gift I received once)? Small business is the way to go.

When I’m not buying things, I often opt for experience gifts. Experiences - particularly those you can share with the recipient - are a great way to grow closer, make memories, and not accumulate stuff. I’ve received tickets to plays and concerts, cooking classes, and coupon books for favors, all of which have been so appreciated. More suggestions in a second.

So what else made the list?

  1. Something handcrafted by someone you know. My bet is that you know someone who makes something - whether jewelry or mugs or greeting cards. Now, we’re looking for high quality, useful items here. As much as you love your niece’s duct tape wallets, your co-worker may not appreciate them. So stick to the things that you know will fill a need and bring beauty and joy.
  2. Something from your hometown. Is your hometown well-known for something? Chocolates? Coffee? Beer? Any of the above make a great gift for out-of-town relatives. These gifts are particularly thoughtful because it gives your non-local friends and relatives a little taste of your everyday.
  3. Something useful. Did you just move into your own house and keep borrowing the neighbor’s drill? Or maybe your Alaskan friend lives for warm wool socks. Think about the person you’re gifting to and what they might need, not just what they want. Yes, it may seem boring, but it’s a surefire way to ensure that the gift gets used for  months to come.
  4. An experience. As I mentioned, experiences are a great way to go if you’re looking for things that won’t be discarded by the New Year. You may consider a massage gift certificate for that friend who’s been clocking lots of hours at her desk, or a cooking class for the couple that just decided to go vegetarian. Again, think about the recipient and what would be most valuable for them at this time in their life.
  5. Something to learn. Have a friend who’s curious about your minimalist lifestyle? Think about getting them The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. What about someone who wants to start their own garden? A book about gardening and some seed packets. Some guitar lessons for the friend who’s been meaning to learn to play for years. Again, this is something useful and thoughtful. The whole crux of minimalist gift giving.   
  6. Something for self-care. Because self-care just doesn’t get nearly enough attention in our society and everyone could use a little pampering. Maybe some bath salts or essential oils or a nice new journal and pens or an adult coloring book. Whichever way your loved-one might be slacking in the self-care department, give them a gentle reminder of the importance with a thoughtful gift.
  7. Something for self-knowledge. Okay, let’s be honest, this is obviously my favorite category. I love self-help and popular psychology books and workbooks and ecourses. So whether your sister has been talking about getting more in touch with their finances or your mom has been talking about parsing out her desires post-retirement, there’s a book out there for that. Trust me.
  8. Something to eat. Yep, that’s right. Not only are the holidays the perfect time to enjoy an indulgent special treat, they also don’t stick around cluttering up your shelves and junk drawers. Find out their favorite snack and then go a step nicer than that. They’ll thank you for it.
  9. Something tailored to your recipient. My best friend once made me a themed email newsletter that I received weekly for several months full of curated articles that I would be interested in. Now, this is obviously a huge time commitment, but it remains one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received and it didn’t cost any money and didn’t take up any space - win-win-win.
  10. A note of love/appreciation. Now, let me be clear, this does not have to simply be romantic love, though it can be. (My girlfriend once made me an advent calendar with a different small ornament attached to a slip of paper with something she loved about me for all the days leading up to Christmas.) But it can also just be a note to remind someone - a colleague, family member, or friend - how much you care about and appreciate them. These are the mementos that I carry with me. Save-in-a-fire kind of mementos. This season is all about love, so why not show a little?

I’d love to hear your ideas for a minimalist holiday season! What gifts have you given or received that have been in line with the useful/thoughtful method of gift giving I’ve outlined here?

22 comments

  1. I love your point about gifting an experience.. I've tried really hard to come up with ideas like this the past couple years. I'm tired of just giving people "things". Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a really nice way to create memories without adding more "stuff" to people's lives, Amanda! Glad you've found that to be helpful for you too!

      Delete
  2. I love food so I would enjoy something I could eat! I also thing giving something useful is so important. Sometimes people just give things and they just end up piling up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree, Adriana! I particularly love giving people something useful so that it feels like I'm making a positive contribution to their lives instead of just giving them something that will pile up, as you say.

      Delete
  3. The minimalist approach is definitely a way to add a personal touch. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is a great suggestion to prepare for Christmas and the new year. I have just gone through that process myself and it makes a huge difference when your space is clutter free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it amazing, Anne? I loved the process of looking at things that spark joy and releasing much of the rest. Getting into that head space for the new year is so valuable - I'm glad you've found that to be true as well.

      Delete
  4. For some of my closest friends, I always try to include something handcrafted in their gift bags.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very sweet, Oana! Something like that definitely comes from the heart and can be so sentimental.

      Delete
  5. WE try to find local-made items (like mustard) to give to our out-of-town friends. That way we know it's something they don't have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Scott! That covers several of my tips above: a food item, something from your hometown, and something useful! Love it.

      Delete
  6. You've covered almost everything in here and that too in such a simple manner! Thanks for sharing! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading, Aishwarya! I'm glad it was helpful!

      Delete
  7. You can never go wrong with something useful or something for self-care. Whenever I gift, it's almost always one of those two options of items or ideas! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, Summer! I try to give gifts that will enhance the lives of the people I'm giving to and those two categories definitely fit the bill!

      Delete
  8. love this! something for self care is always good in my book! I think we all need a little reminder to slow down and unwind sometimes!

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Rachel! We can all use that reminder. I'll be writing a post in the next couple of weeks on the importance of self care as we move into the new year, so stay tuned.

      Delete
  9. I hate clutter and I love these ideas! I keep saying I want experiences this year not 'stuff'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad this resonated with you! Stuff can be such a burden but experiences are a great way to create memories with loved ones. I'm glad you agree!

      Delete
  10. Love these ideas! I think an experience gift is always the way to go.

    Shannon
    Clothes & Quotes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the sweet comment, Shannon! I'm glad some of these suggestions were helpful to you. :)

      Delete
  11. I like useful items that are also fun... like special pens and pretty notebooks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, Branson! Pens and pretty notebooks are totally my downfall! I use them so often though so I agree - fun but also useful!

      Delete