“Minimalist gift ideas, Sarah? Like a single leaf in a vase? Or one drapey linen shirt? Har har har.”
I can already hear the good-natured eye-rolling, friends. And let me tell you with all the love in my heart I AM NOT HAVING IT.
When I say ‘minimalist gifts’ I’m not saying you spite-give everyone a copy of The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I’m not suggesting you give your sister a single polished stone (though honestly that would be so funny.)
To me, a ‘minimalist gift’ is something that
- Can be used up
- Recycled or composted
- Doesn’t require storage or dusting
Minimalist gifts don’t require us to lecture anyone about Consumerism! And Carbon footprints! And Fast Fashion!
I’m not talking about giving people things we WISH they wanted. (No matter how nice the sleeping bag is, I’m never going to like camping, guys.)
Honestly, you could probably give a minimalist gift to every blessed person on your list! No matter who you’re giving gifts to, there’s probably a way for you to give them something happy-making and life-improving that’s not for sale at Target and won’t end up in a landfill.
11 Minimalist Gift Ideas That Add To Happiness, Not Clutter
1. Magazine subscriptions
Magazine subscriptions cost a pittance and they show up every month. No matter who you’re shopping for, there’s probably a magazine for them. Imbibe magazine for cocktail lovers! Backpacker magazine for your hiker or adventurer! Culture magazine for cheese-lovers and/or me!
2. Tickets to events
Again, you can buy these for pretty much anyone. Plays! Boxing matches! Comedy nights! Concerts! Pretty much everyone likes to do things. Make it easier for them to the things they love.
3. A membership to something
Memberships can get a bit spendy, but you could go in together with other family members. Do you know someone who’d like a membership to a yoga studio? A makerspace? A CSA?
Pro-tip: unless someone SPECIFICALLY, EMPHATICALLY, REPEATEDLY requests a gym membership, do not give them one as a gift. It reeks of “I’d like you to lose weight” which, uh, none of us ever want to hear.
4. Spa treatments
A massage? Facial? Mask? Time in a salt cave or a sauna? If you’re not sure of someone’s preference (not everyone loves massages) just buy them a gift certificate to a spa with a variety of services. They can spend it however they’d like.
5. Time with a psychic
Even your most cynical friend would probably get a kick out of this, particularly if they have a life change coming up – marriage, kids, moving, going back to school.
I got my best friend a psychic reading for her wedding and she loved it. I, on the other hand, ended up with a woman who drew her own tarot cards on 8 x 11 office paper and channeled her dead Siamese cat. Yes.
6. Lessons, of the exciting type
Learning new things is good for our brains, bodies, and lives. And no matter who’s on your list, there’s probably a class they’d be interested in.
7. Exotic plants
These are particularly great for friends who work long hours in an office or a college student whose dorm room could use some perking up.
8. A visit from you
Okay, this gift will be most appreciated by grandparents and far-flung best friends BUT STILL. If you’ve been talking about visiting and they’ve been inviting you for years, make it happen!
9. Gift certificates for weekend away
Do you know people with kids? 99% of the parents I know spend all their discretionary time and income on/with their children. Which is lovely! And makes sense!
But I bet they’d love some time to themselves in a lovely space that’s not covered in toddler toys. And you can give it to them! Pool resources with family members and buy them a weekend away! Again, Groupon has great discount packages and Airbnb is always affordable and fun. You can actually buy Airbnb gift cards now!
As a sidenote, just gift them the certificate; don’t book specific dates. Who knows what their work schedule is like!
10. Gift certificate for a task they hate doing
If everyone in my life would like to pool their gifts and get me a ‘loose door knob fixer’ and a ‘window treatment installer’ THAT WOULD BE AMAZING.
If someone in your life complains constantly about yard work, grocery shopping, shoveling the sidewalk, doing their taxes – you can buy them help for that. Buy them a gift card for Taskrabbit! Or put in the work of researching good vendors and give them a gift certificate to a specific service.
A word of warning: be super sure that someone actually wants a visit from a professional housekeeper. A lot of people complain about cleaning their house but would be offended if someone actually gave them a cleaner as a gift.
11. Specialty food from a place they’ve traveled or lived
Did your friend take the trip of a lifetime and now she won’t stop talking about Thailand’s mango sticky rice and green curry? Or maybe your buddy just moved back from three years in London and is feeling homesick for PG Tips?
Make them a little care package of foods from the place they’re missing! Obviously, you can order pretty much anything from Amazon or poke around your city’s international grocery stores. If you’re not sure what to get ’em, Google has all the answers you need: “Food from Australia” or “Thaisnackonline.com.”
When giving a minimalist gift, I think it’s particularly important to wrap it in an awesome, clever way. Getting a gift card is a bit underwhelming, right? Find a cheap little trinket that’s representative of the gift and wrap it nicely.
If you’re gifting someone a one-time cleaning service, wrap a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s along with the gift certificate. If they’re getting Indian cooking classes, wrap up a jar of Garam Masala. You get the idea!