Guide: Gifting as a Minimalist. 10 Easy Tips

An article to help you decide what to gift to your loved ones when you are a minimalist




Growing up my family and friends were never into gift-giving.


We gifted once or twice a year, usually a set of new clothes or books or a replacement for something essential. - mnmlgrl

This practice was challenged in midwestern US of A. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a holiday shopping season which had more to do with shopping than the holiday. Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, Sales, deals, discounts & steals occupied most of media - print, digital, radio and TV rather than the holiday spirit. In fact the holiday spirit was confused with wearing a new red sweater, buying stocking stuffers or grabbing door-buster deals. I was confused by rampant consumerism and a culture which normalized & celebrated full page glossy adverts, girls with shiny teeth and men with dreamy eyes selling things & stuff of little to no consequence & certainly with nothing to do with the holiday. I fell for it.


I bought things to gift. I bought things for myself. Over time I bought because it was a good deal. Then I bought because it became a habit, a habit I could not break. Gifting became a force of habit too, a transaction meant to represent love, an expectation.


Because I could afford all I wanted (wants replaced needs quickly) any time of the year, birthdays and holidays became less significant.The size and amount of money spent on a gift corresponded to the amount of love I had for the person in question. Every day was an occasion worth celebrating which in effect made every occasion insignificant.

That is why gift-giving was one of the first areas of my life I addressed when I started practicing minimalism.


I rediscovered the joy of giving & receiving gifts when I started consuming less. - mnmlgrl

General Gifting Guidelines.

  • Practice active listening & 'active gifting' - ensure the gift is personal and something that the giftee will enjoy & actually use.

  • Make a budget and stick to it no matter who you are gifting.

  • Try to make your gift/gift packaging eco-friendly or repurposed.

  • Endeavor to express your love in non-materialistic ways. Foster a deeper, more dynamic relationship by contributing in a way that makes most sense to both of you - spending time in person or call them. Keep your phone aside when you are with them.


Here are the rules I follow when I give gifts to loved ones:

  • Understand them and their needs better.This goes back to having a better relationship with your giftee and truly listening to their needs. Do they have an important trip coming up? Gift them a ticket. Have they been saving up for a new laptop? Enroll them to an annual maintenance package. Do they have a fancy corporate job and lost a cufflink and stained their tie? Gift them cufflinks then, or a gift card to a store where they can get a tie. All of this requires time, effort and active listening. You might lose the element of surprise once in a while but your friend will be grateful you found them something they needed and love using.

  • Spend time with them. In person or via video voice calls when we are physically apart. We go for walks around the park, get groceries, workout together, catch up over coffee or enroll in a class together. I even volunteer with some close friends. Basically you need to actively listen and participate in activities which they enjoy.

  • Gift them experiences.A few examples are beer/coffee tastings, concerts, movies, a meal at a fancy restaurant, glamping, camping or hiking packages, skiing/running/cycling workshops, an adventure trip or training for a skill they have been meaning to do.

  • Gift them services. These are my favorite gifts to receive - spa trips, TV/music subscriptions, salon visits, home cleaning, cooking services, dog-grooming, club/gym memberships (if they are consistent in their gym practice), baby-sitting.

  • Gift them consumables. Vitamins - unglamorous but they make lovely gift baskets with dried fruit & other snacks. I also enjoy receiving and giving perfume, organic foods, Ayurvedic lipsticks and kajal sticks, handcrafted soap/face-masks/food/wine/tea blends. This way, every time they use that product, they think of me :).

  • Gift them handcrafted items. I pick up little items here and there which are handmade by people involved in a charity. Sometimes I add in a few things I DIY'd myself. Little pouches, bookmarks, little notebooks, and wash cloths/dusting/cleaning cloths are something that every person I've gifted to has used and loved.

-mnmlgrl

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