The Gift-Giving Guide for Minimalists

The holidays are just around the corner and gift-giving season is upon us.

If you have dedicated yourself to a more minimalist lifestyle, then you might be wondering how to approach giving gifts to others and how intentional you want to be about it.

Since you’re already trying to live with less stuff, it’s possible that you’re looking for new ways to reduce your financial burdens such as debts, owning clutter, and paying out for unnecessary living expenses.

It makes TOTAL SENSE that you would like to transfer these lifestyle principles to your gift-giving style as well.

Gift-giving doesn’t have to be complicated as a minimalist, so I put together some actionable and thoughtful gift ideas you can use when approaching the holiday season.

Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be valuable. Let’s take a look at some topics in this guide:

1.     Excessive Gift-Giving- Why do we give so many gifts?

2.     How to Approach Gift-Giving as a Minimalist

3.      Gift-Giving Ideas for Minimalists

4.     Budget-Friendly Gift Ideas as Minimalists

Excessive Gift-Giving

When there are so many gift-giving holidays throughout the year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas – the list is endless.

Today’s society has been brainwashed to believe that love = gifts.

But why do some people give so many gifts?

Growing up, I was never a child with a lot of stuff.

I usually had a favorite teddy bear or toy and would spend months and hours playing with the thing.

And Children are the same way today. A lot has changed over the decades and generations, but this one sure hasn’t.

In recent years, I’ve begun noticing more and more how many toys children have. They could have a room full of stuff, but sit on the couch playing games on their IPAD…

The parents will share the same story- they received those toys for Christmas or they received a lot of toys on their birthdays.

Where do we find the balance between valuable gift-giving? Without giving too much to where all those gifts become worthless?

Well, according to Psychology Today, “Giving for the wrong reasons can be detrimental to both your relationship and your self-esteem.

Women, in particular, often report that they feel as though they give and give and receive little in return.

Two Types of Gift-Givers

With all that being said, gifts are not the enemy and we shouldn’t have a negative approach to giving or receiving gifts. But we can realize there’s more than one type of gift giver.

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Generous givers have already catered to their own needs, so they’re able to put their time and energy into the needs of others. That means their gifts are thoughtful and given from a full heart.

But “over-giving” tends to come from an inability to receive.

People who are prone to over-giving end up giving more because they believe (or just hope) that the gift will be appreciated.

It makes them feel better about themselves or they just give presents because they feel obliged to do so,

Generous giving feels good – you give the gift and feel rewarded by appreciation and the joy that this brings.

Over-giving just feels like a burden – the energy only flows one way and it doesn’t lead to that warm and fuzzy feeling of appreciation you get from generous giving.

How to Approach Gift-Giving as a Minimalist

Just because you’re a minimalist, it doesn’t mean you can’t participate fully in the excitement and joy of thoughtful or simple gift-giving at Christmas, birthdays and other celebrations throughout the year.

You’ll probably just prefer giving in a different way to your non-minimalist friends and family.

The point is to not get roped up into buying gifts during the hyped-up shopping (Yes, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’re looking at you.)

When you choose something, think about whether your friend is still going to love the gift a couple of weeks after opening it – or will they be re-gifting it or donating it to the local charity shop?

Will they want to use or wear it more than once?

Have you put much thought into it?

Think back to the BEST GIFT you ever received.

Chances are, it was personal and meaningful to you.

That’s the secret to a great gift! Our intention serves a purpose.

Some of my favorite gifts were this Earthlove Box and this Causebox. Why? Because they were gifts that were sentimental and aligned with my values.

Consider the gift recipient.

Are they a minimalist?

Or do they have totally different values to you?

It’s completely fine if they do, you just have to get a little more creative!

Perhaps they’re a collector or hobbyist – or maybe they’re short on time due to busy family life or high powered career.

It’s not about giving them something you would want to receive – it’s about what they’re going to love.

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Take a moment to think about Christmas….

What do you really remember most about your Christmases past? Playing silly games, the smell of freshly baked gingerbread, snowball fights… chances are, all of these things rank way higher on your list than most of the gifts you’ve received in the past.

Sure, there are probably one or two memorable gifts, but the difference is that these were probably the ones given with great thought and care – not the last-minute gifts purchased out of a sense of obligation.

Some of our best childhood memories are surprise days out or hanging out at home playing board games with our parents.

And more often than not, just being present is the BEST gift of all.

Gift-Giving Ideas for Minimalists

Minimalist gift-giving is all about buying gifts with purpose – and being mindful of what we are spending.

Whether you’re a minimalist or not, it’s worth remembering this: it’s far better to show love to our friends and family members with our actions, not by giving them the latest shiny new iPhone.


Why not consider giving experience gifts or making a charity donation in place of a physical gift?

Or, if you still want to wrap something up, you could consider supporting a local business by purchasing quality, hand-made crafts or local food and drink products from nearby suppliers.

 If you want to take this concept to the next level…

Why not consider giving your time to a local homeless shelter or food bank?

Holidays like Easter and Christmas are busy times, so an extra pair of hands will always be appreciated.

And it’s a great way to give back to your local community.

All of these thoughtful thank you gift ideas come with the added bonus of creating a memories – whether that’s taking part in the experience, remembering a loved one with a charitable donation, or enjoying the taste of a favorite food or drink item.

Budget-Friendly Gift Ideas As Minimalist

Homemade gifts – Do you have a craft or hobby you enjoy? Why not use your talents to make something?

That way, you’ll know it’s totally unique – and you can make it to suit the recipient perfectly.

This Home Made Craft Box is a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

Tickets to a shared experience – The cinema, theater, ballet, football game- it could be anything.

Buy tickets for you and your recipient and enjoy the show together.

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An experience gift is something to look forward to, and the memories will last much longer than a physical gift.

Charitable donations – The beauty of this idea is you can give as much or as little as you can.

Choose a charity that’s close to your recipient’s heart and donate on their behalf.

Books – Find out their favorite author and treat them to a new paperback.

You could even pick up a handmade bookmark as a keepsake to give it – or make one if you’re feeling creative. If you want to introduce them to a little minimalist inspiration, I recommend this book HERE

Cook their favorite meal – Breakfast, lunch or dinner, it doesn’t matter!

You’ll have a great chance to catch up with them as you cook, as well as giving them the simple gift of a home-cooked meal they didn’t have to cook!

Membership to a national park, zoo or club – This is a gift that keeps on giving – and they’ll love telling you all about their experiences every time you catch up with them.

Evening classes – Have they always wanted to learn a new language or skill? Why not sign them up for a local evening class and help them along their way? You can find my Beginners Minimalism course on Skillshare and get 14 days of free access. Also, choose from thousands of other courses along the way!

Do you already have some ideas on what you will be giving to your friends and family for birthdays and Christmas this year?

Or are you still looking for inspiration?

Shopping online has made gift buying so accessible these days, it can be difficult to stay focused on choosing the right item.

Remember, whatever you choose to give, sharing a thoughtful gift is likely to be much more special than a token gift.

Be sure to invest a little time in really thinking about what your recipient might like, want or need before making a purchase.

If you’re not sure, why not ask the people on your gift list for a few suggestions?

It’s far better to do your research and find out what they’re hoping for.

That way, any money spent is invested in something that will be valued.


Don’t forget to enjoy the experience of giving the gift, too.

That feeling we get when our loved one opens a carefully chosen gift can be very special – and it’s another memory that will stay with us for many years to come.

8 thoughts on “The Gift-Giving Guide for Minimalists”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I’d like to point out one thing: for some people "giving" is their love language. Ever heard of the 5 love languages? Gift, words of affirmation, quality time, physical contact and service. For some, giving is their way to say "I love you" (or receiving a gift is their way to feel loved). To tell them to give less, it’s like tell them to show less love!

    • Yes, I have! It’s a great read. Gift-gifting is a personal decision and not a bad thing or should be seen as negative. If it makes one feel good, that’s important.

  2. It’s a very thought provoking article, especially when the gift giving season is just around the corner. I personally like the gifts that provide a personal experience on a personal or emotional level. A good read for not only millennials but everybody out there.

  3. I absolutely love this. I find picking out gifts to be the hardest thing because I know too much on how often a lot of gifts get tossed to the side after the shiny has worn off. I believe in giving gifts from the heart, I show my love for others through gift-giving. It is one of my love languages. Thank You for the wonderful advice!

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