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The holiday season is a magical time for most people. However, we often run ourselves ragged this time of year, and we could all enjoy it a little more if we took the time to enjoy the simple things. Whether you are a minimalist yourself and looking to give gifts in line with your principles, or you are looking for ideas for Christmas gift ideas for minimalists you know, or people that just don’t want more stuff, you have come to the right place.
Start with part 1 of the post series by clicking here. Part 1 explains some good gift giving principles in minimalist giving, as well as gives you some practical ideas for kids and spouses. This post will give gift ideas for extended family, friends, neighbors, etc.
Minimalist Gift Ideas for Your Parents/Grandparents/Aunts/Uncles
- Experience Gifts
Experience gifts are a big suggestion in the minimalist world, but for good reason! So many people are in the “I don’t need anything, and if I do I buy it myself” boat. It’s very likely your parents have everything they need. If they don’t, definitely focus on getting them something that they feel they need and have been hoping to get. But if not, experience gifts are the perfect solution.
Here are some experience ideas to get you started.
-Gift certificates for a new restaurant they want to try (or an old favorite)
-Purchase a class for them to take to pursue or enrich a hobby (painting, clay, cooking, sewing, music or dance lessons, etc)
-Season pass to state or national park systems
-Create an at home “Date Box” for your parents (or any other couple in your life). You can include a recipe to make for a special, but easy dinner and the non-perishable ingredients needed (perhaps a gift card to a grocery store to pick up the remaining ingredients on you). Then think of an activity they can do together that you can include in the box. Maybe a DVD/Blu-ray for a movie that came out during the year they were dating or got married. You can include a bottle of wine, some decaf coffee to go with a dessert, a board game or puzzle, and anything they can do together and bond over.
- Physical Items
I get that sometimes, people just want to wrap up a box and present a physical present, even to those who don’t need or want everything. Here are some practical ideas to get for those who want for nothing:
– A Weighted Blanket (this one has a “CoolMax” technology for warm sleepers). While these are often advertised for people with certain conditions, they are a fabulous treat for anyone. Anyone can benefit from the therapeutic nature of this blanket.
-A photo book from Shutterfly, Amazon or Snapfish. It’s always fun to see what kinds of family photos people have been hanging onto that you didn’t even know existed!
Gifts for Friends
You can use any of the gift ideas I’ve presented so far in Part 1 and the beginning of this Part 2 post for a friend, depending on how close you are and their interests. Here are some other ideas if none of those were quite right for your relationships.
- Experience Gifts
Here are some great experience gift ideas that you can do with friends. The best part is you can include yourself in on these fun experiences if you wish by getting joint tickets or passes!
-Tickets to an Amusement Park
-Tickets to a Beer & Wine Festival
-Tickets to a Comedy Show
-Escape Room Tickets
-Tickets to a Sporting Event
-Gift Card to favorite restaurant or shop
- Physical Items
I think the best items to give to a friend is something consumable, such as:
-A nice bottle of wine
-A pound of locally roasted coffee beans
-Nice chocolates or candies from a local shop
-A 6-pack of their favorite beer
-A bottle of nice whiskey or their favorite liquor
Gifts for Teachers/Neighbors/Pastors/Etc.
This category of presents is for the people in your life that you know, but may not know so well that you know the perfect thing to get them. These are the people you have to be a little more “generic” for, but you don’t have to give them clutter!
- Gift Cards
I am a teacher, so I am used to receiving some generic gifts each year. I teach middle school, and by the time kids get to that age, they’re less likely to bring their teachers any gifts. For that reason, I am truly appreciative for any gift I receive from a student because that shows the student and their family appreciate me.
However, I will be honest; my favorite gift is always a gift card! I receive them most commonly for a coffee shop near my school and Target, but I have also received gift cards for Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I love receiving a gift card because it’s nice to have an excuse to buy myself a little treat and not feel guilty for blowing the budget. Your child’s teachers deserve that! 😉
If you didn’t want to spend much, do a $5 gift card for Starbucks or a $10 gift card to Chipotle or another restaurant so they can buy themselves a coffee or lunch on you.
- Nice Chocolates/Candies
Candies are a generic gift, but your chances are really high that they will be enjoyed. While not everyone likes chocolate or certain types of candy, your odds are good that your recipient will gladly eat them up, especially if you visit a specialty candy shop and get special ones.
- A Heartfelt Note
Regardless of which gift you choose, it’s nice to accompany it with a heartfelt note. The whole reason you want to get this person you don’t know all that personally a gift is because they performed some sort of service for you. I’d rather have a little card that said, “We so appreciate that you are (child’s name)’s teacher this year. She wakes up each day excited to go to school and that is such a blessing to our family” than a cocoa mug filled with candy canes.
It doesn’t have to be a long letter, just a sentence or two to express your gratitude for the service they provided your family, whether it was being a kind and compassionate neighbor, delivering your mail and packages with care, supporting you all as part of the church congregation, etc.
My list will stop there for the teachers/neighbors/pastors/etc category because it is just really hard to get a physical item that you know they will actually like if you don’t know them very well. Gift cards may not seem fun to give, but believe me, they are one of the most appreciated items you could give someone you don’t know on a personal basis.
Minimalist White Elephant Gifts
Ugh… White Elephant. I hate this game, hah! But alas, it is a tradition in my extended family Christmas celebration. It’s not that the game isn’t fun, but I hate going home with a bunch of junk! It’s also hard to try to come up with ideas of items people will fight for in the game.
Everyone plays this game differently. Some people play a “Yankee Swap” version where all items are items they already had in their house. Some people play a version where the gifts are cheap and funny. Some people play the game where they have a decent limit for the items (I know people that do anywhere from $20 to $50 per item for White Elephant games!) and they try to get interesting items people want.
My family started out with $5 gag gifts, but it soon turned into $5 gifts that we want people to want. That is very hard to do! Here are some ideas of $5-$10 items you could throw into a White Elephant game that people will actually want to fight for.
-Classic Coke in glass bottles
– Lottery Tickets/Scratch Offs
-A decent bottle of wine
-6-pack of beer
-A bottle of quality nail polish
-Handmade mittens or hat
-A leather bound journal
-Spa items (facial masks, bath bombs, Epsom salts, body creams, etc.)
-$5 to $10 gift cards for gas, Target, or Starbucks
-A cute apron
-Tools (tools always go over really well in my family White Elephant!)
-Hat with local sports team’s logo on it
Reclaim the Joy of the Season
Regardless of what your gift giving situation is this year, try not to stress about it. That is the worst thing you can do. Honestly, if you’re racking your brain and just can’t figure out what to get someone, there is no shame in a gift card. 99% of people would probably rather have a gift card than to get something they wouldn’t use or pick for themselves anyway (unless they’re like my brother-in-law who just lets gift cards accumulate and never uses them!)
Some people might feel a gift card is “cheating,” but honestly we need to stop with the Christmas gift manipulation. Try not to worry about it too much, and do what you need to do.
What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!