Gifts, Minimalism

Christmas Gifts for Minimalists Part 2 – Purchasing Gifts Intentionally

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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

-Winery Tour

-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 DNA kit like 23andMe or AncestryDNA

– 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!

-A kit to make their favorite food or beverage. Something like a Sushi Making Kit or Wine Making Kit if you think they would like to make a hobby of it.

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

christmas-gifts-for-minimalistsHere 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

-Concert Tickets

-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

christmas-gifts-for-minimalistsI 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

-Fancy salamis

-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

christmas-gifts-for-minimalistsUgh… 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!

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys. We have been cloth diapering for 5 years. My family and I live in Minnesota with our dog, Ruby, and cat, Gherkin. Outside of Rocking the Cloth, I am also a middle school teacher. Thank you for visiting Rocking the Cloth--feel free to email me at holly@rockingthecloth.com if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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12 Comments

  1. Nicole Stiles says:

    I just saw a post on facebook about the experience gifts except it was in terms of kids. Parents want experience gifts for their kids because they play with a new toy for only a couple days and then throw it in the back of the closet. Whereas with an experience gift, they get to spend quality time with a loved one. 

    I really like the restaurant certificate idea for adults. That would work well for many members of my family.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      I love getting restaurant gift certificates! We so rarely go out to eat because it’s pricey. I love having an excuse to go out.

  2. Stefan says:

    Thanks for these great gift ideas.

    Some of the products I didn’t even know they exist. Neither have I heard of the white elephant game, sounds quite fun.

    When I was a kid I always wanted toys for Christmas, now I’m in for gift cards, rather than material things I don’t choose my self.

    An exception though are inexpensive small gifts more for the meaning of giving something than for the material value. Or, of course things my daughter made her self at school or so.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Homemade gifts from kids are great! 

  3. Jordan says:

    Great suggestions! Thanks for sharing this.

    I love the idea of more experience gifts. Memory making is so priceless. As life has gotten busier I feel like I’ve become less creative in this department. I used to plan some pretty spectacular dates with my wife, and I want to invest myself more in that effort. 

    Cool ideas :)! 

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks Jordan, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  4. azaliha says:

    Hi, I am minimalist myself and agreed when you said not too worry about gift too much. What important during this festive season is getting together. Gifts are important too, but do not go overboard about it. Simple gift more meaningful and gift card also ideal gift for somebody who very hard to please. But for me ‘Date Box’ is an interesting ideas and its personal. Thanks for all the interesting ideas.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Paul says:

    Great post, We have been taking this path for a few years now.  It was after a Christmas day where we all sat there and addressed the White Elephant in the room in that there was probably $1000 worth of ‘stuff’ there that had been bought as gifts that we were never going to use.  We went ahead as a family from that day and deided to go the minimalist path.  Our rules are: $30 maximum spend and gifts must be useable in the first three months of the year – i.e. gift cards, massages, wine, food etc.  Things that we will actually use and not something that will be just shoved into a drawer and forgotten about on boxing day.

    Thanks again – will go back now and reread for some ideas for this year.

    Paul

    1. Holly Lee says:

      That’s awesome, Paul! What a great household rule!

  6. Fiona says:

    I love opening presents and trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone. But now I’m getting older and there are so many kids, nephews and nieces, it’s getting a bit out of hand. We’ve been doing a Secret Santa style gift for the adults, but the White Elephant or Yankee Swap is something that I actually think might be quite fun for us to try with the extended family. 

    I think the experience type vouchers are great, because it’s not always easy to justify treating yourself to something fun and frivolous, but if you have a voucher for it, you can enjoy it without the guilt! 

    Great post for the lead up to Christmas!

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks Fiona! I agree–I’m always so hesitant to spend money on those luxuries…it’s great when someone already did, so I don’t need to feel guilty or talk myself out of it.

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