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Christmas is, without a doubt, the least minimalist-friendly time of year; no other holiday promotes consumerism and bringing clutter into your home quite as aggressively. The holidays pose a unique challenge for minimalists: how do you partake in the festivities without compromising your ideals?
If you're a minimalist or have one on your list, you may be at a loss when it comes to suitable gifts. In fact, the idea of a minimalist gift guide seems somewhat oxymoronic.
Of course, the most minimalist approach is to cut out gift exchanges entirely, or, at least where you can. I'm a proponent of limiting gift-giving to children and significant others.
In extended families, adults can participate in a 'Secret Santa' or 'White Elephant' gift exchange, wherein each person purchases only one present and, most importantly, takes home only one. If you have a large family, this will significantly reduce the amount of unwanted crap (err...well-intentioned clutter) that makes it into your home.
If you can't get out of exchanging gifts, take heart: there are some minimalist-friendly options!
Whether you're a minimalist wondering what to put on your wish list or you're shopping for a minimalist, here's a list of tried-and-tested, minimalist-friendly gift ideas!
1. An Experience Gift
Next to well-wishes, this is the prototypical minimalist gift.
You may recall this is also a suggestion in my post on Christmas gift ideas for kids that won't clutter up your home. This gift is highly personalizable to the recipient's interests. The possibilities are endless!
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AMC Theatre Gift Card (various amounts, Amazon.com).
If you're low on funds or trying to save money this year, consider gifting your own services. For instance, you could draw up a voucher entitling the recipient to an evening of free babysitting, a homemade meal, or generalized help around the house. My sister, Jen, gave me one of these vouchers last year and we're making good on it by enlisting her help to clear out our basement this weekend!
Alternatively, you can purchase services.
3. E-book, Audiobook & Music Subscriptions
A year-long subscription to an e-book or audiobook service makes for a thoughtful gift idea for book lovers. If they prefer music, a premium subscription to a music app, like Spotify, will do the trick. The best part: this is a zero waste gift!
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4. Gift Cards
Gift cards get a bad rap; they're seen as impersonal and somehow less thoughtful than other gifts. However,
they ensure the recipient isn't saddled with physical items they don't want and the user can hold onto them until they're actually in need of something. Also, they're re-giftable and trade-friendly in the event that the receiver isn't a fan of the store.
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An Amazon gift card is the perfect gift card. Especially, if you're at a loss for what to get; it gives the recipient the freedom to purchase almost anything under the sun. Can you think of anything you can't buy on Amazon these days???
For no added cost, they're available in a variety of presentations.
A gift box:
A greeting card:
You can even print a gift card at home and deliver it in person:
There's also the zero-waste option of having an ecard emailed or texted to the recipient on a preset date. It doesn't get more minimalist-friendly than that!
Some Other Gift Card Ideas
5. Physical Gifts that are Minimalist-Friendly
If nothing above resonates with you or you'd prefer a gift that you can wrap and top with a bow, here are my suggestions for minimalist-friendly, traditional gifts.
I normally caution against buying home decor items for other people. It's hard to really grasp another person's style. The exception: candles. There are two things even those who embrace minimalism can't resist: plants and candles!
Our kitchen shelfie adorned with plants and candles---and booze, of course! My favourite candles are Brooklyn Candle Studio's Minimalist Collection Candles. They work anywhere and with any style.
The Cedarwood Minimalist Candle is one of my favourites. The clean and simple scent of pine, fir needle and eucalyptus inspires a much needed sense of calm over the holidays.
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Brooklyn Candle Studio Christmas Tree Minimalist Candle ($24).
Feeling more generous? Check out Brooklyn Candle Studio's Gift Sets or Candle of the Month Subscriptions.
ii) A Plant
Minimalists are typically environmentally-conscious nature- lovers. A Christmas cactus or amaryllis make for festive plant gifts this time of year. For a low-budget option, you can propagate a plant from a leaf cutting of one of your existing plants (pothos works really well)!
iii) A Minimalist Travel Bag