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We love our friends. We love our family. The way they traditionally show that love at Christmas time is to buy presents. But for the minimalist, or even just a regular person with a house full of clutter they are trying to get under control, the idea of acquiring a whole lot more stuff doesn't feel like something to celebrate at all.
I’ve been a part of a number of lengthy chats on Facebook groups of people desperately trying to simplify their lives and being completely misunderstood by their gift-giving families. And this is a journey we have been on in my own family as well.
When my kids were young, the tree was loaded with multiple presents for each child. Some were genuinely thoughtful, quality gifts that they were looking forward to, well used and loved. But, there was also an awful lot of junk; bits and pieces I picked up in discount stores and supermarket aisles. Some of it I knew would be broken before the end of the year, but an impressive present pile was important to me then.
How things have changed!
Now my kids have grown, and they have homes of their own, they have embraced a minimalist Christmas as well. They have no desire to spend their hard-earned cash on unwanted stuff for the sake of having something to give, and they don’t want to take home a pile of new stuff they have to find a place for and look after.
Gift giving is still an important part of the Christmas holiday, and it is a legitimate way of expressing love to people who are important to us. So here is a list of ideas that may satisfy both those who love to give and those who are reluctant to receive.
Some guiding principals
One nice thing that is loved and used is much better than an excess of poor-quality bits and pieces, as impressive as they may appear all boxed up. Rather than buying everyone in our family a cheap gift, we distribute the names and buy one gift worth six times as much. It makes shopping easier, and we all receive a gift of good quality.
Spend time considering what the person truly values and enjoys rather than looking for what is popular or on special. Every Father’s Day my daughter invites her dad out for dinner. The quality time they spend together is worth much more than any new toy for the toolbox ever could.
While many minimalists don’t usually want more stuff, we enjoy doing things. Making memories together and enjoying time with people you love are often the best gifts.
Even minimalists use consumables, and a thoughtful, good quality product is always appreciated. Good quality products can be expensive, and my girls always appreciate hair and beauty products as gifts. The tip is to get the products and brands that they already love. Then you know it will be used and enjoyed.
Some gift ideas for the minimalist in your life
A voucher for a massage, facial or pedicure
Tickets to a concert, theme park or day at the zoo
Dinner at a restaurant
A cooking class or golf lesson
An over-night Bed & Breakfast
Rock climbing or Go Cart racing
Wine, cheese & crackers, olives and pickles
Perfume (only if you know the fragrance they love)
Jam or Relish
A recipe in a jar
Write out your favourite recipes
Offer to babysit their kids
Invite them around to your home for dinner
Go on a picnic together
If you HAVE to buy something
A good quality candle
A pot of herbs or flowers
A board game or book
Write a letter expressing what you love about them
Give a charity gift on their behalf
A photograph or personalised artwork
The best gift
The best way to truly bless someone is to put some serious thought into your gift. Pray for them, listen to them when they share their life with you. Do some research. Consider the dreams in their heart, the challenges they are facing and the things that make them happy. Think about their love language and give something that will bless them. Often, the best gifts can’t be bought in a shop.
To give is better than to receive, and that is the blessing of Christmas.