Minimalist gift ideas have been a game changer for me. You know the feeling when you receive a thoughtful gift from a friend and you smile your biggest smile and say “thank you!!” when deep inside you are thinking “awe man, another thing to get rid of eventually but feel guilty about” or “more clutter”??
One thing to NOT buy is sleepwear. Apparently Pyjamas (Pajamas) and sleepwear are the most returned Christmas gift item.
This happened to use a lot last Christmas, when it was our baby’s first Christmas and friends kept on wanting to drop by and give our baby some of his first few Christmas presents ever. As simple people, my husband and I felt a bit guilty because we didn’t think of giving gifts to our friend’s children as we worry it might set up a precedent that we don’t want to keep up (have you heard of the reciprocity Joneses?)
When I receive something that I can use or will be consumed or won’t add physical clutter, my internal reaction is much different and brighter as I look forward to using that gift. Here are some minimalist gift ideas that won’t be thrown away.
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Food: The Best Minimalist Gift Idea
Cookies, baked goods, spreads, jams are all wonderful gifts that can be consumed are great minimalist gift ideas. Coffee or tea are always nice gifts and you can’t go wrong (as long as you know if they are a coffee lover or a tea lover, usually it’s one or the other, and rarely none of the two options). From a friend who visited Iceland, she brought back some thyme infused salt which I love to use when I am cooking. When I travel I usually bring back a consumable food souvenir for my friends- I brought back Kona coffee for some friends from my recent trip to Hawaii for 5 weeks.
I had a colleague make some mango chutney for me as a baby shower gift (we asked for no gifts because we live in a 450 square foot apartment) and I loved it! Here is the recipe she used from Wanderlust Kitchen.
For my birthday one year, my best girlfriends got me a CHEESE basket full of assorted cheeses. It was one of the most memorable and best presents ever because I just love cheese.
Basically you can’t go wrong with food unless you are giving expired foods (don’t be that person)!
This is the no-fail gift option for dinner party invitations, or really any occasion (except for maybe children’s birthday parties).
A bottle of wine is always a well received option.
In fact, I was elated when I got a bottle of nice Okanagan red wine from my friend as a gift when she came to meet my new baby, because not drinking wine for 9 months is really hard, and new mamas need some TLC as well!
My husband and I always keep a stash of wine (about 3-5 bottles varying in price from $10 to $25) at home just in case we need a last minute gift and don’t want to be buying useless things that end up cluttering our friends and families’ homes up.
If you have friends who are beer lovers, a six pack of fancy beer (there’s some fancy beer out there!) or beer from a microbrewery would be a welcome gift! Beer and wine are one of my favourite minimalist gift ideas.
My friend who is super crafty has made bath bombs and soaps for me for Christmas. I really enjoy them because I can use them when I feel like having a frugal in-home spa day.
For part of our wedding favours, we made lip balm (which by the way is super duper easy- we heated lip balm base mixed with flavour and ordered lip balm tubes and that’s pretty much it) and stuck our wedding logo on the lip balm. My friends who attended our wedding tells us they are still using our lip balm and still love the flavour. I still use our lip balm and love it (one thing I always have to have is lip balm in my purse or I go mad with chapped lips).
You can’t go wrong with flowers (unless that person has an allergy). My husband doesn’t really like to give flowers because I think he finds it impractical, and I agree, but the irrational side of me really enjoys flowers. I don’t get them often enough! They really brighten up the place with their beauty and their fragrance and it is such a simple pleasure to enjoy in life- fresh flowers.
I know this seems impersonal, but personally, I love receiving gift cards. I have a wallet full of them and I carry them around in case I end up being at that retailer needing to make a purchase. This Lifehacker article looks at gift cards versus real gifts and gift cards win.
If you’re worried about gift cards expiring, there are regulations on gift cards now in Canada and generally there should not be a ‘maintenance fee’ and they should not expire.
We received a Toys R Us gift card for our baby and you know what we ended up buying with that $50 gift card? Diaper pail liners. No one would have bought us two boxes of diaper pail liners, even if we had a registry and put that item on the registry. Yet the $50 towards these liners was so practical and useful for new parents like us.
Experiences like movie tickets, or show tickets, or even Groupons are a great idea. I once got movie tickets from a friend for Christmas and we used them to watch our last movie ever for a long time. I was in my third trimester and it’s been half a year since then and I haven’t seen a movie yet. The next movie we will probably watch will be a cartoon or Disney movie of some sort. Maybe Frozen II (or is that already out?).
Groupons sometimes can be hard to redeem and gift (because a lot of them have an expiration date). It also might seem a bit tacky to gift a Groupon. We gave my sister in law a Groupon to a small harbour cruise in Vancouver and she had a good time, but I’m not sure how much she enjoyed it. I think the added stress of trying to redeem the Groupon within the expiration time frame can take away the gift giving sentiment of it. Nonetheless, I think it can still be a very nice gift.
They even have Groupon gift cards (!) if you’re stuck!
Memberships To Local Attractions
Now this is more of a bigger gift for someone who you are closer to and not just an acquaintance as these can be expensive, but a membership or annual pass is a great gift!
We gave my sister in law and her family an annual membership to the local science centre and she had a great time using it, taking her children to the science centre much more frequently than she would if she didn’t have the pass. For her family one day trip to the science centre was something like $75 and an annual pass with unlimited trips was around $200. It’s like a buffet of experiences and learning for kids, and how can one say no to that!
Photos or desktop plaques
These are the absolute best minimalist gift ideas for grandparents. Having pictures so ‘professional’ looking in a desktop plaque brings joy to any grandparent’s heart! The photo calendar is another great option though this adds a bit of clutter. There are many different companies that do a great job with your photos and it takes a bit of time to organize photos and upload them but it’s well worth the effort. My sisters gave me a photo book that included photos of my new baby and my dog and it was one of the best gifts I have received from them ever!
Some companies that I have used in the past and LOVED (good quality) are:
- Photobook Canada
- Shutterfly– They have great customer service. Their print quality is not as good as the other two companies. You can save 2% cash back through Rakuten and they have some great promo codes as well, like 30% off any order for new customers. The downer is the shipping cost to Canada and it is charged in US dollars. I use this annually so far for my family photobook though.
- Blurb -This is probably the best quality of the bunch.
Readers, do you have other minimalist gift ideas that you like to give or gifts that you have received in the past and appreciated?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.