Unless you’re a Grinch, you’ve probably given a gift to someone at some point. Whether you’re a minimalist or not, there are some good gift giving habits you can follow.
I think we’ve all had people in our lives who were terrible at picking out gifts for us.. Maybe they didn’t know us well enough to find the perfect item. There is also a chance they just weren’t considerate enough and grabbed whatever they could as they headed out the door for the family’s holiday gathering.
It doesn’t matter who the gift is for. Colleagues, an authority figure, or even a neighbor who brought you an unexpected gift and you felt obligated to rush out to the store to buy them something (it happened to us), there are a few good minimalist habits to follow when choosing the gift. It might be for the most important person you know or the unnamed background character in the cast of your life. Everyone, regardless of their lifestyle or pronoun of choice, can follow these wise minimalist gift giving habits.
1) A minimalist will look for a consumable item that won’t last long
When you don’t know about food allergies or other sensitivities people may have to things like smells, it can be tough to know the exact type of consumable item to buy. Your favorite chocolate might be a death sentence for someone else. You also never know if your mailman you’re giving a pack of Whoppers to may have suffered from some sort of childhood trauma involving an accident at the candy factory that made him an orphan.
Those are hard to avoid. You can never go wrong with a consumable, though. Candy is easy. Keep it generic. A chocolate covered pickle is too outrageous for some people to even go near. Stay simple.
2) A minimalist will not give decor as a gift
Taste in decor varies so much from person-to-person. Even minimalists in the same house have varying tastes. What might look simple and practical to one person could come across as flashy to another. Stay away from decor when you can. Save your money and the heartache of visiting a family member months later only to realize the quilt you bought them was used on the bottom of a crate to help potty train a dog.
The one exception to this rule would be if someone has this on a wedding registry. Newlyweds love home decor. Something about a wooden square that reminds visitors to eat, pray, and/or love seems so appealing to them.
3) A minimalist looks for practical gifts everyone uses
Here are a few things everyone uses: mugs, candles, silverware, toilet paper, etc. Not all of these are the greatest of gifts. Toilet paper preference, as an example, is a very specific thing in some households. What’s soft to you will feel like sandpaper to the family next door. Plus, you never know if they actually do enjoy the feeling of sanding themselves back there.
When you’re a minimalist and you need to buy a gift, it helps to look around your own home and see what you use. What are the essential items in your life? Towels are a terrible boring gift but a practical one. Regardless of how it ends up getting used, those everyday items might be the sleeper gift of the holiday season.
4) A minimalist shouldn’t give gifts that take up too much room
A simple rule with any gift giving is to never buy something for someone you can’t carry comfortably with one arm. Obviously, there are cases where someone has specifically requested a treadmill or a 100-pound bag of rocks. Those are outliers and you need to be careful about getting someone either of them in the first place.
Because we don’t all know the living situation of others, it’s a courtesy to never buy obnoxiously large gifts. It’s kind of annoying even if you do believe the person would have room for it. Nobody needs more “stuff” added to their home.
5) A minimalist looks for a gift with a purpose
Any gift you give should have a purpose. That purpose should go beyond filling a quota in your company’s white elephant exchange. A minimalist will put thought into the gift. It should have a greater good than to check off a box as something over nothing.
In the past, Jenny and I have categorized our gifts to each other. During a past Christmas, we’ve said the requirement is to get something tasty, something to improve the house, and something we can do together. Be careful not to mix those three categories into a single one. Otherwise you’ll be limited to licking paint off the walls. Your categories can be something else. We chose them because we enjoy tasty things, wanted to improve our house, and enjoy doing things together: like tracking our expenses!