Sustainability made simple

Minimalist Gifts: 28 Ideas That Don’t Add to the Clutter

minimalist gifts
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / cbaquiran

Birthdays and holidays can be difficult when making an effort to live sustainably. Luckily, there are plenty of minimalist gift ideas for all occasions.

Celebrations that involve gifts can be difficult for minimalists – you want to be part of the gift-giving fun and show your love, but without unnecessary consumption and waste. These 30 gift ideas are thoughtful, useful and fun without jumping on the consumerist bandwagon.

Check out our article 10 Simple Tips for a Stress-Free Minimalist Christmas for practical ways to celebrate low-key holidays and special occasions. 

1. Homemade Gifts

  • Food: Whether you make homemade jam, cookies, banana bread, or a casserole, food is always appreciated. This is a great minimalist gift as you can give it with confidence that it will be eaten and loved. If you’re attending a big party, you can even offer to cook for the party beforehand. That way, you take some stress off the host and help them enjoy their time more. Check out some more of our homemade gift ideas for some recipe inspiration. 
  • Painting: Make a nice canvas painting for your loved one to hang up in their home. They will think of you every time they look at it. 
  • Clothing: If you have a sewing machine and the skills needed, you may want to consider making a nice dress or top as a present. If you don’t know their size, a crocheted scarf is a safe option. 
  • Patchwork quilt: Sew together a patchwork quilt to be used as a wall hanging or blanket. You can use whatever clothing scraps you have and get creative with it.
  • Scrapbook: Make a scrapbook of all your memories together. You can have fun with it by adding photos, ticket-stubs, stickers, receipts, and letters. 

2. Minimalist Gifts for the Home

Presents for the home don't have to add clutter.
Presents for the home don't have to add clutter.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Monoar_CGI_Artist)
  • House plants: Everybody loves plants! Pick up some succulents, a lemon tree or Monstera plant to spruce up your loved one’s home. 
  • Artwork: If your loved one is still getting settled into their place, there may be lots of wall and counter space that needs filling. Help make their house a home by gifting a large wall hanging or canvas painting.
  • Zero-waste products: Whether you’re attending a house warming party or heading to an eco-friendly friend’s birthday party, zero-waste home products are always a great idea to help your friends and family live more sustainably. 
  • Sustainable bedding: Nice organic sheets, pillows and blankets can be a much-appreciated present. Just make sure not to give bedding to anyone who really isn’t in need of it. Your loved ones may need some bedding if they are expanding their family, they just moved into a new place, or they can’t afford nice bedding yet themselves. 
  • Wine: An easy, classy gift, wine is almost always a welcome. It’s also a great minimalist gift idea, as you know it will be consumed. Just make sure the person you are gifting it to is okay with receiving gifts of alcohol first!
  • Coffee beans or tea collection: Similar to wine, nice teas and coffee beans are a good minimalist gift idea because there’s no concern that they will end up sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust. Make sure to get some information on the recipient’s taste, and then create a cute gift basket of organic coffee beans or lose-leaf teas they will love. 
  • Books: If the recipient is a big reader, a book might be the perfect gift. Pick up a book from your local bookstore, or – even better – check out thrift shops and get a used book. 
  • Reusable kitchen sets: Reusable kitchen cloths are sustainable, extremely useful, and much nicer to look at compared to paper towels and paper napkins. A nice, matching set of napkins, placemats and kitchen towels can really spruce up a home.
  • Flowers: Flowers can spruce up a home, and they are easy to compost once they wilt. 

3. Minimalist Gifts for Children

These minimalist gift ideas are great for kids.
These minimalist gift ideas are great for kids.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pharaoh_EZYPT)
  • Tickets: Give the gift of an experience by gifting tickets to the movies, to the local roller rink or maybe even an amusement park. Talk to the parents to find out what the kid is currently excited about so you can find the right fit.
  • Scooter, bicycle, or roller skates: Outdoor activities can keep kids entertained for hours, and get them excited about being outside. Presents like these are also easy to enjoy all over town as they don’t require much gear other than a helmet.
  • Kite or soccer ball: Minimalist sporting gifts like these are great as well. Kids can easily head to a park to fly their kit or kick the soccer ball around. Gifts like a new basketball or tennis racket could work as well if the child has access to a basketball hoop or tennis court. 
  • Chalk: This is a simple gift that kids ages two through twelve will love. It’s super affordable, and kids all over the place can enjoy using it as they don’t need a huge yard to use the chalk. Make sure to get non-toxic chalk as it will wash away with the rain eventually. You can also check out some more ideas for eco-friendly toys for kids
  • Animal experience: A lot of kids are curious about animals. You can help them learn something and have fun doing it by gifting the experience of getting to know some animals. Give the parents tickets to an ethical petting zoo or nearby farm, or offer to take the child to the dog park for a few hours. If you have pets yourself, you can offer to babysit at your place for a while so the kid can play with them.

4. Gifting Experiences and Time

Give the gift of relaxation by massage.
Give the gift of relaxation by massage.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Mariolh)
  • Gym subscription: Get your loved one a year-long gym subscription or sign them up for kickboxing or spin classes. You can sign yourself up as well and make it a tandem activity. 
  • Jewelry-making: Instead of gifting jewelry you’re not sure they’ll love, sign yourself and your loved one up for a jewelry-making class. You can have a fun time together and leave with pieces you both enjoy. 
  • Cooking class: Sign your friend, family member, or partner up for a cooking class where they can experience something new.
  • Concert: Give the gift of an experience by getting concert tickets for you to both enjoy.
  • Travel: Book a weekend trip to a nearby national park or beach town. This is a great way to give the gift of time to a loved one.
  • Massage: Help them relax and unwind by gifting them a nice massage.
  • Language Lessons: If the gift recipient has previously expressed interest in learning a new language, or building on what they previously learned, you can look into tutors in your area and sign them up for some courses. 
  • Cleaning: This is a great gift, especially if you are running low on cash. If your loved one is throwing a big party for their birthday, for example, your gift can be to come over the next morning and clean up. This is a great way to take stress off of the host. 

5. Donations

Sign your friend up to "adopt" a gorilla.
Sign your friend up to "adopt" a gorilla.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / mtanenbaum)

Another great minimalist gift idea is to gift donations in your loved one’s name. Find out what their favorite charity is, and make a donation they will appreciate. If you’re not sure what they are passionate about, consider signing them up to symbolically adopt an animal through the World Wildlife Fund. In their name, you can adopt endangered animals ranging from cheetahs and gorillas to Emperor Penguins. 

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