If you’re more on top of it than I am, then you’re likely done acquiring gifts for the holidays. (I have not, and it’s right around crunch time.) But what about the person who’s hard to buy for? They’re in the process of downsizing, or they’ve expressly asked you not to buy them more stuff. What can you give to them?

Or, like me, perhaps you’re trying to become a minimalist yourself. Perhaps you’ve realized that you spend too much time organizing things rather than using them, or buying things rather than enjoying them.

Perhaps you feel that this holiday season is full of good deals, but there’s nothing you especially want to keep.

What would be a minimalist approach to buying and gifting this season?

Minimalists cherish experiences over things, and people over ownership— and I really admire that. So what can you give someone who truly doesn’t desire or need more items?

Gift Guide For The Minimalist - Simplicity Relished

(photos from our trip to New Zealand)

1) Choose meaning over monetary value. So many gift guides start with “Under $100”– why not focus on the meaning behind an item rather than how much it costs? Give them a gift that points to something that matters to them. If they’re reflective, perhaps a new journal. If they want to slow down, encourage them to do so by giving them a teacup and your favorite tea. I’ve given lipstick to friends whose spoken eloquence has encouraged me. The possibilities are endless!

2) Enhance your relationship with that person. Have time to treat them to their favorite restaurant to go on a picnic together? Perhaps they’d like to learn something you know how to do. Why not offer a lesson? Create an “invitation” to give them this month, and schedule a time to do it together.

3) Consider their personal priorities and dreams. Let’s be honest– we so often get people things that we want, without considering whether they want it. Is this person actively learning to cook? A cookbook would be great. Are they constantly talking about traveling to a certain place? Find a gorgeous travel book or map for them to keep dreaming about it. Do they want to learn a new language? Give them some cash to spend on Rosetta Stone.

4) Ask them. Sometimes, we gift-givers pressure ourselves to find the perfect present for everyone without ever mentioning it to them. This can work occasionally, but we don’t always nail it. If you really are clueless about someone, ask them if they have anything in mind. You can start with the category, for example: “I’d like to get you a book to read for pleasure. Which one have you been meaning to get around to?”

5) Don’t forget the card. I know we’re not all writers, but a sweet note to remind that person of why you’re giving them a gift– because you care for them– is so important! I love reading genuine holiday cards and I keep all of them, and I know I’m not the only one!


Do you struggle to give good gifts to certain people in your life? What tips do you have for giving gifts to people who don’t want things? I’d love to know!