With December now upon us, many have already turned their attention towards shopping for the gift-giving season. As a related post to the one I did on minimalism a while back (thanks again to everyone who read and shared it!) I wanted to go a bit deeper into the topic of gift giving. I’d like to mention that I am absolutely not against gift giving. I think it’s one of the many ways you can show someone you care about them. But I also think that depending on how it’s approached, it can lead to overspending, clutter, stress, and even the embarrassment of unwanted/unneeded items at times.
While I really am a big fan of the gatherings, food, games, and cheer of the holiday season above all else, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s still exciting to get the surprise of a gift at this time of year. With that in mind, here are a few ideas, not meant as an alternative to gift giving itself, but more-so as a means of broadening the horizons of it. I like concrete examples, so many of these are fairly personal and specific to myself, but I think this is a good way to not sound vague. Let’s go!
- One of the most obvious is probably consumables such as fancy food/drink items. They can use it right away, yet it won’t create any long-term clutter since they are by nature, consumable. Oddly enough, even though I often feel a little iffy giving this kind of gift, I always like receiving them! A special cheese assortment, imported snacks, an arrangement of beers… These would all be very welcomed in my kitchen!
- Gift cards would also fit into a similar category. This would also include any sort of digital markets, like the Nintendo eShop, Sony’s PSN, or Steam for games, or even subscription options on streaming sites like Netflix or Crunchyroll. Because those are online, they don’t even have to wait for stores to reopen before redeeming and enjoying a wishlist title. As has been the case for my family in the past, sometimes using a gift card towards a bigger purchase is something that has made all the difference in affordability for us.
- You sometimes hear about the gift of your time, but let’s be a bit more specific. Perhaps an IOU on helping them paint a room in the spring, or give them a hand with declutting if that’s your specialty. Or if you have a special skill that someone else would like to learn, why not give them the gift of your time by imparting that knowledge to them, such as teaching them how to be handy, or introducing them to the basics of a new language they’re interested in learning.
- On that same note, if the recipient is interested in learning a new skill that you don’t happen to specialize in, you could always help them along with it financially. Pre-paid guitar lessons, credit on paid resource sites, helpful equipment or materials to aid their journey… These could all help move them along in the right direction.
- Something we’ve done before for birthdays (including my own) is to basically make the party the gift. Covering the food, drinks and related expenses can be a pretty cool present if you ask me!
- Another approach that I like is the gift trading game. (There are many variations on the rules, but it often goes something like in this article. The bottom line is that you get to have a party, and you only need to buy one gift. Everyone gets a surprise, no one goes broke, and it creates an event to socialize around. Depending on the group, you could even give a theme to the gifts, like all things geek-related.
I think something else to consider in the entire give/receiving exchange is that we perhaps may not be aware of others’ situations at the moment. A person or family may have recently experienced a job loss, huge unexpected bill(s), are on a critical mission to overcome massive debt, or any number of factors that could affect their financial situation around the holidays. Funds can be tight in the best of times, so looking at gift-giving in a more affordable and less stressful way can be very practical too.
I hope this post has shown that being a minimalist certainly does not mean you have to boycott the gift-giving season. And at the same time, I also think that even those who would not call themselves a minimalist can appreciate an approach that doesn’t lead to clutter or overspending.
Thanks for reading, and happy holidays to all!