This helpful guide has minimalist gift ideas for everyone on your list, so you can celebrate the season of giving without the burden of clutter.
Are you a minimalist, hoping to create new holiday traditions with less stuff and more memories? Or perhaps someone you love has embraced the minimalist lifestyle, and now you’re wondering what on earth to get for them?
Either way, this post is for you. I’ve put together an extensive list of ideas—plus some general tips and advice on how to approach gifts for minimalists.
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What Do Minimalists Want For Gifts?
First and foremost, it’s important to know that minimalism is personal. For some, it means owning as few possessions as possible—but keep in mind that not every minimalist holds these beliefs.
The version of minimalism that I teach is about alignment. Do the things you own represent your hopes, dreams and values? I’m not against “stuff”, but I do believe that you should be mindful about what adds genuine value to your life.
With this in mind, what minimalists like to receive as gifts will vary a lot from person to person. This is why the first rule of minimalist gift-giving is to always start with a conversation.
If appropriate, come right out and ask your loved ones what they want. There’s no better way to ensure that your gift will be well-received than to ask first.
Or if you prefer to maintain the “surprise” element of gift-giving, that’s not a problem. Simply talk to your friends and family about what’s going on in their lives.
Odds are, you’ll get some great ideas—plus you’ll also be giving the gift of time by holding space for meaningful conversation. Here are a few questions that you might want to ask:
- “Do you have anything fun planned in the next few months?” If they answer “yes”, can you buy or do anything practical to support these plans? If they answer “no”, ask what they’d like to be doing. Maybe you’ll learn about a fun experience you could give as a gift.
- “How have you been?”—and then, encourage them to talk about anything that is causing them stress right now. An excellent gift-giving strategy is to give gifts that solve problems.
- “You know what I’d love right now? _____ . What about you?” This is a simple way to get people to talk about what they want without asking them directly.
Also, if your loved one is a minimalist, it doesn’t hurt to ask them about their beliefs. Listen to their boundaries and honour them.
Once you’ve had the conversation with your loved ones, feel free to review these gift guides for inspiration. There’s a wide range of ideas—from completely “stuff-free” to meaningful items that add value but not clutter.
Looking for more ways to simplify the holidays? Be sure to read my complete guide to a minimalist Christmas.
Minimalist Gifts for Kids
Experiences, such as annual passes to the zoo, swimming lessons, or even movie tickets
The best clutter-free gift is an experience—but keep in mind that these don’t have to cost lots of money. For little ones, a tea party in the backyard or a trip to a new park can be just as exciting as a visit to a theme park.
Here are a few tips that will help make an “experience” style gift even more special:
- Get creative with the presentation. Can you include a beautiful invitation to your tea party? Or take a photo of the park and then cut it up to create a simple puzzle? Kids want fun, and if YOU make a big deal out of the experience, they will pick up on your energy.
- Give a small gift that complements the experience. For example, if you’re gifting an annual pass to the zoo, why not include a small colouring book about animals? It gives the little one something to enjoy right away, and it builds excitement.
Include a practical gift required for the experience. For example, if you’re gifting swim lessons, they might also appreciate googles.
Create a “kit” reusing items you already have
Children love projects, which is why things like craft kits and subscription boxes are so popular. Oftentimes, regular “stuff” is transformed into something special—just because it’s boxed up with instructions.
With this in mind, one minimalist tip is to create your own kit using things you already have.
Simply choose an easy project that reflects the interest of your child. Try and find one that can be done with items already in your home, but if you have to buy a few things that’s fine too. (Especially if they’re consumable items or something that can be reused over and over again.)
Here are some ideas to explore:
- 50+ Quick & Easy Kids Crafts
- 10 Gardening Projects for Kids
- 20 Awesome Woodworking Projects For Kids to Build
- 10 Best Sewing Projects to Make With Kids
Tip: Kids have the most fun when you do things together, so choose a project that excites YOU too. This is an opportunity to share your passions with your child (and you’ll be more likely to have the necessary supplies on hand if it’s something you already enjoy doing).
Toys that encourage imaginative play
Yes, I know that toys are a bit debatable amongst minimalists. Some argue that kids should just be playing with nature or things found around the home—and I agree to some extent.
Kids definitely don’t need a lot of toys, but everyone’s circumstance is different. We live in a small high-rise apartment, and when we can’t go outdoors, it’s nice to have things to help entertain them.
I think the key is to choose high-quality toys that will grow with your kids. Something my daughter loves to play with over and over again isn’t “clutter” by my definition.
Here are a few toys that we love:
Wooden Rainbow Stacking Game: At first glance, this toy doesn’t seem like much, but that’s actually what makes it so great—your kids have to be creative to play.
The arched blocks turn into bridges, houses, beds for dolls, and so much more. (My daughter parks her toy trains under the arches when they’re “sleeping”!) Older kids will have fun stacking the arches and putting their balancing skills to the test.
Melissa & Doug Chunky Puzzles: This is one of my daughter’s favourite toys. My mum gifted us the safari version when my little girl was only 14 months old, and two years later, she still plays with it all the time.
What makes it unique is the chunky pieces, which are thick enough to stand up. Your toddler might outgrow the puzzle, but the wooden pieces still act as stand-alone toys, which are great for imaginative play.
Melissa & Doug Dust, Sweep And Mop: This is an excellent toy because my daughter loves to “help mommy” clean. It inspires independent play plus it teaches her life skills.
Note that I did resist buying this at first—I thought I could just let her use my regular broom and mop—but it was just too big. She was continually knocking into the walls, so I gave up on that idea quick.
By the way, this post isn’t sponsored by Melissa & Doug but I recommend them because my daughter loves the toys so much. Also, they have excellent resale value, which is important because I’m quick to let go of toys once my children have outgrown them.
Toy Kitchen + Play Food: I absolutely love this IKEA toy kitchen. It’s the only big playset that we own, and my daughter will play independently with it for hours. You just need to add some play food, like a wooden fruit set (this one is especially great because you can “cut” the food).
I’m confident that this will entertain my daughter for years, but when she does outgrow it, play kitchens and wooden food also have excellent resale value. You’ll be able to declutter it quick.
Magnatiles: Finally, I had to include Magnatiles on this list because it’s my favourite toy to play with myself! They’re so versatile—you can build anything from simple boxes to car ramps or rocketships! (A bit like lego but the pieces won’t hurt your feet if you step on them!)
I will say that they’re a little expensive, but I’m very impressed with the quality. My daughter throws and stomps on them, and we’ve never had any issues. I can definitely see us playing with these for a long time.
Toys that support adventurous play
I also like toys that support physical, adventurous play. These are things that will last the test of time, and they’re great when you can’t get outside. (I think we’ve all had to deal with being stuck indoors at some point this year!)
Some of these are higher-priced items, so what I recommend is encouraging group gifts. Instead of getting ten little toys (which will only clutter your home), friends and family can join together to purchase one high-quality item.
- Pikler Triangle, Arch + Ramp: We have a set similar to this one and we have so much fun with it!
- Wobble Board: Balance boards like these help burn off energy, and they encourage imaginative play. My daughter calls hers a “seesaw” and also uses it as a bed for her doll.
- Nugget Sofa: This is a “sofa” specifically made for play. In full disclosure, I haven’t used one myself (they’re not available in Australia) but I’ve heard SO many good things from people I trust.
Timeless books that you’ll read again and again
Finally, I think a timeless book is always a great gift idea, especially for children.
While the library is always an option, I think that owning a few beloved books helps instil a love of reading. So why not add a few classics like The Gruffalo and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to a child’s bookshelf?
As a reminder, I’m not suggesting that you buy everything on this list! Just choose a few things that you know YOUR child will love (or if you’re buying for someone else’s child, talk to the parents first). I try to stick to no more than five gifts total for birthdays or holidays.
Tip: If your child loves unwrapping gifts, you can create the illusion of more by wrapping parts of an individual toy separately. This trick works best for little kids!
Minimalist Gifts For Teenagers
A “grown-up” experience and one-on-one time with you
Some of my favourite memories as a teenager were going on dates with my mum. I’m the oldest of three children, so it was hard to get one-on-one time—but when we did, she would take me into the city and I remember feeling SO special.
It was such a treat to do “grown-up” things like eating at fancy restaurants or even just walking around downtown. (The fact that I’m nearly 40 now and I still remember these outings speaks to how meaningful they were.)
If you’d like to recreate a similar date with your teen, consider activities such as:
- A spa or beauty treatment
- Going to a museum or sporting event
- Theatre tickets
But don’t forget—your full attention is the “secret sauce” that makes this gift so meaningful. You don’t have to spend a lot of money if you don’t want to.
A simple clutter-free gift is a digital subscription, such as:
- Kindle Unlimited: get access to thousands of books, audiobooks and magazines.
- Spotify Premium: listen to music ad-free with unlimited skips (and you can download songs to listen to offline)
- Skillshare: unlimited access to a wide range of online courses (including painting, photography, makeup, sewing, and baking—just to name a few!)
Depending on the age of your teen, why not give something practical like driving lessons?
Good old cash…
Honestly, there’s nothing more straightforward than the gift of cash. Don’t overcomplicate things, especially with teenagers!
Alternatively, if you’re uncomfortable giving cash then ask what they’re saving for. Almost every teen has some sort of “big ticket” item on their list, and you can always contribute with a gift card if that feels better to you.
Minimalist Gifts for Adults
A service that makes life easier
Talk to any adult, and I can almost guarantee that there’s one thing they need more than anything else: time.
And while we can’t gift actual time, we can do the next best thing—provide a service that takes the pressure off of their to-do list. You can do this by giving up your own time or by hiring an outside service. Here are a few ideas:
- A house cleaner
- Meal delivery services
- Car detailing
- Lawn mowing or gutter cleaning
A bottle of wine, a box of chocolates or a voucher for a favourite restaurant. These clutter-free ideas are always well received, but they’re especially useful for people you don’t know well (like co-workers).
Something that supports self-care
As we’ve already mentioned, life is busy, and unfortunately, this means a lot of people put their needs on the backburner. They’re so busy taking care of other people that they struggle to make time for self-care.
If this sounds like someone you know, then here are a few gift ideas:
A subscription to Headspace: Headspace was my first real introduction to meditation. I’d read about it before but I never really “got it” until I tried this app. (Note: if you think a loved one would enjoy Headspace, I’d encourage them to try the free trial first. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea.)
A subscription to Audible: Give someone the gift of audiobooks—and if you really want to make it memorable, include a list of personalised recommendations.
Looking for a more minimalist alternative? Gift a list of personalised book recommendations, along with an offer to collect AND return the titles to the local library.
Related Post: 7 Inspiring Books on Minimalism + Simple Living
A guided journal: A lot of people (including myself!) turn to journaling as a form of self-care.
Here are a few of my favourite guided journals:
- Today I Affirm: A Journal that Nurtures Self-Care (I recommend this ALL the time—it’s my favourite!)
- True You: A Self-Discovery Journal of Prompts and Exercises to Inspire Reflection and Growth
- A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness (This is another one that I recommend often! It’s part book, part journal and an absolute delight to explore.)
Alternatively, buy a simple notebook and include a list of your favourite journal prompts! I think this would be such a thoughtful and meaningful gift. Here are a few journal prompts if you need ideas:
Upgrade everyday consumables
We all use things like soap, razors, and toilet paper … so why not “upgrade” these everyday consumables for your loved ones? Here are some ideas:
- Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper: 100% recycled and 50% of the profits are donated to build toilets for those in need. I use this myself and highly recommend it! (Available in the US and Australia.)
- Handmade soap: There are tons of options on sites like Etsy, but I’d highly recommend checking out a local market. I always find lots of options, and it’s a great way to support a local business.
- A luxurious, eco-friendly shaving kit: Instead of using cheap disposable razors, why not upgrade to a safety razor?
A gift that gives back
Finally, if you need something for someone who genuinely doesn’t want gifts, why not make a charitable donation in their name?
A few organisations that I’d love to give a shoutout to include:
- A Doll Like Me: Amy makes dolls for children “who will never see themselves on the store shelves”. Check out her Facebook page to learn more about her work (but warning—you might cry!)
- Black Thumb Farm: This is a grassroots project run by my friend Alexys, one of the voices behind The New Mom Show podcast. They aim to fight food injustice by empowering young people with the skills and knowledge, with a focus on BIPOC.
- Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (Australia): Another fantastic grassroots project run by Kon Karapanagiotidis, who wrote the beautiful book The Power of Hope.
But of course, take into consideration the values of the person receiving the gift. If something here doesn’t feel aligned, you could check out groups like The Greater Good—they fundraise for many different charitable causes, so you’re sure to find something worth supporting.
On a final note, I believe that gift-giving should come from a place of joy. If it’s causing stress or if it feels forced, then I encourage you to step back. Give yourself permission to question your holiday traditions and, if appropriate, create new, more meaningful ones.
If you’re a minimalist, please share your feelings about gifts in the comments! I’m sure everyone would love to hear your ideas.