Gifts for Minimalists: A Thoughtful Guide to Minimalist Gift Giving

I may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link on this page. Read the full disclosure policy here

Finding gifts for minimalists needn't be a challenge with this helpful guide from a minimalist mom
Gifts for Minimalists. Sounds kind of like an oxymoron. I mean minimalists don’t want more stuff, right??

Wrong.  Minimalists love gifts that are thoughtful, heartfelt, practical or consumable.

It’s not that we completely eschew stuff, it’s that we try to own only the things which we use or love. If an item doesn’t fit into those descriptors, it’s probably not the best gift for a minimalist.

If you’ve ever struggled with what to buy a minimalist, this article is designed to simplify minimalist gift-giving.

Firstly, let me clear up something about minimalists and gifts. You’ve likely heard the minimalist in your life saying ‘they don’t want anything’ or ‘I don’t need anything’.

We don’t really mean that we don’t want anything. We mean we don’t want any old thing to fill the quota of giving gifts.

We’d rather have nothing, than some crappy junk we won’t use but have to hang on to for eons in case you visit and notice it’s gone. It’s nothing personal, but sometimes it’s easier to receive nothing than to cause offence.

No, if you’re giving a minimalist gift, you just need to work a little harder. But, rest assured your hard work will be worthwhile, as your gift will be something they will treasure forever.

12 Gifts for Minimalists That They’ll Absolutely Love

Here are 12 mind-blowing gift ideas for minimalists that they’ll actually want to keep.

1. A useful tool

One of the best minimalist gift ideas is a useful life tool.

It doesn’t have to be an actual tool, although something handy like a Leatherman multi-tool would be awesome.

It could be something they’ll use all the time that actually makes their minimalist life easier. For example, before I owned my Breville espresso machine I would buy expensive coffee, every single day.

The coffee machine gave me more cash and more time (as I could make coffee whenever I wanted and not have to visit my local barista). It also stopped me from feeling bad whenever I threw out a disposable cup.

More useful tools:

2. A book that’s changed your life or made you feel something

A book is one of the best gifts for a minimalist. If you’ve read a book that made you feel something deep or laugh out loud; gift it to your minimalist friend with a note explaining about how much you loved the book and why you think they will too.

Tell them to pass the book on to someone else when they are finished.

For extra brownie points include a handmade voucher for a coffee date to discuss the book when they’ve finished it.

Some of my favourite books include The Hand That First Held Mine, The God of Small Things, I Know This Much Is True, and Love in The Time of Cholera.

3. An experience they’ve always dreamed of

You’ve probably heard us minimalists talk about how we value experiences over things etc.

So it should come as no surprise that a great gift for minimalist friends and family is an experience.

Perhaps your loved one has mentioned they’d love to go hot air ballooning or try bungee jumping.

Maybe they are budding connoisseurs of wine and they’d enjoy a wine tour. Gifting an experience is a guaranteed way to make your minimalist friend happy.

4. Sweet homemade treats

If you’re a whizz in the kitchen, one of the best gift ideas for minimalists is beautifully presented baked goods.

I especially love getting homemade fudge or coconut ice in a mason jar.

But any sweets presented nicely make lovely gifts. Being consumable means edible gifts don’t cause clutter, making them the ideal presents for minimalists.

5. Your services

I can tell you, as a parent of young children, that one of the best gift ideas for minimalist parents is an offer of your time, in the form of babysitting, or preparing a dinner or family picnic.

You can buy or make a beautiful gift card and handwrite your gift to them.

Of course, your gift doesn’t have to be babysitting, it can be anything that needs doing. Whether that be painting the living room, tidying the garage, washing the car or sowing a flower garden.

6. Ancestry DNA Kit

Every gift guide for minimalists should include the Ancestry DNA Kit. I bought this for my husband after eliminating so many other minimalist gifts for him.

He already has everything he needs, so this was a winner.  He loved it!

So much that I ended up buying myself a kit too. It was such a neat idea and I ended up finding out so much about my family tree and even connecting with some cousins I didn’t even know I had. I’d really recommend it if you are looking for gift ideas for a husband who doesn’t want anything.

Looking for gifts for minimalist friends or family? Definitely consider the Ancestry DNA Kit, the results are super fun.

Above is the screenshot of my results – super fun!

7. Something that needs replacing

Perhaps you’ve heard them mention one of their favourite things broke.

Or their cherished Black Hi Top Chuck Taylor’s have a hole through the sole (if my husband or mother are reading this hint, hint, hint).

8. A charity donation in their name

how_it_works
Instead of buying your minimalist friends a gift, make a donation to Oxfam in their name. Image credit: Oxfam Unwrapped

A gift idea that warms the heart and makes the world a better place. For more information check out this site: Oxfam Unwrapped

9. Fancy wine

A lovely bottle of red wine will always go down a treat. Other consumable gift ideas like champagne, craft beer or whiskey might suit if your loved one has a special liking for premium alcohol.

Related post: 20+ Minimalist Gifts for Kids They’ll Absolutely Adore

10. Gift cards

If you’ve ever struggled with what to get a minimalist for birthdays, one of the easiest and most-appreciated gift ideas for a minimalist is a gift card. I jump for joy when people buy me gift cards. I usually hug them and say ‘thank you’ for empowering me to choose my own gift.

11. Travel accessories


Figuring out what to buy for a minimalist who loves to travel is simple. The beautiful passport holders pictured above from Passport Amigo are super practical and look great. Check them out here.

Other minimalist gifts for travelers include digital luggage scales (I have these ones and love them, I’ve even gifted my parents a set)

12. Flowers

Fresh-cut flowers are meant to be enjoyed and then discarded – preferably into compost. The perfect gift for a minimalist.

I hope this guide to the best gifts for minimalists has been helpful. If in doubt, remember minimalists are not anti-stuff as such, just anti-junk and anything that doesn’t add value to their lives.

Minimalists tend to value experiences over things, but the things we keep are things we adore. Any of the above ideas are firmly entrenched in the adore list.

Read next: Want Need Wear Read: How the 4 Gift Rule Can Simplify Christmas

Like it? Pin it for later.

Wondering what to get a minimalist for their birthday or other occasion? This list of the best gifts for minimalists includes useful gift ideas, the best consumable gifts and loads of neat gifts for the minimalist in your life.

This gift guide for minimalists is written by a minimalist mom who despises clutter. Great ideas for useful or consumable minimalist gifts that'll definitely win their favor.

Do you have frugal, minimalist-type friends and family, who make Christmas and gift-giving in general kind of awkward? If so, you'll want to read this post. Minimalists tend to value experiences over things, but the things they keep are things they adore, which make them happy. These 9 gift ideas will make the minimalist in your life smile.
About Emma

Hi, I'm Emma. I love to share organization tips, space-saving ideas and practical advice for living small with kids. Click here to read how our family downsized our lives.

10 thoughts on “Gifts for Minimalists: A Thoughtful Guide to Minimalist Gift Giving”

  1. I love this list. My go-to gift is experiences. You can combine the experience gift with some time and attention. For example, I had a friend who recently moved to Chicago. We created a Guide Book of restaurants and experiences within 10 blocks of her house as a housewarming present. In it, there were gift certificates for well-reviewed restaurants nearby that served Chicago specialties, gift certificates to two bars so she could try and find her new local watering hole, and a bicycle rental coupon so she could explore what her new city had to offer her.

    The coffee date coupon with a beloved with book is something I’ll have to try.

    Reply
  2. Great list Emma. Its a topic I have been thinking about a lot lately as we head into ‘birthday month’ where about 21 friends and whanau all expect something. One thing I personally like to receive is a second-hand gift. It much harder to shop second hand so the fact the person finds something just right for me means a lot – and hopefully only cost them $2. Like you I don’t like receiving junk gifts that just add junky stuff to my house and I said to my family last year “no presents, but you have to still acknowledge me on the day”! A great book I found is “FLOW – book for paper lovers”. For $25 you have cards/paper/cut out cool things handy to last well over a year of gift giving. You can buy them on http://www.bookdepository.com.

    Reply
  3. Yes! I often suggest a nice bottle of red because I genuinely appreciate it. Sometimes people think it’s a cop-out, but that’s only the case if you throw something in your trolley when you do the food shop without even reading the label! We’re old school and use a cafetierre rather than coffee machine, but really high quality coffee beans is another good choice for coffee lovers (or ground coffee, if your recipient doesn’t have a grinder) 🙂

    Reply
  4. Yes, PLEASE stick to the list! Although I’ve finally gotten to the point where I simply put things immediately in the donate or sell pile guilt free. Some may think that it’s harsh of me, but I don’t want the clutter, junk, and “stuff” in my home when I’ve worked so hard to get rid of it! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Some great ideas Emma, I love getting books and I love the idea of “experiences not things”.

    It baffles me that people rack up a lot of debt on expenses Christmas presents that aren’t even that useful. There are plenty of ways to be generous on Christmas without ending up with a credit card hangover come January.

    I think more people are starting to come around to this way of thinking which is great to see. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Experiences instead of things is a big one for us. We live in a tiny unit and don’t want more stuff. We have our wishlists of stuff we do want because it is very specific gear. Outside of that, we want nothing. Great ideas here!

    Reply
  7. I guess I may be even more simple than the list you have here. I don’t want others to have to spend much on me as I know people like my older kids don’t have it or I don’t want them to waste money. So I am perfectly happy with baked treats bc I don’t bake sweets so this is a special treat once a year. Things that I want are cozy, fuzzy, soft socks and a 9.99 portable cell charger( I told them about the 20% off coupon too). So usually it is something practical or consumable as I want my home to be simple as well.

    Reply
  8. Oh and I forgot a gift card to a restaurant so I can take the family out, which gets expensive for my big family. But it gives ME a nice little break! So like a Panda Express card for 25.00 ( Subway, pizza place,etc)and I will be happy, especially in between volleyball and basketball tournaments and games, helps me get dinner for the kids when we are so busy.

    I get my older kids gas cards, Victoria Secret, Target and Barnes and Noble gift cards- secret to fund my Christmas gifts for 5 children are to use my rewards points which I have used for many years to cover my gifts and try to do it as free as possible! However, make sure you pay off your credi card every month in full( I do all my bills and grocery shopping via credit card so it accumulates points for my gifts!)! You have to be sure you are disciplined to be able to do this!

    Reply

Leave a Comment