Minimalist Gift Giving


Personally, I love giving gifts. I have a lot of fun with it. But if I’m honest, over the years there have been many gifts I received that I didn’t really love or have a use for, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt that way. I don’t say that to be insensitive or offend anyone, I just have a different way of viewing stuff than a lot of other people. I don’t want or need a lot of stuff, and I feel strongly that the things I own should add significant value. I’ve learned to be very intentional about what I bring into my life because too many times over the years I’ve looked up and thought where did all this stuff come from? and then I’ve had to figure out what to do with it, which I think is the worst kind of chore. So how do you maintain a minimalistic approach when it comes to birthdays, holidays, and wedding season? Hint: it doesn’t mean you’re not allowed give gifts.

The best gift you can give is being attentive. Pay attention to what your loved ones gravitate toward, things they’d like to buy but can’t justify at the moment, brands they’re obsessed with, etc. It’s not the gift that makes an impact. It’s the fact that you were paying attention. It’s showing them that what matters to them matters to you. We recently celebrated one of my best friend’s birthdays. She’s obsessed with books. She loves reading and she loves lending her books to friends so that they can get value from them. We’re always talking about books, which I love. So what did I get her for her birthday? A Barnes and Noble gift card. An example of a gift I received? The best material gift I’ve ever received was from a guy I was dating (also, I low-key hope he’s not reading this…). We were one night after I had been on a photoshoot. I was telling him about my day and how at the shoot they had this steamer that I was obsessed with. My birthday rolls around, and he says he got me a gift, which I wasn’t expecting. I open it up, and there was that same steamer. I was floored, mostly because I hadn’t even remembered telling him about it. I was just talking about my day, but he paid attention and he knew I would get value out of that. A few years later, I still use it a few times a week, and I’m still just as thrilled about that steamer as the day I got it.

Gift experiences. If someone were to ask you what’s important to you in life, chances are that material things would not even make that list. Happiness, community, health, and experiences probably would though. Take your friend out to a concert, go to a nice dinner, go kayaking, take a weekend trip, attend the wellness retreat you two have been talking about for forever. In high school, my best friend and I would gift each other concert tickets for birthdays. Let me tell you, Regina Spektor and Tegan & Sara put on amazing shows. I have memories from those nights that I still talk about. In college, my then-boyfriend planned a progressive dinner around town for Valentine’s Day. Shortly after, I was talking to a friend about our evening and she asked what he got me. I really had to bite my tongue. He worked hard to plan a nice evening out where we went to all my favorite places. I didn’t need a gift.

Ask them. Some people hate this. Here’s what this comes down to: you know yourself better than I know you. There is no harm in saying, “Hey, I’d like to get you a gift, and I want it to be something that you’d really enjoy. Is there anything you would really love to have?” The purpose of gifting is to show our friends and family some love and do a little something that adds to their life. We want to treat them. I don’t want to get you a gift that I might love, but you’re not totally thrilled about. It’s okay to ask, and it’s okay to give an honest answer to a friend who asks you.

The best gifts we can give or receive are the ones given with intention. You go to a show and make memories that will last forever. You give a gift that you know will add value to a friend’s life and not be a burden. That’s really what we want when we give a gift.

What gift giving tips do you have for the holiday season? Is there anything in particular that you’re excited to give? 





Oh my gosh, this -> “We had a nice night that he had worked hard to plan out to take me to all my favorite places. I didn’t need a gift.”

This happened to me this past Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend planned the perfect day and date night. It was everything I wanted. Then a few days later, a friend whose much younger and all about giving gifts in relationships completely did the same thing. I told her how amazing the day he’d planned was and she cut right to “Ok but what did he get you for a gift?” I said an amazing day + a beautiful orchid (he knew it would last longer than roses) and she replied “Oh, so he didn’t get you anything?” It was really awkward and saddening.


    It is awkward! You just appreciate the time and attention and intention that someone put into making your time together special. To me, that’s more important than a gift, and it reflects on the quality of your relationship in a way that a gift can’t.

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