Lifestyle & Mindset

Giving Gifts as a Minimalist

Once choice a lot of people make when they decide they’d like to pursue minimalism is that they stop shopping are at least shop a lot less. But then someone’s birthday rolls around, or a holiday, and it’s tricky to know what to do. It’s not like the gift would add to your own clutter, but is it wrong to add to someone else’s? Or is it wrong to avoid getting them anything?

Of course, everything friendship, relationship, and individual person will be different, but there are a few things I’ve learned about gift-giving since I started pursuing minimalism. Take these tips and adjust according to your own situation.

It helps if the person knows you’re pursuing a minimalist lifestyle. If you usually give a lot of gifts or do a lot of shopping, it might be a bit obvious when you stop or at the very least slow down. If the people close to you are aware of your lifestyle change,  

Try asking people what they want instead of just guessing. Maybe they’ll give you a specific list or a category of items that interest them. Even if none of those are items within your price range, this will at least give you an idea of where that person’s interests lie at the moment.

Cash or a gift card is just about always a safe bet. This way, you still spend the money and put at least a little thought into it, but you don’t restrict the person by getting a specific item. You could always give money and say what you’d like it to be put toward, such as a meal out or a spa day. Or you could give a gift card to a place where you already know this person regularly goes.

If you don’t feel comfortable buying a gift, don’t. It’s okay to go to a birthday party or a baby shower or any other kind of celebration without first purchasing a gift. If nothing feels right, you can hold off on getting a gift for that person or forgo the gift-giving process altogether. It’s possible to celebrate with someone without adding another physical items into that person’s life.  You can give a card with a loving message. In general, this can be a great way to go. You’ll acknowledge the birthday, wedding, graduation, or other significant life event without later regretting the purchase you made.

Ultimately, you need to figure out what works best for you. If you get a gift for someone once and afterward regret that decision, you can reevaluate from there.


  1. Agree! It’s so hard to be a minimalist who doesn’t believe in waste without being thought of as weird. I still buy things, but try to buy things people will actually use. And always use recycled or simple wrapping paper.


    1. Yes, exactly! It helps to think about the other person’s wants instead of our own. And I often reuse the bags I have from gifts people have given me in order to get the most use out of them.


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