Tis the magical season of gifts! Can I be honest and tell you how stressful Christmas is for me? The truth is that I get so overwhelmed by things. Things sitting around, things not in the right place, things in general. So a few years ago, after coming home from one of our family's Christmas get-togethers with literal boxes of things, I totally broke down. Eric was a trooper and put the boxes back in the car for the night, knowing how stressed I was feeling having it sit in the living room with no place to go and no idea what we were going to do with all of it. Needless to say, this was the last Christmas we were closet minimalists. We came out to our families, letting them know we didn't expect much in terms of gifts and we started being more selective in what we bought for them as well.
We've gone through a few different gift-giving milestones since then, and I'm happy to report I haven't had a melt down quite like that one since. Whether you're like me and get too overwhelmed by receiving, or if you have the serious displeasure of buying for someone like me, I'm confident this list of minimal gift ideas will help guide you this season.
Here are a few ideas for unique gifts that are in some way minimal, meaning they bring value, take up little space, are useful, or are locally sourced/sustainable.
1. NOTEBOOKS, COLORING BOOKS, AND WORK BOOKS
If your loved one likes to write or draw, then some type of journal or drawing pad is a must. As someone who likes to write and journal (I consider these different things in my mind lol) I can never have enough notebooks. My notebooks bring me so much value and any type of creative would love an extra surface to get artsy with. Adult coloring books are also becoming increasingly popular - and they're super fun!
Unique Find: There are so many great work books out there that guide users through the book together. This one is for couples to fill out together and log funny stories, top moments, and get to know each other better. Check out Amazon or your local book store for more work book themes like: adventures, travel, writing prompts, mindfulness, etc.
2. EXERCISE EXPERIENCES
Whether you're buying for someone who is a fitness guru or someone whose wheels are about to spin off, an exercise experience is a great minimal gift to give. Many fitness studios offer class bundles to buy that can be cashed in at any time and allow your recipient to try something new. Check out local yoga studios or martial arts centers and see if they offer any introductory packages.
Unique Find: AcroYoga studios seem to be popping up everywhere in my area. This is a version of yoga that's completed on a fabric ribbon that's suspended from the ceiling. I'm going to go ahead and say this isn't for the lighthearted, but definitely a thrilling gift to get! Bonus points if you buy a class for yourself too, nothing like having that experience together! If you're in the New Jersey area, check out Honor Yoga.
3. CANDLES OR DIFFUSERS
For as much as I hate clutter, I do love candles. Candles that you burn, that is. Forget any decorative candles you have in mind and go with something that can be used. Swing by your local city market and see if they have any that are locally made. Diffusers are also great gifts because the recipient can select their own scents and use it for a longer period of time.
Unique Find: Personal diffusers, and no, these aren't vape pens! MONQ is a device that allows you to take your aromatherapy on the go with you. They bundle all their herbs and scents into a small slender tube that can be used anywhere. There's no harmful chemicals or addictive substances. Read more about them and their mission here!
4. LOCAL EXPERIENCES
Local experiences often get overlooked during the holiday season, but there's so much fun to be had! Look into museum exhibits, concerts, or community events that you can pre-buy tickets to check out at a later date. Eric and I tend to gift experiences to each other more often than not and it truly is so much more fun than unwrapping a pair of socks. Check out your local cities to see what type of adventures there are!
Unique Find: Many museums are offering extended hours for "after dark" events. These typically feature fun themes with games, exploration, and drinking if that's your kinda thing. If you're local to our area, check out the Franklin Institutes' "Science After Dark" series.
Yep, I said it. Plants make good decor, friends, and gifts. Plus they're good for the atmosphere! We have a few plants that we've been gifted and I actually really enjoy having them around. Just maybe not a plant every year... some of these things live forever!
Unique Find: Succulents and cactus-like plants are having their moment right now. Gift a build-your-own succulent garden or terrarium, which makes for a fun activity as well.
6. SKIN CARE
Soap is so under-appreciated, and I'm only half kidding. Working at a skin-care company has opened my eyes to the value of a good skincare routine. Plus there's so many fun new products out there that can be used for skin-care for both men and women. I personally love pairing together fun beauty finds into a gift basket (think soaps, bath bombs, and lotions for a spa kit). These are all easy finds that will definitely bring value!
Unique Find: Bubble Mask. That's right, it bubbles on your face. I haven't tried any of these personally, but the pictures and videos are hilarious. Get a view here.
7. PERSONAL SHOPPERS
While this one might not be as minimal in terms of consumption, the new personal shopping trend is hard to ignore. There are great options for women, men, and kids who enjoy all different types of fashion styles. Stitch Fix is a popular one that I feel comfortable because I know a bunch of people who have tried it and enjoyed it. Try gifting a few months of this service for someone who wants a little spark in their wardrobe; it's a great alternative to buying loads of clothes on your own & saving all those gift receipts ;)
Unique Find: Rent the Runway is a luxury borrowing service for high-end clothing. Many women are using it to rent one-time wear dresses for events. Try gifting this experience to a loved one that has high-end taste.
8. SUBSCRIPTION BOXES
Whether you're buying for someone who loves fashion, fitness, or their furry four-pawed friend, there is a subscription box for you (to gift them). These are a unique alternative to putting together a box/basket of your own.
Unique Find: Instead of linking a specific subscription box, I will introduce an idea. I've known plenty to sign up for subscription boxes before the holidays and re-organize the products and re-gift in their own way. Most boxes offer a huge sign up value and a regular month-to-month savings so you can get product for a lot less than retail value.
9. SOME PAMPERING
From massages to reiki healing, your options are endless if your loved one needs a little self-care time. If they're not super adventurous, think something regular like a massage or a mani-pedi combo. But if your recipient likes to try some new things, search around for some fun new experiences like sensory pools or reiki healing.
Unique Find: I consider myself to be in the know with the latest health trends, but I just found out about salt caves and have been endlessly intrigued since. It's an ultimate detox for your body and mind and I can't wait to do one myself. For the locals, here is one you can check out.
10. A BLAST FROM THE PAST
In case you've been living under a rock, ancestry and DNA kits have become a household regular. My mother-in-law actually just gifted me a kit and inspired me to put it on this list! These services are mail-in-DNA services that help connect people to their genealogy, family trees, and sometimes even living relatives! There are so many kits and services to chose from so hit Google to search for the best for your recipient. Most of them just need a little mouth swab and a computer account to access their report.
Unique Find: I consider all of these pretty unique, so get searching and see if which one is right for you!