Minimalist Alternatives to Gift Giving

Every year in the months leading up to the holidays there is a bombardment of pushy advertising and celebration of needless consumerism. Like many new minimalists, I really didn’t feel like participating in the whole charade this year, and wondered why I had fully embraced it all in years past, without question. I realized this year that it’s alright to not buy things that my family/friends may or may not actually use. I also avoid waking up at 4am to be nearly trampled to death on Black Friday and saved a lot of money throughout the season by identifying the reason I felt the need to buy so much stuff in the first place.

I wanted to show everyone that I cared.

“Hey , here’s a so that you know that I listen to you when we talk and I remember the things you like.” Was that honestly the only way that I could show them that I cared? After realizing this, I suddenly wasn’t interested in spending money that I don’t have in an attempt to superficially showing my loved ones that I care. Instead I focused on one key thing:

Spend Time, Not Money

Think about it. How long does it actually take you to buy a present for someone? Whether you do all of your Christmas shopping online, in store or dispersed throughout the year, it can become really inconvenient for everyone involved. First of all, it takes a long time to think of something that you think they might want, then you have to worry about weather or not they’ll like it; if they don’t, you’re probably going to be upset and they’ll feel bad. This cycle continues every single year and eventually, the burden of gifts will become too much, any way you slice it. So what could you do instead?

  1. Set aside some time that you would have spent shopping or gift researching to give your loved ones a meaningful call. Better yet, FaceTime them!
  2. Spend some time with your loved ones IRL if you can. Do some sort of activity that they enjoy to show that you care.
  3. Invite friends and family over for a dinner that you all make together. Everyone can get to know each other!
  4. Is there something that you could do for them? Organize an older loved one’s computer files? Walk your loved one’s dogs while they’re out of town on holiday? It’s likely that they’ll be so much more thankful for this, than any physical gift.
  5. When in doubt, ask what your loved one needs. It’s a lot better to let someone choose a useful gift than to surprise them with something they may not need or want. In the best case scenario, this would be something that you can buy local!

What I did this year was invite my parents to come visit me in New York City. Since I’m an Art History major, I gave them a tour of the city’s architecture in a way that I thought would be most engaging for them- starting with a trip to the top of the One World Trade.

    Let me know if you found any of these suggestions helpful! You can also apply these tips to birthdays, other holidays and celebratory events. Thanks for reading! 
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