Minimalist Gift Giving: 7 Non-Material Gift Ideas for Christmas


Christmas is coming and gift-giving during
a special occasions has become an obligation. Whether is it to replace presence with present
or to reciprocate the gift back: “Here’s a gift to you in return for the gift you’re
giving me”. As I’m trying to be more conscious in terms
of the things that I bring into my life, I started to realize that this gift-giving season can
be difficult. It makes me anxious when I have to find the right gift for someone, at the
same time it has to align with my value. There’s so much more we need to do if we want to be
intentional, not just the gift that we are receiving, but also the gift that we are giving
out. The process of finding a gift is no longer
fun or enjoyable, instead, it has become a chore, a constant stress for us to find the
perfect gift. And not to mention, people are actually incurring debt just to have the perfect
Christmas. There’s one survey in the UK shows that
61% of the people no longer appreciate the process of gifting. While nearly 60% of the
households say they make sacrifices to buy Christmas presents, and a lot of them rely
on credit cards. Approximately 9/10 people find themselves in debt hangover after Christmas. And Most of the data are from the UK because I got it from a book, “Calm Christmas”
from a UK author, Beth Kempton, and she said it best in her book. “Festive window display
generously offer inspiration for all to enjoy. But when you strip away the decorations, the
lights and music, the ultimate aim is to part you from your money.”
I understand that Christmas is one of the most important days or seasons to a lot of
people. But is it needed to put yourself in a situation where you are overwhelmed with
stress, cluttered with unwanted gifts just so you can enjoy “The Perfect Christmas”?
So in order for us to be intentional during this season. It is important for us to ask
ourselves this question: “whether to gift”. Many of us feel obliged to give gifts during
the holiday. No matter how close the relationship is, whether is it a close friend or a distant
family member? With so many gifts to buy, we ended up buying gifts that we know the
recipient won’t use, with money we don’t have and causing ourselves redundant stress
during this season. You give me an expensive gift and now I feel obliged to reciprocate
by giving you something of equivalent value. In some sense, we make gifting selfish, because
we only care about what we give to the other person and what comes after is none of my
business. Gifting by itself is a generous act but we often neglect the recipient’s
financial situation and create a financial burden for them because now they have to repay
back. If you put it this way, one of the best gifts
you can give during this holiday season is to release others from the obligation of having
to give to you. We might suppress our true desires to stop
gift-giving with silence, and we end up still complaining about the same mistakes year after
year. So why not communicate with them and let them know how you feel. I know it’s
going to be tough to share your thoughts about this, but if you can express your gratitude
and share your value with them, I’m pretty sure they can understand that this could be
the most generous gift you can give each other this year. If you really have to do gift-giving, instead
of giving every single people you know, you can suggest a secret Santa gift exchange,
and this can help a lot by reducing the number of gifts you are buying. And since it is only
targeting one person, you can be more deliberate when it comes to purchasing this gift. As we reduce the number of gifts we are buying,
now it’s time for us to reflect: “what to gift”.
With easy access to a credit card, convenience of online shopping and fast shipping process, there are infinite amount of choices we can buy as a gift. But yet most of the time the
gifts we bought are not what the recipient wants There’s one report estimated that 60 million unwanted gifts were given in 2018 in the UK
alone. Six out of ten gifts given to a sample 2,000
adults were unwanted. That’s what Joel Waldfogel an economist
calls “Deadweight Loss of Christmas”. If you studied economics in school you probably
came across this word deadweight loss and it happens in gift-giving too, where a $10
worth of gift purchased by a giver might not be perceived as the same value to the recipient.
That reminds me of a gift exchange happened in my previous workplace. The company had
100 over employees, and I guess it’s normal if I haven’t met some of them and the fact
that I was just an intern for a few months was not helping. The HR committee organized
a secret Santa gift exchange. And apparently my Santa had no idea who I was, he or she
probably didn’t even know that I existed and the only clue this person had was a photo
of me on the recruitment documents. So the day arrived, the whole company exchanged gifts.
My Santa got me a plastic glasses and you know why? It was just because I was wearing
glasses on tha photograph. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still grateful for it even though
I don’t know who was it from. But it’s really not something I would wear and it just
became another waste in the landfill. This example perfectly explains the deadweight
loss of Christmas. Where I perceive the value way lower than the amount the giver spend
on this gift and as a recipient I’m better off without it.
In short, the more you know about the recipient, the lower the deadweight loss.
Personally, it’s an annual tradition for me and my friends to organize a secret Santa
gift exchange during Christmas, we know each other well but we had wasted on a huge amount
of unwanted gifts during the previous Christmas celebrations. In order for us to reduce the
chances of wasting another gifts this year, we have a precise wish list. Really precise.
I have to say, it might lose some fun when it’s so obvious but one can always put a
range for categories for the Santa to choose from. But for me, I’ll prefer to play it
safe. That’s how we roll this Christmas and I’ve
never opposed the concept of gift-giving, in fact, it used to be my primary love language.
That’s what I thought. I used to love to receive gifts, especially when they are branded.
But now of course, I realized I was just being materialistic.
Even though, now I want own things deliberately, I still feel that gift-giving is a good way
to express your love and gratitude. And you can do it by not seeing it as an obligation
for you to give just because it’s the giving season. But it doesn’t have to be a physical
gift. Instead of saying no to gift, we can give experiences. It’s can be mindful and
meaningful yet at the same time skip the clutter. It can be in the form of vacation, concert
tickets, or even treating them to a nice massage and spa. Which is what my girlfriend gift
her mum for her recent birthday. We often skip opportunities for us to relax, reconnect
and rejuvenate because we couldn’t bear to indulge ourselves with a well-deserved
rest. And I think it’s the perfect gift for her mum because it’s really mindful,
based on her needs and she don’t even need any other material possessions. Classes are another meaningful gift. Whether
is it yoga, meditation or cooking. I’m pretty sure your loved ones have something in mind
that they always wanted to try. It can come in the form of app subscription if they prefer
to do it at home, meditation apps like headspace and waking up. Or even better you can join
them in those classes in real life. For those who are too shy to go to classes like this
alone by accompanying them to classes like this, it can create a memorable and meaningful
experience. Next, it can be something with educational
value, e-book or audiobook subscription. I’m not against physical books, I love to
read on the physical books as compared to reading it on my laptop or on my phone. You
can always pass down to someone else when you are done with it.
I have a list of book recommendations in the description below, might be of interest to
you and your minimalist recipient. You might want to check it out. Consumables and food can be the simplest gift.
Everyone needs it and pretty sure everyone has their own favourite. It can come in a
form of treating them to a restaurant they always wanted to go, the wine they love but
don’t bear to spend the money on, or coffee. I mean who don’t love coffee?
Or even better you can make it yourself. Whether is it food, sweater, jewellery. I don’t
have such talent, but I’m always videoing stuff, so I made a video of our memories for
my girlfriend a few years back. A study suggested that homemade gifts are less likely to be
extravagantly wrapped with fancy papers or plastic because they are already deeply personalized
by being homemade. There is always someone, somewhere who needs
a helping hand. If you really have no idea what you want as a recipient or what you want
to buy as a giver, don’t buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff, just to put another
waste to the planet. You can always make the choice to contribute to a charitable or social
cause in honor of someone you truly care about. And it’s one of the most thoughtful and
meaningful ways to celebrate this season of giving. Lastly, Time. No one has enough time. Being
presence by itself is a precious gift. We can always provide this limited and precious
resources, to our loved ones. Why not have a screenless date, detach yourself from the laptop and the phone. Be present in the conversation instead of being distracted by your work.
I’m sure your loved ones will appreciate it. We can always gift love and gratitude to those who we truly care about every day and not just
seeing it as an obligation only when it’s during the holidays.
Whether is it a gift for a minimalist or to anyone, we wouldn’t want to clutter their
lives with redundant stress and unwanted gifts. All of these suggestions require us to communicate
with our partner, friends and family, let them know what you truly want for this Christmas.
Align your value with theirs. It’s time for us to have a meaningful and
intentional festive season, one which is mindful, which allows us to lift off the heavy burden
of social obligation and create memories without sacrificing our own wellbeing.
And make it less stress and more joy. So those are my non-product gift ideas. I’m
pretty sure you guys have your own ideas on how to gift a minimalist, you can share it
with me down at the comment section below. If you are new here, you can check out my
other minimalism videos or other self-development videos after this. If you love to support this channel, you can
head down to my patreon link at the description below. Your contribution can definitely help
a lot with the growth of this channel. If you are not at a point where you can support
monetarily, you can always help by clicking the like button and that will definitely help
by pushing this video across to other people and help me spread the message. Once again,
I’m grateful for your support, by you giving me your precious time and attention is already
a gift by itself. Appreciate it, thanks for watching and I’ll see you guys on the next


10 Responses

  1. 1 11

    December 3, 2019 10:40 am

    Give experiences as gifts. I
    cannot understand why people
    that are not Christian even celebrate Christmas. I am not
    religious. I enjoy going to the
    Christmas markets here in
    Switzerland, to enjoy the food
    only. I rather buy things as I need
    something. I enjoy minimalism.
    Most of the time when people give
    me a useless gift I recycle or pass
    it on. Great points mentioned in
    this video. Thanks.

  2. Cameron Adams

    December 3, 2019 10:49 am

    As an Englishman I can confirm I hate buying gifts and it stresses me out majorly, I’m not good at getting them or thinking about them and having started to adopt a minimalist mindset it’s hard to think of gifts for myself and others

  3. Will Simmons

    December 3, 2019 11:00 am

    Your videos have really inspired me to change my way of living, i left a comment a few months ago that due to my exams and upcoming holiday i wasn’t able to start my minimalist journey but im back now and am going to begin decluttering tomorrow. I think ill just ask for some plants for christmas this year

  4. D Sharkboy

    December 3, 2019 12:25 pm

    Great video man! I was so stressed out trying to buy gifts before sales ran out. This really helped🙏🏾

  5. Debbie's Dilemmas

    December 3, 2019 1:04 pm

    You are so right about buying gifts. The joy of giving has been replaced with anxiety and stress. We want to give the right gifts without going into debt. This can consume a lot of our time and energy during a season which is suppose to be filled with joy and love. Add to this hosting parties, cooking, baking and decorating on top of our daily work schedule and chores and it can be a very stressful time of year.

  6. Vanessa Van Hoeck

    December 3, 2019 2:41 pm

    Thanks to you I was able to resist buying stuff during Black Friday (or rather Black Week) for the first time in years! Me and my husband are artists and we spend so much on brushes or paints even though we already have hundreds and hundreds… your videos help a lot to create a better workspace with less (and supplies we actually use and love). Thank you from Germany <3


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