Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. There’s just something in the air, aside from the cold and snow. Maybe Christmas makes those cold winter days and nights in Canada more tolerable. Or maybe it conjures up memories of past Christmas’, like when your Uncle Bob got totally hammered, fell down the stairs and had to be taken to the ER because he broke his ankle. Or when you were a kid and you got a new He-Man action figure, only to find a week later your friend gnawed Skeletor’s hand to a flattened, bite-marked mess. Ahhh Christmas. For me, it has nothing to do with gifts, but if you are a person that wants some minimalist Christmas gift ideas for you and your minimalist family or friends, here’s a list to get you started.
Idea #12. Give Practical Gifts
If you are buying gifts, buy something practical that can be used or consumed, like soap (even better if you made it), a knitted blanket (which you can also make), or even movie passes. My wife and I loathed gifts we couldn’t “use”. It actually got to a point where we simply said to everyone “no more gifts” because of it. I hate waste, and getting stuff I couldn’t consume or put to good use was a waste of 1) money and 2) time that I had to spend faking enjoyment of said gift.
Idea #11. Spend on Experiences
Experiences make for amazing minimalist Christmas gift ideas because there are so many options. Try spending money on a fun and enjoyable experience like rock climbing, indoor skydiving, or a white-water rafting excursion. Seek some thrills, but keep it within reason. Don’t buy a game of paintball for your 80 year old Nana with a bad hip. And guys, want some brownie points? Get your lady a day at the spa. Sure, it’s probably a bit of coin, but minimalism isn’t about being a miser. It’s about spending money on life experiences, not stuff!
Idea #10. Buy An Educational Course
My wife once bought me a woodworking course for Christmas. It was pretty cool because I didn’t have any tools and didn’t know a lot about woodworking. I carved a spoon out of basswood and also made two small cutting boards. And then we made picture frames and I used mine to frame a mirror we hung in our basement bathroom for 12 years. Other course ideas; a language course, a car-care course, or a gardening course.
Idea #9. Go Somewhere
If you’re in the Northern States or Eastern Canada, take a mini-vacation to New York City or enjoy the European feel and cobblestone streets of Old Quebec City. Live on the West Coast? How about a trip to San Francisco, The Grand Canyon, Banff, Whistler, Aspen, or elsewhere?
Idea #8. Donate to Charity
There are many soup kitchens and homeless shelters that could use some help over the holiday season (and beyond). And don’t do this to make yourself feel better, do it because you want to help. The first time I donated time like this I thought “really – we’re doing this?”, but after donating over an hour of time to dish up turkey dinners I saw how important events like this are to both bring a community together and help those in need. Another idea; World Vision has a nice program where you can gift livestock, water, school supplies and many other things to those in need in developing countries. You can purchase a package and gift it in the name of someone else. Need more donation ideas? Try having your kids donate at least one of their gifts to less fortunate children.
Idea #7. Make Something
Rather than going out and buying stuff, make stuff out of stuff you already own! If you’re crafty, rev up that sewing machine or warm up that hot-glue gun. Handyman? Build something out of scraps of wood you already have, like a birdhouse, jewelry box, or a knock-off version of the game Jenga. And if you’re not handy or crafty, maybe you’re artsy – how about writing a song, like this one:
Idea #6. Create a Tradition
And this isn’t a gift buying tradition. My wife and I have a fun tradition where we go to the mall on Christmas Eve and buy a specialty coffee each, then go share a Cinnabon (we eat one Cinnabon a year and this is the day). We do this because we thought it would be fun to people-watch frantic shoppers getting last minute gifts. Turns out we just enjoy our coffee, Cinnabon, and each other’s company. Here’s another idea, go for a family hike on Christmas Day! Already have a Christmas tradition? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Idea #5. Set Limits
If a gift exchange is inevitable, or something you enjoy doing, try setting a limit. Moreover; if you have many relatives you would exchange gifts with, try the “Secret Santa” method where you draw one name and you get a gift for only that person, and within a set budget.
Idea #4. Buy Nothing
Let’s face it, when you’re a kid it’s all about tearing into those finely wrapped presents. But as adults the holidays become more about good times with family and friends. So discuss with elder family members and skip the “stuff” exchange between adults.
Idea #3. Give Blood
Blood banks can always use a few extra pints of your warm crimson vampire juice. There are some rules and regulations with this though (i.e. if you’ve visited certain countries, or have been recently tattooed). So depending on your circumstances you might not be able to donate, but otherwise if you’re in good health – well – as they saying goes…it’s in you to give!
Idea #2. Go Device-less
Have a day without the mobile devices. There was a viral post by artist Eric Pickersgill in which he removed smart phones/tablets from photos. The result was some amazing shots that left a lot of people speechless. We often get caught up with our social media and need for social approval via likes. And some of us need to be present online because it’s our bread-n-butter. But being able to un-tether once in a while is just as important.
Idea #1. The Coupon Book
Probably my favorite of any of these minimalist Christmas gift ideas…Make your own coupon book. I did this for my wife one Christmas. I’ll admit, I got the idea from Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) in the movie Dodgeball, when he gives a woman a coupon for a back-rub. But you can easily expand on this. For the ladies, offer a car wash to your classic-car loving hubby, or a guilt-free night out with the boys. And for the men, throw a foot massage coupon in there, or a dinner made by you. Go with my favorite – the “Don’t Get Mad” card. It’s kind of like a “get out of jail free” card, only it’s not jail, and it could be anything. Here’s a few examples. Don’t get Mad, but I just…
- Backed into your Harley and knocked it over. You always had that dent in it, right?
- Killed your hamster Sir Turds-a-Lot. Well, now I guess he’s Sir Turds-no-more 🙂
- Used your wedding veil to catch small fish for bait. But we’re married now, so you didn’t need it anymore anyway…right?
Christmas is an amazing and wonderful time of year. There’s a certain feeling in the air that makes it magical. But let’s be honest, the whole “gift giving” thing isn’t what the holidays are about. It’s about getting together and enjoying time with family and friends. So this holiday season, opt for one of the above minimalist Christmas gift ideas. You never know, you might start a new tradition!
Now go sell all your stuff!