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Simple Living (or Minimalist) Gift Ideas


Here at Loving Simple Living we feel pretty strongly about too much stuff… we don’t like it, don’t want it, don’t want to clean it up, don’t want to organize it, and don’t want to even ‘want’ it.

But this isn’t for all stuff.  Some stuff is really great and can still communicate love to another person without creating more clutter.

So how can we gift the Simple Living way?

I get this question all year long but Christmas is one of the biggest gift getting and giving holidays all year. Gifts, by themselves, I think are great. Someone spending their money so that someone else can have something nice. It is selfless, giving, sweet, and fun to look forward to. The problem comes when we live in such a rich society that all of us already own way to much of what we need and want… this then makes gifts look like extra on top of this already mounting stressor.

This right here should make us really thankful for what we have in this time period and 1st world society. …we don’t wait all year and are excited to get an orange and new socks Christmas morning.

As a minimalist, or any other part of intentional living, we also try to ‘preach’ by example. It is the most effective form of preaching no matter what you are trying to get across.

So, with this relational self-less tradition, how do we participate in a way that will keep the joy, giving-spirit, and love, while at the same time be a living example of a non-materialistic life? (sorry, that was a huge sentence).

I would like to say that gifts are still important.  They are important because they are a way of communicating care and appreciation in our society.  I don’t think we need to give gifts to everyone we met during the year, but for the people who are special to us, a gift is great!

Living in an apartment has definitely changed what we give as gifts.  It has given us a better understanding of stuff, space, quality, and value.  I wanted to share with you some gift ideas that I like.  Feel free to add any other suggestions in the comments.


  • Legos – these are awesome for either gender and for a huge age range 4-… some people never stop playing with them.   The sets can all work together, no batteries, imaginative play and these seem to be one of the things people hang onto for their own kids someday (they are almost never available used).  For younger kids we really liked Trio blocks.  They are bigger for little fingers but my kids still play with them now (at ages 5 and 9).
  • Art supplies (playdoh, crayons, etc) – sure, kids probably have lots of crayons or markers, but they get broken and dried out very quickly.  A nice new set and a plain art pad seem to be a wonderful, fun, and creative gift.  My kids hardly ever use coloring books, but the plain paper gets used up really quick.  Quality is a huge thing with art supplies… stuff keeps coming out junkier and junkier.  Even for my young kids I have noticed that they draw better, longer, and enjoy it much more with professional markers from art stores than they do with cheap kid marker sets.  Art supplies make a great gift anywhere from age 2-18 depending on the kid and what they are interested in.


  • Gift certificates – I know it isn’t a fun gift and some people are really against it, but I like the idea of gift certificates to someones favorite restaurant or for books (kindle, or listening).  My favorite in this area is for restaurant gift cards, but it needs to be to a place where the recipient likes, not where you found a great deal.  I haven’t tried this, but the Gift Card Exchange allows you to shop for gift cards at a discounted price.
  • Better/Replacement items – Have you noticed that your loved one could us a new…..?  This is a great way of gifting without increasing belongings.
  • Usable items – bottle of wine, cheese or nut tray or similar.   I would stay away from candles and lotions unless you know specifically what someone wants.  These items seem to collect for people and some people are picky about smells.
  • Homemade usable! – tray of cookies, cinnamon buns (Ree is a gifting genius here). Special, thoughtful, tasty, and gone within a few days.

Shipping Required (those living far away)

  • Charity donation – This is one of my favorite Christmas gifts.  Check out gift catalogs from World VisionSamaritans Purse, or Heifer International (non-religious charity).
  • Pictures – Picture are easy to ship and create great memories.  Calendars or memory books are especially personal and special. Check Shutterfly or Snapfish.

*note: links to Amazon on this post (and through my site) are affiliated links.  If you purchase after following one of these links Amazon pays a small commission to Loving Simple Living.  

What do you think?  Do you have more to add?

Thanks so much for reading!


    • great post! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Packaging is amazing to me too. Especially on toys….

  1. You posted about this before, but I think it is worth repeating — give a certificate to a museum, or a family pass to the local zoo, take the neices and nephews to the park or a movie (a great gift for their Mom and Dad too!). And there is always cash – while considered by many as even less thoughtful than a gift card, if someone needs groceries more than a restaurant meal, cash gives them the option. And for the older kids, cash allows them to ‘pool’ their gifts and buy something more expensive.

    • my daughter just got cash for her birthday and she was so excited 🙂 She ended up spending it on a project for World Vision.

  2. Elizabeth Kane Elizabeth Kane

    Like your gift ideas here, Lorilee. I tend to give people gifts they need to eat or drink. I’m going to keep a lookout for things my close friends use that are becoming ratty, but they don’t want to buy for themselves.

    I’m finding that after these past couple years of minimizing what I have, I’m a better gift getter. When a friend asks me what I want, my first response is spending time with them. But when that’s not an option (they’re long distance, or they want to be even kinder and get me a present) I know what I realisticly use and want, and what would be stashed in the closet. After all, when I’m giving someone a gift I want to know they’ll truly enjoy it and not just see it as another thing that’ll clutter up their place.

    • I see what you mean. I can think of things easier now when people ask me as well. I think I have come to appreciate and know what I will like and use better. 🙂

  3. Gem Gem

    Since Calvin is the only grandchild on both sides, it’s very easy for our relatives to over-indulge him accidentally. One thing we put on his list every year is a contribution to his 529 college savings plan.

    • ohhh, good idea 🙂

  4. Amy Amy

    I have four children. I’m hoping that this year the grandparents will give a combined gift of a family membership. We have a children’s museum, aquarium, and train museum within and hour of our home. A membership card doesn’t take up much space, and it is a year of fun!!

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