To many people, gift giving is a love language. It's how we show another person that we care about them.
I remember when I was a child and shopping with my dad for a present for my stepsister. My dad picked up an item (I can't even remember what it was now) and said "Let's get her this". I didn't think she'd like whatever it was he was holding so asked, "What if she doesn't like it?" to which my dad replied, "She doesn't have to like it; it's a present".
I couldn't see the logic behind buying someone a gift that they probably wouldn't like - but now I realise that my dad's words were his way of saying it's the thought that counts. We buy people presents because we want them to know we're thinking of them on their birthday or other special occasion, or sometimes 'just because'. We want to make them happy. (Although I still don't see how buying something someone hates will make them happy, but I suspect my dad was just sick of shopping at that point and wanted to go home).
Whether you're buying for a minimalist or you're a minimalist yourself and don't want to burden other people with needless clutter, here are some ideas for great gifts they'll appreciate but won't still be living with in twenty years' time.
1. An experience
The most precious gift you can give someone is your time, because you'll never get it back. Spend a day together and take your loved one to the theatre, out to lunch, a spa day, supercar driving, a cookery class, skydiving...the possibilities are endless. Studies have shown that experiences make us happier than objects do. The two of you will get to spend some quality time together and make memories to last a lifetime, which is a lot better than something that'll just get put in a drawer and forgotten about.
2. Gift card
There are so many gift cards out there nowadays for all sorts of things. Whatever someone's into, you can probably find a gift card to suit them. Do they like coffee? Then load up a Starbucks card for them. Music or podcasts? An iTunes gift card. Going out to eat? A restaurant gift card. Or you could buy them a gift card for their favourite store - at least you know they'll buy something they like and you won't have to guess.
Anything that has an expiry date or will get used up will make a good minimalist gift. Whether it's something to eat such as a food hamper or fruit basket or something pretty like a scented candle or flowers, these are presents that will serve their purpose (letting someone know you care) but won't stick around forever.
4. Something personal
If you know someone well (and if you don't, why are you buying them a present?) you should be able to buy them something they really want or need. If you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask. I know that some people like the surprise factor, but actually finding out what kind of thing they'd like will save you time and money when searching for a gift. If you don't want to ask them straight out, try asking someone else close to them who might be able to give you some ideas.
This can be kind of a cop-out and some people think it lacks imagination or looks like you can't be bothered to pick out a 'real' gift, but if you're really stuck for ideas or you know the person needs it, then go ahead and give them some cash.
Ok, I know it sounds quite heartless and you really both have to be on the same page for this one to work. If you're both minimalists, great. No more clutter every holiday! Unfortunately, I can't get away with buying my family 'nothing' as a gift as they'd probably be offended. They also can't accept that when I say I don't want anything, I really mean it! I usually end up suggesting they get me one of the gift ideas above - something that will be useful to me but I won't have to store.
I'd love to know if you have anything to add to this list! What kind of gifts do you like to give/ask for?