Simple living

3 Golden Rules for Mindful Gift Giving

When I began my journey towards a simple, mindful lifestyle with a minimalist outlook, what was perhaps hardest to get around, was the concept of gift giving. Whether it’s your birthday or Christmas, turning down gifts or dictating others as to what to give you can be a bit of a pickle, to say the least.

My friends and family are all used to it by now, but in the beginning it was hard to explain the idea of no gifts (or different gifts) without coming off as rude or as the grinch. At the same time, though, I don’t want for people to spend their money on gifts that might not be appreciated.*

*Mind you, I appreciate any gift and the thought behind it, but let’s be honest: most of the time, we buy what we need through out the year, and often people end up giving you closet fillers, and we don’t want that, do we? I know I don’t.

Over the years, we’ve come to solve Christmas and the concept of gift giving in a manner that suit us. For some family members, we’ve agreed not to exchange gifts at all, for others, we’ve decided to only give gifts to the children. For the few that I do buy gifts for, however, I’ve come up with three types of gifts that reflects my mindful, minimal lifestyle. In other words, the gifts I give should belong to one or more of the following categories, which in turn make up my 3 golden rules for mindful gift giving:

1. Something edible

Closet stuffers and surplus items that just get shoved away is a gift I will not give my loved ones for Christmas. Gifting something edible solves this effortlessly; once the edible gift is consumed, it takes no place to store. An edible gift should have the recipient in mind: if it’s not something the recipient will enjoy, the present could end up as a kitchen cabinet stuffer with an expiration date. So, obviously, knowing your recipient just a tad is key. Still, edible gifts, in the form of homemade cookies, exclusive chocolate, a tapas kit, quality coffee beans, aromatic tea, a bottle of wine or lemonade are welcome gifts in most households. Just take into account who’s the vegan, who’s the gluten intolerant and who’s the non-drinker and you’re good to go.

2. Something practical

If edible gifts are not your thing, I am all for this next option: something practical. This is a much more open suggestion than the previous: what’s practical for one person differs so very much. Gifting someone ‘something practical’ could mean gifting them something you know they need. Maybe they’ve always wanted a particular item for the home but never splurged on it. Maybe they’re in need of upgrading an item that they cherish and you can gift them this upgrade? Examples of practical gifts I have gifted previously are: A new skillet to exchange a worn one. A pair of new slippers to exchange a well worn pair with holes and tears. Something useful, such as a comfy pj, or practical clothing for growing children. What’s a practical gift comes down to the recipient; something you know they can put to good use, whether it’s something old needing an upgrade, something desired but never bought, or just something they would enjoy using but didn’t know they wanted.

3. Something engaging

My third gift giving category is the idea of gifting something engaging. ‘Something engaging’ is also a broad concept. An engaging gift could be gifting someone an experience: in form of an outing with you, a gift card to an activity such as a concert or a movie. Or a gift of the more materialistic variety, like a book, a record or a game. The idea is that the gift should be something the recipient can engage with. As opposed to a passive object that just “sits there” and takes up unwanted space. In a sense, both of the aforementioned categories can also be said to be engaging. I do feel that ‘something engaging’ doesn’t have to mean edible or practical. It’s more the idea of gifting an experience. It’s up to you whether that manifests as a physical object that you gift (book, record, game, craft etc.) or that you gift a certain one-time experience in itself.


With these three guidelines, I feel confident that my gifts are ones to cherish rather than to politely thank for and quietly tuck away in a drawer or cabinet never to be seen again. Of course, the most clutter-free gift to give is an experience or no gift at all. Sometimes, though, we just want to take part in the act of physical gift giving, and that’s ok. With a few guidelines, we can gift sensibly and mindfully.

What’s your thoughts on gift giving? Did this tiny list of rules help you out at all? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section. ♥︎

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