Buying a Gift for the Minimalist in Your Life
“We need to show consideration for others by helping them avoid
the burden of owning more than they need or can enjoy.”
Marie Kondo in The Magic Art of Tidying Up
Gift-giving is so fundamentally American that being difficult to shop for is almost unpatriotic. I have learned this gradually, after years of unintentionally offending both people I loved and acquaintances. I still freeze if I have to open gifts in front of people, afraid that I won’t be clear that I appreciate it.
My best friend in high school informed me one day that I was difficult to buy gifts for. She blurted in frustration, “I feel like I have to buy you shampoo…ON SALE!” This sentiment came as a surprise to me. When I visited a store, I saw lots of things I wanted. Wasn’t it obvious to other people that I would enjoy chocolate more than jewelry? Apparently not.
My extended relatives must have thought I was a weird kid. I usually only wanted money for Christmas, but I occasionally wanted to the odd item; when I was ten I asked my uncle for an alarm clock. I am, by the way, still using that clock, the buttons are just now starting to go. There was another time I wanted one of those cordless sweeper thingies that I’d seen at restaurants, but I didn’t get it so I think maybe no one took me seriously.
A couple years ago my mom sent me some birthday money, which I promptly spent on lots of GOOD bacon (ON SALE, no less!) for my freezer. She protested, “But that was to buy a treat for yourself!” I tried to explain that I had bought myself a treat, it just seemed like I was using her gift for groceries. It’s a matter of perception, as you can plainly see. I mean, what beats GOOD bacon?
You may feel that the minimalist in your life is impossible to buy gifts for, and you’re probably right. They are impossible, but not because they’re trying to make your life harder. Remember that they won’t mind if you don’t buy a gift at all, so you don’t have to feel pressured to figure something out. But maybe you really want to get them something. What to do?
Try writing a personal card, I think almost everyone appreciates this.
Take them to lunch or coffee. Or buy a gift card so they can take themselves.
How about giving an experience? A cooking class with provided babysitting?
Find out what temporary acquisitions they like. You know, there’s always GOOD bacon, or GOOD chocolate. Maybe fancy cheese? Local beer? Artisan bread? Fresh flowers? A perennial for their garden? A favorite magazine subscription? A pass to a beloved nature area or nearby kids’ museum? Something for their pet?
I asked another minimalist what she appreciated as gifts. Her listed temporary acquisitions included coffee and perfume or other expensive pampering products. She also loves gift cards, practical or impractical, because she both enjoys eating out and needs a tank of gas to get her to the restaurant.
If you do choose to purchase a more permanent gift for the minimalist in your life, know that they will appreciate you and your offering even if they choose not to keep it. Try not to hold it against them, they can’t help being difficult. And don’t take it personally, they do love you!
Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash