Gift Giving for a Connection and Experience Rich Family Life of Minimalism

Gift Giving


Gift giving as a minimalist may at first feel tricky but extending your family values of connection, experience, and simple living into holidays and birthdays can be done with ease and joy. Tap into these 3 favorite techniques of mine and you will be a gift giving master in no time.

1 Gift List

Sometimes minimalism and marriage looks like clearly communicating what you really want. Throughout the year, if there is some fun yet nonessential thing, service, or experience that I believe would add joy to my life, I email my husband with a link and details with the subject “Gift List.” My husband does the same and for each gift giving holiday we have a nice list of ideas straight from the source. No stress trying to guess what the other person would like and no stuff we don’t really want received.

This year that included:

Personalized embroidery hoop
Barn wood for master bedroom headboard wall installation
TreeHouse Point tour

The kids each have a journal containing a Gift List page and whenever they happen upon something special yet not important enough to purchase in the moment, they jot it down in their list and we go over it before each gift giving holiday. This is really nice while out and about too because even if we aren’t going to buy something in the moment, we can say, “You’re welcome to add it to your Gift List,” and the impulse items are quickly crossed off as the children prioritize.

2 Love Coupons

These gifts of service are one of my all-time favorite gifts from my family each year in my Christmas stocking. I send my husband some ideas of special things they could do to add a little extra sweetness and light to my life on a one-time basis (in the gift list above) and they run with it with some creativity and thoughtfulness, working altogether. My husband is quick to point out that he is happy and willing to do anything to make my life a little sweeter and lighter with or without a coupon but something about having a coupon frees me from the weight of concern or guilt.

This year that included:

No fighting and be positive for one day
Nature adventure
Switch places in a crappy situation – Daddy has to handle it
Win a fight and everyone has to let it go
Writing time alone
1 massage
Tidy up anything
Love movie lockdown – everyone must watch with you
Make dinner of my choice

Each year at Christmas we encourage the kids to make or coordinate each other a gift and role model the type of gift giving we value. Last year they organized outings based on each kid’s interests and preferences and this year Sky (12) gifted their brothers love coupons designed 100% on their own and personalized for each brother’s personality. They thought of struggles and kindnesses to better meet each brother’s needs on a one-time basis and they went over brilliantly – so appreciated across the board.

3 Gift Cards

These gifts of experience are my favorite from extended family. I send my parents (who are long divorced but co-parent and grandparent in friendly coordination) a list of ideas based on our present interests. In the past that has included memberships to places like museums and zoos, tickets for experiences like a movie/concert/play/event, and passes on our travels like a kayak or snowboard rental.

This year that included:

Online piano lessons
Roller skating
Indoor skydiving
Fancy hair cut
REI (for seasonal adventure gear)
Restaurants (we love eating out at our favorite restaurants)

Part of this system includes boundary setting, which is not always easy but an essential part of living an intentional life, particularly in connection with people who don’t share your values.

Leave behind the sale shopping and boxes of crap that isn’t a good fit for your family and embrace a lifestyle in which gifts are given consciously in a way that adds to your family and life instead of weighing you down.

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