10 Gift Ideas for Minimalists

Struggling to find the perfect holiday gift? If you’re like me, you’ve probably gotten the “what do you want for Christmas?” question at least 10 times by now. I know my parents and grandparents mean it well, but as a minimalist-ish person, I’m more about the experience than the things. To me, Christmas is about spending time with family and continuing traditions like decorating the tree and doing puzzles while listening to all our favorite Christmas music.

However, no matter how many times I beg family members to not get me something, they still do, largely because one of their favorite Christmas traditions is shopping for their kids and getting them something fun.

Over the years my go-to response when people ask me what I want for Christmas is something like “gift cards— I can always use gift cards.” because it’s practical and I can always use an Amazon gift card to buy toothpaste or some other daily necessity. The downside of asking for gift cards is that it sort of feels like asking your family for money in disguise.

But y’all— it’s 2019 and there are a THOUSAND gift options that aren’t Amazon gift cards!

No matter if you’re the minimalist and don’t know what to ask for for Christmas, or you have someone on your Christmas list that’s extra hard to shop for because they don’t want “stuff," we’ve got you covered!  I put together my top 10 favorite gift ideas for minimalists that focus more on experiences rather than things.

Airbnb Gift Card

This is one of our go-to gift requests because we use Airbnb when we travel both stateside and around the world. Gift cards are available on Amazon as both digital gift cards (e-mailed to the recipient) or as a regular, physical gift card you can put inside a Christmas card.

Use this link to get $40 off your first Airbnb stay AND $15 off your first Airbnb Experience.

Charitable Donation

Want to give/ask for a gift with more meaning? Try making a donation to a nonprofit. If you don't have a specific nonprofit in mind, here are a few we recommend....

World Vision: Gift options include purchasing farm animals, medicine, bed nets, winter clothes, even protection for children who may be at risk of violence. Donations can be made for children in need both in the U.S.A. as well as abroad.

Charity:Water: Gift options include monthly donations and one time donations to help fund clean water projects around the world. We often take for granted clean water, but for many around the world the gift of clean water literally changes their life.

IJM: With dozens of gift options, IJM makes gift giving for a meaningful cause easy for any budget. For example, did you know that just $25 covers the trial fees for a child victim of sexual assault? You can even give a gift based on the most urgent needs around the world.

Feed My Starving Children: When you donate to Feed My Starving Children your donation stretches a long way. Meals are relatively inexpensive but make all the difference in the lives of the recipients by providing nutrient rich food for children around the world.

Coffee Subscription

While technically this is a physical object, it’s all about the experience. If you’re going to drink coffee, why not make it really good coffee?

Trade offers a couple of different subscription options to choose from, and all of their coffee comes from craft coffee roasters across the country. Trade also does a great job at matching the subscription recipient with coffee roasts that best fit their taste buds.

Wine Subscription

Maybe you or the person you're shopping for is more of the sophisticated type. For them we'd recommend Winc, a wine subscription service that delivers 4 bottles of wine selected based of the questionnaire the subscription recipient answers about their taste preferences.

Winc also offers gift cards if an annual subscription service is a bit more than what you want to spend.

Massage or Other Spa Treatment

A massage or spa day is (in my opinion) the ultimate way to relax. Depending on your budget, spas offer a variety of options from individual treatments to complete all-day packages.

While we prefer local spas, some nationwide chains offer a subscription type services. Places like Hand and Stone and Massage Envy offer packages for once a month massages at a lower rate than what an individual massage would cost.

Travel Gift Cards

Travel gift cards are one of the few gift cards I get really excited about. People such as Booking.com, Delta, and Southwest Airlines all offer gift cards.

Tip for gift givers: Combining an Airbnb gift card with something like a Southwest gift card is like giving them part of a vacation (or full vacation depending on how generous you're feeling this year ;) ).


This list is all about experiences and what makes a better experience than tickets to a concert, sports game, museum, zoo, or something else? For us, splurging on tickets doesn't always happen just because they're not a necessity, making it the perfect gift for those of you (or those on your list) who love experiencing new things but might not treat themselves to buying those tickets they have their eye on.

Audible Subscription

There are a lot of subscriptions on this list but for good reason. While they're definitely a trend right now, they are the gift that keeps on giving (at least for 12 months) making it an extra fun little gift for those who like surprises all year round!

I love books, but because I'm a minimalist I've been [trying] to work on reading more digital books instead of real books. Audible is the perfect subscription gift fo those who love to read!

Cooking Class

Do you or the person you're shopping for love to cook and/or love learning new things? Consider signing them up for a cooking class (note: this might come across passive aggressively if the recipient just happened to burn the Christmas dinner-- give with caution.).

Stores like Sur La Table offer cooking classes in various cities so I'd recommend by starting there if you aren't familiar with local cooking schools in your area.

Class Pass

This is another one of those gifts you need to give with caution because it could come across passive aggressively, especially since we're all packing on a few extra pounds this time of year. I know I get a little bored doing the same gym routines over and over which is why Class Pass is so great for fitness enthusiasts. It allows the members to try out various gyms across the country from cross fit to cycling to open gyms with pools.

Restaurant Gift Card

This one isn't super original, but it's always a great option. Rather than giving a gift card to a restaurant they've been to a thousand times, maybe give them one to a special occasion type restaurant that is more of an experience. If you're the one receiving the gift card, this is your chance to try a place you may not splurge and try on your own.

No matter what gift you give or what gift you ask for, remember that it's the moments that make the holiday season so special. Don't stress about the buying and the giving-- just show up to make the memories with the ones you love! Happy holidays from us to you! :)

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Hi! We're Chris and Sara a husband and wife video making, storytelling, travel loving duo with a passion for sharing travel tips, tricks, and inspiration with others.
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