5 Minimalist Christmas Gift Ideas (Even for Children)

The notion of Christmas has seemed to morph into a smorgasbord of consumerist culture in recent years.  Christmas budgets are getting higher and higher, and the average Canadian plans to spend $766 on Christmas (in 2016).  Last year, I think I spent about $450 on Christmas- I made gifts for my closest girl friends and did a gift exchange for my mom and sisters.  The amount I spent is lower than average, but it still felt like a lot.  This year I hope to spend less as I have adopted a more minimalist Christmas approach because I suffered a case of Too Much Stuff Syndrome earlier in the year.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Minimalists

too much stuff syndrome

What is Too Much Stuff Syndrome and how did I realize I had a case of it?

Well, at the beginning of the year, one of my goals was to purge 365 items from my home, and so I got rid of one item a day.

When I got rid of 365 items from my home, I realized I had a lot of stuff in my 450 square foot space, and adding a baby’s stuff to that, well, adds more ‘stuff’.

This exercise in minimalism encouraged me to be more cognizant and aware of my consumerism and the gifts that I have received over time in my home.  Although the gifts were sweet sentiments, they didn’t ‘spark joy’ for me anymore and therefore I got rid of them through donating them, or even selling the items.

In North America, we have enough clutter in our lives as it is, and we don’t need to add to it.

Here’s how to avoid adding to the consumerist culture and avoid buying and giving stuff (that we will eventually want to throw away) this Christmas.

To avoid catching a case of the Too Much Stuff Syndrome this holiday season that will burn a hole through your wallet, stop the giftsanity and try these instead:

give food or other consumables

I group of girlfriends and I exchange homemade gifts (though I think we are going to stop this exchange this year because it’s been over 7 years we’ve been doing this and honestly we are running out of ideas for each other).  We’ve made personalized coasters, wine glasses, colouring books, and hot chocolate mix to name a few.  We usually spend less than $15 to make a present for each other, sometimes it can be under $5.  However, a lot of these gifts are still ‘stuff’ (e.g. personalized coasters).

Instead, food and other consumables are a great minimalist Christmas idea because they will be gone in a few days or weeks (well, unless it is fruitcake, in which case people won’t be touching that with a ten foot pole and it might go straight to the trashcan).  Wrapping the food (baked goods) in a nice decorative way can spruce it up a bit.  Cookies and biscotti are at the top of everyone’s baked goods wish list.

Here are 50 Cute Christmas Treats from Something Swanky to give you some ideas.

give gift cards

I know it seems cheesy but to be honest, I love both giving and receiving gift cards.  Sometimes I get a present (that I honestly am not in love with) and then I go to the store to exchange it or get a gift card.  Terrible, I know, but I do it all the time… and if I do it all the time, you probably do too?

I know some may argue that gift cards are not thoughtful enough, but I’m a big fan of practicality and I think that gift cards can be thoughtful (for example, instead of getting a plain “Visa” gift card, get a gift card to their favourite store, or if they tend to like to have a Starbucks for a treat, for example, get them a Starbucks gift card).

Of course, giving a gift card to a child won’t work as well as giving a gift card to an adult 🙂  Santa probably doesn’t do gift cards when he comes down the chimney sweep.

give time and experiences

The gift of time and and experiences is a good option for both adults and children.  For the child who has everything they need from Santa already, an experience gift is a great option.

For my friend’s child we got him a one year membership to the local science museum, so that he could go anytime he wanted throughout the year with his mom and dad.  Other options include using Groupons (a ticket or pass to a local attraction is a great idea) for a family photo shoot, or a reflexology massage.

For my husband, we are likely going to forgo Christmas gifts to each other this year and opt for time together on vacation instead, as we are spending 5 weeks in Hawaii.  The gift of quality time with each other is more meaningful than a shiny new iPad, in my opinion.

stop the giftsanity gift exchanges and go for a meal instead

Although it might be difficult to break the gift exchange tradition, depending on your family and desire for a minimalist Christmas, you could ask to stop the gift exchanges and instead go for a meal together or pool the money you would have towards a gift for a getaway together or for a nice meal out.

An alternative is to continue with the gift exchange and draw a secret santa instead, and limit the cost of spending.  For example, if there’s 5 people in a family who participate in the gift exchange, you draw a person who you’re to get a gift for, and only spend a certain amount.  This way you won’t have to get four presents, just one.

give a book

A great option for children is to give a book.  It’s educational, doesn’t take up much space, and of course Santa would want him or her to be an avid reader.  Once you or your child is done with the book it can always be donated to the local library, or donated to the local neighbourhood book exchange.

One Christmas I made a personalized book for my nephew and niece (with Dinkelboo, but there are other companies that can print personalized books for you), it was printed with their name on it and I think certainly made them feel special.

Readers, do you have any other minimalist Christmas gift ideas?

About genymoney

GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle.

14 comments on “5 Minimalist Christmas Gift Ideas (Even for Children)

  1. Hey GYM!

    I love the idea of minimalist here. When friends or family give me presents, I’m like… “Oh great… more stuff… to put in the house that I don’t use.” I actually get stressed because I had just decluttered my place, but more stuff comes back haha.

    As for giving, we usually treat our family and friends out for dinner to their favourite restaurants. And we just get together and do an exchange under $50 for fun. Each person would list the top 10 things that they want, and everyone would just spend no more than $50 for the name they picked out. That’s the majority of our gift giving costs when it comes to friends and family. I find it’s better than buying random stuff for everyone because they would probably end up tossing it or donating it.

    I love your idea of a book. Depending on the topic, I believe a book can change someone’s life!
    fin$avvypanda @ finsavvypanda.com recently posted…10 Ways to Develop a Rich Mindset for 2018! — #10 is Mind-Blowing!My Profile

    • @finsavvypanda- That’s exactly what goes through my head when I get gifts from friends or family too haha. After my decluttering, I felt bad throwing away gifts from friends. That sounds like a good way to do it, sounds like your Christmas budget is pretty low! Taking people out to dinner is a great gift- connecting with friends/family and also good food!

  2. My kids just want cash now so they can go shopping on Boxing Day. I don’t mind to give them some cash but I still like to buy them a present, just gets tougher as they get older!
    I don’t do gifts with friends anymore, we just go out and my family lives too far so we stop buying presents a long time ago.
    Caroline recently posted…Grocery Budget November 2017My Profile

    • @Caroline- You have easy kids to shop for 🙂 (cash). That’s very sweet that you like to buy them a present! I’m glad my friend decided to take the initiative and tell our girlfriend group to stop gifting for each other. I’m trying to tell my other friend to stop giving me christmas and birthday presents but I feel bad…it’s funny how things just carry on for years.

    • @Leo- good for your son and good for you! My husband is the same way- doesn’t really participate in Christmas. Nothing for his mom, nothing for his sister lol (but he grew up that way). We are getting our nephew and nieces money and also a small $5 educational toy gift.

    • @Mrs Picky Pincher- I think I saw a poll somewhere that most people prefer gift cards rather than physical gifts. If I were your friend I would love to receive food from you!!

  3. We stop giving stuff like clothes as gifts for my family. We just give gift cards or their favorite snacks like cookies,popcorns as Xmas presents now. They are just as happy getting those as gifts because they don’t have to worry about adding more clothes to their collection and they enjoy eating their favorite snacks.
    I used to do a Secret Santa with friends for a while. It was fun at first because we got to add gag gifts on top of the gift they want and all of us got a good laugh about it. But after a few years the person running it enforced a gift minimum amount of $50 then I believe $100 the year after. We couldn’t really put gag gifts on there anymore because the pain of spending at least $100 the gift the person didn’t give us a need to add some creativity for a joke gift. Unfortunately we stopped doing the Secret Santa because of this.
    Kris recently posted…Expense Chronicles November 2017 – Car Registration and the Steam TrainMy Profile

    • @kris- that’s a lot of money to spend for a secret Santa. Good for you to say no 🙂 food is always a good gift. For souvenirs for friends I give food gifts now

  4. Hey GYM!

    I am a big reader but I feel like when I gave a book one year it was a bust. I thought about what each person was into at the time and went out and got a thoughtful book. Don’t think they were ever read! I always love to read but I tend to get my books for free these days!
    Damn Millennial recently posted…7 Ways To Pay Off Debt QuicklyMy Profile

    • @damn millennial- yeah books are hard. I got three books from a coworker for my mat leave and I haven’t read them because they are fiction and I’m not a big fan of fiction. Books for kids are ok though.

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