15 Gifts for Minimalists For Conscious Giving
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Holidays and special events can be stressful. Wrapping paper waste, overconsumption, tight budgets, and the pressure of getting our loved ones a gift they’ll actually enjoy.
It’s even harder if you’re buying gifts for someone who doesn’t know what they want. Or worse still, doesn’t want anything.
And many of us are now turning toward minimalism or conscious consumerism (an integral part of sustainable living) as the answer to our stuff-saturated culture. Which is not to say that’s a bad thing, it’s just tricky from a gift-giving perspective.
Fortunately, the possibilities of gifts for minimalists are not only abundant but are far less wasteful and impactful than traditional gifts. They just require a little more thought than a last-minute dash to the mall.
So, in the spirit of giving thoughtful gifts, we’ve broken down gift ideas for your minimalist friend or family member into three categories: practical, elegant and inexpensive.
QUICK LINKS FOR GEAT GIFTS FOR MINIMALISTS
Practical Gifts for Minimalists
While all gifts for minimalists are practical in some sense (adding value without the clutter), these are gift ideas for common items that people use darn near every day or will in some way make their life easier in the long run.
And if you’re not exactly sure which item they’ll love most, buy them a gift card from one of the minimalist t-shirt, underwear, backpack, sunglasses brands below for maximum optionality.
1. GOOD OLD FASHIONED T-SHIRTS
Who doesn’t need a t-shirt? They’re the most versatile piece of clothing you can own. T-shirts are basically the Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of the garment world.
That said, if you know the person you’re shopping for already has a ton of tees, maybe skip on down to the next item. But if not, consider giving them a few more laundry-free days with a classic eco friendly t-shirt.
Our favorite minimalist t-shirt brand is The Classic T-Shirt Company with four not-too-tight-not-too-baggy styles in classic solid colors that can be dressed up or dressed down. Some things just never go out of style.
The Classic T-Shirt Company prioritizes ethical manufacturing that adheres to fair trade principles, and designs long lasting tees from the highest quality of eco friendly materials – GOTS certified organic cotton.
Cover your holiday bases by covering your (minimalist) loved one’s bottom. While underwear may not seem like a thoughtful gift, there’s nothing more essential, and minimalists are all about that.
You can especially show you’ve got their back (and butt) by buying from ethical underwear brands that are also out to keep landfill waste to a minimum.
For the softest sustainable luxury underwear, WAMA creates an impressive range (up to sizes 2XL) using organic hemp and organic cotton, with just 3% spandex.
For the athletic enthusiast, Organic Basics’ heat-regulating anti-bacterial, and odor-controlling SilverTech underwear, is made from real Reach Act-compliant and Oeko-Tex 100-certified silver thread.
3. A VERSATILE SOLAR POWERED BACKPACK
What’s a more useful travel gift for minimalists than a backpack? Easy. An anti-theft backpack with an integrated solar panel and bluetooth speaker. Sound too futuristic to be real? Then you haven’t heard of Solgaard.
The Solgaard Lifepack takes the concept of sustainable backpacks to another level. Between its many pockets (including a heavily padded laptop sleeve), integrated lock, and removable bluetooth boombox that doubles as a solar charger to play your tunes AND charge your devices while you walk, there’s little else this smart wearable can’t do.
It doesn’t hurt that its Shore-Tex™ fabric is made entirely from upcycled ocean-bound plastic, as is some of their other eco friendly luggage.
4. STYLISHLY MINIMALIST SUNGLASSES
Everyone needs a good pair of sunnies. It’s not just good style sense, but good for your eyes, too. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to lose or break them. On the sunny side, there’s a good chance someone needs a new pair, which would make for a perfect gift.
So, if you know your giftee could use some sunglasses, there are a few brands out there not only making eco conscious designs, but sleek, minimalist ones as well.
Pala Eyewear’s includes a classic and minimalist range of biodegradable frames made from recycled skateboards, recycled aluminum, FSC-certified sustainably-sourced wood, and biodegradable cotton-based acetate for their ECO line.
While Pela’s biodegradable Flaxetate frame sunglasses are revolutionizing the world of bio-based plastics. A great option for anyone looking for a little bit of color in an ultra simple design.
Both brands also give back, either by removing ocean plastic or donating to social causes, so gifting from these brands is kind of like two gifts in one.
5. SLEEK PROTECTIVE PHONE CASE
A phone case is an ex-cell-ent practical and inexpensive gift for minimalists. Most minimalists (surely) have a phone and some extra protection is always a lot cheaper than a new mobile, after all.
Pela’s second appearance here. They don’t just make eyewear; they’re one of the top names in eco friendly phone cases, too, thanks to their biodegradable Flaxstic cases, made from a BPA-free bioplastic flax elastomer. Colorful or solid, these slim cases provide enough shock absorption for the slipperiest of fingers – and FYI – this is from first hand experience!
If your minimalist prefers a more natural look, Studio Q’s wood veneer phone wraps might be the way to go. Since they’re a one time stick-on, the recipient won’t be tempted to buy the latest phone case either. You can also opt for custom laser engraving for a special minimalist personalization.
6. DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION / GIFT CARDS FOR A USEFUL SERVICE
The gig economy is booming, and with it comes a variety of useful gifts for minimalists that won’t clutter the home. Gift certificates for dog walking, babysitting, home repair, garden tending, and pretty much anything you can imagine.
For example, a great gift for men minimalists might be a TaskRabbit gift card to help them complete their ever-growing “Honey-Do” list. TaskRabbit is full of local professionals offering to help you with the strangest tasks, from moving to furniture assembly.
Digital subscriptions also make for some of the best gifts for minimalists, as they’re super useful and take up no more space than a couple MBs on a phone!
Maybe they’ve got a ton of environmental films they want to see on Netflix (which even has the Minimalism documentary, appropriately enough!), or want to get caught up on some eco reading (er, listening) via Amazon’s Audible on their drive to work, the possibilities here are literally virtually endless.
Elegant gifts for minimalists
7. A HANDBAG FOR ALL THE ESSENTIALS
While many great eco friendly purses exist, they’re often a bit loud rather than low-key. For the minimalist who wants a handbag that’s useful and unassuming, we recommend starting your search with Nuuwaï’s awarding-winning vegan handbags.
Made from an apple leather outer and recycled ocean plastic inner lining, these modern PETA-approved bags would suit minimalists and animal lovers alike.
For something a bit more sophisticated, trading out pastels for autumn neutrals, Elvis & Kresse has it in the bag. A certified B Corp and Social Enterprise Business for Good, there are all shapes and sizes to choose from. They’re made from “story laden materials of incredible character”. Which is to say recycled ones!
E&K take items like decommissioned fire-hoses (thanks London Fire Brigade), auction banners, military parachute silk, scraps of Burberry leather, and even air traffic control flight strips and turn them in beautifully luxurious bags that are meant to not only be gifted once, but again and again as they’re handed down generations.
8. MINIMALIST WATCH FOR FUNCTIONAL FASHION
Give the gift of time! Okay, well…not quite. If only!
Giving a gift which tells time might not be as cool, but for the person always on the move, a time-piece can be a highly appreciated and thoughtful gift for any minimalist. And not just any time-piece but a minimalist one that is also eco friendly.
Solios shines bright here, the wearer will never need to buy another watch battery again (well, at least not for another 50 years or so). How? Because Solios watches run on solar powered quartz movements (which doesn’t need to be frequent sunlight either as artificial light works too).
Combined with high quality, recycled components, this gift will stand the test of time.
TIVC (short for Time IV Change) also makes beautifully sleek vegan watches with large 60% recycled stainless steel faces defined by only Roan numerals. Pair that with the neutral, solid colored recycled synthetic eco suede and Pinatex bands, and you have a beautiful timepiece to suit any occasion.
9. MINIMALIST FURNITURE AND HOME DECOR
For uniquely designed and sustainably made furniture, Etsy should be your go-to marketplaFce. Filled with tons of talented shops and artisans, big(ish) and small, there’s nothing you can’t find… including some minimalist home decor.
Urbansize is one such example. A fantastic Etsy shop that specializes in simple furniture for small spaces, namely floating furnishings. Functionality and space-saving quality aside, these pieces are truly lovely, featuring soft edges and washed out color palettes to brighten up even the smallest of minimalist spaces.
For exposed leg and open geometry Scandanavian-inspired furniture, check out Etsy’s Owl Designed. This shop is better suited for those who rent (ie. and aren’t allowed to drill into their walls), as most of these items are stand-alone.
Etsy aside, Simbly creates desks and tables. Their FSC certified ApplePly hardwood plywood isn’t just sustainably sourced, but produces sleek and modern products, all designed for easy disassembly and reassembly for minimalists that like to exercise the benefit of having few belongings that have a variety of uses.
10. MINIMALIST ART
Minimalists avoid home clutter, but a tastefully sleek piece can add just the right amount of tone for the whitest of rooms.
Consider an eco friendly cork planter by Mind the Cork. After all, what screams minimalist decor if not a cute little succulent?! If your giftee already has a bit of a plant problem (or on the other side of things, a black thumb), Mind the Cork also offers unique cork abstract sculptures that would act as a tastefully subdued conversation piece.
Made by Rheal is another small Etsy shop that specializes in creating everything from minimalist wall art and altar objects to coasters and blankets. Most of their wares are also made from upcycled “foraged finds” so they’re extremely unique.
Both are Black-owned Etsy shops so you can give back doubly with this gift by also supporting talented Black creators.
Inexpensive Gifts for Minimalists
As with anything, the best gifts (for minimalists or otherwise) needn’t cost an arm and a leg. They’re simply those that come from the heart, respecting your loved one’s lifestyle.
11. BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
Your minimalist probably already has something akin to a zero waste kit. While their core reusables likely don’t need replacing, the personal care ones often do.
Beauty and personal care products are excellent gifts for minimalists (especially gifts for women minimalists) because they’re always needed. You can find tons of excellent zero waste and sustainable beauty products from EarthHero and Well Earth Goods who are really putting the eco in e-commerce.
Just make sure it’s something they actually use and like ( snoop through their vanity if you can!). If you’re not sure what types of products they like, buy them a gift card from these zero waste online stores and let them choose from a wide selection of sustainable goodies.
You can even splurge a little more and turn this idea into a set. A mother’s day gift for minimalist mamas? How about a basket of all her favorite beauty products and a few to pamper herself on occasion.
12. A DAY OUT TOGETHER
Some of the best gifts are those shared together. Maybe it’s a day out harvesting fruit at an orchard or picking berries in the mountains. Maybe it’s a bike ride, a game of golf, or a picnic in the park. Maybe it’s take-out at their favorite restaurant and a drive-in movie.
If you’re looking for anniversary gifts for minimalists or Valentines gifts for minimalists, make it something a little more romantic, like a going dancing followed by a nice, private candle-lit dinner. Even though sustainable and ethical jewelry can make for some great birthday bling, a doting day with your true love is hard to beat.
Not only can these be inexpensive gifts for minimalists, but they can also be totally free! Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t give something memorable and treasured.
Ah, the gift of knowledge – what could be better than that? eBooks are some of the perfect gifts for minimalists because they provide hours of entertainment and insight, at absolutely no cost to living space! eBooks are whole libraries in a palm-sized package.
There’s also very little risk they’ll end up in a landfill (though it is important we consider the end of life prospect of any electronic device).
You can find ebooks on a variety of sites and apps such as Amazon Kindle and Apple Books.
Since most minimalists tend to be advocates of a more sustainable world, check out our article showcasing the best books on zero waste, and social justice for some ideas to get you started.
14. DONATION TO A CHARITY THEY CARE ABOUT
What to get someone who doesn’t like anything?
Simple: give by giving back. It’s like a gift-ception but with way less headache than the movie. If you’re trying to come up with a gift idea for someone who truly wants nothing, show them you care by donating on their behalf toward something they care about.
Obviously there are TONS of worthy charities and causes out there you can help out for this truly thoughtful gift for minimalists, but here are a few ideas:
- Oxfam gifts: This UK charity is really well known and they do so much good in so many ways
- MyCause Australia, Global Giving, Daymaker: These are flexible donation platforms, meaning the needy or disadvantaged recipients get to decide for themselves how to use the money.
- Owl Rescue Center in Johannesburg: This owl rehab center is one of the most passionate animal sanctuaries out there. We interviewed founder Danelle Murray and our chat was so uplifting that we certainly walked away believing “owl is not lost”.
- Other endangered animal sponsorship programs: One of the best gifts we were ever given was a year’s worth of feed and shelter to Radical Raptors for the Jackal Buzzard Valkyrie. Other good ones include, The Rhino Orphanage South Africa, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and of course the WWF.
These are especially great as Christmas gifts for minimalists. When charitable spirits are high a charitable gift can go a long way to making someone’s Christmas special too.
15. TOY LIBRARY SUBSCRIPTION
Finding great kids gifts for minimalist households is not easy. After all, kids are not typically minimalists out the gate.
And just because kids are raised minimalist doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to toys. The key difference is that they don’t necessarily need to own the toys (especially considering many toys are tossed shortly after purchase).
That’s where toy libraries are a low waste lifesaver. Toy libraries are pretty much exactly what they sound like: a service where you can check out toys much as you would books from a library. It’s not only a zero waste gift, but a great way to keep kids supplied with an ever-evolving chest of toys without all the clutter that comes from owning them.
While toy libraries are still a somewhat new and niche concept, they’re picking up in popularity (for obvious reasons) and you can now find them in the US, UK (most notably Whirli), and Australia. A quick Google search of “toy libraries near me” should give you a good starting place.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST GIFTS FOR MINIMALISTS
We hope this list has given you some inspo for great gifts to buy for minimalists.
And remember, expensive and material gifts do not equate to appreciation. Rather than feed into consumerist culture, let’s redefine giving. Let’s turn it from a meaningless obligation to an intentional way of adding real value to someone’s life.
Now it’s your turn to give us the most minimalist gift of all: your thoughts! Do you have any gift ideas that you think we should include? Please place your presents in the comment section below and let’s keep the gift of gab going.