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20 Gift Ideas that aren't just STUFF

It seems to me that there are more and more people who don’t want or need anything. I find Christmas is getting more difficult. Most of us buy what we want when we want it. I always struggle with what to get people and here are some things I’ve either gotten and loved, or would love to receive:



1. A trip to the zoo

Some incredible people got together and bought us a trip to the zoo for a baby gift. We were crazy busy for an entire year after my son was born (we hadn’t really started our minimalism journey yet) but once we realized life wasn’t about things, we went to the zoo! It was a warm day in the middle of January (not a common occurrence around here!). We bundled up and trekked off to the zoo. It was quiet, we had no wait times, and the tundra animals we much more active than I’d ever seen them. It was an incredible experience.

TIP: Vist the Zoo in the off season - It’ll make for a different experience


2. A magazine subscription (especially good for kids)

Ok, strictly speaking, this is still stuff. But, my mom got this for my daughter and she loves it, and so do I! It’s great because she can read it, do the activities and then it goes straight into the recycling bin.


3. Movie Tickets

This is a great one as most people watch movies. If you are like us, it doesn’t really happen often with 2 children. A movie pass is an excuse to go out with the family and have an experience.

TIP: for an extra special night out remember to include the concession stand!


4. Hockey Tickets

Or whatever sport the people are into. It’s an incredible experience being at a live game. I absolutely LOVE being at a hockey game with my husband. I don’t even like hockey, but there is something about the cold air, the crush of people, the hot dogs and hot chocolate.

TIP: It’s very fun bringing children to a baseball game – as long as they are old enough to sit.


5. Their Favourite Food

One year, for Christmas when my friend was in University, I gave her a whole bunch of meat from a butcher who sells free-range meats. It was out of her budget but important to her to have good food. She loved the meat she got and called me each time she ate a meal with that food.


6. An Audible Subscription

Confession: I LOVE Audible. I am addicted to listing to books. It feels like the best thing ever. I put on my headphones, pull up my audiobook on my phone (which is VERY easy btw) and clean or go for a walk. I don’t know why but I focus better on both my cleaning task and my story and it’s WAY more fun!! I can be up in Gryffindor Tower while I’m cleaning my shower- it’s wonderful.


7. An E-book

Like an audiobook, these are great experiences. Unlike a Tree Book, they don’t take up huge amounts of space on your bookshelf.

TIP: Make sure the person you are getting the book for has an e-reader!


8. Go out for Brunch, Lunch, Dinner with them

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I don’t get to see some of my friends often enough. Everyone has such busy lives, no one has time to just ‘pop over.’ Take your friend/wife (hint hint to my hubby) out for lunch on her birthday. Bring her to her favourite restaurant. If it’s your significant other, dress up, ring the doorbell, and go out on a date like you used to.


9. Take them out for the day doing fun things together (great for kids or elderly)

My friend took her 10 year old out for her birthday. She brought her to the mall, she picked out a book she wanted, went out for dinner, and visited my dad’s grave (the 10 year old asked to do this! – so sweet). The point was, she got to pick what they did and in a family of 5 children, mom and daughter time was hard to fit in. She loved it and the rest of the children opted to do the same thing instead of having a party.


10. A Gift Card to the Grocery Store

I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting a grocery store gift card! It’s the best. I have a budget to spend each month on our family groceries but I use the cards to buy that prime rib, or brie cheese or I’ll have some of my friends over for dinner. It gives me the freedom to buy something I might not usually buy but love.


11. Consumables (toilet paper, paper towel, food, toothbrush, Kleenex, etc.)

This, again, is stuff. When I can’t think of something to buy for someone I often will buy them some food. One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received was a can of Pease Pudding. My uncle is British so I asked him what peas porridge from the rhyme “peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot 5 days old” was. He didn’t know and when he was shopping at a British store, he found the Pease Pudding and bought it for me.


12. Night at a hotel

So many people have such busy lives they don’t take time for themselves. The hotel doesn’t even have to be far away. We went to the big city, 1 hour from our house for New Year's Eve a few years ago. It was so much fun. Our daughter loved it. We went swimming at the hotel, we explored the city, and we got room service.


13. Babysitting

For parent, this is a Godsend! I know I often feel guilty always asking people to babysit. If you get it as a gift then the guilt is gone for the parents.

TIP: Either have a specific date in mind or remind the parents about the sitting.


14. Pottery Classes

My sister got this for her MIL and I was so jealous! It sounds like so much fun. Not only did she get her MIL classes, she’s going with her. She gets to spend time with her and she gets to learn to do classes. If YOU don’t have the time to devote to classes, at least you can get them for someone else.


15. Museums

I love to walk around and imagine what it was like for the people using the objects in a museum. It brings me to another world. A membership to a museum would be amazing, I could go there as often as I like and roam around the past.

TIP: get a tired mom free babysitting and a trip to a museum.


16. Manicure, Pedicure, Massage

Note: This is not just for women! Get a pedicure for a man who works on his feet all day. He’ll feel great. A manicure for a young girl – I know my daughter would absolutely LOVE this. A variation of this could be YOU give someone the manicure yourself. This has the added benefit of working on your relationship.


17. Your Decluttering services

If you are already a minimalist, or are just learning to be a minimalist this gets you to use your decluttering skills or practice your skills (trust me, it’s MUCH easier to get rid of someone else’s junk than your own). It’s often much easier to do this with someone else than by yourself. I have my husband to help me – you can be someone else’s support system and show them this amazing way to live their lives.

NOTE: I do NOT recommend doing this without permission!


18. House Cleaning

Sigh! I hate don’t really like house cleaning. When I was pregnant I had someone come and clean my house for me. It was so freeing. I was able to feel like I had time for things I actually enjoy. Send a Molly Maid to your friend’s house, even just once.


19. Netflix

So, if the person you are giving the gift to likes movies or TV Netflix is great. You have hundreds of movies that only takes up the space of a laptop. I was able to get rid of many movies once I got Netflix and CREATED space in my house.

TIP: Watch the Minimalism documentary on Netflix.


20. And The Ever Popular MONEY

Money is useful for EVERYONE. It’s always the right size & pretty colours (unless it’s USD (what’s with all the green!?)).