The Practical Minimalist Gift Guide

A practical gift list for you and your minimalist friend

Stephen Cognetta
Dec 4, 2017 · 3 min read

So, you have a “minimalist” friend. They own a ridiculously small number of items, and refuse to receive any material gifts. But now, it’s the holidays and you want to show your appreciation. Don’t panic. Here’s a concrete list of “non-things” that are minimalist-friendly.

1. Social Experiences

Tickets to a concert, movie, or performance are great gifts for minimalists — you can even go with them!

Here’s a long list to get you started:

  • Shows: Comedy clubs, sports games, or even magic shows

2. E-books

E-books make great gifts for minimalists, and Amazon makes it easy to purchase e-books as gifts. When I buy books for friends, I try to find something that would personally benefit them in their current stage of life.

3. Electronic Gifts

Neat gifts in this category include “diagnostic” information such as the 23andme DNA Ancestry Test, or AncestryDNA’s Genetic Testing kit. Try out horoscope-related books and gifts for your more fantasy-oriented friends.

One last great one in this category: buy your minimalist friend a domain name! You can easily purchase a domain name on sites like Google Domains or GoDaddy, and transfer ownership to their email account as a gift.

4. Attachables

Minimalists hate owning more stuff. So why not get them things that can be attached to the items they already possess? Here are three examples:

5. Consumables

Minimalists still eat food! Try getting them some creative kinds of food/drinks, or there are even some pretty cool subscription food services. Other than food, you can give out:

6. Donate to Charity

Most charities will let you donate in someone else’s name as a gift. A popular site is Give Well, which ranks charities by their impact and donates to them accordingly. Charity Navigator is another site with a more comprehensive list of charities.

7. Your time

Above all else, your friend is a minimalist because they want to focus on people and experiences, which matter more to them than any items do. So instead of buying something — go on a walk, write them a letter, get a nice dinner together, or spend some time chatting on the phone. Your minimalist friend will appreciate it more than anything you buy them.

If nothing else…

Get them the “Gift of Nothing.”

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Stephen Cognetta

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Ex-product @Google, Princeton CS. I help PMs get their dream job @ More about me:


A collection of stories & thoughts on minimalism and the life that comes with it. Signup for our newsletter here:

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