I should start out by saying I’m not a minimalist. With the exception of my blog, which hasn’t seen a sniff of a post for around 6 weeks, every part of my life seems crammed with stuff. I most definitely fit into the camp of ‘people who realise they have too much stuff’, and I have realised this for a couple of years.
Now, I could have answered the question in a 140 character tweet (a minimal response, as it were), but though the answer is simple, the feelings behind it are not. (I also liked the idea of a minimalist pin to fit the theme. It actually suits my attitude towards designing pins, an activity that adds annoying clutter to the blogging journey. Anyway, I digress…)
So what is the perfect gift for minimalists and people who realise they have too much stuff?
To my mind, there is one answer and that is: Time.
Oh you know the answer to this! But still, I can’t help but answer it!
Time is the most precious thing we have. It’s why I’ve been quiet lately, as I’ve been spending more of my time with family and friends. It’s easy to forget, to think money is important, but money is the thing we get in exchange for our exceptionally precious time. Yep, time is the winner here people. And it’s the best gift you can give.
But what about experiences, that’s a great gift too, right?
Well, you know how retailers know how to trick us into buying stuff we don’t want or need? They’ve clocked our switch from stuff to experiences and are now merrily manufacturing experiences for us to buy.
That’s not to say no experience ever is worth paying for, of course I don’t mean that. I just mean that taking part in some kind of experience on the same day as 10 other people, that’s been designed and marketed as an experience… well, I’m not convinced it’s always the best use of your time or money.
Giving an experience as a gift can also cause problems on when to use it before it expires. So, you lose the enjoyment by having to wrangle something into your calendar that suits certain experience providers’ calendars. Red Letter Days and Virgin Experience Days- I’m looking at you here!
So you’re going to only give time as gifts this year?
I never said I’m any good at this. Just like thousands of other people, I buy things that I know I don’t need to buy, that the recipient may not have a need for, because I know they will still love it and I want to spend my money (already exchanged for time) on something they will absolutely love.
In this respect, I am a selfish giver. I give because I get joy from giving. Unfairly, I don’t consider that the person receiving the gift will need to store it with all the other gifts they have received, and likely don’t need, and all the stuff they already own.
I am cramming their house with stuff. I know from personal experience how hard it is to get rid of gifts that have been lovingly chosen by someone for me. And yet, I have not completely learned that not buying a gift is sometimes better.
This is what I tell myself. It is how I have reduced my gift list, replaced some of the material gifts with time, and have become more cautious with what I buy.
I get better at this each year. For a number of years, my friends and I have each paid for ourselves to go somewhere nice together or do something fun, rather than buying each other Christmas gifts. I have met up with my mum and sister, arranged day trips for my neice and cooked meals for my Nana when she was with us.
And even with my love for buying and wrapping a lovely gift, I have loved giving (and being part of) these gifts of time.
You know your friends and family better than I do… and lots of you will be more creative than me. Here are some of the things I’ve done and plan to do over Christmas (and throughout the year, in fact!)
Babysitting I-O-Us, spa days, orienteering, baking cakes and home made pies, visiting museums and gardens, visit to the zoo, go on a hike, have a garden party, host a board game night, go to a pub quiz, afternoon tea, sunday lunch, have a film night, brunch, go to the theatre, watch a meteor shower, enjoy a sunset, and a visit to a food festival.
Think about what the recipient would appreciate, your time doing something on their behalf (like cooking or babysitting) or time doing something with you.
Now some of these involve spending money, and it’s up to you whether you want to pay for someone else, or whether it suits you both to each pay your share and treat the experience as a gift to yourself and each other. Let’s face it, many of us are in the habit of exchanging £20 gifts, so you may as well each keep your £20 and use it towards tickets, lunch or whatever you decide to do!
What do you think?
There are tonnes of articles out there giving you advice on gifts and the perfect Christmas. Quite honestly, only you can decide what gifts to give. But I’d be interested to know how you tackle gift giving for those who don’t need anything and whether you’ve been able to tame any selfish gift giving tendencies (I can’t be the only one!)