Curb the Clutter
The holidays are fast approaching. They have me purging and prepping in order to fearlessly take on this season of excess.
This will be our families first Christmas as self declared minimalists. I am guilty of having gone absolutely crazy purchasing gifts for my family. Each consecutive year, worse than the previous. I have always blamed it on my Love Language. I recognize now that my love for gift giving is not an excuse to mindlessly purchase, spend insane amounts of money, and cause our family and others to accumulate unnecessary items. Items that ultimately provide short term joy, long term entitlement, and insurmountable clutter.
When your perspective on purchasing and owning material items changes, it inevitably flows into the way you give and receive gifts.
This year I’m taking the “less is more” approach. Our family is looking to accumulate memories, experiences and personal growth rather than material possessions.
Whether you are new to minimalism and looking for some gift ideas to encourage your cause, or you find yourself buying gifts for a family that has adopted a minimalist worldview, I’ve got your back.
This post is packed with gift ideas for all ages. It is loaded with a wide variety of simple, tangible gifts to wild experiences. Some affiliate links included for your convenience* as well as a the link (here and image below) to my free Christmas gift coupon templates. Hope it helps as you attempt to curb the clutter this Holiday season!
- Movie theater tickets
- Car detail service
- Wildtree gift certificate
- Salon blow out: The Standard Hair.Lash.Brow, Rouge Hair Studio
- Family Photo Shoot: Kristy Photography, JamieLynn Photography
- Swimming lessons (We currently have our youngest in ISR. Early Christmas present from her grandparents. It’s a bit of a commitment, but worth it!)
- Fitness class
- Gym membership
- Babysitter coupons
- Birchbox (3 month subscription)
- Zoo membership
- Museum membership or day pass
- State Park parking pass: Where to purchase Michigan Recreation Passport
- Chauffeured wine tasting tour
- Overnight getaway (bonus points if you also offer to babysit)
- Indoor adventure park coupon: Rock climbing, trampoline park, mini-golf, laser tag
- Family vacation in lieu of gifts
- Pedicure or Manicure
- iTunes gift cards
- Monthly membership for perishable goods: Vinebox, BlueApron
- Pre-made freezer meals
- House cleaning service
- Window washing service
- Lawn mowing service
- Concert tickets
- Day trip and lunch at a local event: Art Prize, Jazz Festival, etc.
- Audible subscription
- Spotify Premium, Pandora Plus, XM radio
- Canoe, tubing or kayak trip
- In home chef for an evening
- A unique spa experience: mud wrap, body treatments
- CSA shares (Community Supported Aggriculture)
- Restaurant or take-out gift certificate
- Road trip gift basket: candy, chips, gas card, iTunes gift card
- Replace a beauty product that’s running low: face lotion, exfoliant, makeup etc.
- Unique lessons: scuba diving, horse back riding, cooking classes, music lessons
- An awesome experience: race car driving, back stage passes, paintball
- Unique camps: Ninja Warrior Camp, college sports camp
- Comedy show tickets
- Tickets to the local theater
- Escape room
- Sporting event tickets
- Perishable themed gift basket: wine, beer, gourmet snacks
- Book and coffee gift basket/ Amazon gift card for a book & coffee shop gift card
- Really any type of themed gift basket: movie night, game night, baking, art etc.
- Family water park day trip or overnight
- Kids day out coupons: Aquarium, zoo, fishing, icecream, theater, amusement park.
For Those Who Just Can’t Help Themselves
Now, I know it’s nearly impossible for grandparents, aunts and uncles to not give an actual, tangible gift to the children they love so dearly. I myself am guilty of having loaded my nieces and nephews up with junk they didn’t need, I get it. This year, let’s give intentionally. Steer clear of the junk and toys that simply accumulate.
Here are a few ideas that will grow with kids, encourage imagination, improve fine and gross motor skills, and promote education. These are items we either own or I personally wouldn’t mind owning. Some are large and would require a play room or basement. These toys range in age groups and price, significantly.
This is not a list of must-haves, but rather suggestions to help keep out the junk and focus on gifts that really keep giving (not the kind of “keeps giving” that you get from a 5-year-old with a harmonica).
Tangible Gift Ideas For Kids
- Personalized calendar or photo book: Shutterfly or Snapfish
- Osmo Ipad Genius Kit (Make sure the family owns a compatible iPad first.)
- Perishable foods/snacks you don’t typically purchase: Cracker Barrel syrup, favorite sugary cereal, Nutella, Sprite, Gatorade
- Live butterfly garden
- Flashlight Friend
- Laser Tag (Our all-time favorite family past time…though freeze tag is moving up there!)
- Science experiments: Crystal growing kit, geode kit, volcano kit
- Face paint crayons
- Water table
- Musical instrument: toddler music play, keyboard, guitar, ukelele
- Games to bring the family together: Sneaky Squirrel, Rug Checkers, Uno, Sorry, Princess Cupcake Game
- Dress up clothes
- Ream of paper, scotch tape and a stapler (seriously!)
- Bug catcher and magnifying glass
- Wall decals
- Mini trampoline
- Homemade play dough kit (mix dry ingredients in bag and include further instructions)
- Camping supplies: sleeping bag, lantern, tent
- Gardening tools
- I See Me books
- Regift something from your own childhood (I had saved a handmade doll from my grandmother and was able to regift it to my daughter. She adores it, because it was mine.)
- Bathing suits, sprinkler and goggles (go great with swim lesson gift certificate)
- Gloves! (seriously, my son just lost 2 pairs in 3 days!)
- Hunting equipment
- Needed sports equipment: New cleats, balls, clubs, leotard, or money toward team fees
- Swing set: One big gift in lieu of multiple smaller gifts. Family can donate to the cause.
- Basketball hoop
- Fairy garden accessories (we build our own natural houses and decorate with fairies and animal figurines)
- Sidewalk chalk
- Gonge Riverstones
- Children’s factory soft jungle climber
- Bike accessories: helmet, bell, basket
- Fishing pole, tackle box and lures
- Books: Have You Filled a Bucket Today? /The Giving Tree
- Monthly kit subscription: Kiwi Crate
- Art and craft supplies
- Toy shopping cart
- Tree swing
- Play kitchen
- Wood building blocks
- Bubble bath
- Sort and Stack Board
- Primary Lacing Beads
- Melissa and Doug Latch Board
- Build your own robot, littleBits, or droid inventor kit
Toys to avoid
Check out my post, here, about what types of toys we have purged and avoid at all costs.
I say avoid because I don’t have a trash can outside my garage door where I require my kids to drop any toy they have received that doesn’t fit my specifications required for keeping. I let them in, I let them stay for a bit and then we let them go. These toys would be birthday party favors, class party favors, dentist office prizes, etc.
When purchasing for children think about adding something to their lives that will help them grow. From fine and gross motor skills, to math skills and laughter. Even if it won’t stand the test of time, let it add value to their lives.
Grandparents seem to love to keep their gifts a secret until the big unveiling moment, even from the parents. I challenge you this holiday season to keep the parents in the loop. This way you avoid purchasing a gift the child already has or may be receiving from someone else. This will benefit you far more than keeping the secret will.
You won’t necessarily have to hold onto receipts because you know it’s a winner. You won’t run the risk of having “givers remorse” when the child exclaims, “I already have this,” or “I got this from my other grandma!” In turn, you won’t add more to your own to-do list, by impulsively replying, “I’ll return it and get you something else.”
Trust me, this is a win-win. Telling the parents what you intend to buy works out best for EVERYONE.
Never ending themed toys
My son loves Star Wars. My daughter loves all things princess. Adding more themed toys to their collection always used to seem like a brilliant idea. However, they just get lost in the collection. For us, this always just led to unnecessary accumulation. Opt for something they can use, enjoy and let go of.
My son’s favorite gifts are the coupons for a fun day out. His aunt takes him to an MSU basketball game every year for his birthday present. It just might be the gift he looks forward to the most.
A note to the minimalist mom…
Remember we are working on gratitude and contentment. Not just teaching this to our kids, but ourselves as well. This means that when we get bombarded with a bunch of toys we may not have chosen to purchase, we show gratitude.
We aren’t entitled to our unentitlement. Does that make sense?
People just want to love you and your kids. Let them.
Model grace and gratitude.
I recognize it took my 35 years to arrive in this place and I’ve only been here for 10 months. It’s an adjustment for my family as much as it has been for me.
Take a big breath and prepare accordingly.
*Disclaimer: This post contains links to many different gift ideas. Some are affiliate links and some are not. The affiliate programs help curb the costs of running my blog. Always feel free to shop around for better prices and brands. Or even better, find these items in great condition at a Mom2Mom sale or on your local rummage sale sites. I try to suggest products I either have or that have great reviews and I would be willing to own myself. Always do your own research as well.