My daughter offers some great ideas for giving thoughtful gifts to those who don’t want more ‘things’. Here are her thoughts:
A little over a year ago, my husband and I were living in a 450 square-foot apartment in New York City. It was tiny and had barely any storage space. But we were overwhelmed by how much stuff we had accumulated. We had given notice to our landlords that we would be moving out—we were going to travel the world and live light, with just two small backpacks. But first, we needed to clean out our tiny apartment, which was somehow crammed with stuff.
We managed to clear the apartment out eventually. We sold our furniture and gave away much of the cheap, almost disposable ‘fast fashion’ we had acquired for last-minute interviews and on the fly wardrobe changes between work and post-work drinks. And we felt lighter. Freer. Less cluttered. We left on our trip around the world feeling that we could land anywhere and make a clean start, because we didn’t have so many things.
By now, this is an old trope. The New York Times has written about it. More than once. The movie ‘Up in the Air’ coined the slogan “What’s in your backpack?” Everyone is talking about living lighter. Being less acquisitive. Streamlining your belongings.
This philosophy, of course, is wonderful in theory, but it makes the holidays really hard. What do you get for the person who doesn’t want stuff? No more silly tchotchkes to clog up our drawers. No more novelty sweatshirts to stack on our shelves. No more single-purpose kitchen items that will have to be lugged from place to place.
Basically, none of the fun, easy, go-to giftables for us this holiday season.
So here’s my gifting guide for all the minimalists and would-be minimalists in your life. Remember, in this wonderfully digital age, there is so much that can be given that requires no counter or closet space. Behold…
For the Culinary Enthusiast…
Give them a cooking class! You can usually find great local spots for cooking classes by doing some online research (for instance, ASE loves Havens Kitchen in NYC), but failing that, Sur La Table has stores nationwide and offers amazing interactive cooking classes
Do you know someone who fancies his or herself, well, fancy enough to deserve a private chef? You can give them one (at least for the day). Hire a chef to come to their home and cook them a meal using Kitchensurfing or Hire a Chef.
For the Entertainer…
Have a friend who loves to host a great party, but hates the tedium of the setup? Recruit Pinch Parties and give them everything they need to throw a perfect bash—no muss, no fuss.
For the creative type…
For the amateur artist/designer/photographer in your life, consider a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. A subscription to a single App (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.) is just $19.99/mo. and the complete subscription is $49.99/mo.
For the music lover…
Give them access to their favorite music, all year long. Give them a subscription to one of the many amazing music streaming services out there. Our top pics are: Spotify ($9.99/mo.), Pandora Premium ($9.99/mo.), and PandoraPlus ($4.99/mo.)
Give them concert tickets (but let them choose the event!) with a gift certificate to Ticketmaster.
For the writer…
You know that friend who is always talking about how they should start a blog? You know the one. Get them a Squarespace Professional subscription for only $16/mo. It comes with the URL of your choice! Bonus points for a creative and personal URL (and for putting in some elbow grease and setting up the site for them!)
For the couch potato…
Give your favorite entertainment enthusiast a Netflix (starts at $7.99/mo.), Hulu Plus ($7.99/mo.), or Amazon Prime ($99.00/year) streaming subscription this year. And then don’t plan to see them until next December. Or whenever they run out of popcorn. Whichever comes first.
Note: many of these services don’t technically offer gift cards, so at ASE, we’ve developed a workaround:
Buy a VISA gift card in the specific amount of the service you want to gift. Then, write a thoughtful handwritten note with information and links to the experience or subscription of your choice.
This takes the unspecified gift card from impersonal to genius in 5 minutes flat.
For the very busy person….
Give a Get Friday which is giving them a virtual personal assistant. Get Friday can complete any task that doesn’t require a physical presence. Any task that requires the internet or a cell phone will be completed efficiently by Get Friday. Let them make your appointments, purchases, and reservations. Let them find the package the Post Office lost, find a new dog walker or find a special present for a friend. The Basic is 5 hours for $65/month (&13/hour) and each additional hour is $14/hr.
Grocery delivery and curbside pick-up services have become very popular. Your recipient can use their Fred Meyer Gift Card to order their grocery list online and then pick them up at a convenient time. Walmart and Amazon have similar services.