Alternative Gifts: Reducing Clutter and Maybe Even Saving Some Money

alternative gifts infographic

© Personal Capital Corporation

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.”

– Pindar

As minimalists, we’re always trying to avoid adding clutter to our lives, but gift-giving often involves an exchange of items neither party really wants. One solution is sticking to practical gifts. Another is giving alternative gifts.

Alternative gifts include experiences and charitable donations. You can also organize gift exchanges so that each person has to buy or make only one gift for the group. For example, secret Santa and white elephant gift exchanges.

Cookie swap parties are also fun. Each person needs to make only one type of cookie, but everyone gets to take home a variety. Need cookie recipe ideas? Check out Smitten KitchenMartha Stewart and Betty Crocker. Visit Minimalist Baker for vegan and gluten-free¹ options.

If you’re planning to make a charitable donation in someone else’s name as a gift, choose a charity supporting one of the gift recipient’s favorite causes. Donating to your own favorite isn’t much of a gift.

Experience gifts include:

  • Classes.
  • Plane tickets or trip packages.
  • For a child, a fun day with a friend.
  • Tickets to events.
  • Memberships (zoo, museum, aquarium, pool).
  • Movie tickets.
  • Activity gift certificates (miniature golf, roller skating, skydiving, race-car driving).
  • Tickets to shows.
  • Gift certificates for massage, manicure or spa services.
  • Personal shopper consultation.
  • Food or drink club membership (wine- or fruit-of-the-month, for example).
  • Restaurant gift certificates.
  • Coupons for your services (housecleaning, yard work, cooking, home repairs, babysitting, grocery shopping).
  • Coupons for fun activities with you (maybe playing a board game together if the recipient is your child, perhaps a more intimate activity if the recipient is your significant other).
  • Material goods that make an experience possible, such as craft supplies or sports equipment.
  • Crawls/tours. These can be alcohol related (like pub crawls, winery tours and whiskey tastings) or not (like yarn crawls, food tours and chocolate tastings). They can also be a formal tour or something you plan yourself.

What are your favorite alternative gifts?


¹ I don’t need to avoid gluten, and have no connection to this company, but the Bob’s Red Mill brownie mix makes tasty gluten-free brownies than even non-GF folks enjoy.

1 thought on “Alternative Gifts: Reducing Clutter and Maybe Even Saving Some Money

  1. I just heard a new one I thought you might like. My granddaughter has a friend whose mother didn’t want to give her child a lot of presents so instead allowed the daughter to choose four friends to come spend the day drinking hot chocolate and frosting Christmas cookies. My granddaughter was invited and is so excited it’s all she can talk about.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.