After I Kondo’d my apartment last year, I stared down the next challenge: staying Kondo’d. So I sent my family a note politely asking them to refrain from buying me any gifts for the foreseeable future. I really did have everything I need, I told them—especially by way of material items. They’ve complied thus far, but my birthday’s approaching, and they’re loving and generous and also stubborn, so it’s time for another reminder.
Given that since last year, Marie Kondo has sparked joy in the Netflix queue and also lives of so many, I reckon I’m not the only new-to-the-scene minimalist out there who appreciates kindness but doesn’t wan’t any extra stuff. So, for my caring family and also my likeminded reformed materialists, I created a list a list of non-tangible stuff I’d actually appreciate in case they insist on treating me (they will).
Here are 9 gift ideas bound to spark joy for the minimalist in your life.
1. Fitness stuff
Part of me sometimes wishes that my job, instead of giving me a paycheck, would just direct deposit credits into my ClassPass account. Have a fitness fiend in your life? Hook them up with points, or classes at their favorite studio. For the home gym rat, look into Mirror (which, okay, is a physical item—but it’s also a functional piece of furniture) or a subscription to a fitness app, like Aaptiv or on-demand streaming workouts.
2. Wellness stuff
For an IRL experience, try a massage or a spa day. I was recently gifted a trip to the local Russian baths, and I sweat out a kiddie pool’s worth of liquid in the sauna, much to the liking of my blood pressure. And, hot tip: Infrared saunas can make for quite the special date night, too.
3. Cultural and creative stuff
My sister and her roommate recently took their third roommate to Tape Shit, a group class where you make art by, you know, taping shit. Drink ‘n draw and pottery classes are great for friends looking to get artsy, and there other options of they’re looking to get smart (Masterclass), funny (improv class), cultured (museum membership), or Instagram famous (photography class).
4. Food stuff
Is breakfast in bed a thing that happens in real life or in Zales commercials? Thanks to you, the answer can be both. You can’t go wrong with a home-cooked meal, a cooking class (the gift that keeps on giving), or a food tour (the gift that keeps on going). Ugh, now I’m really hungry—guess I’ll just sit in bed and wait….
5. Tickets to stuff
Sports, theater, comedy, concerts, flights, movies: The world’s a stage…unless it’s like, an arena or a stadium or a plane or something.
6. Friendship stuff
I don’t care what your love language is: quality time is always a winner. Brunch, drinks, a sleepover movie night, karaoke, whatever. As long as you’re together, it’ll be amazing. Other ideas: a personalized playlist or old-school mixtape; a handmade IOU activity book where they can “cash in” coupons for activities or favors; a series of heartfelt “open when” letters they can read on specific occasions; or a daylong itinerary of things they love to do.
7. Practical stuff
Whenever my friend is invited to a wedding, he gifts the bride and groom a crisp $50 bill with a handwritten note. Hot take: It may seem tacky, but it’s also way more meaningful than buying a set of, like, potholders off their registry paired with a prewritten note from Hallmark.
Plus, practical can be thoughtful, even if it doesn’t involve cash. If you’re handy, consider doing chores for a friend, building them a shelf, mounting their TV, or framing their photos. Or get their apartment cleaned and bank on the fact that they’ll be appreciative once they get over being offended.
8. Sports stuff
The only thing harder than hitting a moving ball (tennis) is hitting a ball that’s standing still (golf). Spring for a lesson, or take them to one of those new places that takes super-old sports and convinces you they’re novel, like axe-throwing.
9. Other stuff
While worthy and totally joy-sparking, some of the best ways to gift your loved ones with non-stuff stuff defies categorization. For example, my CEO told me that one year, her husband learned magic to perform for her, and it’s the best gift she’s ever received. To that point, other worthy gift ideas include:
- A donation to a cause or an organization
- A geocaching scavenger hunt
- A ComiXology gift card
- Matching tattoos…of Marie Kondo?
Even if you don’t want material items, it’s still important to get on the same page as your S.O. about gifting expectations so things don’t get awkward. And here’s a breakdown of how to handle terrible gifts you receive. (Spoiler: It’s not great etiquette to return everything.)
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