My best friend, Mama, is guilty. Guilty af. Of all the gifts that I’ve received in my life, Mama is guilty of giving me the best gift ever. I’m not talking about my godsons, either. She has always been my piglet. I’ve always been her pooh bear. Our platonic love for each other is so much like those two characters that it’s scary. A couple of years ago, she found some prints online. They kinda look like this but a little different.
Anywho, Mama even took the time to frame them in some very simple, plain black frames. Very minimalist. She knew who she was buying for and she knew that black is my favorite color.
Related: An introduction to minimalism
Related: Project 333 vs. WAPH
An ex-girlfriend of mine recently was sifting through some old stuff, as she was about to move. She sent me a picture of an old birthday card that I had given her when we were dating. It was just a piece of computer paper folded in half. I wrote the note in plain old black ink. The lines were crooked and my penmanship was (and still is) atrocious.
The card said happy birthday and then I told her how much I loved her and what she meant to me. Separately, there was a small piece of paper that I had inserted into the card that had something extremely perverted written on it. These were my plans for later that evening. Another gift, if you will.
The card made her laugh and brought back some nice memories. We talked for a bit and the entire interaction was really nice. It made me feel good that even after all this time, she still appreciated a handwritten card on a piece of paper. It was so simple, yet incredibly powerful.
This year, my mother (not Mama) got me a gift card to the local butcher shop. This was exciting. My family doesn’t have a lot of money to throw around, so this was a windfall of sorts. We only eat steak a couple of times a year and this got to be one of those times. I prefer ribeye and she likes strips, so I got two of each and that whole week we ate really well. You don’t think frugal families eat all that steak in one sitting, do ya?
These are a few examples of the kinds of thoughtful gifts that I’ve provided or have been gifted to me.
Here’s a general guide on how to shop for the minimalist in your life:
Nothing says I love you like booze! Wine, beer, liquor, doesn’t matter. If you care about this person, you know their poison.
Minimalists do not like to be given gifts, but we always make an exception for booze, especially if you’re willing to hang out and chat and drink it with us. Don’t take us out to a bar. It’s excessive and wasteful. Two of my local bars carry my favorite porter….at $6 a bottle. It’s just a hair over $10 for a six pack at the store. There isn’t a minimalist alive that wants anyone to spend that kind of mark-up on them.
Food. Yes. Take us out to dinner? Nope. Make your minimalist something to eat. Don’t ask them what they want. Know what they want, make it, and take it over and eat with them. The object is to not make us feel like jerks. Taking us out to eat and spending that kind of money on dinner and drinks is going to make us uncomfortable.
There is one exception to the dining out rule. All you can eat buffets. Make sure your minimalist knows about this ahead of time so that he/she can do some fasting to get maximum value out of the buffet.
Does your minimalist hate mowing the grass or cleaning the house or washing dishes? Make a handmade coupon that entitles the bearer of said coupon to have a free service. Minimalists will love something like this, especially if you take the time to give a handmade coupon inside of a handmade birthday card. And on top of that, you’re going to do something that they hate doing, and you’re going to do it for free. Because you love them. Bless your heart.
3. Gift cards
This is hit or miss. For a few years running, my mom gave me itunes gift cards that never got used. Why? Because I didn’t use itunes…
Only give someone a gift card to a place where they shop frequently. That’s important. If you know they go to Wal-Mart once a week, then a Wal-Mart gift card is probably a good choice. If you know they love Chipotle but there’s no Chipotle in the town or city they live in, then giving them a gift card to that place is just going to make them sad. You do not want a sad panda minimalist on your hands. Ask anyone who personally knows me.
4. Listen for the signs
Listening is key. If your minimalist says something like “I chipped my favorite coffee mug”, then the process has begun. If you catch this person saying something about the mug two more times, then they are seriously thinking about buying a new mug. And they aren’t happy about it. This is the minimalism rule of three.
They aren’t dropping a hint. They don’t want you to buy them a new mug. We minimalists take time to think about things. We do not buy impulsively. I will think about buying a pair of pants for six months before I actually do it. Our minds operate a little differently. But after that third time, you can be sure that the coffee mug is weighing on their mind.
Minimalists don’t just have neat and tidy homes, we also have neat and tidy mental space. We don’t clutter our brains up with things that don’t matter. So when something happens, like a large chip in our favorite coffee mug, it’s going to take up more mental space than it would in someone else’s mind.
So. Third time’s a charm. Find out where they got the mug and get them a new one. If you can, get the exact same mug. There’s a reason is what their favorite cup. Maybe it was the shape, the color, who knows. Don’t take any chances. Don’t be cute. Buy the same damn thing that they already had.
I know this is weird, but when we think out loud, we really don’t expect anyone to be listening. The average minimalist is an introvert. So if you show up with a brand new mug that’s a copy of the chipped one, your minimalist will be pleasantly surprised, not only that you got them a copy of their favorite mug, but that you read their mind! Because let’s face it, most of us don’t know when we’re thinking out loud.
When in doubt, avoid gift giving entirely. Show people you love them every day. It won’t cost you anything. Even if it’s just a text message with a smiley face and something like “Hey, thinkin’ about ya today”. That’s the kind of thing that can turn someone’s day around. That goes for anyone, not just minimalists. Things don’t matter unless there’s an experience or fond memory behind the thing. If the thing isn’t important and the memory or experience that comes with it is equally useless, then don’t buy it. Not for your minimalist, not for yourself.
That’s all I’ve got for today. Hope everyone enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.
This post is dedicated to everyone I love. Every person who reads this blog on a regular basis. Every human being who has supported me with this project. Thinking about all of you guys today 🙂