best christmas presents for (aspiring) minimalists | gifts with style and substance

The Big Day is just over a week away, but if you’re still umming and ahhing over the perfect present for your loved one(s), here are my top 12 picks for gifts that combine style and substance, and bring joy throughout the year(s) to come.

I only ever buy gifts that I think will bring genuine happiness. I hate the idea of spending valuable, hard-earned money on token junk just because “it’s Christmas”, and I think it’s important to remember that the holidays should never incur financial stress. Only buy what you can afford, because if giving gifts ends up causing more stress than joy, then it’s time to re-think your game plan.

There are so many ways of expressing kindness, love, and festive cheer that cost absolutely nothing – so be sure not to confuse monetary cost with real value.

I’ve included a few “no-spend” gifts alongside other gifts ranging in price from £20-£400. If you’re hunting for stocking stuffers and smaller gifts, check out this article on great gifts for under £15. Otherwise, full steam ahead . . .

1  Experiences & Subscriptionsprices vary
Adventure days out, theatre, cinema, or park tickets, zoo memberships, online magazine subscriptions, taste cards, activity vouchers, woodworking classes, yoga retreats, – let your imagination run wild! Give memories; not stuff.

2  Yourself! |  free
Instead of spending money, offer up your skills! Give handmade “gift certificates” for your services: music lessons, babysitting, cooking, dog walking, clothing alterations, cake baking, knitting tutorials, wine making, gardening – your skills might be the best gift of all! I’d love it if someone offered to hem my jeans or service my bike!

3  MonBento Lunch Box  |  £17 – £32
Treat your loved one (or yourself) to endless tasty lunches! This is great for both those who have become disillusioned with packed lunches, or for enthusiastic foodies like me! These gorgeous bento boxes come in several sizes/shapes with handy compartments, built-in cutlery, and sauce containers. My favourite part (as aways) is that you can customise (build your own) box with lots of colour choices.  There are also great boxes for kids.  For recipe inspiration, I’d recommend checking out Sadia Badiei’s PickUpLimes article on make-ahead bento lunch ideas (and breakfasts).

4  TNF 3-in-1 Jacket£350
Oh the weather outside is frightful, but I’ve found a cloak delightful! If you’re in the market for a new winter coat, splash out a little on the super versatile The North Face 3-in-1 Triclimate Suzanne. I finally bought one last month in a sale at my local outlet shop (after eyeing the design for about a year). I got this one in urban navy, and it’s perfect. The fit is super flattering, and it has two coats (a puffer inside a shell) which both look great on their own) with a detachable hood. Coming from Canada, I’ve owned lots of quality outerwear in my life (including a couple Canada Goose parkas) – and this coat really gives them all a run for their money. It’s an investment piece, but I know I’ll be wearing it all winter long, and wearing the shell solo in spring (which even looks surprisingly great with my dresses and heels!). The North Face also to similar 3-in-1 coats for men.

6  Chef’s Knife  | price varies
I love to cook, but I’m not a fan of kitchen gizmos and gadgets. I’m a firm believer that you can do almost anything with one high quality all-round chef’s knife.

7  Charity Donation  price varies
Trying to find the perfect gift for the minimalist in your life? Or the person who has everything? Instead, why not choose a charity that’s particularly special to your loved one (animal rescue? breast cancer research? homelessness?) and make a donation in their name. Or check out the Choose Love shop – the world’s first online seller of real products for refugees – every single purchase you make goes towards a similar item for a refugee, delivered via one of the 80+ projects Help Refugees work with across the world.

8  Ceramic Rice Pot  £30
I’ve had my ceramic rice pot for about 5 years now, and it’s one of my favourite things. I use it for almost all types of rice (plus bulgur wheat, couscous – and almost any other grain I get my hands on). Simply add boiling water and microwave for a couple of minutes, et voilà! Perfect and fluffy every time! No cables messing up the countertop; no rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. Compact, dishwasher safe, and yes – pretty.

9  Vitamix  |  £399
I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone because it comes with a hefty price tag that you’ll have to justify – but for the keen cook, the Vitamix professional blender is the holy grail of Christmas gifts. For basic smoothies, a much cheaper and less powerful version will definitely do the job! But if your loved one is inclined to use a blender daily for making nut butters, humus, dips, pesto, soups, smoothies, desserts (need I go on?) then this is the answer. Just be sure before you splurge – don’t end up with an appliance gathering dust in the corner cupboard. You can  also sometimes find refurbished models (with full warranty) online from £199.

10  Linen Sheet Bundle  |  £215
Linen lasts for years (quite possibly generations), and unlike cotton or polyester alternatives, real “linens” get softer with every wash. Durable, breathable, naturally stain-resistant, and ridiculously chic – you actually can’t go wrong. And don’t worry about ironing – bed linens look just as fresh and bohemian when they’re naturally crinkled. I’m a believer in investing in quality sleep, because we do so much of it! If your gifted sheets get used for 8 hours a night, 365 days a year, for 5 years (and more than likely, a lot longer), that’s nearly 15,000 hours of appreciation! One note of warning, though – if for you, like me, this is a big financial investment, it might be best to go with a colour you won’t get sick of. These sheets/duvet may well outlast your relationship with the receiver – so it might be best to play it safe. I think white bedding always looks best (you can always accent with a blanket or pillows), but Piglet in Bed also offer some gorgeous neutrals and colourful bundles.

11  The Perfect Carry-On  |  price varies
Because who needs checked luggage? Even if you don’t travel light, I would never recommend spending money on a large checked suitcase because, let’s face it – it’s just gonna get the crap beaten out of it. But if your loved one is a frequent flyer (particularly on the budget airlines of Europe) then a good carry-on can is a fun and useful thing to have. Before I chose my 55cm 4-wheel Original Plume Le Lipault cabin luggage, I consulted a list of permissible carry-on dimensions for all major worldwide airlines so that I would never be turned away at the gate – and this has taken so much stress out of travelling. I opted for wheels because I tend to spend a lot of time walking through airports, railway stations, and cities – but if you’re looking for something a little urban (ie. if wheelies are gonna get stuck in the mud), try a backpack or duffle. At the moment, by favourite carry-ons are from Le Lipault (France) and LUG (Canada). But I would say this is down to style and budget, and doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.

12  Versatile “City to Country” Walking Boots  |  price varies
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I don’t believe in impractical footwear. These “urban”  Gora walking boots from ECCO are really comfy, completely waterproof, and they look really rugged, cool, and on-trend without being too sporty. I’ve worn mine with shorts on summer hikes, with jeans and sweater to the shops, with my winter coat on short treks in the snow. Short of the Opera, I’d wear these almost anywhere. They’re ideal for travelling/mini-breaks when you can only take one or two pairs of footwear.

Runners Up:
Kindle/e-reader  £60
Unisex Birkenstock Slippers  £30

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