How to Easily Handle Gifts as a Minimalist Family

How to easily handle gifts as a minimalist family

It’s the time of year where the holiday season is about to kick into high gear. One of the biggest concerns people who are decluttering and embracing a minimalist lifestyle have is how to easily handle gifts during the holidays and on birthdays. Especially if you have kids who are lucky enough to have many people who love them and buy them gifts.

I want to help alleviate some of your concerns about gifts undoing all of your hard work decluttering. With a few simple strategies it’s easy to avoid gifts overwhelming you during the holidays or on birthdays.

How to easily handle gifts as a minimalist family
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

5 simple strategies to easily handle gifts during the holidays or on birthdays:

1. Shift your focus to gratitude

I’ve talked about keeping an attitude of gratitude a lot recently, in my clutter-free gift guide for kids, and in my post about how to simplify the holidays. That’s because gratitude is really important. Shifting your mindset to one of gratitude and positivity changes how you see everything.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

~ Wayne Dyer

Change your perspective to one of gratitude, instead of feeling frustrated about how many gifts you or your kids receive during the holidays or on birthdays. You and your family are incredibly lucky to have people who love you and your kids so much that they want to spend their hard-earned money buying gifts to express their love for you.

Even if it’s not the type of gifts you would choose, or even if it’s more than you want; remember that someone loves you and your family enough to give you gifts. Keeping your focus on the love and intention behind the gift really changes everything.

Giving gifts is how many people demonstrate and express their love. Appreciate the gift, but most importantly, acknowledge and appreciate the love behind the gift. Make sure to appreciate and feel gratitude for that love. To have people in your life who love you and your family is a wonderful thing! Shifting your focus to gratitude is a great way to easily handle gifts without getting caught up in stress or negative thinking.

Don’t let minimalism come in between your relationships

Don’t let your goal of decluttering and minimalism interfere with the gratitude you feel for gifts you and your family receive. People give gifts because they love you and your family and value your relationship.

And remember one of the biggest reasons many of us pursue minimalism in the first place: to gain more time, space and energy to focus on the people we love most. Don’t let your pursuit of minimalism hinder the gratitude you feel, or create a sore spot in your relationships.

Aside from shifting your focus to gratitude, the following tips offer practical ways to easily handle gifts without allowing them to create clutter in your home.

2. Declutter before and/or after holidays and birthdays

Decluttering before the holidays or birthdays

Quickly decluttering before holidays or birthdays is a great way to easily handle gifts and prevent gifts from overwhelming your home. Go into the holiday season or birthdays from a place of less. Then you’ll have made room to add a few new gifts without feeling overwhelmed.

If you have kids, involve them too. Keep it fun and exciting. Tell them the holidays or their birthday is coming and they’ll likely be getting some gifts. Ask them to find things they aren’t using or loving to declutter to make room for the new things coming.

Decluttering after the holidays or birthdays

You can also choose to declutter after the holidays or birthdays as well. After receiving new things as gifts, find things you can declutter to make room for them. Maybe you got a new mug for your birthday, so you declutter one of your other mugs to make room. Or if your child got a new toy for Christmas, declutter another toy to make room for the new one.

The point is to balance the new items coming into your home by decluttering a few things to make room. This helps keep the amount of “stuff” in your home at a level that feels comfortable for you.

It can also be helpful to do another quick decluttering session a few weeks after a holiday or birthday. Get rid of anything you and your family aren’t using or loving. This can include both old things and any of the new gifts. If you and your family aren’t using or loving something, it’s probably adding clutter to your home and life.

How to easily handle gifts as a minimalist family
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Appreciate the gift, but let go of the guilt

Remember, a gift is given to show love. You accept the gift and express your appreciation to the giver for the gift, and the love and intention behind the gift.

Once given, it’s up to you to decide what to do with the gift. If it ends up being something you or your family isn’t using or loving, get rid of it guilt-free. Remember the gift was given in love and that love was appreciated and acknowledged. Do whatever you need to with gifts after they are given.

It’s your home, time and space, and you are in change of what fills your time, space and home. Let go of feelings of guilt or obligation and be intentional about what you allow to stay in your home. Decluttering before and/or after the holidays is a great strategy to easily handle gifts.

3. Talk to family and friends about your decluttering and why you’re doing it

A simple way to approach your feelings of stress or overwhelm about how to handle gifts is to be honest about it!

Try talking to your friends and family. Let them know how overwhelmed you were feeling with the amount of clutter and excess stuff in your home. Tell them about your work decluttering and what a positive impact minimalism has had on your life.

Not everyone will understand or appreciate what you’re doing, and you can’t force them to. But it never hurts to be open and honest by sharing what you’re doing and why. Most people want to give gifts you and your family will use and appreciate. So sometimes being open and honest about the lifestyle changes you’re making is a great place to start.

Which brings us to the next strategy to easily handle gifts during the holidays or on birthdays.

4. Have gift suggestions for you and your family ready if people ask

As I said, people usually try to give gifts you or your family will use, appreciate and enjoy. That’s half the fun of giving gifts; knowing the person you give it to will be thrilled when they open it and enjoy the gift. So, if people ask what you or your kids would like for a gift, tell them!

Have some suggestions ready before the holidays or birthdays of things that you and your family either need or want. If a gift is something you or your family will use regularly and enjoy, it won’t be clutter. Instead, it will be adding value to your or your family’s life.

Not everyone will ask, and not everyone will follow your suggestions. But if someone does ask, be prepared with a few suggestions for them.

How to easily handle gifts as a minimalist family
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

5. Ask for and buy clutter-free gifts

As far as what kinds of gifts to suggest or buy, there are many clutter-free gift ideas to avoid clutter altogether! Which helps you easily handle gifts during the holidays or on birthdays.

You can check out my clutter-free gift ideas for kids and my clutter-free gift ideas for everyone else for many great clutter-free gift suggestions.

There are basically three general types of clutter-free gifts: experiences, consumable gifts and things you want/need.

Experience gift ideas

Experience gifts are something you can do and enjoy, without adding any clutter to your home at all. It can be something as simple as taking the person on a picnic. Or something more elaborate such as taking the person on a weekend trip to go to a spa.

Whatever it is, experience gifts let you give the person an experience or activity they’ll enjoy, without adding any physical clutter to their home.

Consumable gift ideas

Consumable gift ideas are things the person will use up and appreciate, without adding any permanent clutter to their home. Examples of consumable gifts can be things like food or drinks, art supplies, personal care items like lotion, etc.

Wanted or needed gift ideas

Everyone, even people who are decluttering or living a minimalist lifestyle, have things they might want or need. If something will be used, loved or enjoyed, it won’t be clutter because it will add value to your life. Asking for things, if someone asks, that you either want or need is a great way to make sure gifts aren’t adding clutter to your life.

Change your perspective and be prepared for gift-giving times

Remember, you can’t control what other people do. If you have people in your life who enjoying buying and giving gifts to express their love, don’t let your goal of a minimalist life create hard feelings in your relationship by getting upset about their gifts.

Shift your own perspective to focus on the love and gratitude. Then prepare before the holidays or birthdays with clutter-free gift ideas to suggest and by decluttering your home. These simple strategies can help you easily handle gifts during holidays and birthdays. All without adding clutter to your home or causing you unnecessary stress.

Do gifts during the holidays or on birthdays cause you stress? Do you have any other tips for how to easily handle gifts received during the holidays or on birthdays? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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20 Comments

  1. I love this: Appreciate the gift, but let go of the guilt. I often keep things, because I feel that I must, since someone gave it to me. However, that is just not the way to do it. It can easily make me resent the gift and maybe even the giver, if he/she does it regularly. So I love the idea of appreciating the gift, but not feeling any guilt if I were to let something go.

    1. Yes! Guilt can be such a tricky thing! But I really think it helps once you make that distinction: you can appreciate the gift and the love behind it, but you don’t have to keep it forever if it’s not something you use or love. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found the post helpful!

  2. We are fortunate that most of our family feels the way we do about giving stuff, but there are some gifts we receive from others that are more clutter than anything else. It’s always nice to hear that we have permission to let go of those gifts without feeling guilty…that guilt always starts to creep in. Thanks!

    1. I’m glad you found the post helpful Jena! I agree, guilt can creep in when it comes to gifts. Sometimes just reminding yourself that you can appreciate the gift and the love behind the gift, but that you don’t have to keep things you don’t use or love, can really help stop the guilt. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

  3. I love your point about expressing gratitude and acknowledging the thoughtfulness, but not feeling guilty if you end up giving the gift away. It is so freeing to let go of the “I must use this because my *insert relative or friend here* gave this to me”. If it’s simply isn’t being put to use, then give it to someone will use it. 😊

  4. These are such fabulous ideas all around! You’re not the first post to remind me today that it’s time to do our annual December “declutter” :), and I also love your idea about shifting the focus to “gratitude” 🙂 🙂 🙂 – And absolutely, I try to keep a running list of things my kids need or could really use, then give THOSE things to relatives whenever they ask for gift ideas (e.g. sleep sack for Girl Scout sleep-away camp) – win/win!

    1. Thanks so much Flossie! It is a great time of year to do some decluttering and make room for the new things your family will receive at Christmas! It’s on my to-do list this week too! 😉

      I love giving suggestions for gifts when people ask that our family either needs or have been really wanting. It’s great for us, like you said, because the gift will be used and loved instead of adding clutter. And the giver also feels good knowing their gift will be used and loved too!

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful Kate! Yes, it can be a touchy subject sometimes. You might want to check out my post about clutter-free gift ideas for kids for lots of suggestions you can offer to family that want gift ideas that won’t add clutter to you house! Here’s the link to the post:
      Thanks for reading!

    1. Yes! I completely agree. I always try to declutter before Christmas, and usually do another round of decluttering a few weeks after Christmas as well. It really helps keep the amount of stuff in our home at a level that is comfortable for our family. Thanks for reading and sharing your tips!

  5. I love all of your posts in this series. Consumable gifts are my go-to for when family ask what my kids want for gifts. They still get to enjoy giving the gift, but it isn’t something that sits in our house forever. Great post!

    1. Thank you so much Lauren! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this series of posts! I agree, consumable gifts make great gifts. They’re easy to find and give, fun to receive, but will be used up instead of adding permanent clutter. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

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