Save. Spend. Splurge.

Minimalist Gift Guide: What to buy someone who doesn’t want anything

It’s simple to buy things for a minimalist. First of all, you know that they don’t want anything so you don’t even need to hunt down the perfect item because it’s easy enough to find.

If you truly must buy SOMETHING, ask them for what they want, point blank. Ask them for a wish list that details out EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT and stick to that list.


Instead of things, experiences.



Plenty of great experiences that could excite people of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders…:

(P.S. I focus on food because I’m always hungry and it’s consumable; once it’s eaten, it’s gone!)

  • Spa days — facials, massages, sauna days, pedicure, manicures.. a luxury
  • Purchase or give temporary help for them for a period of time — help for the garden, pool cleaning, snow removal, closet organization, cleaning the home
  • Dinner at a very nice restaurant — gastronomy, 3 stars, etc
  • Dinner at a sentimental restaurant you both enjoy / share
  • A day planned where you spend it together doing things you all enjoy
  • A free day off; you take the kids and babysit & they get to go out alone and do what they want for the whole day with their friends (you could even surprise them by pre-planning it ahead of time without their knowledge with their friends)
  • A home-cooked meal from scratch, appetizer, main & dessert
  • Or just bake delicious food/desserts you know they’ll love
  • Charitable donations to an organization they support in their name
  • Pre-make delicious meals to freeze so they can reach for it when they come home and don’t have to cook


If you MUST…

I prefer cash over gift cards (won’t lock you into a store), but a gift card to a grocery store they frequent often is always welcome.

You can even do e-gift cards like at Starbucks or Indigo and send someone a gift to reload on their card rather than giving them a second physical card they’d have to use to transfer (more waste!).

You can also do things like pre-pay their cellphone or bills ahead of time (not sure how you’d do this but if you obtain their account number, you can easily add their account as Payer online and pay their bills).

Or give them a gift card that you constantly reload for their favourite coffee shop.



  • Ryan Brown

    This article is way too long. I’m a person that wants nothing for Christmas, Birthdays……… From my experience I can guarantee the best gift to get someone that says they want nothing is….;…..NOTHING!!! No other gift in the world could show the amount of respect you have for the person than listening to them and giving them exactly what they wished for meaning NOTHING. It’s all in the gift givers head that the person receiving nothing will excluded and upset. Trust me, we don’t care.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Dude, it’s a blog post, not a post that says two words: Don’t get anything.

      If it makes the gift-giver happy to give something, then .. smile politely, accept it and either re-gift it or use it. It’s not for you, it’s for them.

  • Leslie

    I seem to be the only one in my family that doesn’t care to receive gifts. Gift cards are very much appreciated. But I’d rather my husband wash my car (or better still, vacuum my car!), give us a beautiful roast, or something like that. When people offer souvenirs from their trip, I tend to request chocolate or honey from a source in the area they are visiting.

    Unrelated, I believe I came across your blog ages ago, but just rediscovered it, and I’m thoroughly enjoying your posts ☺️

  • Izabela Michalska

    I have birthday soon. My mother asked me what I want. In fact I get a lot from her every day (she spend a lot of time with my child and that’s the best). But we agreed that she would bake a cake she used to bake I was a child. That is really a gift I want for this occasion. Well, I’m just in this time in my life when I don’t want to have more items than necessary around me – so no cups, mugs, blankets, clothes or (I can’t belive that – but it’s true) books.

  • Jessie's Money

    It’s not due to minimalism – but my grandparents aren’t interested in ‘things’ anymore for birthdays and Christmas. Instead, we sometimes do a donation to a cause that is important to them, or make freezer meals, one time I bought a meal service for a month of Tuesdays for my grandma.

  • raluca

    I hate getting gifts, something that puzzles my mother endlessly. I hate it because I have to be gratefull for something I did not ask for in the first place and it makes me feel guilty because I don’t.

    I have a mutually profitable gift situation with my sister, where I tell her exactly which kindle book I want and she does the same. Sometimes we pool our resources and share the same book. It works for us since we’re both book nerds.

    I don’t buy anything for my husband and he gives me nothing, well, except for the love shared, of course.
    I always try to give cash to my friends kids or buy them something off a list. Kids are complicated, since I don’t want to add to their toys pile (all kids have a toys pile, the only difference is the size. Sometimes it’s reasonable. Sometimes it’s mount Everest in the living room).

    My go to gift for adults is a bottle of wine. I don’t have friends who struggle with addiction so it’s a safe bet that it will be enjoyed. If not, it can be passed on further.


      I also give wine to people as gifts, but I am very aware that I myself don’t drink, so I would never even use the bottle… and if it isn’t a certain kind of wine, it wouldn’t be good for cooking either. *sigh*

      I like cake 🙂

  • Kate @ Cashville Skyline

    My family opted for a gift-free Christmas last year. Instead, we funneled that money into a trip to Santa Fe to celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday. It was much more memorable! And we loved the leisurely Christmas morning with homemade brunch.

  • Marie-Josée

    Great suggestions. Buying experential gifts and giving food are the gifts I find are the most appreciated by my loved ones.

  • Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial

    Food, always.

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