I'm starting to see myself less as a "minimalist" and more as an "intentionalist." Yeah, I might have just made that word up, but I think you get the idea. I don't like having or getting things just for the sake of owning them. I want things that serve a useful purpose in own home.
That purpose can be as simple as "entertainment" or "it makes me happy" but it's a purpose. I apply that same logic to all of my holiday and birthday shopping. I don't buy things because "s/he will probably like this." I buy things that I know they want/need/will use.
If you haven't heard of the Four Gift Tradition, I highly recommend reading about it and seeing if it's something that would work well in your home. I've always tried to minimize the amount of toys we bring into the house, but this year, breaking down the boys gifts into these four categories has really helped me simplify that much more. My categories were a little different from the norm though, and I went with "something to wear, read, play with, and RIDE" because they both really wanted Santa to bring them bikes.
Shopping for my 7 nieces and nephews is fairly simple: something to wear and something to read. The only exception to this rule, this year, was that one of my nieces is getting bed sheets for her new big kid bed. The rest are getting a book wrapped in a shirt.
My siblings, their spouses, my husband and I all do a Secret Santa type gift exchange, so I'm only shopping for 2 people, rather than... [insert mental math face] the 7 of us. We started this gift exchange a few years ago, and I have to say it's my favorite. Not only is it saving us money, but it means I get to focus a little more and be more intentional with the gifts I buy. Instead of just trying to find something for everyone, I get to put more time, thought, and energy into finding something they'll actually enjoy. We are a large family, and we get bigger almost every year. It gets expensive and exhausting trying to shop for everyone.
It might take some of the surprise out of it, so if you are worried about that, have them give you a list of 3-5 things and just buy a couple. You don't have to buy everything they want (I'm sure you know that) but there are some items that we always want, but talk ourselves out of buying for whatever reason. My Amazon list is filled with things I talked myself out of buying.
As moms, we tend to buy for others and neglect ourselves. We put off replacing that fickle can opener, because we know how to make it work (even if no one else can) and buy those cool light-up shoes for our kid who already has 2 pairs of shoes that fit him just fine. But these light up. So we spend $20+ on something they don't really need and put off replacing the things that work just well enough to get by.
So here's what I recommend to you, if you are looking to minimize gifting random stuff, and hoping to gift with intention: ask them what they want or need. It might seem silly, but I guarantee they will appreciate it. Everyone has a list, whether it's a list of things they want but won't buy for themselves, or things they want to replace or upgrade (especially kitchen utensils) that they keep delaying for whatever reason.
This is the time to gift to others the things they otherwise would not gift themselves! If they truly don't want stuff, check out the graphic below for some great alternative gift ideas.
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