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16 Gift Items for the Aspiring Minimalist in Your Life

minimalism
December 03, 2020

There’s a noticeable chill in the air as you pass pop-ups selling fir and pine trees. The supermarket loudspeakers are a revolving door of non-stop holiday hits. And Love, Actually is on TV – all the time. It can only mean one thing: another holiday season is nearly upon us.

This holiday season is unlike any we've seen before, with lockdowns and restrictions in effect across North America. But the spirit of the season remains intact. More than ever, we want to express our generosity and our love for the people close to us – to show them that, although we haven't seen much of them this year, we're still thinking about them.

Mostly, shopping for the people we love is simple. If there’s an avid traveller in our lives, we get them a merino wool t shirt and a new day pack. If there’s a voracious reader on our list, we pick the hottest new novel to send them. But what do you get the aspiring minimalist in your life, the person who’s trying to edit their belongings and simplify their home? We’ve put together this gift list to address the issue.

A gift list for minimalists: that’s a bit oxymoronic, right? Giving things to people who want fewer things seems counterintuitive.

Not at all. The idea that minimalists don’t want anything is a misconception. Aspiring minimalists still get dressed in the morning, log onto their work computer, cook their meals, dream about their next trip abroad and take comfort in entertainment. They don’t want nothing; they just want fewer and better things.

Our criteria for this list are simple. Items on this list need to display one or more of the following:

  • Versatility: The item should be useful in a wide variety of contexts.

  • Functionality: It needs to serve a purpose beyond being ornamental. Ideally, it serves more than one purpose (multi-functionality.)

  • Clean design features: The item should be simple, sophisticated and elegant – not busy, over-complicated and excessive.

  • Durability: This is a big one. Minimalism favours quality over quantity, and minimalists want their items to last. No fast fashion, no big box store furniture, no disposable electronics.

With those criteria established, let’s dive right in. Consult this list to find the perfect gift for the aspiring (or die-hard) minimalist in your life. And once your holiday shopping is finished, refer back to this list for your own home. Where applicable, we’ll name specific brands – the rest of the time, we’ll simply point you in the direction of items and let you choose which brands fit your budget/aesthetic taste.

Unbound Merino Bundles

Unbound Merino wool clothing is the perfect addition to a minimalist wardrobe. Because merino wool is sweat-wicking, bacteria-resistant and breathable, you can wear it for days on end (some have reported wearing Unbound Merino clothes for weeks) without it smelling. That means fewer items of clothing in your wardrobe.

Additionally, the clothes we make are aesthetically versatile. Dress them up for a Zoom call with the bosses, or dress them down for a Zoom games night with friends. Pack our travel clothing for men for a trip around the world, or wear them while lounging on the couch. They are versatile, durable, multi-functional and cleanly designed – exactly the criteria we’re after for the minimalist in our life.

Visit our website to check out Unbound Merino bundles, like our 3-Pack T-shirt Bundle or Winter Bundle, and save money.

Packing Cubes

Travelling minimally can be a challenge. How do you fit everything you need for a trip into one bag? You can start with the above bundles of Unbound Merino clothing – their lasting freshness allows you to pack less. But to take it a step further, you want packing cubes.

If you have a travelling minimalist on your gift list or someone who likes to travel light, packing cubes make a great gift. Eagle Creek, eBags and LeanTravel each make spectacular packing cubes. Although the giftee on your list may not experience an international flight in the near future, they can still use their packing cubes for efficient home storage.

An Aeropress Coffee Maker

We love the sleek, minimal design of the Aeropress, as well as the clean cup of coffee it brews. The tubular coffee maker looks like something you’d find in a spaceship kitchen, which makes sense, given that its inventor lectures at both Stanford and NASA. Its space-saving size is a big plus for minimalists who want to rid their kitchens of bulky coffee machines, as well as those looking for a portable coffee solution as they travel.

A French Oven

Multi-functionality is critical when considering cookware. That tiny skillet specifically made to cook a single egg is fine, but it’s impractical, especially if you want to cut down on clutter. For our money, the most versatile cookware item is the French oven (or Dutch oven.) It sautés, boils, braises and bakes. Plus, the gleaming, enamelled exterior makes an excellent aesthetic fit in most minimalist households.

The big brands are Le Creuset and Staub; they are pricey, but they are also solidly constructed and last a lifetime.

A Consumables Subscription

If you want to get your minimalist giftee something without adding items to their home, consider consumables. Food subscription boxes are everywhere these days, but they don’t really scream holidays.

If you want something more special, check out wine or coffee subscription boxes. The best ones tend to be locally based, so we won’t offer specific suggestions. Just research wine subscriptions, coffee or beer subscriptions near you, and choose one based on user reviews. Also, there’s no need to be overly generous – a two- or three-month subscription should be plenty.

Reusable Food Storage Bags

Minimalism is often tied to eco-consciousness. If we buy less, we waste less. To that end, reusable food storage bags would make a fitting stocking stuffer. Designed to replace disposable zipper bags and sandwich bags, reusable bags require a simple wash between uses and will last a long time. We’re partial to the Stasher line of platinum silicone bags, but any silicone bags will do the trick.

A House Plant

Plants are a solid gift idea for anyone, aspiring minimalists included. Even those who want to pare their home décor down to the bare minimum still make space for a few plants. That's because, although they can be big, plants don't really add to visual clutter. Instead, they remind us of nature, in all its lavishness, earthiness and imperfection.

Not sure what plant to choose? We’re partial to snake plants, palms, rubber plants, monsteras and peace lilies. For more options, check out this visual article on various common house plants.

E-Books and Audiobooks

Books are wonderful. We love the look, feel and even smell of them. But man, do they take up a lot of space. And they massively add to the visual clutter in a room.

If you’re shopping for someone who’s expressed an interest in downsizing their physical possessions, you can still get them a book – just make it an e-book or audiobook. E-books and audiobooks contain all the same literature and ideas as books, but take up 0% of the same space. Plus, they're easily transportable, making them ideal for the minimalist jet-setter on your list. If your giftee doesn’t own an e-reader yet, consider that another gift option.

In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

Let’s make an exception for one book: Jun'ichirō Tanizaki’s moving, profound In Praise of Shadows. A book about minimalism from before the term “minimalism” existed, In Praise of Shadows is part philosophy text, part mindfulness guide and part personal essay. At its centre, it’s about how Japanese aesthetics contrast light and darkness, fixture and impermanence.

Beyond being an eye-opening read, the book (especially the Leete's Island Books edition) is also a beautiful object – a perfect coffee table fixture.

The Unbound Merino Classic Button-Down

Many of us are working from home these days, which poses the unique conundrum: do you dress for work or dress for home? That is, do you go formal or stay comfortable?

With the Unbound Merino Classic Button-Down, you can have it both ways. Our Classic Button-Down looks sharp enough to wear to a meeting, but because it's made of fine-fibred merino wool, it's soft and comfortable to the touch. Like all our clothing, the Classic Button-Down is also breathable and insulating, making it an ideal year-round option for the at-home office.

If you want to learn more about how merino wool works, check out this ultimate guide to merino wool on our blog!

A Cable Management Box

There are few things more disruptive to a clean, clear aesthetic than a tangle of wires running across the floor. Yet, so many things that we rely on – our phone, computer, modem, TV, diffuser, camera, etc. – all require charging cords.

A neat, straightforward way to address the issue is with a cable management box. It isn’t a complicated gadget whatsoever – it’s just a lidded white box with holes on either end. But it makes a big difference to the overall look of a place, consolidating the jungle of wires and keeping it from view. Cable management boxes tend to be inexpensive, so they make a great stocking stuffer.

Resistance Bands

Nowadays, more people are working from home and working out from home. Getting home exercise, especially during the winter, is essential. But it traditionally requires weight sets, mats, machines and other bulky items. Luckily, you can do away with most of that stuff by replacing them with a small set of resistance bands.

Resistance bands are latex or rubber bands you can use for a variety of strength training exercises. They are lightweight and transportable. And you can easily roll them up and stash them in a drawer. If the minimalist in your life is trying to maximize their gains, consider stuffing their stocking with resistance bands.

A Magazine/Firewood Rack

Depending on the season, you either want magazines in the living room or firewood. Luckily, this bent birchwood rack – from Finnish design company Artek – is designed for both. Scandinavian furniture, with its simple lines, clean design and earthy curvature, tends to fit right into a minimalist household. This magazine/firewood rack is no exception.

A Subscription to the Criterion Streaming Channel

For the cinephile minimalist on your shopping list, consider a subscription to the Criterion streaming channel. Criterion is well-known for their massive collection of remastered, restored classics and modern arthouse films, but most film tastes will find something to love here.

Featuring over 2300 films from all over the world, it’s a gift that delivers maximum entertainment value with minimum storage space required. At $10.99/month (depending on where you live,) it’s reasonable – especially if you’re shopping for a cohabitant and can take advantage of the service yourself!

Donations to a Personal Cause

If the giftee on your list is passionate about a cause – racial justice, climate action, food relief, wildlife preservation, etc. – consider donating to a corresponding charity. Donating on their behalf shows them that you care about their interests.

If you’re unsure which of the myriad charities to choose, we recommend starting on CharityWatch, a not-for-profit watchdog that ranks charities based on their budget usage and efficacy. There, you’ll find plenty of high-rated charities to pick from.

Stocking Stuffers: Unbound Merino Base Layer Items

Looking for a small gift to add to a stocking? Check out our selection of underwear and socks, which are available as individual items, or in packs of two, three and five. They’re snug, comfortable and stay fresh for a long time – perfect for any travellers, fitness enthusiasts or aspiring minimalists in your life.

Since its inception, Unbound Merino has always been about needing less. Our products are specifically designed to be high-performance, versatile, evergreen and long-lasting, so you can own less, pack less and travel with less. For more info, read about our story on our website.

This list is targeted toward the minimalists, but – in truth – the practical, multi-purpose and quality items above would do well under anyone’s tree.