One person’s trash is another’s treasure. One person’s useless is another person’s useful . One person’s clutter is another person’s keepsake. It’s not possible to come up with a list of gifts that would be perfect for all people in all scenarios, but when it comes to my personal idea of gifty perfection, it’s gifts that hit at the intersection of useful and usable. Extra points if they’re use-up-able.
Whether it’s a perfectly scented candle, a special room spray, or a fancified version of an entirely utilitarian kitchen gadget, I go all in for gifts that elevate the everyday just a little bit, without adding much in the way of clutter. As a general rule of thumb, I think that a gift that can be integrated into someone’s daily routine is a gift they’ll love.
Here are a few of my favorite gifts to give (and receive). Each of them is something that I can use (or use up) but that I might not readily indulge in myself.*
1. A fancy lint brush. A household item I can never seem to find when I need it. I’d hang this prettified version in the closet next to my winter coat.
2. A good scented candle. I rarely allow myself the indulgence of buying a fancy candle, but I go ga-ga for them when I recieve them as gifts. And while the term scented candles might conjure memories of noxious candles with curious names of generally scentless things like “holly berry,” rest assured that there are many candle makers doing awesome things, naturally. Apotheke is a local favorite of mine.
3. Beeswax food wrap. Useful because it makes life without plastic wrap just a little easier. And novel enough that receiving a set feels like a special treat (and makes for a good conversation starter).
4. Rope incense. A fan of all things that smell good, this rope incense looks like just the thing for burning on long winter nights.
5. A hand-carved wooden spoon. Utilitarian but still ultra-special.
6. Handmade beeswax tapers. Unscented for the scent-averse. And nothing says December quite like burning tapers.
7. Room spray. Subtley scented and a vast improvement over the drug-store variety.
8. Linen dish covers. Like the beeswrap, these covers offer a pretty and practical solution to an everyday condundrum.
9. Brass clips. Something special to replace the freebie plastic bag clip that’s maddeningly useful and terribly ugly.
10. A scrub brush. While it might be a tool for drudgery, this coir scrub brush is my favorite. I’ll never clean a cast iron pan with anything else again, and I’ll spread the gospel as much as I can.
*NOTE: Writing about minimalist gift giving has gotten me thinking as much about minimalist gift receiving. It’s a hard-to-articulate point, but I think that it’s possible (and necessary) to be a minimalist gift recipient as much as a minimalist gift giver. How? Use your gifts. If you receive a candle, burn it. If you are given a beautiful new wooden spoon, let it replace one that’s only so-so. If you receive a new wooden lint brush, ditch the plastic one you got free from the dry cleaners. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by new stuff at the holidays. But if you are given presents that can be put to use—and if you do put them to use—I think some of the stress of gets dissipated.