Montessori Toy

Last week I talked all about the ways you can have a minimalist Christmas. There are so many ways to enjoy the holidays that don’t include gifts. Unfortunately, unwanted holiday gifts are usually something you will end up having to deal with.

Gift giving and receiving when you’re a minimalist can be tricky. Ever throw a party and say no gifts, and no one listens to you? Yeah me too. It’s almost worse at Christmas.

I find telling well-meaning family and friends that they don’t need to buy you a gift will almost always result in you receiving a gift. It’s like reverse psychology or something.

3 ways to deal with unwanted holiday gifts as a minimalist.

It seems no amount of talking and suggesting will deter these gift givers. They feel obliged to bring a gift and not show up empty-handed. Just as I mentioned in a previous post about a Montessori Christmas, sometimes you really have to lay things out for people.




It is much better to be clear and straightforward and say something like “We are not giving gifts this year and we would appreciate it if you would not give any gifts to us either.” This lets the other party know that you are serious and you aren’t “just saying” that you don’t want gifts.


Another route to go is to just give in. Not totally give in though. Instead of letting them have a hay day with buying all these random gifts for you and your family you could suggest gifts that you approve of such as experiences and not physical gifts. Movie tickets, restaurant gift cards or concert tickets are always good suggestions even for a minimalist.


One more way to handle these persistent gift givers is to advise them that all their gifts, while greatly appreciated, will be donated to help another family in need. If you make this proclamation before you are given the gift then you will not have to feel guilty about following through with donating your unwanted holiday gifts.


The main point here is to tell your family exactly what you want from them. Don’t let them guess because if you do you are going to end up with a house full of gifts you never wanted.

Have you had to tell your family not to give you gifts? Let me know how it went in the comments.

Beginners Guide to a Minimalist Lifestyle with Children

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Bailey Reply

A HUGE box arrived on our doorstep from Grandma and I just cringed! Two LARGE dollhouses for my daughter! What!?? Thanks for the tips!

Erica Reply

This is a constant battle for me. Instead I’m left having to waste a whole bunch of time trying to come up with ideas that won’t result in a bunch of plastic junk. Thus far my strategy has been to donate but that isn’t exactly great for the environment. Ahhhh gotta love the holidays. 😛

    Holly Reply

    Right?! I agree that donating is a great way to deal with unwanted items. I find it’s best to donate straight to a family in need. This ensures that the items are going to a good home which helps with the guilt of “letting go”. Good luck this holiday season! 😉

Annie Reply

I told my family not to buy anything, they didn’t listen but gave me a basket full of food so it wasn’t too bad.

    thistoddlerlife Reply

    Good for you for talking to your family! I say a basket of food vs loads of unwanted gifts is a win! Thanks for the message 🙂

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