Creative Ideas for People Who Don’t Want Anything For Christmas

gifts that aren't things
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Before I say anything else, let me say this –  If someone says they don’t want anything for Christmas you might want to try just honoring that request.  It’s not the worst thing in the world for someone to not want gifts.  Ask them once to be very sure that’s what they mean when they say “I want nothing”, then perhaps just acknowledge their request and say you’re going to respect your wishes.


 But, if you really want to feel as though you’ve checked that box, or if you KNOW that person is just saying that but really expects something, then here’s some ideas to consider.

gift ideas that aren't things
  • Treat them to dinner over the holidays.  I did that with my friend who came to town over the holidays.  I thought about what I might buy her, but she was in between apartments and living at a friend’s so I knew “stuff” probably wasn’t what she needed at the moment.
  • Donate to their favorite charity on their behalf.  Oh, I would be THRILLED to receive donations to Muttville instead of stuff I don’t need.
  • Buy them tickets to something.  A show, the ballet, movie passes or anything they might be interested in attending.  Better to pick something that doesn’t have a designated date (like theater passes) so they can chose to go when they want.
  • Bake or cook for them.  My aunt used to make stacks of Irish potato bread and package it in tin boxes.  Let me tell you, that bread was the most coveted gift at all our family holiday parties.  I miss it so much.  I also worked with a CFO who’s wife made chocolate truffles for everyone in the office.  They were packaged in little 4-peice boxes that you can get at the dollar store.  Beautiful presentation and damn good chocolates!
  • Take a lesson together.  For Christmas one year, I bought myself and a friend a pass to a local cooking class where we both learned to make amazing food for an afternoon.  It was a great time, we both acquired a new skill and we got a great meal out of the experience as well.  I’ll never forget how much fun that day was.
  • Get them Yoga or other fitness related passes.  Most fitness facilities have holiday packages or gift certificates you can buy.  I love this idea as it’s often the kick-in-the-pants motivation someone needs to try something new and get their butts off the couch.
  • Give them a pass to SkillShare or CreativeLive.  This is particularly thoughtful if you know they have a certain passion or hobby they want to get better at.  Whether it’s graphic design, photography or writing romance novels, both of these platforms have amazing courses to chose from.
  • Adopt an exotic animal on their behalf.  From elephants to polar bears, you can adopt and protect pretty much any creature that calls to you from the World Wildlife Fund.  I can guarantee this is a gift that would make both of you feel like a hero.
  • Give them something to nerd out on.  23andme will send you a kit that will help them determine their ancestry or DNA.  I would find that interesting, wouldn’t you?

The common thread of all the things mentioned above is that they’re thoughtful ideas that say “I thought of you” without actually giving someone more stuff. When I was a kid, my mom always asked us to make something for her.  I thought this was a corny request, but now that I’m older, I totally understand where she’s coming from.  Stuff can be useful and there’s certainly nothing wrong with gifting things, particularly when they are requested.  But I feel like so much psychic energy is wasted on guessing what might be useful or appreciated, not to mention the time and energy actually acquiring the item.

I hope these ideas help you have a more peaceful, thoughtful holiday this year!

for minimalist

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  1. I usually want something for Christmas, likely because I’ve lost the one I previously owned. But should the day come that I actually keep track of my stuff, I’m all about dinner. Feeding me is the most thoughtful thing a person can do.