What Not to Give a Minimalist


Lost Mule Lodge

… a journey that began with a cabin in the woods

“Just rip it open!!” I said as I stomped my foot in excited anticipation.  My husband and I looked at each other with that silent smirk of – we did good this time.

When the package was finally opened silence fell over the room as the contents were being examined.  A very sincere thank you was given and the gift was gently handed back to us…

We never saw that coming.  How had we gotten it so wrong?   How could we have missed that he was a minimalist to the core? Everything he owned would have easily fit into a backpack.  If he owned a backpack…   As his parents we found pride in his honesty.



His first trip home from college, we were shocked as we picked him up at the airport.  He arrived with a brown paper grocery bag.  The kind you expect to see celery greens sprouting out the top.  It was neatly folded to cover a shirt, a pair of jeans, clean socks, underwear and a toothbrush for his 9 day visit.

When we offered an actual suitcase for his trip back.  His response was, “This grocery bag holds everything just fine, why would I want to bother with luggage?”  He was now carrying the stained and tattered grocery bag tucked under his arm to keep the contents from spilling out the gapping hole in the bottom.  Our teary goodbye turned to uncontrollable laughter as we watched him go through security with his “grocery bag”.  All we could say was – “Yep, that’s our boy!”


It was a year later, we were visiting him in the spring.  We scanned his tiny apartment….  “Hey, where is that bronze statue we sent you for Christmas – we don’t see it anywhere?”

As he was preparing a cup of tea for us to share he says, “Oh, I donated it…  but I took a picture of it first.  So, I kind of still have it.”

Okay – clearly we are slow learners.  He may never be ready to clutter up his space with useless stuff.

It is human nature to give gifts that we ourselves would appreciate receiving.  But, we have since learned that something we like may not always be the best gift to give someone else.

I did some research on gift giving to a minimalist – one article suggested instead of wrapping a gift – to wrap them with a hug…  Okay, that  would be awesome but, Im afraid this would leave us feeling a little guilty.  There has to be a happy medium.  Something they could use and something we would feel good about giving.

A gift card for dinner out or perhaps a second cup for that tea…?   Basically, if you have a minimalist on your gift list, my advice is if they have to dust it  – they probably won’t want it.



Although this sculpture of our hands was created to be his gift, we display it on our shelf.  We are glad it was so gently handed back to us that Christmas eve.    Each time I dust this sculpture – I smile, because of the memory, and for the love of our son.

Also, I found this bronze statue at a thrift store – it looks exactly like the one we gave him…  I am thinking it was serendipity!

We are proud of the man he has become and we still admire his honesty.

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All photos, thoughts, experiences and opinions are my own.

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  1. Katie @pixiedustandwhiskey.com

    Great post! Coming from someone who just sent a trailer of stuff to goodwill after our last move, I can appreciate this advice.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Hey Katie – I understand about the move. We are not exactly text book minimalist but when we moved to the little cabin we truly enjoyed the simplicity of “less”. I think they are on to something!!

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Maddy – it is difficult to imagine isn’t it? Remember this was a poor college student – things have changed some with family and permanent home.

  2. We have a minimalist too! Great story and great advice. We’ve started taking him on day trips when he’s here for the holidays. Our treat and he really enjoys it. This Christmas, he will get the gift of The Pompeii exhibit. ..because we know how to have fun. Haha!

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Judy – I saw photos from a friend who saw the Pompeii exhibit, incredible!! That is a good choice for all of you!

  3. Mary Kay

    As you know, I’m pretty much a minimalist, but I don’t have your son’s honesty haha. I squeal like I got the best gift ever, no matter what it is.

    Fortunately my family knows by now that the best gift is a donation to a local animal charity.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Yes Mary Kay – you are for sure a minimalist! And an animal lover, making you a fabulously kind person with a very neat home!

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