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Small, unique, experiential. Those are the kinds of gifts that come to mind when we think about shopping for loved ones who’d rather not receive more “stuff” for the holidays. Thoughtful giving is also an unexpected way to show you understand what they love, and a way to give them something that lasts much longer than a physical gift — good memories. 

A 2023 survey found that 92% of Americans would rather receive experiences than gifts this holiday season. And studies show that experiential gifts cultivate stronger social relationships than material gifts. People are looking to create memories with friends and family, and there’s no shortage of meaningful ideas to choose from. From creative workshops and museum memberships to immersive artwork and practical (yes, practical!) home goods, these are experiential gifts that any minimalist will love.

Looking for more ethically made and sustainable gifts for the holiday season? Check out our guide to the best sustainable gifts (and best gifts for him, too). Happy giving! ✨

1. Explore

For a gift that can be used all year long, The North American Reciprocal Museum Association has a nationwide museum membership that works with over 1,000 institutions in the U.S., Bermuda, Canada, and Mexico. Members receive free visits, museum coupons, and discounts on tours and lectures for weekends filled with art and culture. 

If your loved one lives in a metro area, consider gifting a membership to local botanical gardens, like these in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Denver. Annual memberships for individual botanical gardens usually start at around $100, and many include unlimited visits, discounts, and free year-round parking.

Finally — a team favorite — consider the America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) which is great for nature-loving minimalists who want to spend 2023 exploring national parks and forests.

2. De-stress

We love the meditation pillows and yoga bolsters from the sustainable brand Avocado ($79+). Crafted with 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and filled with vegan buckwheat hulls, these pillows offer firm yet comfortable support. Also note: Avocado is a Certified B Corp and Climate Neutral Certified brand. Its pillows are made locally in Los Angeles at a GOTS certified factory — powered entirely with renewable energy — and the company gives back to 1% For The Planet. Use code GOODTRADE at checkout to save 10% sitewide at Avocado, including mattresses, through 1/8/2024.

Or show your loved one you care about their well-being and gift them a subscription to the Headspace App ($70/year). A subscription features meditations and breathwork for sleep, stress, mindfulness, focus, and more.

If sleep is a priority, you can invest in their well-being with one of these gifts for folks who need better sleep.

Avocado is a partner of The Good Trade

3. Learn Something New

For the minimalist longing to get back in the classroom (even if it’s a virtual one), you can support their endeavor by gifting a membership to an online educational platform. Try a gift certificate to Catapult for the best book releases from vital voices, or GrubStreet, where today’s top writers teach online workshops in craft writing.

MasterClass ($120/year) offers courses in writing, cooking, photography, and more — we particularly enjoy Dr. Jane Goodall’s class on conservation and Ron Finley’s class on gardening.

“For the minimalist longing to get back in the classroom (even if it’s a virtual one), you can support their endeavor by gifting a membership to an online educational platform.”

Udemy ($200/year) features classes on workplace skills, from technical topics to professional development. Coursera partners with universities to offer online learning like certificates and guided projects — gift an individual course (starting at $49/mo) or Coursera Pro for unlimited learning ($399/year). 

Duolingo Super ($84/year) fast-tracks language learning with personalized practice, no ads, and totally unlimited hearts (instead of the app’s usual three hearts per day, IYKYK). For even more online learning options, check out our favorite educational platforms.

4. Experiment in the Kitchen

Whether your loved one is an aspiring chef or a professional in the kitchen, new cookware invites them to try new flavors and recreate their favorite recipes. Tried and trusted cookware from Great Jones ($20+) will last for many years and meals to come. It doesn’t hurt that every single pot, pan, and baking sheet from this brand is gorgeous. I mean just look at this Dutch oven. Minimalists everywhere are swooning.

We love Graza Olive Oil ($16+) for cooking (“Sizzle”) and finishing (“Drizzle”) dishes. It’s fresh, sourced from Spain, and comes in cute squeeze bottles that brighten up the kitchen counter. 

For the people who love to cook but don’t have time, or don’t necessarily love to cook but still want to eat clean, Purple Carrot ($78+/month) is a plant-based meal-delivery service that offers both make-yourself meal kits and prepared meals.

5. Play Games

The best gift is one that you can share with others, which is why we love these games from some of our favorite small businesses and sustainable brands. For example, Jiggy’s frameable puzzles ($29+) are one of our favorite unique gifts for minimalists young and old — the collection includes puzzles for adults and juniors alike. Designed by global illustrators (a percentage of each sale goes back to the artist), Jiggy puzzles come in a reusable glass jar with a tube of glue so that after your loved one completes the piece, they can frame it in their home. Jiggy is also a woman-owned company and ships carbon-neutral.

For a gift your loved one can use for years (and many camping trips) to come, the Tree Playing Cards ($20) from certified B Corp Happy Earth are perfect for those who enjoy nature and being outside. The woodlands-themed deck features 54 unique, hand-drawn designs, printed on FSC-certified cardstock.

6. Get Crafty

We’re huge fans of analog gifts, and DIY is the perfect alternative to store-bought items. We love these air-dry pottery kits from Sculpd ($65). And these knitting and crochet kits from Wool and the Gang range from beginner to advanced with sweaters, scarves, blankets, and more. This adorable beginner sweater ($131) and this easy crochet crossbody bag ($65) caught our eye. Fun, functional, and fashionable? A minimalist’s dream.

Uncommon Goods also has a range of craft kits starting at $10 — gift your minimalist friend a DIY veggie embroidered tote bag ($40) for fun crafting in the winter and holding farmers market finds in the summer. This site is great for finding a tactile gift specific to your loved one. Plus, it’s a B Corp!

7. Giving Is Better Than Receiving

“Giving to a charitable or social cause in honor of someone you care about is one of the most thoughtful ways to celebrate the season.”

Giving to a charitable or social cause in honor of someone you care about is one of the most thoughtful ways to celebrate the season. There is no shortage of impactful organizations. Some of our favorites include IFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to women entrepreneurs; the Sierra Club to defend wild places; She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit working to increase the number of women running for public office; and the Loveland Foundation, which provides therapy to Black women and girls.

We highly suggest looking into local organizations as well, or asking your loved one which local organization they prefer you donate to. Remember: if a monetary donation isn’t possible, you can also volunteer your time in someone’s name.