What To Give When They Don’t Want Stuff

Christmas is coming!

Like most families, we’re making plans and collecting gift ideas. It’s a wonderful, joyful experience to give someone a gift-especially if you know it’s something that would truly make them smile.

But what do you give a loved one when they really aren’t too keen on “stuff”….AND you’re not too keen on only giving gift cards?

Welcome to a post on minimalism-gift giving edition!

You may have a family member or friend who falls into this category, whether they use the label or not. They’ve cut back on their possessions in order to enjoy more experiences and relationships, their homes have few to no tchotchkes, little clutter, and few items that serve only one purpose.

You really want to get them something…something they would enjoy, and is not likely to end up on the Goodwill pile a month after Christmas (sorry, that’s the truth of it). If this is you, then I have some good news for you!

There are PLENTY of gift ideas for a minimalist! But before we get to these ideas, there are a few points that need to be made, to help you understand your loved one’s mindset better:

  • They DO like stuff. They just don’t enjoy the unnecessary or general excess in their lives, and are more selective when it comes to material items that stay with them.
  • A thoughtful gift will have more meaning to them, and likely be something they will always remember.
  • They recognize and respect a friend who has paid attention to who they really are, minimalism included

Okay, now to the fun idea list! Gift ideas galore!!

  • movie tickets
  • concert tickets
  • sport event tickets (you get the idea)
  • paid membership for something they enjoy (gym, dance class, climbing, etc…)
  • if you’re a really close friend, personally contribute toward something you know they have been saving for (car, travel, house, etc…)
  • If you know they’re traveling in the upcoming year, gift them something they can enjoy there (wine tasting, dinner, hotel upgrade, special tour, ect…) Many of these can be booked ahead of time
  • Netflix/AudioBooks/Amazon Prime subscription for a determined time
  • Cooking classes
  • Special dinner for two in their city
  • A “Stay In Date Night” package: wine, movie rental, popcorn, candy, etc…
  • Overnight getaway to a local spot
  • Hire a cleaning service for a month for their home (if they have little kids, this is awesome!!!!)
  • Offer to come over and do laundry one week
  • Meal deliveries (homemade or paid for)
  • Spa/massage certificates (yes please!!!!)
  • Offer to the pay for or be a babysitter for their next date night (that is HUGE!)
  • If you’re a handy person, offer to come over and help with around the house projects for the next month
  • Pay for a car detailing or offer to do it yourself
  • Schedule flower deliveries for the next month (a special thing in January!)
  • Zoo membership
  • Swim classes for kids
  • Offer to carpool for a week
  • Offer to help with all the prep/set up for the next birthday party
  • Donation to a cause they’re passionate about in their name
  • If you’re friend/loved one is pregnant, offer to help with “nesting” to prepare for the arrival of the new baby (a nine month preggo lady climbing up and down chairs is not a good time…)

These are all gifts that, although do not always take material form, are extremely meaningful. And, in addition to all the above, there are always gift cards, which are wonderful gifts!

One last thing, if none of the above strikes you, or perhaps you still would rather just give them SOMETHING…..then all you have to do is ask. Seriously, just be honest. Say, “I know you prefer to have fewer things around, but I would really like to get you something for Christmas that you would enjoy. Would you give me some ideas?” Boom! Done! Odds are, there is something they would like, or would like to replace/update, but may not be something you had thought of. Always ask. It’s greatly appreciated.

I am one of these people. A minimalist in my own way. The older I am, the less I enjoy things….or rather, many things in one place. This past birthday, my mother took the above approach and asked me to put together an Amazon gift idea list for her to use. That was one of the best gifts in and of itself to me. I appreciated that she recognized how uncomfortable I am now with clutter. She wanted to give me something I genuinely wanted.

So I did. It was fun, low pressure, and I knew I could put anything on the list and not worry about how it came across. Some items were practical, others were updates to household items I already had. And a couple were lovely extras. It made my birthday feel all the more special. And she got to choose ultimately what she wanted to give me. Win win!

So maybe think outside the box this Christmas, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the joy you bring and give!

Unless something else pops to mind, this may be my last post for a little while, as I prepare for baby #4’s arrival in just a couple of weeks!!

Merry Christmas to all!!

 

Returning to Meal Prep-Week 1 Part 2

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Quick and easy spinach and ham pizzas are a lunchtime staple for me. (THM-S)

 Here we go! This post may be a little long since it includes more explanation and background than others would, but bear with me! I’ll get to the yummy details quickly!

To help keep this post in the proper perspective, here are a few details about our family/needs/limits/etc:

For the Bear (husband):

  • is gone six days a week, 13-14 hours a day
  • needs to have at least two meals + snacks sent with him
  • eats in the car so all food must 1. taste good cold (he doesn’t like hot food anyway), and 2. must be easily eaten with one hand
  • doesn’t mind eating similarly throughout the week, but prefers some variety from week to week
  • needs protein options and is relatively picky about foods
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“Snack Packs” of veggies offer the color and variety he craves (THM-E)

For the kiddos (ages three and under) :

  • need quick and easy breakfasts since that is the craziest part of the day
  • LOVE eating the same thing over and over again (which can be helpful some weeks..)
  • aiming for balanced eating paired with a simple rotation of meals
  • two are in a lovely stage of picky eating…yay….

For me:

  • trying to stick to a THM (Trim Healthy Mama) diet as much as possible (detailed description of THM)
  • am very comfortable eating similarly throughout the week, but prefer some variety now and then
  • prefer to have meals that only require a few minutes to cook/throw together
  • LOVE sweets. For everyone’s sakes-there better be something sweet in the house
  • am NOT an advanced-or even natural-cook, so the simpler, the better
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Everyone repeat after me, “Chocolatey goodness” (THM-S)

 

I prefer to deal with ONE meal prep/cooking day, if possible. Some people aim for once a month, others prefer every few days. All these options are great, but I find that I handle my week much better with a one day a week system. So I grocery shop the day before, then clear my schedule for the next day to tackle this (that means no cleaning, no accounting, no outings, no laundry- just meal prep).

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Grilled chicken thighs, wild rice pilaf, and steamed asparagus (THM-E)

 

So after my first day back into this system, here is what I ended up with:

For the Bear (who does not technically follow THM by the way, though I tweak his meals a little):

  • five chicken dinners packed for easy grabbing (grilled chicken thighs with wild rice pilaf and steamed asparagus) THM-E
  • four “snack packs” comprised of cherry tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, and cucumbers THM-E
  • four fruit packs-pineapple cubes and sliced strawberries (I’ll probably add a couple more at the end of the week)
  • five containers of deviled eggs. He LOVES these and I can usually send him with three whole eggs’ worth per day (THM-S)
  • I also send two roast beef sandwiches with him each day, though I don’t make these ahead of time (those are the only items I have to prep day of)
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Peanut butter cookies are ALWAYS a necessity (THM-S)

 

For the kiddos:

  • two loaves of banana bread baked for morning breakfasts (alternate with oatmeal)
  • large pot of mac and cheese, with hidden veggies inside (they found the broccoli….) for dinners (alternate with scrambled eggs with spinach or popcorn, apples, and cheese for movie night)
  • lunches are usually sandwiches or finger foods, so no early prep needed
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Another quick and yummy lunch: tuna + cheese topped Wasa crackers with strawberries and leftover Miso soup (THM-FP)

 

For me:

  • canned tuna mixed with three wedges of Laughing Cow cheese, salt and pepper (to top a couple of Wasa Rye Crackers). That gives me at least three servings. THM-FP
  • flourless peanut butter cookies THM-S
  • batch of my own version of skinny chocolate THM-S
  • two chicken dinners, with steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus THM-FP
  • two salad toppings containers-steamed asparagus, cucumbers, boiled eggs, ham, and feta cheese THM-S
  • meals I don’t prep ahead: tortilla pizzas for lunches, oatmeal with blueberries and Greek yogurt for breakfasts (THM-E), and scrambled eggs for alternate dinners (THM-S)
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Deviled eggs with turmeric and paprika (THM-S)

 

I am pleased with the first week’s results. Already half way through the week, and the family is better fed, and fewer random trips to the grocery store have occurred.

A list of meal prep goals to hopefully implement within the next few weeks:

  • return to routine of baking challah bread once a week (the Bear LOVES it for sandwiches-not THM at all, but again, he doesn’t care…)
  • concoct a couple of healthy, tasty drinks for him to take along with his water (since the current weather is crazy hot!). Experiment idea: mix Singing Canary with black unsweetened tea for an Arnold Palmer taste…hmm….
  • devise a couple more dinner ideas for the kids

We’ll see how the month progresses!!

Note: The above does not in any way indicate ALL that we eat during the week, as there are other fruits/veggies/snacks/etc…This is simply a breakdown of what I prep ahead of time to make each day smoother for us.

 

Returning to Meal Prep-Week 1 Part 1

 

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Ah, meal prep day.

You were such a good friend-challenging me to conquer a difficult area of our budget, teaching me how to balance variety with needs, keeping our family healthy and the mama sane…..

Then we moved.

We discovered that a new little bun was cooking.

And the first trimester nausea and exhaustion hit me like a brick wall-solid and unforgiving.

I lost contact with you for a while- a few months to be exact; and our little family missed you sorely.

But you stopped by for tea earlier this week, so we could reminisce and strategize a simple, baby plan for me to handle, with hopes of it growing into something more influential for our lives.

Now I’m energized and ready to say “no” to delivery pizza as a semi-weekly option. Better things are ahead.

Here we go!

Stay tuned for more details on week one of meal prepping!