My family is what minimalists hope for when they decide to stop prioritizing the accumulation of more possessions.
For as long as I've been able to make a wishlist, my family has stuck to it about 90%. While I'm a big lover of surprises (and that's not something I get too often as a result), it means I don't end up with a lot of gifts I don't really want.
Keep a Wishlist
I keep a running wishlist on Amazon all year long—it's actually a great way to satiate an impulse to buy something.
Then, when Christmas comes around, I have a variety of things I'm confident I want because I've been thinking about them for a while.
Ask for What You Want
One of my friends is so great at picking out accessories that fit my style and it's something I find frustrating to do myself. So when she asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told her earrings or a necklace. And she delivered!
I'm so glad she asked that from now on I might actually be more proactive with people I always exchange presents with. Even the people who know you best aren't mindreaders, so if they really know power drills or external hard-drives or whatever, let them put that ability to good use on something they'll know you want or need
It's Okay to Be Practical
As a kid, I was terrible about appreciating gifts like clothes because let's face it, I was 5. This year, I actually asked for socks and towels.
Why? Because these are things I use almost every day and nice versions can be pricier than I want to pay myself—so I'll just keep wearing mildly worn out items. Excuse me while I go enjoy my new fluffy microfiber bath sheet.
Be a Gift-Giving Model
Sometimes people aren't accustomed to thinking outside the box when it comes to gifting. Step one is rejecting the idea that giving something is the most important thing—does your friend really need mediocre candy or your niece another a holiday stuffed animal?
Spend the time and energy it takes to consider what each person would genuinely enjoy. This year, I bought my brother a ticket to a 2Cellos performance in his new town since he plays cello and loves rock music. On that note...
Ask for Experiences
Last year, I asked my Dad for a gift certificate for a workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Earlier in the year, I'd taken an intro bookbinding class and loved it, but the next binding class was too expensive for me to comfortably buy for myself.
This year, my favorite part of Christmas was, hand's down, interviewing my grandmother with the Storycorp app. I love her to death and she told me some great stories—which I can listen to any time, forever.
If minimalism is about getting down to what you really love most, I couldn't have asked for a better haul this Christmas.