How to Give (and Receive) Like a Minimalist

The holidays are here! Flights, family, food - and obligatory gift giving. 
How do we navigate this transactional tradition with balance and awareness
while honoring the holiday spirit? 
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Since moving into minimalism a year ago, the question of gifting and receiving has come up for review. Living essentially entails only keeping - well, the essentials. Every object that enters the house undergoes personal filters of discernment, both in function and aesthetics. 
So how do gifts fit into the intentionally narrow picture?
It's important to receive with grace and gratitude, to honor the giver, and yet what if we're the recipient of something unwanted?
By making our intentions known, we can avert awkward situations and invite our loved ones into our process, even refining and inspiring new traditions.
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Here are some ideas for bringing awareness and intention into the practices of giving and receiving year-round! May you get what you're looking for...
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Pitch In!
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Most of us can think of something we've been coveting but can't justify or afford. By coordinating a shared gift, we can easily give someone what they really want! Lately I've had a lot of fun and success with this approach by connecting a loved one's closest circle to pitch in on their chosen item. It's a great way to connect community, infuse meaning and deliver something truly special!
This can go both ways - offer to arrange it for someone you love next birthday or holiday, or propose it for yourself! It may seem strange at first to ask for what you really want, but I find that people are grateful for the direction and clarity.
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Give Experiences
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Most of us already have what we need! Avoid the clutter and waste of things by gifting someone an experience - museum passes, theater tickets, live music, spa, dinner, dance lessons, craft or cooking class, ClassPass or Audible subscription, housecleaning, DNA test, hiking and a picnic...
Go with them and make it a bonding experience!
Airbnb Experiences also offers unique experiences hosted by locals - my brother surprised me for my birthday last year by organizing a photo shoot while I was in Paris, which was fun, memorable and came with the keepsake of photos!
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Shop Small
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Give meaningful gifts while supporting small businesses!
Local, handcrafted, artisan gifts feel special to support, give and receive.
Instead of contributing to big names and chains,
support the businesses of your friends and community!
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Get Creative!
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Handmade gifts can be thoughtful and budget friendly. Showcase your special skills by creating your own gifts!
Could be a home cooked meal, a hand knitted scarf, homemade bread, a foraged tea medley, a personalized playlist, one-of-a-kind artwork, recipe compilation, handwritten card, freshly-picked bouquet... 
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Give to a Good Cause
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Consider paying it forward!
Choose a charity from a vetted evaluator like givewell.org,
something closer to home like the California Wildfires through redcross.org,
or create your own cause on platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe!
Facebook also makes it easy to create a fundraiser or donate your birthday to a select cause!
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Opt Out!
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Avoid obligatory gift-exchanges like Secret Santa.
Suggest virtual or energetic exchanges instead!
If all else fails - try tough love. 
Graciously accept any gifts, write thank you's, but don't reciprocate with physical niceties. You'll likely not receive something physical next year. Awkward, but effective!
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Make it a Plastic-Free Holiday!
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Invite your friends and family into the plastic-free challenge this season!
It's a great filter towards ethical and quality goods or experiences.
The holidays are the most wasteful time of year, as all curbs can attest to on Dec 26th. Think of it as your gift to earth.
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Above all, it's about presence, not presents.
Create space for sharing toasts, gratitudes, jokes, stories, acknowledgments.
Rejuvenate old traditions with fresh energy, new rituals and deeper meaning.
The time we have together is precious.
Happy holidays, near and far - 
I love you!