10 Gifts You Should Politely Decline As A Minimalist

And exactly what to say to the present giver.

Christmas is approaching faster than it takes you to scroll through all your favorite Instagram Stories. With the pressure to buy gifts for everyone, you also might be nervous at the thought of politely declining an “unnecessary” gift.

Full disclaimer, we all will have different perspectives on what makes something “necessary” and “unnecessary.” You might need another pair of socks, for the 17th Christmas in a row.

However, there are gifts that you probably don’t need while on your minimalism journey.

1. An Ugly Christmas Sweater

I get it. It’s your family’s biggest tradition to take pictures every year in your matching ugly-sweaters that your Great-Great Aunt made. But to have a sweater that you wear once a year for pictures isn’t a “need”.

2. More Socks

If you have 7 pairs of socks and wash them weekly you’re set. Even if the washer or dryer monster eats them.

3. The Newest Technology

Okay, you might want to kill me on this one but please tell me what’s wrong with the $2,000 laptop you bought a few years ago!? A few hard-drives, an update, or even deleting old documents does the system good!

4. Concert Tickets That You Don’t Want To Go To

Standing in a mosh pit next to sweaty and intoxicated strangers for 5 or more hours for a band that you don’t even listen to. Sounds fun, right? Negative.

5. The “Competition” Gift

Have family members who are always in competition to give people the “best” gifts? Yeah… just run

6. The “Thanks-But-I-Bought-This-Already” Gift

Why have duplicates? When it runs out or breaks you can buy a new one. Fear of it being discontinued? Nah, we don’t operate in fear over here. Plus, there will probably be a newer or better version of it in 3-6 months.

7. Intentionally “Stupid” Gifts

Again. Stupid is relative. But you should say no to Big Hair Feet Slippers. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

8. The “Meet-Your-New-Pet-Without-A-Heads-Up” Gift

Yeah just no.

9. The “I-Hope-You-Change” Gift

Maybe you finally decided on your dream school and your Uncle gets you a sweatshirt from his alma mater. Nah, nah, nahhh!

10. Offensive Gifts

That one cousin who gets you the shadiest gifts and you have to smile and say, “Thanks, Stephanie. I’ll put this with the last set of stuff you got me that I asked you not to get” *Dumps balding products, wrinkle cream, and the 5th scale you’ve got in a row.*

As For How

Now, that you know what to say “no” to, I’m sure you’re wondering how the heck do I tell them no. Coming from a former people-pleaser, this can be hard but here are 3 ways to be kind while rejecting an offer:

1. What Do You Want To Do?

I really appreciate you thinking of me, especially during a hectic season. I know I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m being mindful of what I own. Since, I’ve already purchased this I no longer need ‘X’. Would you like it back or can I gift this to someone else?”

Even if they’re upset, you’ve made your intentions clear, concise, and firm. By giving them the option of what happens, the gifter feels more in control and you remain under no pressure to keep it.

2. Want To Spend Some Time Together?

“Thank you for thinking of me! You are so important in my life that I want to be honest. I actually don’t need ‘X’ because I’m decluttering my home right now. I’d really love to spend more time with you! When are you free together?”

If you value experiences and your top love language is quality-time then I’d highly recommend this response. This helps the gifter to not feel rejected. You’ve made it clear that it’s about a lack of space on your end and not that you secretly hate it.

3. I’m A Minimalist

“Hey, Karen! Thank you for the kind gesture. Do you remember me talking with you (last week, 2 months ago, etc.) about how I’m starting a minimalism journey. Yeah, well, I’ve started to keep only my necessities and I actually don’t need this right now.”

Need to be firm? Always, always start with gratitude. Be clear that you’ve spoken to them about your values before Christmas.

You can even remind them of the date (if it’s been the 2nd or 3rd consecutive year in a row) but no need if it was their first time. Then reassure them that it’s about necessities versus hating the gift.

Give more love, less crap.


To echo every minimalist blogger right now, Christmas is about being present with your loved ones and not the presents. If the holidays are a tough time for you then I hope that this intentionally silly list made you laugh a little.

Don’t let the pressure to keep stuff for the sake of the giver make you anxious later.

You’re allowed to kindly decline to temporarily hurt someone’s feelings for the sake of not being anxious later.

You’re not a bad person just for having boundaries, even during Christmas.

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