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Minimalist faces major dilemma over friend's birthday present idea: 'I feel like there's just no polite way to tell people'

"Nobody listens if I say I don't want anything."

Minimalist gift, birthday present ideas

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Several Redditors recently discussed what to do to convince friends and family not to buy them unwanted birthday presents.

The discussion took place in February on r/minimalism, a subreddit whose members "appreciate simplicity." Many strive for a minimalist lifestyle that avoids unnecessary purchases and accumulating unneeded belongings.

"I feel like there's just no polite way to tell people I just don't want … stuff," says the original poster. "Any ideas on how to go about it? Nobody listens if I say I don't want anything."

In the comments, examples of gifts that even a minimalist would appreciate are plentiful. 

"You could suggest non-stuff things to get you, like movie tickets, a membership to a nearby museum, or a gift card to a restaurant you enjoy," says one commenter. 

Another responds, "That's what I try to do. … Cover the cost of me doing something fun! Make an opportunity more available to me! Give me an idea for something to do!" 

Many also agree that shared experiences with the gift-giver are perfect because they strengthen the relationship without adding junk to the recipient's house.

Commenters also agree that consumable items like food are fine — as are gift cards that allow the recipient to choose something useful for themselves. "I always ask for a Visa gift card or a Barnes and Noble gift card," says one user.

Another often-repeated suggestion is charity donations. "Ask them to donate to a cause that is important to you instead," one user says, "or they can plant a tree in your name?" 

For those who chose their minimalist lifestyle out of concern for what overconsumption and manufacturing do to the environment, this seems like the ideal solution because it's good for the planet.

One user boils the comments down to a single basic principle. "The general theme is: people respond much better to suggestions for what they can give you than to being told what they can't." The same advice could apply to any gift-giving situation.

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