No Present like Your Presence – Five Ideas for Gifts That Aren’t Things


In a world obsessed with material possessions, the last thing most of us need is more stuff. If you’re keen to avoid contributing to the 10 million unwanted presents potentially destined for landfill in Australia this year, we’ve got you sorted with this roundup of handy ideas for festive gifts that aren’t things. Here’s to a merry minimalist Christmas! 

The gift of learning something new

Most people have something they’d like to be better at, whether it’s cooking, photography, ceramics, gardening, illustration, painting, design, coding, woodwork, sewing, dancing, plant propagation or something slightly more left field – communicating telepathically with your pet, anyone? Whether you choose to spend time with your friend or family member learning a new skill together, book them a spot on a local workshop, pick a course from the millions of amazing online options out there or teach them something yourself (if you can whip up amazing things on the sewing machine or your sourdough skills are legendary, then it’s only right to share the love), this is a gift that will make them feel seen and adored and not to mention just a teeny bit smug once they’ve finally mastered their chosen art.  

READ MORE – #BuyBlak: A List of First Nations-Owned Businesses to Support this Christmas

A voucher for something cool

Vouchers get a bad rap for being a bit, well… boring (and we get it generic shopping centre vouchers aren’t that high on our wish list, either). But the key to a voucher that sparks joy is to make sure it’s for a brand they really love, hopefully contributing towards a meaningful purchase they’ll treasure rather than an impulse buy destined for the bin. Vouchers for experiences, while often pricey, get top marks on the no-stuff front think a meal at a restaurant they’ve always wanted to visit, a trip to an open air cinema, a kayak adventure, a bike-riding tour, a wildlife encounter, a day spa, a wine tour, a night away for a special occasion or anything else that might float their boat.


A fun subscription

Look, while technically not not stuff, a subscription means a high-quality, thoughtfully considered item will arrive as a delightful surprise in their mailbox a few times a year, which sounds pretty wonderful to us. Some of our favourite subscription ideas include independent magazines (ahem, we hear Peppermint is pretty great), fruit and veggie boxes (a caring and super-practical gesture), natural beauty boxes (for those in need of pampering and self-care), organic wine subscriptions (great for supporting indie growers and discovering new labels), flower subscriptions (for brightening up their space with seasonal blooms) and seed subscriptions (for the green thumbs and wannabe green thumbs among us). We also love WellRead, a curated subscription service for book lovers started by NSW-based former publishing professional Laura Brading, which cherry picks the hottest new fiction titles, and has options for both adults and kids. And we’re very into the idea of ethical fashion label’s Little Tienda’s seasonal dress subscription (although that’s possibly more of a gift-to-self situation, now that we think about it). 

It sounds a bit like an inspirational quote you’d find displayed at a questionably decorated Airbnb, but it’s true: one of the best gifts you can give someone is your time.

A pass they’ll use over and over

Whether it’s for an art gallery, museum, aquarium, wildlife park, theatre, science centre, swimming pool or another nearby attraction, an annual pass is truly the gift that keeps on giving (and giving and giving). Not only does it encourage your loved one to get out and about on the regular without spending any money, it also helps immerse them in their local community hopefully adding to an increased sense of belonging, wellbeing and delight in their surroundings (surely something we could all do with a little more of after the past couple of years). 

Time spent with you

It sounds a bit like an inspirational quote you’d find displayed at a questionably decorated Airbnb, but it’s true: one of the best gifts you can give someone is your time. Making and delivering a home-cooked meal, offering to babysit for a few hours, helping with cleaning or grocery shopping, offering to pick them up or drop them off somewhere, walking the dog, leaving a posy of foraged flowers on their doorstep or arranging a fun night in together with wine, face masks and a ‘90s romcom are all simple, inexpensive ways to make a tangible difference to a loved one’s life ultimately strengthening your relationship and bringing you closer together, which is surely the reason humans started giving each other gifts in the first place.