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Shopping for the person who has everything is challenging. But what about the person who wants very few things?
Twice a year, I struggle to come up with gift ideas for my minimalist husband, whose wardrobe ranges from black and blue technical-fabric pants to muted plaid shirts arranged in the closet by subtle color gradient. His unstated philosophy on “things”? Buy it for life (or as long as possible), as the popular Reddit forum evangelizes.
If your partner or loved one shuns acquiring new stuff but appreciates quality items, here’s a list of gift ideas that will stand the test of time and bring joy to those who hate waste.
Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s 2020 Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!
Traditional leather belts are typically heavy and expensive. This lightweight option offers a number of improvements: exact sizing (goodbye, notches!), a closed “tail” for a streamlined look and no metal, so you won’t have to remove it for airline security — whenever we can get back to traveling again. It’s a fun alternative even for those who love tradition, and the variety of prints can add a pop of color to an otherwise monochrome wardrobe.
Coffee and tea lovers, this is the travel mug for you. This vacuum-insulated container made by Japanese brand Zojirushi keeps drinks hot for hours — 189 degrees for one hour and 160 degrees at six hours, according to the manufacturer. We have two of these in our household in different sizes (12 ounces for a cappuccino and a bigger one for other drinks), and I am often surprised at how hot my coffee is even hours later. While cleaning up the various parts of this thermos requires a little more attention, we find it’s worth it for its leak-proof, heat-retaining properties. Another bonus? Bring this mug to your local coffee shop and dump your beverage directly into the container so you can avoid sending another plastic lid into the garbage.
Looking to fill that Zojirushi mug with home-brewed coffee? Try this pair with two distinct profiles: the brighter notes of African beans (our favorite) and a more classic flavor of chocolate and toffee from a Latin American blend. We’ve tried a number of coffee subscriptions over the years, and yet we keep coming back to Parlor. Connoisseurs should also keep a lookout on the Brooklyn-based shop’s website for special offerings; it recently featured a Kenya Kairima peaberry harvest, which sold out in a matter of days.
With so many people working from home during the pandemic, eye strain from staring at smaller screens, like phones and laptops, may be taking its toll. I’ve tried a number of cheaper plastic versions, but this pair’s matte-rubberized frame makes it more comfortable for wearing long term. They also look like a regular pair of glasses — without an obvious yellow tint — and the subtle blue accent on the inner part of the lens frame adds an element of style. This pair fits both my husband and me equally well, and we jostle over who gets to use them during the workday.
Before balking at this T-shirt’s price, hear me out. If your gift recipient values natural fibers, durability, versatility and comfort, this is a garment he’ll have for years to come. Cult brand Outlier — much buzzed about on Reddit and menswear marketplace Grailed — uses 17.5-micron fibers (rather than the 18.9 used by many brands) to create a luxuriously soft fabric. This shirt, sewn in the San Francisco Bay Area, also has a heavier weight than most merino wool shirts with 195 grams per square meter, making it longer-lasting and suitable for three seasons of wear, depending on your location.
And since wool doesn’t retain odor as much as cotton, that means you don’t have to wash garments frequently — making this perfect for travel. My husband has had his shirts for over six years; he’s worn them to work, cycling through the city, traveling through Japan and Uruguay, and around the house during the pandemic. We only hope that Outlier will bring back its other great staple, merino wool socks, which remain best in class out of all the brands we’ve tried.
If your partner loves the great outdoors (or simply longs to be there), Snow Peak offers luxe yet practical camping gear that can be used at home or on the go. Titanium makes these products extremely lightweight — perfect for hiking, biking or traveling abroad, when every ounce counts. The single-wall mug means you can place it directly over a fire for heating up water at a campsite (the brand also offers versions with double-wall insulation — more comfortable for drinking hot beverages, but it can’t be used for cooking).
And this spork that comes in striking colors? Not only is it a conversation starter and perfect for your Instagram feed, but it’s also practical in everyday life to reduce waste. I’ve kept one at my desk at work, where it was the envy of co-workers on a day when we got tubs of extremely cold ice cream — and their plastic cutlery snapped in half.
Anyone who’s ever cringed at George Costanza’s stuffed wallet on “Seinfeld” will appreciate this simple sleeve. Two external slots hold up to four cards each, while a central pocket can take additional cards and folded bills. My husband has had his for over two years, and it’s held up well to daily use.
At this stage in the pandemic, most of us have many different face masks for different situations. But we find ourselves reaching for this versatile face mask again and again for everyday activities. Made by a Japanese mom in Texas, these origami-style masks have a boxy interior that makes it easier to breathe, as well as an optional filter pocket and nose clasp. You can also choose between adjustable behind-the-ear strings or over-the-head bands, which I recommend, for an extra $1.
Craftuno sells a variety of fun prints that pair particularly well with a neutral wardrobe, but there are also more understated options that still show off a bit of personality. The kids’ masks are excellent, too; our toddler daughter wears hers for hours at a time on the playground and beyond.
Say goodbye to searching for keys in pockets or bags. This key clip keeps them within arm’s reach while cycling or on your daily commute. Made of lightweight and durable titanium in the USA, this stylish key clip also features a bottle opener. It’s the gift your loved ones never knew they needed.
If you’re shopping for a gadget lover, make sure he or she has this toolkit to end all toolkits. It includes 64 steel screwdriver bits and comes with a lifetime warranty. Tinker with Apple products, drone cameras, game consoles and more. Don’t know what a spudger is? This one has three!
For analog devotees, elevate the mundane with this timeless fountain pen that's made in Germany. Writing with a fountain pen may take some practice, but this model is excellent for beginners. And it certainly beats tapping out notes on your phone.
Pair the Lamy pen with its German counterpart, a Leuchtturm1917 notebook, which comes in a beautiful array of colors and features quality paper stock. Together, they make a handsome pair on any streamlined desk. And if they’re good enough for author Neil Gaiman, they’re good enough for us.
It may be a perennial joke to receive socks or underwear as gifts, but any discerning recipient will understand that these boxers are no afterthought. Once again, it all comes down to the wonders of merino wool; not only does it keep you warm when it’s cold, but it keeps you cool when it’s hot — all while retaining fewer odors than cotton. That makes these merino boxers the perfect travel underwear.
My husband has taken these on numerous trips, including hiking in West Texas and island-hopping through Indonesia, and they’ve held up well over the years. They wash nicely in the sink and dry overnight for more rugged adventures. For a cheaper alternative (though the smell factor doesn’t compare), try Uniqlo’s Airism boxer briefs.
Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s 2020 Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:
- Bookmark this list! 41 gifts for the avid readers in your life
- 33 thoughtful gifts for couples they'll actually use
- Surprise! These 35 gifts can be delivered straight to their door
- 26 stress-relieving gifts your loved ones will seriously thank you for
- 35 gifts everyone is buying right now, according to Google