Clutter always finds the way to creep into our lives. One way that I found things coming to ruin the work I've done to reach a minimalist essential state is receiving gifts. The idea of someone making an effort to buy me something new and then I say ops it's not a needed item I will sell it feels inappropriate and rude. Yet you will be a hypocrite if you keep things that you absolutely don't need. I found a way to reduce and almost eliminate this from happening and decided to write to you my own guide of how to receive gifts as a minimalist.
1- Be verbal about it, share it with others
Before anything, if people don't have a clue about your journey then you failed to express yourself. Be upfront yet not in a persuasive manner. You don't need to lecture people about their behavior and don't go telling everyone "hey minimalism is the only way". All you need to do is casually tell your friends and family that you placed products in a position that made you think negatively. Approach them as this is something you decided to do for your own good. When you mention it to others they will think twice before buying you something. And definitely, might ask you what would be good as a gift for you. And this it doesn't need to happen right before your birthday or an event that requires the courtesy of gift giving. But in general, you need to let people who care about you know.
2- Make a wishlist
Start with big events for that. Put things you need even if it's a small thing. Make for your birthday a wish list and try to have it full of big expensive items and cheap small items. I remember I asked for a watch and three of my friends split the cost upon them. And sometimes I just needed a 10 euro frame from Ikea and added it. Things you need when they come as a gift make you feel relieved. You know that it's something you wanted and you got it! No more gifts that we don't even like the sight of.
3- Money and gift cards help
Instead of a list if you don't like it, mention that you would appreciate it more if they give you money or a gift card. Gift cards could later be used whenever you need them. I always got IKEA, Amazon, Apple cards they are the handiest cards in my opinion and the most needed. And my favorite from them is Amazon honestly I buy most of my things there so it's the one I always ask my friends to get me when I have no clue what to add to my wishlist.
4- Travel gifts
I always loved that I get gifts from my fellow friends and family when they travel. Tea, oils, food, cigarettes, and chocolates are beautiful to get and very memorable. They give you an experience and an essence of the country. You don't need local clothes nor artifacts they give joy once you get them but then they go to the shelves and be forgotten. The taste of Indian chai, Swiss chocolate, American tobacco, Japanese sweets, Moroccan oils,...etc. see just talking about these things took you to those places by the thought. And as a traveler, I can assure you all tastes love these gifts and they are always used and have a better place in the hearts of people than an item that might be used or not.
5- Hospital gifts
Plants and chocolates are on my top list. They are easy to use up honestly. If you want to be more thoughtful I like to get a fluffy robe or blanket for people who had surgeries as they are needed in cold seasons they make them feel better in the hospital I promise you. If you get plants try to buy something that is potted in soil, easy to grow, and indoor plants. Also, you may get peace lilies as they are identified by NASA as air purifiers. Being thoughtful and telling others when they ask you do you need anything when we come visit is essential. Those are things you can ask for if you have no need for something else.
6- House visiting guest
I love to entertain my friends and invite them to my house. Which sometimes gets me in trouble as they ask me, What do you want us to bring along? And if you don't tell them what you want they will bring you something anyway. My solution to this was asking for Supermarket gift cards or discount cards. Usually, I request them for the supermarkets, drugstores, and department stores nearby my house. This makes it easier for them to buy it on their way to my place also for me to use them when I need something from these places. If you don't find this appealing then plants make a nice accessory in your home but make sure to ask for an easy to grow, low maintenance, indoor plant. If all else fails to ask to bring food along and turn it into a shared dish party.
I hope these tips helped you. But remember minimalism is all about trial and error so it's ok if you miss one thing or another. It takes time to learn and those tips were acquired by lots of trial and errors I assure you.