Birthday Cake

My husband’s birthday was last week and he is maybe 50% onboard with my minimalist project. At least we’re in agreement on one thing: we don’t need more stuff.

So how do you celebrate a birthday the minimalist way? For adults who are not very excited about checking off another year, it’s pretty easy. We’ve practically been holding minimalist birthday parties for ourselves for years: a nice dinner out or friends over for beer and games. That’s all we really need or want. The only problem is the birthday present. I haven’t been released from buying a present. In fact I like to give presents. The trick is going to be to get something consumable; something that won’t sit around forever not enriching our lives. So, I came up with a list of minimalist birthday presents. Some of these aren’t perfect for Nathan, but they might be for someone else.

  1. A gift membership
    We love our National Zoo membership, which gives us free parking downtown and also has reciprocal discounts to zoos and aquariums across the country. We go all the time. Most museums that aren’t already free around DC offer gift memberships, like the National Children’s Museum and the National Aquarium. Great ideas for a family with kids.
  2. Beer, wine or chocolate
    Sometimes it’s fun to just wander around Total Wine and find something new. Nathan loves beer, so a six-pack of his favorite kind or a gift card might be exactly what he needs.
  3. A night out
    Date night or a gift card to a restaurant and/or movie are always fun. We don’t typically have enough money to go anywhere fancy, so a nicer place would be special.
  4. A babysitter
    For friends, you can always offer to watch the kids. A night out without them is one of the best gifts of all time.
  5. Surprise weekend getaway
    I’ve always wanted to make Nathan pack for a trip without telling him where we’re going. Since I’m a planner and he’s more go-with-the-flow, this just might work with the two of us.
  6. Kindle gift card
    This could backfire, because you can use a Kindle gift card to buy anything on Amazon, but for someone that reads almost exclusively kindle books (and a lot of them), this could be a nice gift. I’m still a bigger fan of the library.
  7. Steam gift card
    Nathan plays a LOT of video games. I was worried about him until I read Daniel Pink’s book Drive and discovered that video games provide many with the flow experiences they need to be healthy, happy adults. Ever since then, I’ve tried to be more forgiving about the gaming. Encouraging it would be a big birthday surprise.
  8. A surprise night in
    Make the birthday boy or girl their favorite dinner, and play games or watch a movie.

I don’t know what happened to the time this year, but I ended up with a combination of #6 & #2. Nathan got a Kindle gift card, plus some candy and beer. I’m not really happy with the creativity of this gift, but I think it was well-received. Next year, I should have more time to plan.