Life Advice



Ask Amy: Minimalist wants to maximize birthday gift

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

– I’m Not Cheap

Dear Not Cheap: There is no need to buy anything in order to give a child a wonderful gift.

This child knows you well. She might enjoy a “coupon” for an experience.

You can make a special card for her, telling her that she can choose her own activity and “spend” this card on: A special “play date” with you; a “cooking lesson,” where you will assist her as she makes a special dish in the kitchen; two-hours with you, ice skating or kicking a soccer ball… (the options are fairly endless).

Make sure she understands that she should keep the card and think about the choices she can make. She can talk it over with you, make her selection, and enjoy her special birthday gift along with you.

And a note about gift cards: If you are truly a minimalist concerned about consumerism, you should rethink this practice, because in using gift cards, you are basically encouraging spending, buying, and consuming.


You might better give cash (the person could choose to save it, or pay some bills), or treat the recipient to drinks, a bite, or a movie ticket.

Dear Amy: I lost my father last month. He was 94 years old. I miss him.

I have no other relatives in my area. I have cousins living in another state, but I don't travel.

I was able to get through Thanksgiving, but Christmas will be worse without my father.


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