Everyone has that friend or relative whose name you pray you won’t draw for the family gift exchange each year. Some people are nearly impossible to shop for! After going tiny this year, we are finding that our family and friends need a little extra guidance when making their shopping lists. So, here is a full-proof guide to minimalist shopping. These 21 must-have items will win applause from anyone living tiny or minimizing. Each item has been bought, field-tested, and LOVED by our family of four and we live in just over 200 square feet.
If you live simply, it is best to be clear and upfront as to what you want or needs this holiday season. Gone are the times where you had the room to store unwanted items. If we don’t have a place or a use for something, we give it away; plain and simple. If a clothing item doesn’t fit right, it is donated. If toys go un-played with, they are given to kids who have less than ours. So be straight with your shoppers so they don’t waste their time or money and so it saves your sanity after the wrapping paper settles this Christmas.
Top 21 Must-Have Items for Tiny Living:
3M Hooks-The stocking stuffer of the century, these little hooks are easy to hang and come off without marking your walls. When your space is limited, it is important to care for what you have. We have hung everything from baskets to pictures, towels to coats. Someone saving space can’t get enough of an item that gives them the ability to utilize vertical space when floor real estate is almost non-existent. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Shark Rotator Vacuum-There are not words. If you don’t own this vacuum, put down what you are doing and go get one. I’ll wait. For real this sweeper is lightweight, portable, cordless, and rechargeable. It also rotates on a dime. It is easy enough to handle that our six years old freely volunteers to run it throughout the house and can even navigate the stairs! Buy this. You won’t regret it! Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Portable Washing Machine-When we were first going tiny, a washing machine was a priority. I didn’t want to spend my weekends in a laundromat in some strange place as we traveled. The Avalon Bay Eco Wash changed all that. After reviewing built-in combo washer/dryers and finding out they weren’t the economic space-savers that we had hoped, we saved the money and left it off of our must-have list. A month into our tiny journey, we bought a hand crank washing machine from Avalon Bay and we haven’t looked back! We are able to use infinitely less water, drain nothing into our gray tanks, reuse the wash water to put out campfires, and line dries our clothes. Seriously. Life-changing. Our son loves to crank the machine and a full load is finished in about 5 minutes from start to finish. Our one and a half-year-old daughter even help unload! Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Folding Table-We opted for the white 6ft Office Star folding table with a handle. This fits perfectly into our underpass storage when not in use and provides more than enough room for crafts, homeschool, or outdoor dinner parties when we need it! This winter, my husband is using it under the fifth wheel in his tarp-enclosed man cave. Everything must have multiple uses when living tiny. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Bluetooth Speaker– This portable speaker by Archeer is not only durable and portable, but it is water resistant and has a clip for hanging while we rock out! Our family is big on dance parties and on spending most of our time outside so this little gem allows us to blast our tunes and rock out whether we are hiking, cooking out, or riding on the bike path near where we are parked. This is a definite must-have this holiday season! Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Stabilizer Jacks-To say our purchase of the two-packs of Camco Olympian stabilizing jacks was life-changing would be the understatement of 2017. When your house is not on a foundation, rocking the proverbial boat is the norm. This affordable two pack of jacks allowed us to only need to buy two boxes to make our new abode perfectly leveled and rock solid. Even in the Ohio winds, we don’t feel movement in our 36ft fifth wheel. Added bonus: they are outside, underneath the rig, so they take up no usable living space! Buy them. Buy them right now. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Eno Hammock– The Eagle’s Nest Outdoors Double Hammock was gifted to us almost ten years ago as a wedding gift by a fellow employee and friend in an outdoor gear shop where my husband and I worked. We were psyched to use it, but having kids and a house and jobs meant our days of hammock napping halted. Now that we live tiny, we are able to nap away and enjoy the seasons outside with a book and our kiddos climbing in and out of it with us! This double nester can hold up to 400lbs so we can all scrunch together. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Collapsible Dishes-We use the Pampered Chef set of 3 mixing bowls in our tiny because it gives you a large mixer, one the perfect size for popcorn, and the small one is great for a large bowl of noodles or cereal. Plus, these all come with lids! We have had them for years and they are still going strong. Totally worth the investment for the name brand! Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Metal Hanging Baskets– I love the functionality and design of these Home Traditions metal hanging baskets. We use them for books in the bunkhouse for the kids and I use them like a BOSS in the bathroom. I have one beside the john for my lady items and the other beside the sink for hairdryer, mirror, hairbrush, and hair accessories. This not only keeps little items organized but also allows them to be stored on the wall, freeing up valuable real estate inside cabinets and on shelves. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Coffee Mug and Wine Glass Hanging Rack– My husband and I have made some DIY gift every year since we’ve been together because most Christmases we didn’t have much money. Last year he made me the most perfect gift as we prepped to go tiny and Reclaimed Oregon makes one too! This combination coffee mug and wine glass rack is hilarious and functional. Plus, the reclaimed pallet wood looks great in our kitchen! Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Knife Magnet Strip-We started out with a cheap self-stick magnet strip from the craft store, but this Modern Innovations magnet has easy-to-install directions and can put your sharp knives both out of reach of tiny hands as well as freeing up the space they’d otherwise take up in your silverware drawer. The added bonus for us is that this is something you don’t have to take down, move, or secure when you are ready to drive down the road. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Multi-Use Ottoman (Storage and Stool)-We started out with an off brand, but this Seville Classics set of two storage ottomans wears many hats. They are a stool that can handle up to 400lbs, they are a cushy ottoman which–in our house–makes our couch into an L-shape, and there is storage inside both in the main compartment AND in a removable top basket. We store all of our daughter’s diapers, wipes, etc so it is very functional and at-the-ready when we need it. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Hanging Rack for Broom/Mop-We just invested in this piece from RockBirds because I was getting annoyed by the rigged up to set up we had in our living room for our mop, broom, and vacuum. This hangs it all and then some. Since we have the luxury of a half bath for our kiddos, we just hang these in there because they are out of the way and now they aren’t an eyesore in the middle of our living space. Sidenote: the smaller hooks are also perfect for bathroom towels! Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Stackable Seating-These Furmax stackable metal stools are durable and can seat a family of four while only taking up the space of one stool when stacked. They are easy to move but durable enough to withstand our rowdy kiddos. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Outdoor Rug-We cannot say enough about these Green Decore indoor/outdoor rugs to expand your living space. Many who go tiny are outdoor lovers and these rugs make the perfect outdoor living space. They are durable and can be washed by simply spraying them off with a hose. We eat on them, play on them, and even lay on them for outdoor movie nights. We bought two at the 10 x 8 size and LOVE them! Many sizes, designs, and colors are available to fit all style preferences. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Shower Hanging Rack-This used to hang in our stand up shower when we had a 2000 square foot home. Now, we hang it over the RV shower wall with a simple S hook and it allows us to store shampoo, soap, razors, washcloths, etc without taking up valuable space in our tiny shower stall. Inter Design Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
11″ Electric Skillet-This ToastMaster 11″ electric skillet replaced a larger one we previously owned in our regular house. We bought it after reading suggestions from other tiny dwellers. During the summer we rely on our grill the most, but as the seasons change, this is great for making everything from pancakes to hamburgers and it only takes up part of the space we’d otherwise not even use under our fridge. It doesn’t pull much electricity so that isn’t a concern and it washes up nicely. Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Collapsible Tote Storage-These CleverMade collapsible totes are my jam! Friends, when I say we use totes, I mean they are basically an extension of our family. When you live tiny and are mobile often, you are used to changing out your wardrobe by seasons, storing camping/hiking/biking/climbing gear, keeping dog food away from curious mice, and even bathing your children with the outdoor shower because WE DO WHAT WE WANT! 🙂 These totes compact down flat when not in use, they are stackable, and they are so durable! For real, this is a go-to item that anyone living any sized life would love! Click HERE to shop what we use and love!
Experiences-You can never go wrong buying memberships or tickets to making memories. Since going tiny, we have visited more zoos, aquariums, museums, and parks than in the combined 12 years we have been together. Our kids love making memories and, BONUS, most of our experiences count for Roadschooling credits for our son. These items are hot commodities for tiny dwellers so check out what is available where they are parked.
Non-Toy Subscriptions-KiwiCo is a subscription our kids love because they get mailed delivered to them. This is a lost art and our kids live for it! As parents, we love that each box includes hands-on learning, building, or art that gets our kids excited about learning new things and creating with their hands. This isn’t junk you’d just trash after they bring it home. Plus, you can choose your child’s age group so if you have a lower or higher performing kiddo, you can choose based on their ability level. We love, love love them. There are many subscription boxes out there for kids and grown-ups alike so check into them!
Hobby Items-Most people who go tiny or minimize have special interests. Find out what they are and invest in those. With such small living space, we end up with way more free time before which is awesome if you have something to do. You can’t go wrong with something they are already interested in or have always wanted to learn. Plus, this can be a very heartfelt and thoughtful purchase that they will cherish.
This gift guide is not only for those living tiny. Many are looking to organize, de-clutter, and downsize their super-sized way of life. Consider these things when Christmas shopping this season. It is kind of amazing how much joy can come with thoughtful, practical gift-giving!
Brynn Burger lives tiny, loves big, and laughs always. Writing with honest hilarity and violent vulnerability about parenting, adulting, downsizing, living tiny, and raising an extreme child is her attempt to escape the painful isolation that comes from a life of hiding to instead connect with people who are raw and real. Check her out at www.themamaontherocks.com.