Burning man - gift ideas

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NOTE: This page is a daughter page of: Burning man

Burning man is an annual event, representing an iconic experiment in community and art. You can read about the 10 main principles of burning man on my main Burning man page.... this page focuses in on the sixth principle: **gifting**.

Giving gifts is never required, but it's something burners love to do for each other without any expectation of something back.

"I want you to have this because it makes me happy to see you happy."

A gift can be anything, big or small.... practical or luxury.... physical or emotional. On this page I'm going to write down a bunch of ideas to help inspire you.

Gift Idea List

Pretty Gifts



  • temporary tattoos ......... (spiritual designs always fun to apply!)
  • stickers .................... (just don't be MOOPy)
  • sculpture .................... (little one, or maybe there is a special shell near your local home - a story)
  • toy koala / car / dinosaur ................. (trinkets can be fun)
    • Tip: trinkets are fun, but get lost, UNLESS they come with a keychain or something. I gave away little koalas one day, it represents where I'm from, and I could clip them to people's mug or clothes so they became part of the outfit... and a fun story they can tell


Think about what people are likely to forget. Maybe not toilet paper though, keep it classy. :)



Drink / Refreshment

  • scented water spray .......... (80c for a little bottle fill with water + lavender oil)
    • Tip: Bring your own big spray bottle with you and you can use melted ice in any cooler to leave camp with cold water for spraying, people love it!
  • beer! .......... (if you can keep it cold, you are a champion)


People love a tasty snack out in the middle of the playa if you bring extra. Chocolate will melt, but you can get creative.

  • frozen berries ...... (soo good)
  • protein bars .......... (they mostly taste bad to me, but you might find a good one)
  • pickles ................. (surprisingly fun, share a pickle)
  • mandarin orange ..............(most fruits don't keep, but it was fun to meet a girl called "Clementine" because that was her main gift each year)


  • hug coupon .............. (cute - just print your own)
  • massage coupon ....... (I did this my first year... I gave 30 minute massages... lots of time, but people loved this the most!)
  • massage oil ........... (I couldn't find anything under $5 on amazon, but buy a huge massage oil and fill a bunch of empty nice $1 bottles)
    • Tip: Great gift for a couple or challenge two people... "you should use it on her right now, she probably wants a massage")

A Message

  • printed poem ....... (I did this my second time, and it was a big hit, next time I'll put them in 6x4 sleeves)
  • fridge magnet ........ (find something beautiful or print your own and put magnetic tape on the back)
  • taro cards ........ (~10c a card for a lovely deck - not for everyone, but if you believe in spirit animals or are spiritual, you might love making people pick a card to keep)
  • card reading ....... (a friend simply brought a beautiful pack of playing cards, you'd chose one randomly and she'd tell you meaning of your playing card, and it was very profound for most people)


A song, a mug (some people forget), inscribed carabiners (better than gold), BM patches (some people sew), flashlight, shot glass, marbles for massage, head massage thingy (sooo good), salve (ointment), t-shit (more a camp thing), handkerchief, clothes, mirror, makeup kit, joke book, hilarious BRC weekly newspaper (brcweekly.com - print or grab a stack for your entire camp).

... and I'd suggest drugs, but drugs are illegal. Surely nobody at burning man does drugs. Oh the horror. :)

... and see also my main Gift ideas page!

Popular Gifts versus Special Gifts

Popular gifts are usually something **light** and **inexpensive**, like little necklaces or bracelets, because you don't want to take up a tonne of space in your packing. Depending on your interactions with people, you might give away up to 5 gifts per day, so if you're going for the full week (I hope you are), you might easily want 50 of these gifts. So yes, think carefully about cost - $1-3 is probably your target per item just to stay under $100! Don't just try amazon.com, try aliexpress.com too (think Alibaba for small orders).

The best gifts however are **meaningful**. Hopefully it's something meaningful to you, which is why many people make their own jewelry to give away, or write a poem, or do a reading, or even you might gift a hug or massage. A special gift isn't just one where you say: "here, have a tacky necklace".... it's where you have a deep conversation... eye contact - in some cases cry together... and then say "this was really special, I want you to have something from my heart".... suddenly then even a shiny rock you give that person has meaning, because it representing your interaction. Maybe in some way your gift represents something about you.


Come the last day of my second burn, I was gifted me a beautiful fur coat because they said they were moving and trying to downsize. For a second it felt like too much, but it also felt special, so I took the gifts with a huge smile and returned a huge hug. I didn't have any gifts left to give, but that was okay. The hug said it all. I'd had a wonderful time chatting to these people, and even though I didn't leave them with anything physical, there are other people on the playa I had gifted to. It balances out.

It's not about monetary value, it's about the pleasure of helping others. That same year, I met a few people without lights, so I gifted one a spare headlamp I had, and another some el-wire for their bike. I didn't want anything from either of them in return. Just the promise they'd use the lighting to say safe, and a wonderful hug! Milla was an incredible 9 year old girl at our camp who I'd had lots of fun hanging out with, and gifted some second hand clothes. Eddie from our camp gifted her an incredible ornate backpack which he was gifted but clearly couldn't fit on his broad shoulders. That was one of my favorite burning man moments. Just before she left, Milla left me an incredible note in my tent and gifted me her cape, because she remembered our conversation about how much we loved capes. That was a truly special gift, especially from someone so young to have remembered. :)

Gifts I've Given

On my first year, I decided my gift would be **massage**... I brought a massage table I set up at the front of the camp, oil and silly little coupons, and I must have had up to 20 people come to me with sore shoulders or backs (pains from building), or just wanting touch.

On my second year, I was busy with an art project with Inferno that we called Burning man - MyFace project, so I didn't leave myself much time to buy a gift... I ordered a set of 10 nifty multi-tool cards that I know guys would love, but then I realized the theme for the year was metamorphosis.... and I had written a poem about a butterfly for a friend, which I could adapt and print out as a fridge magnet. I also wrote my own poem about burning man which was fun. Here are the two poems I gifted to people as my main gift. I printed probably 50, but I wish I'd printed 100.

Burning man gift bm poem.jpg Burning man gift butterfly poem.jpg

Adding Your Address

Sometimes your interaction is so wonderful you'll want to meet that person again. Okay, so let's be honest... what I mean is you meet a cute girl and you'll want to meet her again. It doesn't hurt to put your camp address on your gift somewhere. People do it. Just know that unless someone is from your camp, you'll probably never see them again, even if you have a sharpie and write your camp address on their arm.

Notice the end of my poems say: "Playa: Owl from Wrongtown (4:00 and H)... default world: Andrew Noske from San Francisco, {phone number} {emails}", but I really wasn't naive enough on my second burn to expect anyone to visit me since even meeting people in your own camp is challenging! Also it means you have to wait till probably 1 months before burning man to find your camp address from unofficialbrcmap.com, and by then it gives you less time to online order. Ouchie. Lots of people will tell you about their camp party etc... you'll probably never go. I was impressed by one guy who had custom printed military dog tags that said "if lost, return to Gonzo {address}", and probably cost him a fortune, I'm pretty sure he was from a turn key camp, but I never visited him. Too much other stuff. If you want to give someone your BM address and/or real world number, have a separate little printed sleeve or just ask! Put it into your phone, take a pic, and know that even then, the only way you'll see them again is to make a solid plan then and there to meet the next day at a fixed structure. Even then it's likely something will come up for one of you. So yes.... collect addresses, but just know that BM is very much go with the flow, so don't expect anyone to show up to your camp unless you are neighbors or really do connect on a deeper level - which you can't possibly do with 50 people at burning man.... just a special few. :)


While little jewelry pieces are the most popular gift, I'd ask you not to limit yourself. The concept of a gift is abstract. Listening to someone is a gift. Giving away spare water. Helping build a structure. An idea. A song. A compliment. Heartfelt advice. A dance. A hug. You being present is the greatest gift on the playa. Bring along something fun and physical, but know that giving isn't about the material object itself. It's about the way that you gift.

See Also