According to the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, each of us gives and receives love differently. As you may have guessed from the title, he breaks these down into five basic love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts and Physical Touch.
We each have one or two primary love languages, and as you can see, Receiving Gifts is only one of those five options. For many people, physical presents don’t make them feel as loved as spending quality time with someone or receiving a thoughtful gesture, like soup when they’re sick or help on a project. For others, they feel most appreciated when someone tells them how they feel about them or expresses it through physical affection.
So maybe the best gift for that special someone you’re still shopping for can’t be bought at a mall or wrapped in a bow. Here are some suggestions for meaningful, personalized gifts that speak to the other love languages. (If you’re not sure what your loved one’s primary love language is, I’ve also included a quiz at the bottom of this entry, to point you in the right direction).
Acts of Service – Grab a few blank sheets of paper and some brightly colored markers and make a personalized gift certificate for a free car wash, foot rub, homemade dinner, or batch of your loved one’s favorite cookies. If you want to get fancy, you can print these up on the computer or make a whole booklet of certificates they can redeem with you.
Quality Time – Plan an experience that you and your loved one can have together. This can be as simple as dinner and a movie or more elaborate, like taking a big trip or going on a mini-adventure, like zip-lining, together.
Words of Affirmation – Write your loved one a heartfelt letter, poem or story. My parents still tell me that their favorite gift from me was when I gave them each a jar of 365 of some of my happiest memories with them, so that they could pull one for each day of the year. If 365 feels overwhelming, just write out 52, and your loved one can still pull one for every week of the year. Or instead of writing down your favorite memories together, write down all the qualities that you love about that person.
Physical Touch – Treat your loved one to day of pampering or a massage at their favorite spa—or better yet, give them one yourself. For your romantic partner, plan an intimate evening together that will awaken all their senses, including touch. Cook a meal together, savoring the aromas, flavors, and feeling of working with your hands as you chop vegetables and knead dough. Take a luxurious bath with fresh rose petals or essential oils like orange and bergamot). Create something together: take a pottery class, a woodworking lesson, or buy some paint and a blank canvas and get to work.
And for those of you who already know the perfect present to purchase and do need to brave the mall (or maybe even work there), come back tomorrow, when I’ll be sharing some tips for how to thrive in those long lines and crowded parking lots.
LOVE LANGUAGE QUIZ
1. How does your loved one express love to you and other people?
a. Through touch
b. By spending time with them
c. By doing things for them
d. By giving gifts
e. By telling you through words or writing
2. What does he or she request most from you and other loved ones?
a. More hugs/kisses/sex
b. Spending more time together
c. Help with chores/errands/work
e. Compliments or words of affirmation
3. What does he or she frequently complain about in your relationship or his/her relationship with other people?
a. That you’re not affectionate enough
b. That you don’t spend enough time together
c. That he/she needs more support in his/her dreams or more help around the house
d. That you don’t buy him/her enough things or forget important occasions like birthdays and anniversaries
e. That you don’t compliment him/her or say “I love you” enough
4. How does he or she show love for himself/herself?
a. By getting a massage, doing some form of physical activity like yoga or dance, or expressing himself/herself through art projects or crafts
b. By taking time off to be by himself/herself and do the things that bring him/her joy
c. By doing self-care rituals
d. By buying himself or herself gifts or small treats
e. By using positive affirmations or mantras or by expressing himself/herself through writing
If you answered:
Mostly A’s – consider giving a gift that involves Physical Touch
Mostly B’s – consider giving a gift that involves Quality Time
Mostly C’s – consider giving a gift that involves Acts of Service
Mostly D’s – consider buying an actual Gift that your loved one can unwrap
Mostly E’s – consider giving a gift that involves Words of Affirmation
Also, consider taking a moment to ask yourself what makes you feel most loved and appreciated: physical touch, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, or words of affirmation?