Tis the season for stressing out over what to give all your dearest, darlingest pals. Buying and giving gifts around the holidays is kind of a love it or hate it experience.
I love brainstorming and settling on the perfect gift for my loved ones, but it can get expensive and time consuming *real*fast. Everyone has different holiday shopping styles, but I’ve found one that one thing rings true for anyone: you have to think about what the recipient would want, not what you would want. Sound simple enough, no? But when it comes to your inner circle, finding the “perfect” gift takes on another level of pressure.
These days there’s a niche gift guide for just about every interest and demographic.
This gift guide based on love languages is designed to help you take the vague, sometimes intimidating, task of finding the perfect present and make it more intentional. If you’re not familiar with the 5 love languages, this article does a great job of explaining how they show up in both romantic and platonic/familial relationships. Keep reading for ideas based on each love language!
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Words of Affirmation
People who have words of affirmation as a love language value verbal/written compliments and comments of appreciation or encouragement.
A thoughtful card
Regardless of the gift you select, writing a well thought out card to go along will pack a little more punch. Rather than just a to/from tag or a pre-written card saying “happy holidays,” at minimum throw in a sentence or two about something you appreciate about the recipient. If you are closer and/or more fluent in this love language, write a whole card thanking them for being in your life or sharing what you like or love about them.
A meaningful book
This could be a book that reminds you of them, that you love and want to share, or a generally uplifting and affirming book. A few books that empower me or just make me happy are You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Be Wild, Be Free by Amber Fossey, and Untamed by Glennon Doyle.
Clothing with a positive phrase
Not only will a tee shirt or sweatshirt with an encouraging or positive message make your recipient happy when they first open their gift, every time they wear it they can think of you and appreciate the sentiment all over again. This “self care isn’t selfish” hooded sweatshirt is a great gift for a wide range of relationships. Not to mention, it’s super cozy and cute.
Having quality time as a love language means valuing undivided attention, intentional and meaningful time together, sharing recreational activities, and the like.
Whether it’s tickets to a concert, show, museum, or trip this is a gift that is minor in size, but major in meaning. The real gift is that you are intentionally planning an experience you can share together. Along these lines, you could also put together a little itinerary for a fun day together. (This one could cost little to no money depending on the activities planned!)
Dinner or a restaurant gift card
Sharing a meal as a form of quality time goes back to ye olde day. Just look at Jesus and his buds or Rory and Lorelei Gilmore. Treat them to dinner or send a gift card to a restaurant that they can use to spend quality time with a friend in the future.
One for you, one for me
This is a great idea if your loved one is long distance. Select a kit for a craft or activity you can do together over facetime. This could be a premade kit or one that you put together yourself. Even a cookbook paired with a specialty ingredient could work for a long distance baking night!
Acts of Service
Giving a gift of an act of service might feel difficult or time consuming at first. However, the whole point of the love language of acts of service is taking something off their plate. That can come in the form of something that will make their lives easier or something functional.
A kitchen gadget
When’s the last time you were scrolling and saw a product that was practical, but felt a little frivolous? You probably thought, “Eh, I’d like to have that, but I can’t really justify spending that much on an avocado slicer.” If you have a friend who loves avocado toast though, it just might be the perfect thing to make their day and allow them to streamline a part of their routine. Other ideas: single cup Keurig, motorized wine opener, or a mini frying pan perfect for a sunny side up egg.
Everyone deserves a healthy dose of pampering, but usually taking a full day dedicated to it isn’t realistic. Putting together an at-home spa kit can make it a bit easier though. It’s as easy as browsing the aisles of Target choosing a face mask or two, a new nail polish color, an exfoliating scrub, and anything else fun you come across! You can also find pre-curated sets like this Lush one or you can make a DIY set like this one.
A gift card
Getting someone a gift card can sometimes come off as lazy or low effort, but if done intentionally makes a pretty baller present. Some ideas for an acts of service oriented gift card are: DoorDash or UberEats, a pet groomer (perhaps even offer to take and pick up the dog), a house cleaning service, or Instacart. These are just a few services that correspond with dreaded errands. Think of a chore that your loved one would rather drink swamp water than do and find a gift card corresponding with it!
The love language of gift giving gets a bad rap. It’s easy to assume that someone who enjoys giving or receiving gifts as their primary love language is materialistic. In reality though, the love language of gift giving is not about monetary value, but about the deliberate thought that goes into it. I love giving gifts, so I am, in fact, mildly biased.
It can be easier to find a present for this love language because a gift is inherently something they’ll appreciate, but again, it’s in the effort.
Interest based gifts
Try thinking of a favorite activity of theirs, like running and get them something related to that (this NYT article has a lot of great ideas). Alternatively, gift them the memoir of one of their role models, a thoughtful addition to a collection of theirs, or a gift card to their favorite type of restaurant along with a little treat that corresponds with it (for example if they love Greek food, you could buy a gift card for the Greek restaurant they’ve been meaning to try with some baklava.)
Depending on your budget a subscription of some sort can be an excellent gift. No matter the size/monetary value of the gift, it’s fun to receive a happy little present in the mail at intervals throughout the year. This could be anything from a magazine subscription to a wine of the month club or lifestyle box like FabFitFun. Cratejoy has tons of options at different price points, as does Amazon like this Succulent of the Month box, or this Atlas Coffee subscription.
Physical touch can also get misconstrued very easily. Depending on the nature of the relationship and the two people involved, having physical touch as a love language has varying boundaries. It can mean appreciating a pat on the back, hugging as a greeting or goodbye, or more ~intimate~ activities. In terms of getting a gift for someone in your life who’s touchy feely, think about touch as one of the five senses. When you look at it from this angle, you have a world of options in a wide price range.
If someone likes to cuddle up, chances are they’re the type to appreciate a high quality blanket. If you’re feeling particularly crafty and have the time, you could knit or crochet your own. But, if that’s not in the cards, a micro plush, weighted, or chunky knit blanket could be just the thing!
A massage is a luxury I recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to get one. Depending on your budget you could buy a massage certificate/package or you could write your own IOU for a foot rub, shoulder massage etc.
Roller ball or foam roller
If gifting a massage doesn’t make sense for you, a tool for self-release like a spiky roller ball, foam roller, or back and neck massager.
Lotion or serum
In the same vein of massages and self-release, a cream or serum will add a little extra pampering to an ordinary daily routine. Applying skincare in the morning or evening is an opportunity to give more time and attention to your physical self-care so any sort of bath or body product would do!
What’s your love language and what’s number one on your wish list this year?