Ladies, do you ever have daydreams about what you would do for you if you were your husband/boyfriend? Like, if I loved me (which I clearly do) and wanted to make me happy, I would secretly pack my bag, throw me in the car, and cart me away to a B&B in some quaint historic town full of good restaurants.
I would also instruct me to sit on the couch with a bowl of ice cream while I took the kids to the park for a few hours. Or maybe I would volunteer to put the kids to bed every night.
OK, I’ll stop before I just sound like I’m whining. Honestly, my husband totally pulls his weight at home, especially with our kids, so I have little to complain about. A girl can always dream.
I guess I’m alluding to those love languages that hit everyone differently. To be honest, I’ve never read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but I’ve heard the examples and lessons taught so many times. I’ve landed on my outcome. I love giving gifts and acts of service. I love receiving words of affirmation. Do it. Say I’m pretty and hilarious, and I’ll show you how much I love a good, affirming word. Probably by giving you a gift. *wink face*
Obviously, I like all of the love languages, because who doesn’t like some good, ol’ quality time? Or some physical touching (well, depends on how much my children sat on me that day)?
And so, since I spend waaaay too much time thinking about giving gifts, I thought I’d offer a few tips to those who…struggle…a bit in this area. Many of these also pair nicely with acts of service. Both categories take a bit of forethought, but can make others feel treasured and appreciated.
1. Keep a running list on your phone, calendar, journal, or arm of good gift ideas. I typically start my Christmas list about August. If I’m around a loved one and they make a comment about how they could use an item or how they really like something—Boom. Thoughtful gift coming their way!
2. Listen. This goes along with #1, but intentionally keep an ear out. It can be fun to splurge on another’s behalf.
3. Ask, “What would make his or her life just a little bit easier?” These are some of my favorite gifts to give. At the Favorite Things party I had with some girlfriends at the beach, a friend gave LoveHandle cell-phone straps. That little strap became Mama’s best friend the second I went grocery shopping with two babies and needed a third hand. It’s the little things.
4. Think about what you love, then pass it on. This works especially well with books. Whenever I finish a book, I think about who would also love that story. This is why people got stacks of rectangular gifts for Christmas. Or just give someone the actual book you read.
5. Give spontaneously. This is one of my favorites. Sometimes, it’s fun just to give. With hand-written notes gone the way of buggy whips and petticoats, the extra step of physically handing someone a small gift makes it so much better. I love brightening someone’s day unexpectedly. It just takes a little planning.
6. Look for chances to give. As a part of a mom tribe, someone’s kid is always sick. And while it’s hard to have a sick kid, it’s also rough when the mom goes down too. One of my favorite things to do is make a quick care package, Walgreens-style. Hit your local drugstore (or grocery store, but the options are a bit much for me). Grab soup, juice, Gatorade, meds, tissues, etc. for the sickness situation. Then snag a few magazines, something sweet, and a snack or toy for their kid. There’s nothing better for a sick mama than to have her kid occupied by something new.
7. Give food. This one is easy. Like #6, if someone’s family is sick, drop food on their porch and run like crazy so you don’t catch the plague. Then send a happy text.
8. If you can’t find it, find someone to make it. Does your brother have a signature catchphrase? Maybe your mom has a nickname? Or perhaps your husband has a job no one understands (hand-raise on my side)? Visit Etsy.com. Find someone who makes something similar, then ask for a custom project. Something so individualized makes a wonderfully thoughtful gift.
I’m not implying that all gift-giving requires money. I think a well-placed, encouraging note can offer just as much as a thoughtful gift.
Well, I definitely need a few pointers in the other love-language areas. So, if you have any ideas on physical touch (clean, happy ideas only, please!) or how to invest more quality time, I’m all ears. Do you have any additional tips on gift giving?