In the book The Five Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts, author Gary Chapman outlined five ways people express and experience love – through words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
I gave this concept much thought after struggling to pick gifts for my godchildren and a few friends two weeks ago. If you are the sentimental kind who is not fond of buying generic items to give away, this will surely resonate with you: Gift-giving is no easy task. If you take the materialistic aspect out of the equation, the act is a subtle way of making others feel that they matter.
Aside from requiring a budget, gift-giving is a labor of love when you take time to consider what each recipient likes or needs. And if you happen to be an advocate of minimalism and decluttering at the same time, you wouldn’t want the things you lovingly purchase and wrap to just gather dust in other homes, right?
To make things easy, I wrote down a few things I took a mental note of that can be gift alternatives this holiday season for some special people in our lives. I based these suggestions on the five love languages:
1. Words of affirmation
Grab some beautiful stationery and a pen and take some time out to express what you feel through words. For a bit of nostalgia, go old-fashioned and spritz your signature cologne or perfume on the paper. Matching your letter with a curated song playlist, personalized doodles, and poems or quotes representing shared memories between you and your recipient will surely be appreciated.
2. Quality time
When was the last time you took your loved one out for lunch, dinner, or merienda? It’s time to book a cozy restaurant or a memorable dining place to spend some time together. Other alternatives would be a trip to the salon, spa, art museum, theme park, cinema, or even the supermarket (sponsor the grocery shopping!). Taking art, cooking, dance, language, or coding classes would also be fun alternatives. Make sure you put your phone away to give them your full attention.
3. Receiving gifts
These days, with so many options, it’s hitting a bull’s eye when you get to give a person who puts a premium on receiving gifts precisely what he or she wants. To increase your chances, zoom in on the specific interests the person is into and purchase a corresponding gift card that may be useful. That would mean a bookstore GC for the voracious reader and a loaded café rewards card for the coffeeholic friend
4. Acts of service
Offer to do the dishwashing for a week, have someone else’s car cleaned or refueled, or drive another person around as gifts of service. Other alternatives would be giving the other person a home manicure or pedicure, helping build a do-it-yourself furniture set, or simply cleaning up the house. The ones who value acts of service must also value the time you allot for them. So, mesh these ideas with quality time gift suggestions for an added boost!
5. Physical touch
While hugs are awesome, level things up by offering your person a massage. Whether it be a hand or foot massage or a full body one, the chance for some skin-to-skin moments will surely be satisfying. Watch a movie or walk at the park for some HHWW or cuddle time. Pair this with quality time gift ideas to elevate your options.
Not everyone has the time, money, and energy to spare this holiday season. Just like how we choose what to give, the whole act of gift-giving is voluntary.
Ultimately, in this season of inflation, the best part of giving is if it comes from the heart. And as cliché, as it sounds, it’s still the thought that counts.
For your random thoughts, e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.