A Gift Horse of a Different Color

This week is my sister’s birthday and American Thanksgiving - Hooray! In honor of these holidays, as well as the upcoming winter holiday season, I want to talk about gift giving and how we can improve it.

There’s a book that you’ve probably heard of called ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman. The book outlines five ways that Gary believes people like to show and receive affection for each other: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. While I’m sure there are other cases and circumstances outside of these five options, for the most part his theory seems to make a lot of sense. You can take the quiz for yourself if you’d like.

Presents under a Christmas tree from Wiki Commons

Presents under a Christmas tree from Wiki Commons

The main reason I’m mentioning this book is because as the year winds down and we get closer to a lot of gift-giving holidays, particularly Christmas, I think a lot of people focus only on the “Receiving Gifts” aspect of showing affection, however, most people (including you) probably would love any of the other four options just as much.

Consider that even if everyone was spread out so that one of the five love languages was their top favorite equally, then only 1/5th of people would really prefer “Receiving Gifts” over some of the other options. For instance, my sister prefers Quality Time, so while she still enjoys gifts, spending time with her going a hike is something she loves even more.

By considering other things they might like that aren’t traditional “gifts” - doing yard work for them, going to a festival together, volunteering at a local shelter, creating a booklet of all the reasons you care about them - you really open yourself up to more unique options that they might like even better, while also saving you money. (Pinterest is a great place to find nontraditional gift ideas like these if you want more examples.)

This is especially important since not all of us have enough money to go buy something for all the people we care about that they may or may not like. And not to mention, not everyone we care about will even want gifts. One of my relatives, for example, is really against what they feel is the ‘mandatory gift giving’ that happens every year around Christmas. If they see something nice for someone they will buy it for them any time of the year, but they don’t want to have to buy something just to buy something.

If you are dead set on getting someone a more traditional gift whether it’s because it’s what is expected or you just happen to know that this is really what they want, that’s completely fine. My family still gives gifts every Christmas with a $20 gift limit, but that’s just us. Do what you feel is right for your situation and the people you care about. They will appreciate anything you do for them as long as it comes with your kind thoughts and good intentions.

Hopefully this opens your’s and other’s eyes to different ways of showing someone you care about them, as well as learning something new about yourself.

Had you heard of this book before? What’s your top Love Languages? Are you surprised at what your family members’ are?

Until next time,