The Art of Gift-Giving

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Image by Sparrow's Flight Photography; Words by Katie Kline

I would have never guessed that my secondary love language was receiving gifts as I hate surprises and often feel disappointed by the gifts I am given. Which probably has more to do with the fact that my primary love language is quality time than the actual gift itself. I have found that the best gifts come from those who reciprocate my need for quality time and use that to their gift-giving advantage. You probably know someone who's love language is receiving gifts and can help fill their love tank by finding a great gift to make them feel noticed. Some of you might be excellent gift-givers and really love the hunt for the perfect gift to give someone you love, but others might not know where to even begin. So here is a little direction from someone who's love language is receiving gifts on how to choose a gift that tells them how much you love them.

Listen for Clues
There is no better way to learn what kind of gift someone would like to receive than to spend time with them getting to know their likes and dislikes. Listen to what they talk about. Are they currently working on any goals or projects? Are they planning any trips or planning to attend any events? What is their favorite show, author, or band? If you listen closely you might be able to come up with some ideas of something they might like as a gift. This does not have to be so cut and dry, like oh, you like this show, so I will get you some kind of fan paraphernalia. But you can take that idea and look for something that hints at the show or is within the theme of the show or band. For example, my brother and sister-in-law who give me the best gifts recently gave me a planner from Joanna Gaine's Target collection. This gift is perfect because I love Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna, and I love writing down and organizing my thoughts. 

Pay Attention to Interest
Paying attention to what they like to do or what items they like to own is always a good place to start. The next time you visit them at home, make a mental list of some things that are around their home. What do they like to decorate with? What kind of toys are their kids playing with? What kind of books do they like to read? If you notice that their kids own wood toys, a plastic musical toy would not be an appropriate gift. If they only decorate with live plants and candles, then a decorative sign or ceramic figure might not be for them.

Ask for More Detail
If you have taken notice to their love of candles, it doesn't hurt to ask for more detail on the type of scents they like or what kind of wax they prefer. While they might enjoy burning candles, they might be sensitive to certain smells or waxes. Sweet food scents nauseate me while paraffin wax gives me a headache, so a sugar cookie Yankee candle would not make a good gift even though I like to burn candles, but a lavender candle made from beeswax would be a wonderful surprise. It never hurts to ask more detail to get the gift just right and give them something they will really be able to use. It could be as simple as learning what color they prefer or whether they like milk chocolate or dark chocolate.

Give Functional Wants with Positive Gain
When in doubt it is always best to live by this method of gift giving. Give an item that can be used by them for a positive gain. Whether that is a gift card to their favorite coffee shop and an offer to watch the kids so she can have an hour of quiet time or a bath bomb and bottle of wine for a relaxing soak in the tub. While decorative objects are nice, receiving a gift that has an opportunity for self-care is even better and the best kind of gifts to give to someone who's love language is receiving gifts. These types of gifts are also great for random acts of gift-giving that are not connected to a holiday or birthday. It could be something simple like picking up their favorite drink before visiting them or cooking them their favorite meal when you know they are going through a stressful time. Gifts should not be something that solves a problem. It goes without saying that someone who is conscious about their weight would not enjoy a weight loss supplement or a book on dieting as a gift.  Therefore, giving a gift that offers a solution to another problem does not make a great gift. If your spouse complains about a certain task around the house, getting a new appliance or tool is not a birthday present that will make them feel loved because it might relay the message that you don't want to listen to them complain, when really they need your sympathy and understanding and a gift that takes their mind off of the stress it brings them. 

Take Time to Consider Options
It's fun to grab a gift for someone when you see something that reminds you of them while you are shopping, but depending on when you are giving it to them and how much it costs, it might be better to skip it and take more time to consider your options. Birthday presents and holiday gifts deserve time and deep consideration. You know when that day is coming, so plan in advance to take time looking for the best gift rather than rushing to find a gift that will do. Make a list of gift ideas and explore your options for each. If you have something in mind or are trying to choose between your options, dig deeper and ask them for more details or listen for clues. The time spent finding the gift is almost as important as the gift itself because it tells the person that you really put thought into what would make them happy and that makes them feel loved. 

Make it Special
Sometimes the way a gift is wrapped or the way a gift is presented makes all the difference. Flowers are always better when they come with a thoughtful note. A gift does not have to be expensive if it is presented in a surprising way, like a new dress for an upcoming date night that is hung in the closet with a compliment attached like "You are beautiful. I can't wait for our date!" Maybe a gift card in a new book with a note of "Take the night off and enjoy your new book! I'll watch the kids tonight." Take time to wrap a Christmas present in festive gold wrapping and deck it out with ribbon. The time spent wrapping the gift is as important as the time spent choosing the gift.