Updated: Jan 2
Would you feel more connected to someone in your life if you went to a yoga class together versus receiving the perfect yoga mat as a gift? Would you feel more cared for if a pal helped you get into a handstand versus cheer your handstand? Is a hug worth everything to you, or is having someone take out the recycling just so exciting?
These actions and gestures all fall under the infamous 5 Love Languages, which map out how we give and receive love. In a nutshell, it goes like this: generally you have a primary and a secondary, and if your interaction with someone falls in one of those two categories, you feel loved. And, if you express love in one of those two categories, but the receiver doesn't speak that love language, there is gratitude, perhaps, but not the transmission of feeling loved. Here are examples of the five languages:
Acts of Service: Performing an action to help out, such as cleaning up after a meal or running an errand
Quality Time: Attention to each other and dedication to spending time in an activity that allows you to connect (this is not just watching Netflix together but not looking at each other at all)
Touch: This doesn't have to be big-time PDA, but hugging, hand holding, a sweet kiss all make a difference
Words of Affirmation: Reassurances, verbal compliments, "I Love You," validations
Gifts: A gift (can be material or not) that is meaningful, such as lunch when someone is very busy or gloves when you someone has lost theirs and it's the dead of winter
When you discern your gift recipient's love language, you can craft a holiday gift (in the traditional gift sense) that meets them where they feel loved.
Here are some thoughts - and feel free to take it and run with your own creative ideas!
Acts of Service: I feel loved if my husband takes out the recycling without me asking! How about a 20-coupon book to take the dog out and give a break to the one person who always seems to do that? Take the person's car to get detailed in addition to the car detail gift certificate from the place.
Quality Time: Try a photo or a gift certificate to some kind of fun activity to explore a new activity and enclose a note about your intention to spend more time together in 2020? Choose something you think you will both enjoy, or even ask if there's something they've wanted to do, like try the neighborhood spin class.
Words of Affirmation: What about a piece of art that says, "You Got This!" to the person in your life embarking on something new? An inspirational t-shirt, or even an inspiring self-help book with an encouraging focus? If you're a poet, express your thoughts about this person and have your words framed.
Touch: Whatever you end up giving this person, pair it with a massive hug, a kiss on the cheek, or some other form of physical touch that punctuates that your gift is out of love, even if the physical thing you give is a sweater that doesn't fit. If touch comes with the gift, it won't matter what is in the wrapping.
Gifts: Perhaps your niece is interested in yoga - give her just the right book or class gift card to get started. If you have a triathlete friend, a decent muscle salve or a massage would mean the world.
It's important to note that these expressions of love need to be offered willingly versus begrudgingly, or risk dissolving the love intent entirely! All of this - the thought, the choices, the execution, and the communicated intent of the gift - are the definition of mindfulness. Be present when you're conceptualizing and giving presents this holiday!