A gift, also known as a present, is something that is given to someone without any expectation of a transaction, payment or return. In many cultures they are concealed, wrapped or packaged in some way such as in wrapping paper or in a special bag or box.
There are so many different occasions in which a gift can be given. For example, a gift can be given as an expression of solidarity, alliance, charity, friendship, affection, gratitude, honor, abundance etc. It can also be a custom on occasions such as celebrations, coronations, birthdays, weddings, funerals, baby showers, graduations and holidays.
Gifts may seem trivial at face value, but they are anything but. In fact, gifts is what we call a love language. It is one of the primary ways in which human beings express and receive love around the globe. It is perhaps the most misconstrued and poorly understood of all of the love languages. Many people have a bad association with gifts. For example, they may see gifts as simply a way that people manipulate each other. They may think that someone who likes or wants gifts is materialistic and greedy. There has been a lot of misinformation spread and also a lot of trauma experienced regarding gifts. For that reason, I must set the record straight.
It is at this point that I must tell you that I am not only going to set the record straight as a spiritual teacher. I’m going to set it straight as someone whose primary love language is gifts. Yes, you heard it right. Gifts is my #1 love language. It has been for my entire life.
Gifts are a visual symbol of love. Every time that you look at a gift, it is a reminder that someone was thinking about you. That they care about you enough to understand you (especially what you like and need). And that they took the time and care to seek, secure and deliver an item as a demonstration of their love.
No matter how extravagant a gift may or may not be, a gift in and of itself is not about extravagance. It is about sentimentality. It is about the meaning behind the gift itself. For a person who speaks the love language of gifts, a gift is a constant visual reminder that they are loved. Each Item reminds them of the person who gave them the item and the meaning behind the gifting of it. This is also the reason why when it comes to the love language of gifts, a gift can say the exact opposite of what you were intending.
The reason that you have to be so thoughtful when it comes to gift giving is that the right gift can be a demonstration of love. The wrong gift can convey the exact opposite. Love is very strong. But it also implies vulnerability. Whenever love is involved, you have the power to heal someone and the power to wound them. If someone’s love language is gifts, then they are even more vulnerable to gifts. This means you have more power in your hands to heal or harm them every time you get them a gift, or don’t. For example, getting them a thoughtless gift or not getting them a gift on an anniversary or special occasion or giving them a gift as an obligation would be acutely hurtful to them.
I’ll never forget the Christmas that my grandparents decided to get my cousin and I the exact same gift. The same pair of earrings. The problem was, my ears were not pierced at the time and at that time, I had no plans to pierce them. Only my cousin’s ears were pierced. For a gift love language person, instead of feeling loved that day, I unwrapped a gift that said “We don’t actually know you or care to put in the effort to do so. We also don’t care to spend any time or energy doing anything unique for any of our grandkids. We are simply performing an obligatory duty to send a Christmas present.” You can harm someone with gifts, even if their love language isn’t gifts. Enough painful experiences relative to gifts, and you can stop a child or adult from speaking the language of gifts all together. And it is a tragedy for someone to stop being able to express or receive love in a certain way.
Gifts may not be your love language. It may be a love language that you struggle at. But it is an important language to develop, especially because you may just come across someone who receives love in that way. And so today, I’m going to help you with how to speak the love language of gifts.
Instead of bulldozing your resistance to gifts or to getting someone a gift, resolve your resistance first. If there is some part of you that is in opposition to getting a gift and you go ahead and just do it, not only does that hurt your relationship with yourself, it’s like trying to paddle upstream in a river. You’re only going to learn to hate gifts more. There are many reasons for you to be resistant to giving a gift. For example, you may feel resistant to giving a gift because you dislike the person you are thinking of giving a gift to. Or because you associate it with consumerism or because you feel obligated or because doing so makes you feel financially insecure. Whatever the reason may be, you need to become aware of it and work to resolve the way you are thinking and feeling so that you feel in alignment with whatever you decide to do. The giving of a gift should feel good to do if you have achieved alignment with the giving of it. Remember that it is better to not give something as a gift than to give a gift that you don’t want to give. If your reason for being resistant to gifts is about giving or receiving, you will be helped by watching my video How To Receive. And be on the lookout for the next video that I am about to release about Giving and How To Give In A Relationship.
You cannot get the perfect gift for someone if you do not understand them. This means, do your research on the person you are giving a gift to. Pay attention to them. If I were going to get the perfect gift for a gorilla, I would study the gorilla. I would try to learn as much as I can about gorillas and about this gorilla specifically. I would learn its likes and dislikes, its wants and preferences and needs. I would figure out what the gorilla cares about and values and why. With a person, it is easier than this because you can ask them questions. You can listen to everything they say. Stop guessing and stop projecting yourself onto them. Because both of those strategies will lead to the wrong gift. If you want to understand more about this concept, because it applies to more than just gift giving, watch my video titled: Stop Trying to Love Them and Start Trying to Understand Them. Make a list of all the things the person is interested in and what defines who they are. Brainstorm gift ideas to go with every item on that list.
Dedicate a place in your house to keep gifts that you find for people in your life throughout the year. The best gifts are gifts that are randomly found because you see it and think “oh my god… Mark would love that!” You have to be much more skilled to go hunting for something last minute because you are out of time and need to get someone something. That kind of thing puts pressure on you, decreases your enjoyment of gifts and the holidays where gifts are given. It also puts you at risk for settling for something mediocre. A gift can be given at any time of year. Often the very best gifts are the ‘just because I love you is the only reason’ gifts. But if you are going to show people that you love them with a gift on a holiday, having a gift already ready and waiting for them because it was perfect and you found it months ago is a habit that will serve you well.
Gifts do not have to cost money. I can’t say that when someone spends a lot of money on a gift, that it doesn’t say something powerful. That is a big demonstration of caring. But spending lots of money is not the only way to show caring. Sometimes, gifts that cost nothing or very little are much more impactful. Remember that gifts are about the demonstration of care and love. They are about sentimentality, not extravagance. Even if a gift is extravagant, it is about someone caring about you so much that they want you to have the very best. This means, if money is an issue for you, get creative about items you could give someone that don’t cost money that say the same thing. A super helpful thing to know is that a person who speaks the love language of gifts will see most things you do as a gift. So if you make them a dinner or help them with something, where a service love language person will see it as a service, the gift love language person will see it as a gift. The term gift can refer to any item or act that makes a person happier. An example of what I mean is that I have a friend who loves a specific mountain more than anything. So one year, I hiked to that mountain to collect a little bottle of dirt and rocks and pinecones specifically from that mountain. It cost me next to nothing, but was his favorite gift he got the entire year. Another example is that for one of my friends, I wrote 365 little rolled up notes to her on printer paper. Each one was an affirmation (something to make her feel good about herself). At the end, I tied each with a ribbon and put them all in a big jar that said “open one every day this year”. It was her favorite gift she had ever been given and again, it cost me next to nothing.
Imagine you were putting a pair of rosy colored gift glasses on and practice going through your day with the lens of ‘gift giving’. Think: ‘The people in my life feel happy and loved when I bring them gifts’. When you make this your habit, it is sort of like you are always on the hunt or on the lookout for something. Gifts don’t have to be a huge ordeal. Even if you are out shopping and you pass a bakery, popping in to get someone in your life a cupcake is a great way of expressing love through gifting to them. Sometimes these little gift giving gestures are a way of saying “you’re always on my mind and I have something tangible to give you to prove it.”
Remember that not everyone’s love language is gifts. And remember that even if it isn’t, this still doesn’t mean you can’t get them the perfect gift. And remember that not all gifts are ‘items’. For example, a person may receive love through physical touch. Instead of getting them a tangible thing to look at, you can lie them down on the bed and give them a massage. A person may receive love through quality time. So, you can gift them an afternoon where it’s just the two of you doing some activity. Experiences make for awesome gifts! A person may receive love through service. So, you can clean the dishes for them. Again, if you understand another person, it will become obvious to you how they most like to receive and give love.
A gift is a powerful “connector”. Thinking of gifts this way gives you one particularly great angle with which to approach gifts. For this reason, think of the values you share with a person. What values and interests do you share? For example, you and the other person might both love holistic health. Health related gifts then enhance the connection, what unites you and the sense of relatability between you. Same goes for getting a gag gift if humor is a primary facet of your relationship. Or a cooking item if both of you love to cook.
The point of a gift is to delight a person. Therefore, don’t get a practical gift unless it will delight the other person. All too many men have found this out the hard way getting things like vacuum cleaners for their wives because that is something that they mentioned the house needs. One specific woman might be delighted by a vacuum. For another, it is simply a practical gift that does nothing for her emotionally. A child may need a backpack, but however practical getting them that backpack may be, it does not mean that they will be delighted by a backpack. So remember that a gift must delight and only get a practical gift for someone if it delights the person.
Think about what THEY would like and want and need. Not what YOU would like and want and need. You don’t have to like something to get it for someone else because they love it. It is true that sometimes, thinking about what you would want or need if you were them gives you an accurate answer about what someone would actually love and benefit by. Doing this can make for them having the experience of getting something they never knew they would love or didn’t know they needed. But unless you really trust yourself relative to the skill of gift giving, this can be a slippery slope. So many people project themselves onto other people. Or worse, get other people things that THEY want. This can damage the other person and cause you to miss the mark relative to getting them a good gift. Remember, the other person might love a color that you hate. They may not value something that you value. To get the perfect gift, you need to be able to recognize and work with your differences, not just similarities.
Be very careful getting someone a gift related to something they are really into unless you are totally certain of exactly what they need, want and would be absolutely delighted by. This may seem counterintuitive but if someone is super into Star Wars, they are probably way, way ahead of you relative to Star Wars and you may get them something Star Wars related, but not very wanted or not very cool. Another example is that if someone is really into golf, the likelihood of you being able to get them the right driver club (unless you also love and know a ton about golf) is small. This means when someone is really knowledgeable about something, either do your research diligently or avoid gifting them something related to that particular interest all together.
- If the thought and meaning inherent in the gift is not immediately obvious, include it! People love to say, it is the thought that counts. Never has a more accurate thing been said about gifts. But people love to say this when they didn’t get the right gift because they didn’t really put thought or care into it. You can’t simply re-gift a candle because you don’t really like it and then say “it’s the thought that counts”. Because it is the thought that counts and you didn’t really put thought or energy or effort into it! Re-gifting is only acceptable if the re-gifting will delight someone and if you know that a person would love and value what you do not love and value. I can promise you that if you do put thought into it, you will not end up giving someone something that misses the mark. That being said, a card, explaining the thought and meaning inherent in the gift can make a gift go from good to epic or from crappy to awesome. Tell the person the thought and meaning behind the gift. For example, I will never forget the time that someone gave me a snow globe. I didn’t want a snow globe. It wasn’t a very cool snow globe. It had two very simple stars in it. But the woman who gave it to me told me that it was hers since she was a little girl and that she always used to look at it and think she was one of those little lonely stars because she didn’t have another little star (friend) to be with. But now, since finding me, she does feel that way. So, she decided to give it to me to remind me that she feels like she has found her other star. Just like that, it went from a ‘meh’ present to one of my favorite items. I put that snow globe on my dresser in my room and looked at it every day as a reminder of my closeness with her.
Once you’ve found the perfect gift, remember that the way that a gift is packaged and presented is the cherry on top. You can enhance the specialness of a gift or take away from it by how it is presented. This means to do honor to the gift and show that you took great care with it, pay attention to how it is wrapped. Make it look beautiful and important. Never underestimate the joy of unwrapping something. Another way that you can enhance the specialness of a gift is to make the giving of it into an event. For example, send the person on a scavenger hunt for it or bake it into a cake or put it in a box within a box within a box. When it comes to gift giving, there is value in theatrics.
I also want to mention that now that people have the internet, you can literally look up great gift ideas on the internet. Gift love language people like myself have compiled lists upon lists and provided examples upon examples of gift ideas. Some of them are truly epic. You simply have to put in the time and effort to actually look up and explore those ideas. Just know that if you transform your resistance to expressing love through gifts and hone the skill of gift giving, it can become one of the easiest and most fun ways to show your love.