Last night, my wife asked that dreaded question, “What should we get the kids for Christmas this year?” My mind immediately flashed to pictures of sitting on the couch with my daughter flipping through endless pages of American Girl, Target, and Toys-R-Us ads, and I groaned.
You have heard the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Well, that does NOT work when it comes to gift giving.
It is actually much better to, “Do unto others as they want you to do unto them.” But what do they really want?
Do they really want what is on their list or are they in love with the idea of having what is on the list? For example, we still have that Easy Bake oven in the pantry that was used once, the Lego kit still that has had more interaction with the vacuum cleaner than my kids or the cool flashlights that are still encased in plastic in the bottom of the junk drawer.
How many times have thought of the perfect gift and in the moment of giving, the moment of love, joy and connection you hoped for never came?
So, how can you give a gift this Holiday Season that your loved one truly wants, would really use, and be meaningful to both of you?
It comes down to understanding how they “love to be loved.”
I have covered this psychology previously but it bears repeating this holiday season because we typically: buy what we think is great for them (and they don’t love it) or we buy what they “think” they want on an emotional impulse or idea (like flipping through the American Girl catalogue) but when they get it, the idea was greater than the gift itself.
According to Gary Chapman, people can be loved in 5 different patterns and everyone has their natural hierarchy of preference. They are
- Spending Time,
- Physical Touch,
- Verbal or Written Tell,
- Doing Things (acts of service) or
- Buying Things (material gifts).
To find a persons’ love preference just ask, “Give me a few examples of when you have known you were loved the most?”
I asked my son that when he was 6 and he said, “When you snuggle and cuddle with me and watch movies.” (Time & Touch) The next Easter, with tremendous insight, the Easter Bunny brought him a new kind of Easter basket filled with coupons for Time together (tickle time, extra reading time, cuddle time), movie coupons, money for popcorn at the movies, books for reading time, and trip to the book store. (and much to his parents’ delight, hardly any candy and other junk) He said, “It was the best Bunny-Visit ever!”
We have a friend who has made a habit of giving his wife “experiences” for her birthday or for the holidays. She has been the happy recipient of “girlfriends getaway weekends”, “tennis lessons”, “rowing lessons” as well as “romantic weekend” trips. Year after year, she feels cherished and love by these acts of service in a way jewelry could never do.
So, as we move into this Holiday season, “When have you felt most loved?” And more importantly, before you whip out your wallet, “When has your loved one felt most loved?” Give the gift that will make them the happiest. Find a gift that speaks to their love language. You will be surprised how it can ease the financial strain, create more loving moments with those you love, and it too, could be the most meaningful “Santa-visit” ever.