09 May 2013

Be Really Good at Gift Giving

There are a few things in the world that are just plain universal.  Go anywhere in the world and smile. I bet you'll get a smile back.  Go somewhere where there's a child - I can guarantee that no matter where you are, that child is beautiful.  Laughter is another one… listen to that hearty emotion bubbling over.  You will likely have a hard time not joining in.

Another thing I've noticed that's universal is gifts.  They come in all different shapes, sizes, and price-points, but most people out there love how it feels to receive a gift.  Being given a gift makes us feel loved, known, planned for, considered, thought of.  On the giver's side - going out and finding the gift requires thought, attention, intention.  

Lots of people have read and enjoyed Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages, which outlines the five ways in which people (generally) receive love.  You are probably familiar with the list, but in case you need a refresher, here they are:

Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Receiving Gifts
Quality Time
Physical Touch

I'm a huge gifts girl, and if you show up with a gift that demonstrates that you KNOW me, I will feel for sure loved. It's not to say that gifts are my only love language, but it's certainly hovering right near the top.

Here are a few ways I've learned to select gifts that make my loved ones feel loved:

1. LISTEN: If you're close with a person (a significant other, sibling, best friend, parent/child), you're likely spending time with them where you're just talking.  Be intentional in those conversations and listen to what they have to say. What do they value? What's new and exciting to them? What do they notice? What kinds of things do they appreciate?  Have those things in mind when you head to the store (or heck, just Amazon!), and you're sure to find something that will show them you care.

2. THINK AHEAD: If you've been hanging out here for awhile, you know that the gals in my family have started a FAVORITE THINGS Christmas tradition. I don't think I'm exaggerating (though I have been accused of such a crime before) when I say it's one of the things we all look forward to most about our family's Christmas festivities.  And no joke - I start thinking of my next year's favorite things gift on or around January 1.  No kidding.  And while we're on the topic of thinking ahead, I will tell you that I keep a list in my phone of gift ideas for my boyfriend.  Every time I hear him say "boy I could really use a new bike tire pump corduroy jacket argyle socks wristwatch…", I take mental note, then stick it in my phone. That way, I've always got a running list of ideas. I don't always select ideas from that list, but in a pinch, it's there, and if nothing else, it gets my gift-giving juices flowing. Christopher don't you dare look at that list in my phone. It's very secret.

3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE: What does your recipient value? Do they love handmade? Head over to Etsy! Do they have a favorite TV series? Buy them the DVD set! Do they always notice the scent of the candle you're burning? Get them one of their own to enjoy! Do they come to you for style advice? Give them something you think is really cool! Are they into local brews? Give them tickets to a brewery tour with a certificate for a case of their favorite to take with them.

4. MAKE IT PRETTY: Put a little effort into the wrapping so your recipient has a hint as to the consideration you put in.  It doesn't have to be fancy or complicated… one of my favorite, occasion-neutral, and most cost-effective ways to wrap is with a simple brown kraft paper complimented by a pretty satin ribbon in a color that fits the person/occasion/what you've got handy. Add a simple card with your heartfelt words, and your loved one feels like they were worth your effort. It's a really nice touch.

So get out there and do it! Listen, be intentional, put in some effort, and get out there and give something special to someone!

In need of some inspiration? Feel free to peruse my GIVE board on Pinterest.