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What You Ought to Know About Buying Perfect Holiday Gifts for Loved Ones

What You Ought to Know About Buying Perfect Holiday Gifts for Loved Ones

    When it comes to the holidays, there are those who plan months ahead, thoughtfully selecting the perfect gifts and those who procrastinate down to the last moment, hurtling through the crowds on a wild-eyed, manic mission to find anything that will do. Whatever your approach to the issue, gift-giving can be a stressful process, especially when it comes down to choosing a gift for the one you love.

    The tenth anniversary disaster

    Take my friend Ken, who faced with the challenge of a tenth wedding anniversary to celebrate, was quite convinced that his lovely wife Deb would be thrilled with the sapphire ring he selected for her. It was a a spectacular ring, but as I admired it on her finger, Deb sighed and confided that really what she had wanted was to have the driveway resurfaced.

    Who knew?

    If anyone would have known that she’s the type of girl who prefers a cement truck to a Tiffany box, perhaps it should have been the guy whose been by her side for the last decade?

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    Poor Ken had such awesome intentions but he made the classic mistake of giving what he thought would be a great gift instead of giving her what would really make her happy. That of course, was only the beginning of the problem, because then he felt unappreciated and got really mad with her that she wasn’t being grateful. As you can imagine, it didn’t turn into quite the romantic night they were hoping for.

    Life-long immunity from the Epic Fail

    The good news is that there is a solution to this thorny problem, a gift-giving hack that will grant you life-long immunity from the Epic Fail and transform you into the Superhero who blows their mind every time. It’s not rocket science, people. It’s the deceptively simple idea of giving people what they actually want. In fact, this is a hack that has benefits way beyond gift-giving for your relationship.

    The key to success is in taking time to figure out your partner’s unique values instead of assuming that they might appreciate what would be on the top of your list. As we saw with Ken, you can put a heck of a lot of effort in to doing something to make somebody feel loved, but if you are not communicating in their language, the message is not going to be received the way it is intended. It’s not just enough to avoid the obvious mistake of giving what you would like, you need to take time to understand your partner’s preferences.

    Are you speaking the same language?

    Marriage Counselor Gary Chapman would describe this as learning your partner’s “love language” which is how he describes the idea that everybody has a primary way that they express and interpret love. In his book, the 5 Love Languages, Gary identified five key ways in which people feel loved: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch and, of course, Receiving Gifts.

    Thinking about yourself  and your significant other  for a moment. In order for you to feel loved which of the following would you prefer that they did?

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    a) wrote you a poem

    b) took care of household chore without being asked

    c) stared deeply into your eyes over a candle-lit dinner

    d) gave you a massage

    e) bought you something

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    Of course, I’d personally like to add,

    f) all of the above

    to the options but for the sake of this exercise, just go with it and pick one.

    Of course, your preferences may also change at different times. If you are really struggling to decide, try thinking about which ones you could live without and use a process of elimination. Next, think about which of these your partner appreciates most – (consider which of these they ask for most or perhaps even which of these they complain about not getting).

    Creating a wish list

    If you have the time, (assuming you’re not reading this post with only 8 shopping hours to go), my best suggestion is to do this exercise together. It’s a great idea for a date. If you’re really daring, you could even try it on a first date.

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    Grab pen and paper for each of you, explain the categories and then write down your list in order – no peeking. Just for fun, try and guess what your partner has written first, before you share them with each other. Of course, this list doesn’t need to be restricted to the five categories above. For one thing, I think the “physical touch” category is better broken down into Sexual and Non-sexual touch. For some people, it is a massage without the “happy ending” that would really mean the most, whereas for others, they would feel most loved being on the receiving end of an expression of unbridled passion. Feel free to add things of your own like  “Bring me flowers”.

    Do you see where this is going?

    If you apply this logic to the holiday gift-giving dilemma, you suddenly have many other possibilities to choose from as a gift, since for many people, the gift of “I will spend the weekend helping you clean out the basement” would be actually worth way more than any of the things you are considering buying.

    It’s the thought that counts

    But just because it’s not a physical gift, it doesn’t mean you can skimp on the presentation.

    You could buy a little wooden box to place your love poem in or  you might like to create a personalized gift card, or series of vouchers especially tailored to your beloved’s desires. Now you’re scoring points and saving money – that’s what I call a “win-win”. And as a bonus, if you’ve done this exercise together, you will notice that your partner now knows exactly what would make you happy this holiday season!  At the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism, but if you remember the real reason behind your desire to give this person a gift, you’ll have a much better chance of successfully achieving your goal. After all, it is the thought that counts.

    (Photo credit: Portrait of a girl sitting and looking at a gift box from Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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