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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 July 8, 2020

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

    1. Understand Yourself Better

    Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

    Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

    2. Keep Track of Small Changes

    I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

    Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

    3. Become Aware of What Matters

    As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

    You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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    4. Boost Creativity

    The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

    When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

    You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

    5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

    A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

    Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

    6. Process Life Experiences

    When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

    Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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    7. Stress Relief

    In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

    Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

    8. Provide Direction

    Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

    One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

    9. Solve Problems

    Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

    Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

    When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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    10. Find Relief From Fighting

    Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

    Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

    11. Find Meaning in Life

    Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

    12. Allow Yourself to Focus

    Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

    13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

    When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

    14. Let the Past Go

    I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

    15. Allow Freedom

    Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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    16. Enhance Your Career

    Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

    Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

    17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

    All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

    18. Catalog Your Life for Others

    No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

    We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

    Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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