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How to give in different languages

Photo by Seth Roche

Christmas is the epitome of the gift exchange. Nothing builds excitement like imagining what will be plucked off your wish list and handed to you in a bow. However, the act of Christmas shopping for others can be daunting. What will they want? Can you afford to get them something they will appreciate?

For people with big families or plenty of friends, the worry of leaving somebody out or being forced to play favorites can really stifle the Christmas cheer.

While most gifts during this season are wrapped in glossy paper and bows and placed under a tree, there are many other ways to give and show others that you are thinking about them. Gift-giving doesn’t have to empty out your wallet.

A major way to give that is easier on the bank account is simply communicating with those you love in their love languages. The five love languages consist of receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. Pay close attention to the way your friends and family interact with you to identify which love language might apply to them.

If someone is constantly wanting to hang out with you or share experiences with you, their love language is most likely quality time. You can give the gift of planning an activity with them, like a movie, concert or even a meal together. Although this might seem very simple, it will show that you are paying attention to them and trying to care about them in a way that they will appreciate.

If you know someone who often brings you things like a cup of coffee or pays for your meal every once in a while, their love language is probably giving gifts. To them, this is a tangible way to show their friends that they care about them.

For this kind of person, think of the things they enjoy doing or what their everyday routine looks like. If they are a writing major or regularly journal, a set of colorful pens or a notebook would be a thoughtful gift. Giving them something that shows you remember specific qualities about them will mean a lot, even if it is a small or inexpensive gift.

If someone’s love language is acts of service, they most likely volunteer to help you with things, like giving you a ride somewhere or offering to help you with homework. An easy but meaningful gift for this person would be a promise or commitment to help them with one of their own obstacles.

This could look like making a coupon book, with coupons like “one free laundry run,” in which you do their laundry for them, or “one free back rub” for a day when they are really stressed out.

If you have a friend or family member that regularly builds you up or reminds you of how much you mean to them, their love language is probably words of affirmation. A great gift for this love language could be a thoughtful and lengthy handwritten note or something to hang up in their room with an encouraging Bible verse or a positive quote on it.

A creative, and slightly more time-consuming, gift would be an “open when…” note series. This is a collection of letters that you write for someone, and each letter has a prompt for them such as “open when… you are sad” or “open when… you’ve had a busy day.” Then inside each letter, you offer words of encouragement or advice for that specific situation.

The last love language, and one of my least favorite, is physical touch. If you are like me, giving someone a hug or even a high-five is a rare occurrence. However, for some people that exact act is something that holds great value. If you know somebody that pats your back or gives out hugs or handshakes like it’s nobody’s business, their love language is definitely physical touch.

While the obvious gift is just to give them a hug, there are a couple more obscure but sensical gifts that fit in with this love language. One of them is something soft, like a fuzzy blanket or fuzzy socks. While this isn’t directly physical touch, it communicates coziness and comfort. Being wrapped up, whether in a hug or a warm blanket, naturally makes somebody feel safe and secure.

If you are unsure of the love languages for your friends and family, send them to 5lovelanguages.com to take the quiz and then ask them for their results. Knowing the best way to love somebody is crucial when gift giving.

Just remember, even if it isn’t a grand or spectacular gesture, it’s the thought that counts.