The holiday season is always a hectic time of year — parties each weekend, traveling to spend time with family, and year-end work deadlines.
The last thing you need is to spend your precious free time on buying presents with money you might not even have.
But you, being the sweetheart that you are, want your loved ones to feel appreciated and loved — I get it.
Good news: you probably don’t need physical items to accomplish this. But you do need to understand your loved ones well enough to know how they prefer to receive love; what they need to feel loved.
Dr. Chapman coined the concept that not everyone shows and receives love the same way. He preaches that love is a verb — it is not just about feelings, it needs to be put into action.
In his book, The 5 Love Languages, he discusses five categories of ways that we can accomplish this: acts of service; words of affirmation; touch; quality time; and receiving gifts.
We each have a primary love language “which speaks more deeply to us than the others,” even though most of us probably enjoy a combination of several or all of the love languages.
Have no idea what your loved ones’ primary love language is? Fear not — you can find out any time you want.
How? By, ya know, this little thing called asking…
Yes, that means being a little vulnerable and taking some time to connect with them. All in the name of love. A simple “I want to make sure you feel loved, and I’m wondering what are the best ways for me to make that happen?” will do.
You can also bring up the five love languages (they’ll be so impressed!) and ask which they prefer or send them the link to the brief assessment so they can do a deep dive and think about which one(s) really resonate with them.
Once you know just how to show your partner(s) love (side note: some of these work for friends and family too!), put it into action.
For your convenience, I’ve put together a list of possible ways to do so for each love language below.
However, the key is to know your partner(s) so well that you know just which ones are applicable and unique to them, or you are able to come up with your own ways to wow them.
Acts of service:
Do something for them that you know they would like or that you know would be helpful to them.
If you live where the weather is cold, head out in the wee hours of the morning to put their car on so by the time they leave for work it’s nice and toasty. Bonus if you leave a cute note for them or a hot thermos of coffee.
If you know they’re especially stressed at work, offer to help them. Or pick up extra slack at home by cooking or ordering food for when they forget to eat or just can’t find the time.
Bake their favorite dessert, even (and especially) if you’re not an expert in the kitchen. They will love the fact that you made an attempt!
Sign them up for a dance or cooking class because you know they’re dying to try it.
Words of Affirmation:
Express your love, gratitude, affection, appreciation, or praise through words.
Write a letter expressing your love and appreciation for them.
Thank them for being an amazing partner or for supporting you the way they do. Give specific examples to make it extra personal.
Tell them what you love about them.
Pick out quotes that remind you of your love for them. Write them on post its and put them around their/your place, or write them in a journal.
Express your love and affection through physical touch.
Grab their hand unexpectedly and give it a soft kiss.
Set up a romantic night full of sexual pleasure that’s just for them.
Kiss them on their forehead.
Give them a sensual massage they’ll never forget. Use candles, coconut or almond oil, or lotion to enhance the experience (if they’re into that, of course).
Hugs and cuddles never go out of style. Whether or not it’s winter near you, snuggle up under a blanket with some wine or tea. Have a quiet chat or watch a movie and enjoy your time together.
Schedule time for just you and your partner(s). Leave your phone somewhere else, or at least keep it out of sight. Be fully present; that’s the best present of all.
Go for a walk to connect before your crazy holiday dinner with the fam.
Schedule a day to do some of your favorite activities together.
Make time at the end of the day to connect and catch up. Ask meaningful questions like “How have I been as a partner lately?” or “How can I support you in being your most happy and fulfilled self?”
If you know that your partner(s) loves receiving physical gifts, then by all means, go for it. But try to at least make it something meaningful for them. It always means more with some thought behind it.
Surprise them with something they brought up months ago but have forgotten about (or expected you to).
If they’ve lost something precious to them, try to find a replacement.
If they’re dying to go to their favorite band’s concert, buy tickets for a date night (bonus: you get quality time together, too!).
I hope these give you some ideas on how to show love to the people who mean the most to you. Don’t get so lost in the holiday hustle and bustle that you forget what’s important in the grand scheme of things: love and connection.
And remember: the way you want to receive love isn’t necessarily how others want to receive it. And that’s okay.