Five ways to give a gift: Part 1

Five ways to give a gift: Part 1

By Sarah Clavin, Miller Swim School

As we move out of the season of Thanksgiving, into the season of gift giving, we must take a brief pause to explore the methods by which we can give (and receive) a gift. 

There are five unique ways our brains (and souls if you will) are designed to give and receive love. They are not mutually exclusive, nor are the ways we give and receive always the same. Studies show that children as young as five-years-old begin to display their love language.

As we grow and mature, our primary or secondary love language may change, and even as we enter marriage and child rearing, the secondary language may shift again. Most often, however, once we enter our adult years the way we give and receive love generally stays the same. In this series I will be referencing the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. 

I’d like to take a few weeks to discuss each one in detail and how they pertain to giving during the Christmas Season. I find it fascinating how accurately most people are represented (myself included) between just five simple methods of giving and receiving love. What is even more interesting is how deeply a person can feel unloved or unappreciated when gifts/words/actions are not communicated to them through the filter of their love language. But we will get to that a little more later. 

Today, I want to take a brief look at each of the five love languages before we dive in any deeper. I suggest taking a few minutes (if you have not done so recently) to take the free quiz online that will help you determine your primary and secondary love languages. You can find it here: 

1.     Words of Affirmation: This one is pretty much just like it sounds. Written or spoken words like, “I am so proud of you,” or “you look great in that dress,” are how this person gives and receives love. 

2.     Quality Time: Spending time with this person is about more than sheer proximity, it is about undivided attention, spending time filling up their love tank. This person feels loved with lunch dates or conversation over coffee or a glass of wine. 

3.     Acts of Service: This one can be a little tricky to identify. Acts of service must not be done out of obligation, but rather out of the kindness of one’s heart. Taking the baby for a tired friend so she can rest, or helping your neighbor with his yard work are both simple examples. 

4.     Gift Giving: To state the obvious, this person feels and gives love through giving gifts. There is no quantifiable measure by how often and how much the gift must be. This person simply views gifts as a visible/tangible sign of love. 

5.     Physical Touch: You know those “touchy feely” people? The kind that likes to give hugs when they meet you. This is them (and definitely not me). They love to feel a physical connection with those around them; a hug, a hand on the shoulder, or sitting close, side-by-side. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to give a gift through Words of Affirmation this Christmas Season. 

As a child and young adult, my primary love language was Words of Affirmation. As an adult it has moved to my secondary language, but the many years I spent giving and receiving love through this filter has undoubtedly largely shaped me into the friend/spouse/mother I am today. 

To best communicate with a person who is WOA (words of affirmation) it is important to encourage, affirm, appreciate, and empathize with them. It is equally important to AVOID unconstructive criticisms and letting an accomplishment or effort pass unnoticed. Words may both be spoken or written and may be offered as praise or constructive criticism. 

Growing up, I lived for the written word. Letters, notes, poems, cards, you name it. My dad and I shared a love for writing, and most of the tougher lessons in my life came through a handwritten note, and later on an email. These words played such a remarkable role in my life, I still have many of them saved to this day. Now as an adult, I often find myself showing my love to others through the written word in ways as simple as a text, a thank you card, or most recently, disguised as Santa in a letter to the kids. 

In fact, one of the reasons I continue to write this column is as a means to display my love for the community.

 It can be devastating for a WOA individual to have an overly critical spouse, or a boss who never verbally recognizes their hard word. I hope that by taking a closer look at each love language, I can help you give your gifts the right way this season, and avoid giving someone a gift that simply doesn’t speak their language. 

So, here is a simple gift guide for the Words of Affirmation person in your life:

–      A handwritten letter recounting the value the person has been in your life

–    A personalized notebook

–       A set of personalized note cards and envelopes 

–       A mug with an inspirational quote

 –  An encouraging note packed with a lunch

–       An Advent calendar filled with self-affirmation cards

–       Engraved or personalized Jewelry (remember words hold more weight than the actual gift itself) 

–       A heartfelt letter or personalized poem

–       A series of posts on social media about how special a person is and/or publicly recognizing their accomplishments 

– An heirloom book or memoir

A child doesn’t even have to be able to read to understand the power of love through the written word. Just last week I sent my son to school with a sack lunch. On the outside of the sack I wrote “mommy loves you”, “have fun today”, “you are special” and put it in his backpack. When he gets to school, and the teacher takes his lunch out she sees the writing and reads it to him. It always brings a smile to his face. I honestly think I get more joy out of giving the note than he does receiving it. That’s the WOA love language in me. 

So, take up a pen and a pad and write a note for that Words of Affirmation person in your life this season. 


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