Last month, I wrote a post for An Organized Life about Clutter-Free Gifting. The idea behind “clutter-free gifts” is that they are either experiential or can be used up, without leaving a lot of unwanted clutter behind. This is a topic I continue to be interested in, so I’ve been thinking about how clutter-free gifts work with the 5 Love Languages.
If you’re not familiar with the 5 Love Languages, this is an concept that was created by Gary Chapman and described in a 1995 book of the same name. According to this idea, everyone has a primary and secondary love language. A love language is the way in which we feel and prefer to receive love and affection from others. The five love languages are:
- Gift giving
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service, and
- Physical touch
If you want to discover what your own love language is, you can take a quiz here. You can often decode someone’s love language by a) what they do or request the most from others and b) what they complain about not receiving. So, for instance, someone who asks her family to make her dinner for her birthday might have acts of service as her primary love language (that’s me). Or, someone who complains that her husband never gives her gifts for their anniversary might have gift giving as her primary love language.
Once you know someone’s love language, it is easier to express love or affection in a way that is meaningful to him or her. Even though I’m using the term “love language” here, the idea is not exclusively useful for romantic or intimate relationships. The same concept can apply when showing affection or appreciation to anyone.
Really, there is no right or wrong here. All of these love languages are great, so even if you gift someone in a way that is not speaking their primary love language, it can still make someone you care about feel special. You could also think of some of these “gifts’ as acts of kindness.
Now, let’s think about the 5 Love Languages in terms of clutter-free gifting.
This love langue is clearly the most well-suited for gift giving. People who have gift giving as their dominant love language feel loved and appreciated when they receive gifts.
My paternal grandparents had “month-iversaries.” Each month, one the day of their anniversary, my grandfather would bring home some sort of gift for his wife. This ranged from small items such as a flower or grapefruit to large gifts such as jewelry or clothes. This practice seemed to work for them since they had a long and happy marriage. I would guess that their love language was gift giving.
I suspect that someone whose primary love language is gift giving might appreciate a physical gift more than an experiential, non-physical one. They may also enjoy having it nicely wrapped or presented. Because they are physical items, consummables are a good gift category for people whose primary love language is gift giving. As a caveat, in order to keep the gifts “clutter free” take extra care to select something that the recipient will actually want and use. Someone on a diet might not appreciate a box of chocolates. And a person can only burn so many candles in a lifetime.
Consummable items include:
- Bath and body supplies—Soap, lotions, bath bombs and bubble bath
- Fruit basket
- Massage oil (could be homemade)
- Homemade cleaning supplies
- Food—Jams, baked goods, infused oils, etc.
- Beverages—Wine, coffee, tea, infused alcohol
- Fancy salts or spice mixes
- Flowers (once or through a recurring subscription)
- Homemade note cards (such as a photo of wildflowers taken during the summer then printed as note cards)
Someone with this love language feels valued when you spend time with them and offer your focused attention. For this category, give something you can do together. Examples include:
- Enjoy a meal together at a favorite restaurant (or a new place)
- Get tickets to a movie or play you can see together (although be sure to have some time before or after so you can actually talk)
- Do an activity together (bowling, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, walking , roller blading, dancing)
- Go wine tasting
- Go on a walking tour together
- Sign up for a class together (cooking, yoga, crafting)
- Give a spa gift certificate, then book your appointments together
Words of Affirmation
People with words of affirmation as their primary love language tend to feel valued when they receive compliments and praise. This might be as simple as giving someone a call or sending a heartfelt message that you think they are wonderful. In a relationship, this could mean telling your partner how much you appreciate all he or she does around the house or to support the family. You can also email messages of love and support while you’re apart.
In the workplace, words of affirmation could include telling a coworker that they did a great job on a project or that you appreciate all their time or effort. This may not always seem like a gift, but if you genuinely and sincerely express your gratitude and appreciation, words of affirmation can be wonderful and precious.
If you want to be more creative, you could find a nonverbal way to express to someone how great you think they are:
- Make a play list of songs that remind you of the recipient (a modern day mixed tape!)
- If you’re artistic, create a piece of art
- Make a digital photo montage from the recipient’s life
Acts of Service
Acts of service are “helper” activities. This can be anything that you do that provides assistance. In terms of clutter-free gifting, gifts of time or service involve helping someone else by doing something they either don’t have time to do or don’t enjoy doing.
- Gift of talent (Organizing, decorating, cooking, baking, hair styling, personal training, makeup, etc.)
- Make and/or deliver dinner or dessert
- Clean their house
- Car care (Clean it. Get the oil changed.)
- Help with a chore such as painting a room
- Photo organizing—scan prints, help sort and organize digital photos
- Help modernize by having VHS or cassette tapes digitized
- Do the shopping—pick up groceries, help with Christmas shopping
- Dog walking
- Homemade recipe book (could be a PDF or ebook)
In the workplace, acting as a mentor or offering career advice can be invaluable acts of service.
Physical touch is probably the one love language that does not translate well to the workplace. In closer relationships, hugs, handholding, sitting closer together and snuggling on the couch are all great ways to express love through physical touch. Someone who enjoys physical touch may be especially tactile. He or she may enjoy gifts or experiences that involve more sensual experiences such as:
- Gift certificates for a massage
- Gift certificate for a manicure or pedicure
- Bath and body supplies—Soap, lotions, bath bombs and bubble bath
- Massage oil
I know that not everything listed here is a “gift” in the traditional sense. Some of these ideas, especially words of affirmation, could be used on any occasion. I think it’s important to remember that not every gift needs to be a big gesture or expense. All the little kindnesses we bestow help pave the way to a happier life.
Do you know your love language or the love language of your friends and family?
While we’re on the topic, I’d like to offer you some words of affirmation. Yes, you. You are doing a great job at that thing that you do. You are exactly where you are meant to be. Every little thing is gonna be alright. xoxo