How to give good gifts that communicate love by making them personal, thoughtful, and surprising. Gift idea inspiration to help you get started and if you need help, drop me a comment and we’ll find the perfect gift together!
I was going to write a post about what to get Mom for Mother’s Day. It, as well as several upcoming birthdays have me brainstorming like mad to find the perfect gifts.
I started combing through amazon trying to find the perfect ideas to compile into a one-stop-shop for all the desperate husbands out there. Something you could point to with absolute confidence as THE resource to help them find the perfect gift.
There was just one problem. I am not you.
The things that jumped out at me like 3 wick candles, cozy blankets, 1000 piece puzzles, modern picnic baskets, and adult coloring books would be PERFECT for me. But you’re not me. Maybe you’d prefer bath bombs, a necklace, or even a video game.
But I’m not you.
And sure, I could give your hubby some bad advice and pretend I’ve got the magic list of Mother’s Day gift inspiration that any woman would LOVE. but it would be a lie. Because what makes a good gift is a gift that comes from the heart of the giver, especially and only with the recipient in mind.
I’ll still probably write that post, and many other gift idea posts because I think they’re a great place to get inspiration. But first, I wanted to have this How to Give Good Gifts post published because I hope everyone will start here.
gifts AS a Love Language
If you’ve ever heard of the 5 Love Languages you already know that receiving gifts is one of the 5 major ways people receive love. If you haven’t ever heard of the 5 Love Languages… now you have and you need to go check it out. While I don’t think it has all the answers about love and marriage, I think its a pretty big piece of the puzzle.
As someone who both gives and receives love through gifts, giving good gifts has always been really important to me. And when I am the recipient, I truly appreciate it when I can tell serious thought and effort have been invested to give not only a good gift, but the perfect gift for me.
That’s the important piece. People who give and receive love this way aren’t being materialistic. They recognize the thought, feeling, and effort behind a gift so perfectly matched to the recipient. The gift is a symbol of the giver’s love.
For example, we’ve been living with my in-laws for about almost a year now. My step-mother-in-law, Vivie, has a very quiet personality. I’ve loved living with her because its given me the chance to get to know her on a level I’m not sure I ever would have achieved otherwise.
The other day, she took herself on a little shopping spree to spend some gift cards she had received at Christmas. Among them was a gift card for Bath & Body Works.
When we had moved in, there was a bottle of B&BW soap in our bathroom and it had the most glorious fragrance, Eucalyptus Spearmint. I would wash my hands just so I could smell it. I’d sit and watch TV with my head in my hands because I could still smell the soap on my hands.
When the soap ran out I bought myself a 3-wick-candle and burned it everyday til it was gone. I LOVE this fragrance.
When Vivie came home from her shopping spree, she quietly came and found me and handed me a bottle of body wash in, you guessed it, Eucalyptus Spearmint.
I felt so loved. It was a just because gift. Something to show appreciation for how I help out around the house. I felt love because I knew she had 1) noticed my love of the fragrance, and 2) obviously been thinking about me. It was the a good gift, the perfect gift for me.
Showers became the highlight of my day.
gift giving is a high stakes game
Maybe at this point you’re still thinking a gift is a gift and any gift will do.
I’m sure you’ve seen the comedy cliche where the floundering suitor presents an edible gift, peanut butter filled chocolates for example, to which the unimpressed recipient responds, “I’m allergic.”
We laugh because clearly that was a horrible gift and has now accomplished the exact opposite of it’s intention.
If your significant other receives love this way, the stakes are high. A poorly thought out gift can do more harm than good.
A good gift says…
- “I love you”
- “I was thinking about you”
- “I know you & pay attention”
- “You are worth my time, and effort”
A poorly thought out gift says…
- “You’re an obligation”
- “You’re not worth my time or effort”
- “I don’t pay attention to you”
- “I don’t think about you”
But don’t worry! I’ve got simple, practical tips to help you give good gifts to all the special people in your life, all the time.
how to give good gifts
good gifts are personal
Good gifts aren’t for just anyone, they’re for that someone specific.
Show that you know them, pay attention to their likes and dislikes, or know what their hobbies are. Bonus points if the gift can be personalized in some way to make it even more unique and just for them.
For example, I have 7 brothers and sisters so to avoid going bankrupt at Christmas we draw names. One year I got my brother Jacob and I was struggling to come up with the perfect gift for him. I started to go through all the things I knew liked and settled on his love of drama. At the time he was preparing for the school’s production of Phantom of the Opera.
I came up with the idea to get posters of every production he had ever been in framed and have his fellow cast members sign the Phantom of the Opera poster.
It’s not the most expensive gift I’ve ever given, but I was so excited for him to open it on Christmas morning because I knew how much it would mean to him.
That gift couldn’t have been for anyone else. Only him. That made it a great gift no matter the price tag.
ACTION ITEM: Make a list of everything you know about the person you’re shopping for. Include their favorite things like books, movies, flavors, etc., hobbies, current life events and anything else you can think of. The more personal you can get the better.
Good gifts are thoughtful
Good gifts come from persistent, thoughtful pondering. There should be a bit of a struggle as you agonize over the perfect gift.
For especially close friends and family, it’s a good idea to keep a running gift idea list in your phone so you have a good place to start when gifting opportunities roll around.
Also, keep your ears peeled for things your loved ones say they think would be cool to have or do and add those to the list. They’ll most likely forget about them and your gift will scream “I PAY ATTENTION!” when you surprise them with the thing even they forgot they wanted.
Search Pinterest and Amazon for inspiration related to items on your list and the personal profile you built in step one. If you find something you like, do thorough research about the best features or models. You may even be led to something related but totally different that’s an even better gift.
Sometimes you’ll find the perfect gift quickly. Sometimes it will take time and you will wrestle with options before something finally feels right. Stick with it, your pay off will be your excitement when they open it and their complete joy over your perfect gift.
ACTION ITEM: Use the list you built in step one and come up with gift ideas. Research and get more inspiration online. Start keeping a list of good gift ideas throughout the year to help you when holidays and celebrations roll around.
good gifts are surprising
Notice I didn’t say good gifts have to be a surprise. Sometimes the person you are shopping for might tell you exactly what they want. Maybe they know gift-giving isn’t your strong suit and are trying to make it easy on you or maybe they just want it that bad and don’t want to leave anything up to chance.
In this case, I don’t think it would be a good idea to ignore them. But if you can, try to find a way to still make your gift surprising.
For example, my husband Matt has two main hobbies; board games and Dungeon’s & Dragons (D&D).
Shopping for him is super easy because he’ll be ecstatic to get any gift related to those two hobbies. However, after years of gifting board games and D&D stuff everyone has also started worrying that it’s too obvious and not exciting anymore.
I totally get where they’re coming from. But Matt still loves adding new games to his collection.
So I got creative. If I want to surprise him, I’ll go research board games on my own and find one I don’t think he’s ever heard of. He loves it and gets so excited to learn all about it.
Or I might get him board game accessories like dice trays or a card shuffler. Still especially for him and his hobby but not something he immediately expects.
ACTION ITEM: How will your gift be surprising? This step may not take much work but if you’re operating on a not so subtle hint, how will you go farther to keep the element of surprise? Maybe all it takes is wrapping it up in a strangely shaped package to throw them off. Or maybe you’ll include an extra little something. Whatever it is, make sure your gift is surprising.
good gifts are not junk
If you’re following the above three rules of good gift giving I don’t think you’ll have an issue with this one, and it should go without saying, but good gifts are not junk.
What do I mean when I say junk? Mostly it boils down to two things, cheap and useless.
Let’s start with cheap. Cheap does not mean inexpensive. Good gifts can be inexpensive. Cheap things aren’t made well. You know those little party favor bags your kids come home with from friends birthday parties? Those are the very definition of cheap. Enough said.
Useless is a little more complicated. There’s a universal and personal definition.
Universal: At last years Christmas gift exchange Matt came home with a Poop Emoji Plushy and other poop-related paraphernalia. It was funny for sure, but really not good for much except the initial laugh. I don’t care who you are, poop-related toys are universally useless.
Personal: As I was doing research for that original gift ideas for mother’s day post, I came across a lot of gifts that many moms may love to receive, but for me personally, they would be useless. Like necklaces and bracelets. I personally don’t wear them because I don’t like the feeling of metal against my skin. Someone who knows me well would never get me either.
Another popular suggestion was coffee mugs with snarky mom quotes on them. For a mom who runs on coffee, this might be a fun, great gift. But I don’t drink coffee. In fact the only time I use mugs are when I drink hot chocolate around Christmastime.
Those gifts could be great for the right mama. But to me, no matter how sentimental, beautiful or fun, they’d still be useless.
ACTION ITEM: Again, as long as you’ve followed the first three How to Give Good Gifts guide this last rule of good gift-giving shouldn’t even phase you. But do a final check and make sure your gift isn’t cheap or useless.
good gift ideas
Now that you know how to give good gifts I want to leave you with some final good gift ideas to get your wheels turning. These are non specific, more like gift categories to consider while you’re brainstorming.
- Experiences/Memories – These are some of the best gifts you can possibly give because they last forever. Consider giving the opportunity to try something new, bonus points if its something you can do together.
- Luxury/Splurge – Gifts are the perfect excuse to splurge on something you wouldn’t normally spend money on or indulge in a luxury.
- Sentimental – Sentimental gifts are always good. Think personalized jewelry, photos (maybe even a professional photo session), visiting a special place, etc.
- Hobbies – Giving a gift related to hobbies is always fun and appreciated. Often hobbies are things we’re super passionate about and how we relax and unwind. In other words, hobby-related gifts are good gifts.
- Education – This category is similar to experiences and memories but think about giving the gift of learning something new. Maybe they’ve always wanted to learn how to knit, use a DSLR camera, or bake bread. Sign them up for a class and watch the excitement as they unwrap a gift that keeps on giving.
My sweet husband. He’s got a wife that feels loved through receiving gifts and giving good gifts doesn’t come naturally to him. Bless his heart, he works so hard to help me feel loved the way I need it.
This last Christmas he nailed it!
There’s something wonky with my jaw, similar to TMJ, that leads to migraines and soreness in my back, sounds weird but turns out its all connected! I must ask him for a massage at least once a week just to relieve the tension.
He completely surprised me with a folding massage table, special massage lotion, and a gua sha set with a book to teach me techniques I can do to myself.
My jaw hit the floor.
But the thing that has made it the perfect gift is his follow through. He’s offered to use those gifts and give me a massage at least once a week since Christmas. OFFERED. This is the man who’s done it begrudgingly in the past. He offers.
The physical gifts were amazing, but the real gift is how he’s served me with them everyday since. I have never felt so loved.
There is power in good gifts.
Do you still need help finding the perfect gift? Tell me about the intended recipient in the comments and I’ll try to help you find the PERFECT gift to say “I love you.”