This may just be the most genius way ever to pick out the perfect gift.
Everyone has received a terrible gift or two in their time. The kind of gift that makes the dead bird your cat brought in this morning look appealing because hey, the cat at least put some thought and effort into getting it for you.
One of my favourite bad gift stories to tell is of the time my husband bought me towels for Mother’s Day. It was eight or nine years ago, so I obviously managed to work through it (sort of) but I still punish him by telling people at every opportunity. The problem wasn’t that the towels were bad – they were nice towels – it’s just that they’re a household necessity and not exactly a thoughtful gift (I had actually requested a Madonna album but he refused to spend money on Madonna).
It’s not just him; finding the right gift can be hard. I can empathize with him. Finding the perfect gift is no easy feat, especially when there’s a timeline involved. I love nothing more than seeing something I think someone will love and getting it for them ‘just because’, but as soon as a gift-exchanging occasion such as a birthday or Christmas comes up, my gift-finding skills fly out the window and suddenly everyone gets a scented candle.
Like the towels, there’s nothing inherently wrong with candles. They’re pretty, functional, and can be expensive, but it’s the lack of thought that drives their gift value down. And when it comes to your partner, a lack of thought in anything, whether it’s gift giving or daily actions can be a death-knell for your relationship.
So how do you find the perfect gift for a partner?
If there’s one definitive relationship advice book of the past few decades, it has to be Gary Chapman’s ‘The 5 Love Languages’. Even if you haven’t read the book itself, you’re likely still well versed in what exactly the aforementioned five languages are; either from friends who have read the book and spent every coffee date in the months following trying to convert you, or from one of the many articles written about this holy grail of self-help.
The knowledge of the five love languages promises you a lifetime of lasting love should you take its advice on board, but more than that, it can come in handy in the most unexpected of places – namely, the shopping mall when you’re desperately trying to find the perfect gift for your significant other alongside approximately two million other people doing the same.
Nothing puts a dampener on Christmas day and gets the New Year off to a bad start like a dud present from the person who really should know you better than anyone, so here is a guide to what to get your partner for Christmas, based off their love language.
If their love language is: Receiving gifts
For some folks, nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like a big shiny present. Don’t make it predictable or generic though; a candle, flowers, or chocolate are all lovely, but impersonal and not very thoughtful.
If your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, you’re going to have to put some thought into what will make their heart sing when they rip the wrapping off (hint: it’s unlikely to be a household appliance). Pay attention in the lead up to the holidays – have they mentioned or pointed out something that they’d like to buy one day? There’s a good chance you’re missing some very obvious hints!
For a gift that keeps giving all year, have a look at subscription services. If they’re a bibliophile you might consider one of the many book subscriptions, a food delivery / meal kit if they love to cook, or a monthly makeup and beauty product box.
What could be better than a special indulgence arriving every month, long after the Christmas cheer has worn off?
If their love language is: Acts of Service
People who feel loved through acts of service don’t want to be fed peeled grapes and fanned with a palm while they lounge on a chaise (although if you’re offering, they probably won’t say ‘no’). Instead, it’s the little things that count, like making the bed or doing the dishes. But let’s face it; making the bed probably isn’t going to cut it as a Christmas gift.
What do they hate doing? Consider ordering them a month of ready-made gourmet dinners, or booking a weekly cleaning service so they no longer have to scrub the bathrooms. There are even companies that can organise your pantry! If these not on the budget, commit to taking over those tasks yourself (and follow through!).
If their love language is: Quality Time
This partner doesn’t ask for more than time spent with you, which in our busy modern lives can be trickier than it sounds.
If you can swing it, a weekend away for just the two of you could be just the thing. It can be as simple or as luxurious as your budget allows, but try not to overbook it with activities that will distract from your couple time. If you can’t do a whole weekend, why not arrange regular date nights to reconnect?
If their love language is: Physical Touch
If your partner’s language of love is physical touch, they are in their element when you’re holding hands, giving spontaneous hugs and kisses, and surprising them with a back rub after a long day.
A massage (from you) would be appreciated, but if you want to make sure they have something under the tree to open on Christmas morning, think about buying them a fun new sex toy to try together. You could even gift it on Christmas Eve (in private, unless you have a really open family) to make sure Christmas gets off to a bangin’ start.
If their love language is: Words of affirmation
Get them a ‘live, laugh, love’ wall hanging. Lol, just kidding, definitely don’t do that. People whose love language is words of affirmation feel loved through spoken affection, praise, and appreciation.
A truly heartfelt love letter makes an amazing gift, or if you happen to be a musician, you could woo them on Christmas morning with a song you’ve written just for them. Likewise, poetry, or stories – get creative! A partner who loves words will also go wild for some creative dirty talk during sex. You can blow their mind before they’re even out of bed on Christmas morning!
Remember that the right gift has more power than simply saying ‘I love you’ (although that’s always nice to hear); it lets them know that you’ve truly thought of them and know them.
Nadia is a journalist, media commentator and editor with a penchant for hoarding makeup and an opinion on just about everything. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Cosmopolitan, and many more. She's a passionate advocate for destroying mental health stigma and sexually empowering women, and has absolutely no concept of TMI. Follow Nadia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.