The holidays are a great time to show loved ones how much they mean to us, and if you can speak the Love Language of the people on your list, they’ll feel as loved as you intend them to feel. Keep in mind that even children have Love Languages! In case you’re unfamiliar with the five love languages, there’s a whole book dedicated to the topic. For today, let me simplify it by putting the love languages in holiday terms:
Words of Affirmation: Wow, you’ve done a great job decorating for the holidays!
Quality time: Let’s make time to see each other over the holidays.
Acts of Service: Let me shovel the driveway for you.
Physical touch: Meet you under the mistletoe!
Gift giving: I saw this at your favourite shop and knew you would love it.
Please note that each business mentioned gifted me something, but they were specifically approached by me because they are where I shop.
This post is to help you identify a gift that will make your special someone feel truly appreciated, while highlighting some of my favourite Halifax businesses who can help you meet that goal. And great news: a side-benefit of this style of giving is that it’s sustainable, because not all of the gifts are “things.” Let’s get right to it!
For the person who loves Words of Affirmation
These people want to hear how much they mean to you. They want you to spell it out for them. Below are a couple of ways to accomplish this.
“Things We Love About You” custom print. This is a beautiful gift because you enumerate all of the ways you love a person and graphic designer Colleen O’Dea turns it into a beautiful piece of art that will hang in their home and remind them daily how much you love them.
Colleen also creates a customized acrostic name poster:
Eunoia Lifestyle Shop Lunch cards. I recently went away for the weekend and left a Lunch Card on the pillows of my two children and husband. When I got home, the first thing my five year old said to me was, “Thank you for the note!” Eunoia carries a variety of these little cards, with either something funny or inspiring on one side and a place for a hand-written note on the other. Be sure to check out all of the other beautiful items in this unique local shop – from children’s clothing to stationary to home decor. The owner, Cathy, also makes beautiful creations out of biodegradable balloons.
Flowers are a universal symbol of love and affection for any occasion. I generally pick mine up from the Atlantic Superstore. It can be a crafted bouquet or maybe a locally-grown poinsettia for the holidays. Remember to attach a card with a hand-written note in it! This will be very meaningful to your Words of Affirmation loved one.
For the person who loves Quality Time
For this kind of person, there are no shortcuts: you simply must make time for your loved one if you want them to feel loved and appreciated.
My top recommendation is to go out for a meal together. Our family’s favourite is to head to Gio Restaurant for Brunch or Dinner. Gio has a way of making everyone feel special – I think it’s the attention to detail. We tend to do brunch as a family and dinner as a date night. Gio is offering a special Holiday Festive Lunch (December 16-17 and 20-22), which would be a great way to make time for someone special this season.
The kind of quality time you spend with someone will of course depend on the interests of your loved one. Two years ago, I gave my daughter Mini Pops tickets for Christmas and she was thrilled. Here are some other ideas of ways to spend time together: comedy show, theatre tickets, cooking class, board game, sledding, skiing, hiking, or a hotel getaway.
Books can also fall into the Quality Time category. One of my favourite ways to spend time with my kids is to read a book together. My daughter and I just finished The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which I highly recommend for the pre-teen in your life. Board games are also a great way to give the gift of Quality Time. Our family loves Catan Junior, Battleship, and Sequence Junior. My daughter suggested doing a craft together!
You could also choose to combine quality time with Gift Giving: spend a shopping day together and identify a few special items that might make for good gifts. You’ll find some of my favourite shops under Gifts (below).
For the person who loves Acts of Service
Now we’re talking my Love Language! If I had to identify two things that make me feel loved in my marriage, it would be when my husband cleans the snow off my car, or when he makes me dinner – so it should as no surprise that my first recommendation for this category is:
Make dinner for your loved one. You don’t need to do all of the work yourself: you can enlist the help of Kitchen Door to do some or most of the work for you. They have fresh & frozen entrees and meal options, grab & go lunches, plus dinner and entertaining options. There are also gift boxes and gift cards available. One way to keep the Acts of Service love flowing right into the new year is to sign up for their meal subscription program. You can also take a load off of Christmas dinner planning by purchasing their Holiday Dinner to Go. My family purchased the Holiday Dinner to Go last year and it really cut down on the hullabaloo of Christmas dinner.
Making a meal for someone is just one act of service. Here are some other ideas: make someone their morning coffee or tea, offer to do the dishes, clean the house (or hire a cleaner), wash their car (or have it detailed), shovel the driveway (or hire someone to do it). If you’re an uncle, auntie, parent or grandparent, you could offer to take the kids for a day so your loved one has the day off.
For the person who loves Physical Touch
Giving physical touch as a gift may seem odd but there are ways you can give this gift! The most obvious to me is the spa. You can spoil them with a manicure, pedicure, or a luxurious facial. I recently had the Signature Mudwrap at Mudwraps to Manicures and it was an absolute dream! It’s the perfect way to spoil someone. It has detox benefits and it’s wonderfully relaxing. The spa is for men, too, don’t forget!
There is always the option of a massage. Many people have coverage for a massage under their health plan so it may not be the best use of your spa dollars. An at-home massage from you could be a welcomed gift for your significant other. If you want to have a physical gift to put under the tree, make a gift certificate for the massage and wrap up a nice essential oil to use for the massage.
Another gift idea is to register for a dance class together. Dancing together means lots of physical touch! My parents have taken many dance classes together and it was definitely a relationship-booster for them. On the other hand, my husband and I took a class together and it nearly ended in divorce, so it kind of depends on your relationship – with the person and with dancing!
Rounding out my advice for this category are a head scratcher, back scratcher, or weighted blanket. I gave my husband a weighted blanket last year and it was a big hit!
For the person who loves Gifts
When it comes to this love language, it’s the gift that matters. Make it personal, and make it good! One great way to do this is to take something you know they’d use and make it extra-special. For example, my daughter needs boots (boring!). I know she’d love Blundstones and they come with a price tag that reflects their quality – turning them from a boring boot purchase into a “special gift” purchase. Take It Outside has a wide variety of Blundstones for children and adults alike. I’ve personally had my eye on a Smash & Tess romper – also available at Take it Outside. Other “practical yet thoughtful” ideas include things like a set of leather mitts or a good quality pair of hiking socks. If you’re looking for a splurge gift, the Arc’Teryx Cerium Hoodie is my husband’s go-to jacket. Take it Outside also has a wide range of Canada Goose Jackets!
A gift doesn’t have to be new to be special. My parents gave me a beautiful fur hat for my birthday this year from The Compassionate Closet and while I wouldn’t purchase new fur, I was thrilled to give new life to this piece. My sister found a great Ivivva dress for my daughter’s Christmas gift at the Compassionate Closet last year. These were thoughtful, special gifts that were environmentally friendly compared to new gifts. Check out the Compassionate Closet’s scarf table and jewelry for more gift inspiration. In addition, when you shop at the Compassionate Closet, the proceeds support Hospice Halifax (an organization that provides end-of-life care).
The Compassionate Closet is celebrating its second anniversary next week (early December) so look for some special promotions then!
There are plenty of ways to make second-hand gifting special. It could be a piece of jewelry handed down from one generation to the next, or maybe a piece of clothing you’ve outgrown that would look smashing on your friend. It could be a collection of books you’ve read for your favourite bookworm. Two years ago, my parents gave me a second-hand Canada Goose jacket from a local consignment shop and it was a beautiful gift!
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of a second-hand gift because you have wealth that you’d like to share (and perhaps the second-hand gift didn’t set you back much), there are ways to address this. Consider adding a donation to a charity that has special meaning to the person receiving the gift, or couple the gift with an experience (see “Quality Time” above). Normalizing second-hand gift giving means much less waste, which in and of itself is a gift to our children.
And while I’m on the topic of children, used toys, books, puzzles, or games can make for great gifts! Last year, we found a major score of American Girl items on Facebook Marketplace for my daughter and nieces. For my nephew this year, we will be gifting him some of my son’s hand-me-down toys alongside a contribution to his RESP’s.
I hope this post has given you some great ideas for your loved ones. Remember: thoughtfulness goes a long way!