Valentine's day is fast approaching, and with it generally comes the stress of buying a gift for your significant other. While the traditional gift of chocolate and roses seems like a sure fire win, not everyone is a deep, dark chocolate lover. It is not unusual to be allergic to milk, soy, nuts or any of the other ingredients commonly found in a chocolate bar. In addition, a small percentage of people are allergic to cocoa itself, making the gift of chocolate useless. Personally, chocolate gives me a headache. Whether or not your SO loves chocolate, thinking outside the box and spending time finding the right gift for your valentine can help to make this special day even more meaningful.
Dr. Gary Chapman coined the concept of the five love languages, claiming that individuals speak and receive love in different ways. These five languages include: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and receiving gifts. Identifying which category fits your significant other best, and giving them something that fits this theme can help you to give the perfect gift. Here are some of my favorite gift ideas for each love language.
1. Words of Affirmation: While verbal compliments are one of the best options for this love language, there are some physical gifts that fit the bill. First, writing “open when” letters for your significant other provides them with both a beautiful card and note on the special night, as well as for weeks to come, as they open letters tailored to their mood and life events. If you don’t have enough ideas for an entire stack of letters, a deck of cards can also be a good way to turn verbal compliments into a physical gift. Simply write a fond memory or something you love about your partner on each card, and then watch as they enjoy flipping through the deck. Finally, a mix tape with songs describing your feelings for your valentine can remind them they are special for days to come.
2. Quality Time: To me this is the easiest category of giving because it is my own love language. Easy and meaningful ways to surprise a person who speaks this love language are to: make dinner reservations in advance to surprise him/her with a romantic night out; enjoy a walk outdoors, followed by takeout and a movie; enjoy an afternoon drive to a different town; or try a new activity with each other--like laser tag. Remember, this category is all about spending time with your partner, so ultimately the memories made will mean more than the physical gifts given.
3. Acts of Service: Typically acts of service include doing the dishes randomly, or completing a chore you know your significant other hates. For Valentine's Day, a great way to quantify these ideas is to make a coupon book for your valentine with coupons stating things like “this coupon is good for one night of no dirty dishes” or “redeem this coupon for freshly vacuumed carpets.” Just make sure you are willing and able to complete each task whenever the coupon is redeemed, as nothing is worse than someone not making good on a promise.
4. Physical Touch: Individuals who feel most loved through physical touch likely love holding hands, hugging often and frequent back rubs. Scheduling a couple’s massage for you and your SO is a wonderful way to provide them with this physical touch in a special way. However, if you are not a massage person, or simply don’t want to break the bank, a voucher for a free back massage from you could also be a meaningful gifts.
5. Receiving Gifts: This love language is perhaps the most traditional love language to speak on Valentine's Day. An individual who identifies with this category may drop hints about a physical gift they want in the weeks leading up to the big day. If you are not picking up hints however, it is always okay to ask their friends, roommates, siblings, or even their parents what they may want as a gift. If none of these are options, a nice piece of jewelry, a perfume or cologne that you love, or a mildly scented candle are all great ideas. If your valentine is traditional, you could even come with roses and chocolate, but just remember to ask first if they are a chocolate lover!