The Art of Giving and Receiving Gifts

Author: Dr. Julie. Sorenson, DMFT, MA, LPC

The holidays are approaching, and no matter what holiday you celebrate, there may be an opportunity for gift-giving connected to that holiday. Some people have an easier time than others regarding gift-giving or receiving, and it could be related to their love languages. The five love language quiz can help you determine your love language and give you more insight into why you love, despise, or are indifferent when it comes to exchanging presents. Often, if you enjoy receiving gifts and that is high in your love language, then you may be more apt to shop for loved ones, trying to find the perfect present. However, if gift-giving is low in your love language, it may be easier for you when shopping. Remember, knowing the people you love language is vital, so you know how they feel about giving/receiving gifts.


When my editor asked me to write something related to gift-giving, I immediately got writer's block. As gift giving/receiving is lower in my love languages. While I like to receive gifts, I wouldn't say I want to open them in front of others, and when it comes to gift-giving, I wander mindlessly around the store or on Amazon, trying to figure out the perfect gift. Vacations or destinations are always my favorite go-to because you create memories with your favorite people. Since I had writer's block, I put a poll out asking people to share their opinions with me about their gift-giving and receiving opinions, and the results were impressive.

Many people on my poll reported loving to shop for others. Some even said they don't even need a reason to give gifts. When they know they have found something that someone would love, they instantly want to buy it for that person. Another person suggested that even though gift-giving is not their love language, they focus on what will fill the person they are shopping for love's tank. Others indicated that they love giving gifts but may not feel as comfortable receiving gifts or opening gifts in front of others. Donating to a cause or someone's favorite charity would be a preference over a gift or a beautiful bouquet to fill the home and look at to enjoy.


Many suggested that thoughtful gifts are appreciated because it feels like the person took time and energy to pick out the gift while showing that the person knows them. Gift-giving is a creative craft that allows them to think outside the box when searching for the perfect present. Across the board, people agree it differs from how expensive a gift is, but taking the time to make a meaningful gift is more appreciated than a costly one. It is important to remember that if someone spends $30 on a gift and only makes $10.00 an hour, it took them 3 hours to find a special gift for you, and that should be as important as thinking about the time it took for someone to show you, you are unique to them to take three hours out of their work week to offer you a gift.

A helpful tip for shoppers is having someone create a list of wants in several colors so the receiver gets something they want without knowing precisely what it is. The philosophy behind the list is that the gift giver and receiver will have authentic responses in the gift exchange. Another critical thing to recognize is the gift of time. If the person you are shopping for has quality time high in their love language, take time to spend with them. A day of beauty, a luncheon, a walk through the park, or a movie may mean more to them than a worldly possession. At the same time, others may speak the love language of acts of service. These people may appreciate you helping them with a project, cooking a meal, organizing a space in your home, or helping with yard work. Finally, those who speak the love language of words of affirmation may appreciate a poem or song created just for them.

Ultimately, knowing the people you are shopping for and taking into consideration what their love language is will assist you in finding that perfect gift. Remember, homemade gifts from love can be more priceless than any possession. Take time this year to find out what the people on your list prefer. It may allow you to add some new traditions to your holiday season.

Remember, if you are struggling with the stresses of the holiday season, local counselors are here to assist you in decreasing any stresses you may have. It is okay to ask for help. Shopping around for a therapist that relates to you, and you connect with is also OK.

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