How To Know What Gifts Will Have Meaning

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In my previous article on how to find the perfect gift, I explained how to find the perfect gift.  For a gift to be perfect, it has to have meaning by touching several emotional points.  Even practical gift, to be considered meaningful or perfect, will need to touch the recipient at an emotional level.  But how do you know what the emotional touch points are?  Well this article continues from the previous one and introduces the 5 ways people feel and demonstrate affection.  These 5 ways will show you what makes a meaningful gift.  It is through these that you can workout what type of gifts will have an impact.  You can also build a reputation as being someone who gives the best gifts. There is some overlap with the previous article, but they should help you understand the secrets of finding meaningful gifts.

We all want our gifts to put a wonderful smile on the recipient.  There are, however, many reasons why we give gifts from the pure love of giving to because it is expected.  Whatever the reason, if you can touch the aspects that make someone feel loved and appreciated, you have gone a long way to giving the perfect gift.

So, what is the ‘secret’ to finding the perfect gift? 

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For a gift to have true impact and meaning, it needs to touch multiple points.  Whilst researching for this article, I came across the term ‘Love Language’ from the 1992 Gary Chapman book called “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”.  I had not come across this previously, but the book shares many of my own thoughts and observations about how we express ourselves.  Personally, I look to use the five categories to help identify what gifts will touch on relevant affection points.  There are a few books in this series worth checking out.

If it puts you off, forget about the term ‘Love Language’.  Prior to finding his book, I always considered these to be ways that people show and feel affection. Now, your task is to find a gift that touches the right aspect of how the recipient feels affection.  In this way, your gift will have a significantly greater impact than one that is not aligned.  If you miss the mark, the gift may be appreciated, but it will not have the impact of another gift could have.

So, if you want your gift to have added meaning,  find the one or two touch points that will trigger emotions.  There are 5 areas to consider.

The Five Areas of Affection to Consider

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The 5 ways people show and feel affection, appreciation and love, and their frequency within the popularity are:

  • Words of affirmation: 23 percent.
  • Quality time: 20 percent.
  • Acts of service: 20 percent.
  • Physical touch: 19 percent.
  • Receiving gifts: 18 percent.


Ways to Say Thank You

It is worth noting that we all have more than one way of feeling affection.  Whilst receiving gifts has the lowest frequency, we can achieve the others by giving the right gifts with the right message.

The Importance of the Message

You are no doubt aware of the importance of saying thank you.  Well now you can see it – 23% of people have ‘words of affirmation’ as their primary way they feel appreciated.  Think of it this way, imagine giving someone a spa day.  In the message you can either say “Have a relaxing day on us, you deserve it” or you can add a message that aligns with how they feel affection:

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  • Words of affirmation: “I wanted to say thank you for everything you have done for us.  Please accept this gift in recognition of our appreciation.”
  • Quality time: “You have done so much for me.  I thought we could spend some time together just relaxing”.
  • Acts of service: “I wanted you to know how much I appreciate everything you do for me.  I got this just for you because you deserve to be pampered”.
  • Physical touch: “As well as giving you a great big hug for all the things you have done, I want you to enjoy a relaxing day.  Enjoy the pool, steam room and treatments”.
  • Receiving gifts: “This gift is my way of saying how much I appreciate everything you do for me.  Thank you”.

The messages don’t vary too much but enough that they should touch the recipient in just the right way.  The message can change a good gift into a meaningful gift.

I use the message as an example, since this is easier to understand the concept, but the gift is still important.  You will note that a spa day for one is less likely to work for someone who prefers quality time with you or someone who prefers the physical touch.  This is true for more expensive gifts.  Someone who likes quality time, may not appreciate the diamond ring as much as an experience day for 2.  Alternatively, the person who feels affection through gifts would certainly appreciate the ring, but less so the experience day.

Don’t Assume They Are Like You

To give a meaningful gift, you much understand how affective is felt by the recipient.  Importantly, your preference may not be the same as the recipients, which is where many of us go wrong.  We assume that because we would like the gift, the recipient will like it as well.  This is not always the case.

I have a close family member who chooses gifts based on their own tastes and wants, despite all the advice to the contrary.  They sometimes hit the mark, but this is generally out of luck, so in most cases the gift either gathers dust or gets returned.  They are generous in giving a gift but lack the insight or generosity of effort to find the right gift.  This is not that uncommon, which is why I wrote this article and the previous one.

How do you Know Which Way is Right?

Great gifts couple walking arm in arm - wedding wish list amazon wishlist creator meaningful gifts for him her partner mother father teen kids babyYou can work out someone’s preference by observing how they show affection to others.  Remember, when finding the right gift, do not use your preference but the recipient’s.  Since we invariable show affection in the way we like to receive it, look to see what they do.  Some of the tell-tell signs are:

  • Words of affirmation: This person goes out of their way to say thank you.  They may always make a point of sending a thank you card or saying a genuine thank you in front of others.  When feeling unloved, they may say things that suggest you should be thanking them or tell you that you never say thank you.
  • Quality time: This person likes to give their full attention to whomever they are with.  They prefer to have 1-to-1 time rather than be part of a crowd, although don’t exclude people who are good in groups.  They may ask you to join them in a walk or other activity, just to be able to spend time together.  They feel unloved and get grumpy if you don’t make an effort to spend quality time with them.
  • Acts of service: This person is always doing things for you, cleaning, making cups of tea, cooking supper.  It is very easy to take this person for granted, since they enjoy doing acts of service.  They may get grumpy, however, if you do not reciprocate, since they will not feel loved.
  • Physical touch: This person likes to hug or lightly touch. They may often want to hold hands or snuggle up. In a work environment, they may put a hand on a shoulder or arm to show appreciation.
  • Receiving gifts: This person often buys gifts for others, and they get upset if you don’t give them a gift.  I have found people with this form of affirmation are the easiest to spot, since they will often let you know what gift to get them.

Through observing these traits, you should start to see the meaning behind some of the actions, which will increase the chance that the gifts you give will have the impact you want.  You could also improve your understanding by checking out the types of gifts they have on their wish list, since this is likely to align with either how they feel affection or provide clues on their interests.  If they don’t have one, suggest they start one with us – not so subtle plug!


In summary, finding the occasional perfect gift is something we can all do, like winning a raffle.  If you want give a meaningful gift, and build a reputation for being the person who always finds the best gifts, you need to understand what makes your loved one feel appreciated and loved and buy gifts that meet these areas.  If you have not already read it, check out how to know the perfect gift or, if you want to start your own wish list, see the 12 Essential Tips for managing your wish list.

Let me know what you think.

Stay well and Great Gifting



Happy Gifting, In Friendship


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James Lawrence

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I am passionate about finding gifts that have an impact and helping others to do the same.  I also, however, like life to be as simple as possible, which is why I helped to establish this website.

James Lawrence

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