When John and I met 12 years ago, we started out as friends. To be exact, our friendship lasted about 5 months before we had the “DTR” conversation. We met in the summertime (so long before the holidays) but I remember clearly receiving and giving gifts with him along the way, even in our friendship stage. Whether you’re looking to give a gift to a single person, a friend, or someone you’re newly dating – here are some simple ideas to get you started*:
Books – John and I exchanged a LOT of books during this stage in our relationship. The first gift he ever sent me was a book to read called The Heavenly Man, when he heard I had a long flight coming up ahead. I love this idea because by giving books, especially books you love, are reading, or appreciate, you’re inviting that person into your interests, giving them a chance to get to know you better. Here are some books John and I have exchanged along the way, or ones we recommend:
DVDs – Still in our friendship stage, I remember getting a “care package” from John one day after a particularly crazy week. Inside, were some of my favorite snacks and my favorite childhood movie. It was a significant moment in our friendship because that’s when I realized he was really listening to everything I had been saying and making it a point to remember my likes and interests. The favorite childhood movie, you ask? None other than….The Sandlot! Here’s a list of some of our favorite movies and snacks to give this holiday season:
Gourmet Snacks: I like giving gourmet snacks as gifts because A. they are things a person normally wouldn’t buy for themselves, and B. they are tasty!!
Coffee/Tea Items: In all honesty, there’s always a load of coffee items on my wish list! With the popularity of coffee and tea, you can’t go wrong with gifting some of these gifts to show someone you care!
I love the idea of a handwritten note or card. Sometimes something simple can mean so much. With the rise of digital technology, when is the last time took some time to write out a note to someone by hand? This can be such a thoughtful way to interact with someone, by writing down a list of things you appreciate about them, reflections from the past year, some encouraging bible verses, or your favorite song lyrics. You don’t have to be an eloquent writer for this to be really meaningful to someone. I have a pile of notes and cards that John and I gave each other through the years – from our early days of friendship all the way to today. Don’t underestimate the power of the written word!
Here are some of my favorite note cards/stationery to use:
DATING (3-12 months+)
When it comes to dating, some people really stress out about gift-giving. They either want to go-all-out, or on the other hand, they don’t want to come across as too intense. If you are the former, I suggest taking a look at the list above for those who are newly dating. But if you’re somewhere in the middle and have been dating for around 3 months -12 months, here are some suggestions to help get you thinking:
Games: Truth be told, John and I spent a lot of time playing games in our dating days. They are a great way to spend time together, get to know each other, and have fun in a light-hearted environment. We were long distance, so one night a week we’d have a “game night” date where we’d play a game over the phone….so we had to get creative! Funny thing is, games are something we still love and now that we have three kids, we have a weekly family game! Here are some fun favorites we’ve had over the years:
Jewelry: I went through a stage where I was really into pearls. In fact, pearls were actually part of our wedding theme when we got married (even though I hear they’re considered “bad luck” in other countries…oops…good thing we don’t believe in luck). Get to know your significant other’s taste in jewelry, and consider something that works for her (or him) from the list below! And as you’ll see below, it doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful.
That’s about all I got for the gentlemen with regard to “jewelry”. 🙂
“Quality Time” Gifts: I am a “quality time” kind of person. To me, more significant than getting something, I appreciate an experience or a memory made with someone I love. Looking back, some of the most significant gifts I’ve given/received have been quality time focused, and they’re still top on my list! Here are some examples:
Personalized Gifts: Another thoughtful idea is a personalized gift. One year, John got me a personalized bible in the translation I had really wanted.
You can always buy an item, and then take it to the mall to get it personalized at a place like this or at your local mall. You can ALSO always personalize it yourself, by adding a small note or message inside if it’s a book or paper item. Here are some other things you can personalize:
Accessories: When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with accessories. Even if you don’t totally know your significant other’s taste yet, accessories are a great stepping stone!
Homemade Items: Don’t have a lot of money to spend? Stay tuned for my blog post with some great homemade gift ideas. But for now, try filling up a jar with some hand written notes of appreciation. You can learn more at this link!
For those of you who are engaged and looking for presents a little more personal or meaningful, here are some fun ideas:
Clothing: I think clothing is such a personal thing because you really have to know someone well to know their size/taste in clothing! But there’s no better time to give it a try than during your engagement! I always loved when John attempted to get me a clothing item, because not only was it something I knew he liked, but it was also so incredibly sweet imagining him in the clothing section (which he hates, mind you!) trying to pick out something just right for me!
For you guys out there, who need a little guidance here are some fail-proof basic items to begin with:
Couples Devotional: Engagement is a great time to connect spiritually in preparation for marriage. If you know anything about me, you know that I don’t like to introduce this kind of connection too early in a relationship. But during engagement, I think buying a gift such as this really encourages you to cultivate that environment together. Here are some ideas of good devotionals/books to go through together as a couple.
Pre-Marital Sessions: EVERY SINGLE ENGAGED COUPLE needs to spend time doing some pre-marital sessions together. There is NOTHING more significant you can do to prepare for marriage. If you’re interested in booking some with me for this year, check out this link. What a special gift to give your loved one this holiday season.
Sentimental Gifts: I love grabbing a big basket and filling it with themed items to make a sentimental gift for someone you love by getting a combination of things they love or need! Here are some ideas to get you started:
Subscription or Service: Why not try a subscription to a book club, or a home chef kit to cook your own meals!
Quality Time Gifts: See dating section above!
Last but not least, some extra ideas for the married couples out there. Now that we’re married, gift giving looks a little different because we share so much in life. But it’s still such an important thing to be able to express love and appreciation for your spouse whether it be a small gift or something really special. Here are some fun ideas we’ve tried along the way:
Pampering Items: I saved this one for married couples because I think cultivating intimacy is an important part of marriage. Think of treating your spouse to some massage items and giving them the gift of an in-home massage. Or why not get some relaxing bath items and run them a bath as a way of saying I love you.
A big ticket item: One thing my husband and I do now that we’ve been married close to a decade is think of something we really want or need as a couple, and invest in that for the holidays. In the past we’ve saved up to buy a TV, go on a vacation/overnight getaway, or buy an item of furniture we needed for our home. No matter what you decide, it’s important to decide together and be on the same page.
Any of the above! No matter how long or short you’ve been married, scroll through the list above and find something that shows love and appreciation for your spouse! As we often hear and know to be true, it’s less about how much you spend and more about the thought that goes into it.
So enjoy your loved one this holiday season and happy shopping!! Merry Christmas everyone!
**Feel free to comment below with any additional gift suggestions and check back OFTEN as I will be adding your ideas to the list above!!****
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Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!