Things Your Friends Would Tell You If They Could: A Gift-Giver’s Guide

How do you determine what to get a loved one for a gift? We’ve talked about being a giver and generous, but there’s more to the equation.

If you love giving gifts, or even if you do it more out of a sense of obligation, there is a fine art in giving, which lies in considering the receiver. 

Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages describes five general ways people express and experience love. That was the original context. Let’s look at giving gifts through the lens of the Five Love Languages.

They are:

  1. Acts of service
  2. Gift-giving
  3. Physical touch
  4. Quality time
  5. Words of affirmation

The month of May (when this blog is published) holds several occasions to give gifts: Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Week and high school graduations. Whether you’re celebrating a loved one’s birthday, retirement or other special occasion, some strategic thought ahead of gifting can make all the difference.


Here are three ways to make this work:

  1. Determine your default way of giving, expressed in your love language
  2. Try to identify the love language, need or desire of the receiver
  3. Give something that will be meaningful once you’ve thought about #2

Let’s explore applying these ideas.

Determine your default way of giving, expressed in your love language

Do you know which one or two of the five make you feel most loved? Have you noticed that the gifts you give tend to reflect those? 

For example, quality time is one of my love languages. So I am usually delighted to hang out with friends and family. I seek out time with them, because it fills my cup. It’s a win-win for my friends who have the same love language.

Identify the love language, need or desire of the receiver

However, if one of your besties is an introvert who works a demanding job dealing with people all day, that is a clue. She may not want to hang out immediately after work on a Friday. If you know she needs some time to recharge, a call or a text saying you're available at a specific timeframe during the weekend would be a better option.

With a bit of sleuthing, you can figure out what their love language is. 

Do they light up when you compliment them? 

Are they wildly appreciative if you wash their car for them?

Does it make their day when you find just the right, thoughtful present for their birthday?

Are they a hugger? 

Is it them reaching out to spend time with you more often?

By noticing the things that mean the most to them, you will be well on your way to identifying how to delight them with your gifts.

And even if it’s not tied to a love language, noticing what is going on in their life and giving a gift that would help them the most is top-notch friend material.


Give something that will be meaningful once you’ve thought about #2

Identifying the love language or need is the hardest part. Now, you’re on to the fun stuff—figuring out how to bless them best! 

For that friend that always calls you first to hang out, determine to initiate an outing you know they would enjoy.

If you have a buddy with low funds, you could treat them to dinner.

Did your sister-in-law or co-worker recently have a baby? How about volunteering to clean a portion of the house or babysit so she can nap or run errands?

You get the idea. 

Here’s a story from my life to illustrate. 

My son is graduating from high school this month. I recently discovered some coupons he made me many years ago that I could redeem for gifts.

I found one I treasured that I hadn’t cashed in: the one for time = unlimited. 🤗 

He didn’t put an expiration date on it, so since his days living under my roof are limited, I’ve been taking advantage of it! His gift of time these last few months has been so precious. 


I will never forget what it has meant to me to spend time in the garage with him, hearing his stories of boy antics with his friends, and watching him dismantle mechanics and teach himself how to assemble an engine. 

All those years ago, he didn't know how much that coupon would bless me. But it has.


As the gift giver, you are uniquely positioned to delight a loved one. 

By determining your default way of giving, expressed in your love language, identifying the love language, need or desire of the receiver, and determining to give something that will be meaningful, the potential to show love has no bounds.

Who do you plan to give a gift to this month? How will this help you plan what to give? I’d be glad to hear your thoughts in a comment.

Thanks for reading! 

Happy gifting,


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