Amid the joys of Advent’s season, the ones filled with making magic, myth, and mystery in eager anticipation of the world’s greatest morning, also comes the looming threat of being swallowed whole by long list of looming to dos, piles of presents and parties, and too little time to get it all done. And isn’t that the biggest battle that tests each of us each year? Will we remain in the presence of peace? Or fall feverishly towards the chaos of our culture’s takeover of Christmas? I for one prefer the former, but each year I am amazed at just how hard it is to choose the baby and not the bustle.
In the 10 years I’ve had my own children on Christmas, I have established a pattern. At first, I insist on simplicity. Not too many presents! Nothing too extravagant! Put back the trampoline! They don’t need it! And then, every year, just as Christmas shipping is about to expire, I get nervous that what I’ve done is not enough, and I amazonprime a bunch of crap that no one ever plays with and hardly ever notices. It is often devoid of thought or meaning, and I regret the purchases almost immediately.
My tendency towards “more,” is not solely because I am a sucker for consumerism and highly influenced by nearly every very well placed Instagram add I see. Christmas is a BIG DEAL, and even though I know at its deepest level, it is not at all about the presents, it is still very much about the presents. This act of giving and receiving has such power to remind us that we are loved beyond measure and thought of carefully with attention to the details that make us exactly who we are. If we are able to focus gift giving more on the person, and less on the frivolity of the stuff, we can bring more meaning to the material and maybe even help point the eyes of our children towards the eternal. What a great opportunity Christmas is to communicate this message, especially to our children.
One way to buy less and communicate more is to give gifts based on the Love Languages. Will I still be seduced by sales and promos and deals, deals, deals! Most likely! But hopefully, a little bit less.
For those unfamiliar, the Love Languages were developed by Gary Chapman, and help us to understand the ways we are wired to give and receive love, and how to recognize those attributes in others. There are five main love languages and each person will have a primary way to express their love and a primary way they like to receive love. When we are able to speak the love language of our spouse, our child, our friends, we are more equipped to build a strong relationship, and affirm them in the exact way they are made.
I’ve compiled some kid friendly gift ideas for each love language. I didn’t link to any particular products, but I do try to spark some ideas as to how to effectively give gifts with more attention to particular love languages. I hope you enjoy!
Words of Affirmation
Words quite literally mean the world to this child! Love notes, words of encouragement, and compliments fill up their love tank. A good conversation can do wonders. Criticism, however, sticks and ought to be considered carefully and communicated gently.
A child who appreciates words of affirmation might really love a hand written Christmas letter that reminds them how loved they are. New, personalized stationary could be a big hit! Anything personalized, monogrammed, or engraved will go a long way for a person that loves words.
As well, Christmas might be a great opportunity to show appreciation for what they do, and what they like through a particular present. The goal is to affirm them by allowing the gift to say “I notice that you like (this thing/sport/hobby) and you should feel like that interest is good, always, but especially today.”
For a child who most desires words of affirmation, it can also be helpful to tell them why the gifts picked are especially for them, so as to verbally support the meaning of the present. (Santa knows these things too!)
This child loves to be hugged, appreciates cuddling, and close physical proximity to the people that make them feel safe. They also might be a bit more “clingy” than other kids, because they are made to need more touch!
A child who appreciates physical touch also loves things that feel soft. A new throw blanket picked just for them, a super soft sweater, slippers, bedding, sleeping bags, pillows, or stuffed animals would be a real hit.
A child who is made to feel most loved through quality time wants to spend time with you and they want that time to be uninterrupted, focused, and definitely without a cell phone. It often doesn’t matter what activity is taking up the time, so long as it is highly focused time together.
A Christmas present made for this child would be something to do together. Maybe an above age Lego set that says “lets build together,” or a set date for special one on one time. Anything that needs to be built with assistance from a parent, or a game to be played together. The key for this gift is to actually play with it with the child. The present matters much less than the time spent playing with it.
Acts of Service
A child that appreciates acts of service loves special care, favors, or an obvious sigh that says, “I did this for you.” It might sound a bit like enabling, but it isn’t doing the favor because the kid can’t, it is doing it for them to signal they are loved and appreciated. This child might want extra help getting dressed in the morning, or want “help,” with homework that you know is a simple concept for them. They love a homemade meal, laundry folded and put away, or their room to be cleaned…just because.
On Christmas, a child will appreciate the effort put into the present, the thought really does count! Also the presentation will speak in a special way to this child. An extra special bow, special wrapping paper, anything that says “this extra detail, extra step is just for you, because you are worth the effort!” Santa might take some time on Christmas Eve to take a toy out of the box and build it with a note that says “I built this just for you!”
It is easy to confuse this love language with materialism, especially if you are a person that communicates love through a different language. But, a person who feels loved through receiving gifts understands the power of the material to point us towards the eternal. The thought of the present and the present itself, says something special to this child and reminds them how worth it they are.
Christmas is a particularly special opportunity to put some razzle-dazzle into gift giving to the child who feels loved through receiving gifts. Toys that sing, dance or sparkle? Something slightly ridiculous that fulfills absolutely no need at all but is just really really cool? Thats just the thing! And it will go a long way.
Learning to love and appreciate the particular ways we experience and communicate love is a powerful way to understand each other better. An understanding of love languages during Christmas time provides a special opportunity to say more to those we care about through the gifts we are giving, without spending more or giving more. Give well, not more! Happy, peaceful shopping to you all.
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