How do you make things special for someone you love?
Low on Inspo
Hey There -
Great question! Sorry you're feeling uninspired, we all hit those slumps - but fortunately I've got a LOT to say on this topic, so you've come to the right place! I'm going to answer this in regards to all the kinds of people we love - not just romantic partners, although it'll lean somewhat heavier in that direction. I believe in pushing ourselves to make every day as special as possible, so here are some thoughts...
The long and short of it: You make things special for people by paying attention and really listening to them, then tailoring your actions to the way they best absorb love.
Have you heard of the five love languages? For me it's been a game changer in the way I communicate with the people I care about, and specifically has helped me realize the importance of listening to people's actions, not just their words (which, as an excessively chatty person, has been a big learning curve for me.) Broken down into those five different languages, here are some of my thoughts on how to make things tailored and meaningful for the ones of you love.
Words of Affirmation
What can seem obvious - TELLING people you love them, isn't always as overt as we sometimes need it to be. Especially for people who aren't super verbal. If you know your partner/friend/sibling thrives on hearing affirmative statements, put yourself out there and find ways to not only express yourself, but be creative about it. My golden rule: IF YOU THINK A NICE THOUGHT ABOUT A PERSON, TELL THEM IMMEDIATELY. A simple text of "Hey - you make me happy" can make someone's entire day. Other little ways you can build verbal affirmations into your day-to-day could include:
- Write Them Down! Hide notes in their pants pockets or slip one into the book they're reading. Put a post-it note doodle on their computer. SEND SNAIL MAIL! Even if you live in the same city! My best friend who lives 20 minutes away recently sent me a postcard asking me to grab pizza with her and it totally brightened my day. Something that helps me is that I carry stamps in my wallet at all times. This way when I find a card, I can immediately mail it. I also carry these sweet compliment cards in my bag to give to friends at random.
- One of my favorite traditions is a Memory Jar: Throughout the year, you & your partner write happy memories on scraps of paper and put them in a jar. It's best if they're the easy to forget ones - dancing in the kitchen, an inside joke, a slow moment together. Then on New Years day you sit down (preferably with a bottle of champagne) and open all the slips together. It is so meaningful and nostalgic, and only takes a minute here and there throughout the year.
- Note the Details - Notice the new hair cut, the new dress the new shoes. Let people know that you are there for them and that you notice and appreciate all the little changes and efforts they make - both for you and for themselves.
- Express Gratitude & Pride - The things you love about someone are one component, but verbalizing gratitude & pride are important too. Thank them when they've put away the laundry or express respect when they've met a deadline early. It always means a lot to me to hear people tell me they're proud of me. A tangible gesture for an accomplishment (re: champagne), or thank you for their help (thank you notes!) makes people feel rewarded and heard.
Acts of Service
Love means making people's lives easier, not harder. Period.
I've had so many hard days over the past few years, and the people in my life have stepped it up in countless ways by committing acts of service to help me get by. This can be as simple as doing a chore you know they hate (my boyfriend has washed almost every dish since we met - SAINT), making the bed in the morning, or accompanying someone on an errand they're dreading (the DMV is more fun with company.) Don't forget - micro actions add up! Plug in their phone, bring them a glass of water at bedtime, untangle a necklace, throw away the trash from their car - the smoother all the little transitions in a day goes, the better it is as a whole.
Going the extra mile for someone, even by an extra 10%, makes a big difference. And a lot of the time you even end up having fun yourself. Here are some other acts of service plussed up that will let your person know how much they mean to you:
- Bank on Nostalgia - Call their mom for their favorite cookie or spaghetti recipe and make it. Have their favorite album playing when they get in your car or home from work. Look on eBay for a toy they loved as a kid (a friend got me a vintage Polly Pocket for my birthday last year and it's one of my most valued possessions). Print out that one Lin Manuel Miranda tweet they loved and stick it on their desk.
- Perk Up the Daily Minutia - Put their towel in the dryer while they're showering so when they get out it's super warm and fluffy. Fill their tank with gas. Email them an interesting podcast or funny meme during the middle of the work day, or even drop off coffee or lunch for them if you know they're slammed. (This book is RUL cute too)
MOST people love getting presents. Duh. And while it can seem materialistic, or finding the right thing can be stressful, it can be one of the most fun and immediate ways to brighten someone's day. I keep a running list of gift ideas in my phone whenever I think of one, which helps a lot. I know someone who writes down the inside/recurring jokes he and his girlfriend have and as a result always comes up with really clever personal presents. Some further tips:
- Give the Gift of Experiences - Some of my most favorite gifts EVER haven't been a box under the tree, but a memorable experience. Concert tickets, seeing a play, dinner at a restaurant I'd been dying to try. For anniversaries, I'm a big believer that the celebration is about the two of you TOGETHER, so instead of a necklace and a watch - go on a weekend trip together! Or buy something nice for the home you share.
- Go Digital/Go Analog - In our digital age there are so many new ways to be thoughtful - create a special Spotify playlist, send a meme or funny quiz, sign them up for a subscription service or membership you know they’ll like. Inversely, with so many things tech based, something hand made means a lot. Wrap something you normally wouldn't, do a drawing or simple water color, press dried flowers in a book. Even if it’s not Kandinsky, I bet someone who loves you will treasure it.
- It Doesn't Have to be Big - Little unexpected gifts are just to show you care - it doesn't need to be Cartier. While you’re at the store, grab that candy they told you once they loved as a kid, or that weird $5 Kombucha they wanted to try. A lottery ticket. Flowers for no reason. My mom always beamed over the fact that my Dad got her flowers every single week of their marriage - When I asked him about it he said "It's really easy - I know how happy it makes her, so I just get some every time I'm at the grocery store." BAM.
Ok ok ok - get your heads out of the gutter - this isn't about sex, guys. (But also... like.... make sure to always have the lines of communication open and try to think of things that will make your partner feel valued in the bedroom as much as everywhere else.) Physical touch is just another way of making your partner feel validated.
- Keep it Spontaneous & Simple - A wink across the room at a party, a kiss on the cheek while they're at the computer, squeezing their hand during a sweet part of a movie. Those little moments stand out.
- Outsource - It's not all on you! Treat them to a massage or spa day, go with your friend to get a manicure or one of those mall neck massages.
- Listen - Listening isn't just for when people are talking - pay attention to people's physical cues too! Early in our courtship, my beau and I were leaving a movie and he said "Wow you really had trouble during that" - when I asked how he knew (I hadn't said a word or made a face or anything) he said he could tell because my hands were so tightly clenched the entire time. I still think about it often as an early defining moment of how much he listened to me.
Feeling loved often times means feeling HEARD. (AM I GETTING REDUNDANT YET?) And that means something different to everyone. One of my girlfriends has a husband who has to work around the clock most weeks, so the days he gives entirely to her mean more to her than any gift or compliment could. Some ways to make time together mean more:
- Switch into Airplane Mode - The people you love deserve your undivided attention. So give them that. ESPECIALLY if you've been busy or haven't seen each other in a while. For a full evening, put your phone in airplane mode and keep it in your bag. I ALWAYS notice when I meet up with a friend and they don't check their phone once. Them expressing to me that I am the only thing they're focusing has such impact. My boyfriend plays a phone game that I... well.... hate... and a few weekends ago he lost a three day battle and had to start all over so that we could be uninterrupted by it. I know that sounds silly, but it meant a lot to me.
- Channel Your Inner Kid - Just because we grow up doesn't mean we stop needing playtime or attention. Let loose and act like a kid again - build a fort, stick glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, have cake for breakfast, plan an indoor picnic, go roller skating. Plan a legit adult play date.
- Be in it Together - Take those little chunks of time together when you can and do something collectively. Work on a crossword puzzle, wake up 20 minutes earlier to spend mornings with music and nice home made coffee, meet up for a quick weekday lunch.
- Be in it Separately - One of the biggest things I’ve learned to do for my partner that makes HIM feel loved is when I give him space - that was hard for me to learn (because obviously I think everything is about me at all times), but I've since learned giving the gift of time & space is really special too. People need alone time, and doing things independently makes you stronger together (and gives you more to talk about when you reunite!)
I hope this all helps inspire you, reader! I obviously feel pretty strongly about this, so I'm thrilled you asked! I urge you all to take the love languages quiz and try to do something nice for someone you love today!