This time of year, we’re reminded of just how important the people we care about are. I’ve heard advertisements about not buying your mail woman underwear for Christmas, seen ads about the magic of the holiday season, and of course there’s every holiday movie imaginable on television.
But even with all the spirit of giving around us, the most important gifts are the things you can’t buy – love, respect, appreciation… So, here’s the holiday gift-giving guide you really need.
1. Check in when she feels sick or sad.
One of the sweetest little things you can do for any of the important people in your life. Did she post something on social media that seemed sad? Did you throw a sad reaction emoji on it or did you actually reach out to ask what was wrong? Checking in with your loved ones only takes a few minutes and it shows that you care enough to spend your time on them.
2. Tell her you appreciate her.
While most people know that telling your loved ones that you love them is a big deal, you should let them know that you also appreciate them if you want them to feel truly loved. Small acts of gratitude can make all the difference between a not-so-great day and a not-so-bad day, so take a few minutes to brighten her day – it might even make yours better, too.
3. Cook her favorite meal.
There’s definitely something special about a home-cooked meal, so taking the time to find out what her favorite is and then learning to make it will definitely bring her some holiday cheer. If you’re not the best cook, ask her to cook it with you – then you get bonding time and you get to learn something new.
4. Share something entertaining.
The fastest way to make her smile is to make her laugh, so make sure you’re putting in the effort to bring humor to her life. Whether that means tagging her in an inside joke on Facebook, messaging her a funny picture, or just sending her a joke over SMS, a good attitude and a fun joke can be a great pick-me-up on a humdrum day.
5. Share something encouraging.
Life isn’t always funny – and that’s okay. You should encourage your girlfriend whenever possible, too. Is she taking on a tough client at work? Does she want to quit her job and move to the rainforest? Be supportive! As long as her dreams don’t directly interfere with your own, there’s no reason they can’t coexist. Empower her to be the best version of herself, and watch her as she achieves her wildest dreams.
6. Buy her something out of thoughtfulness, rather than obligation.
The holiday season also happens to fall around my anniversary (12/24), so gift-giving during this time usually goes to others. Happy couples buy each other useful, thoughtful gifts, rather than just buying something because “it’s what you do.” Don’t get me wrong – birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries are great times to give gifts, too, but when they say it’s the thought that counts, they mean that the act of gift-giving should be based on the gift recipient – not on the obligation of the date.
7. Let her know she’s part of the family.
Particularly if she comes from a family that has rejected her because of her sexuality, it’s important that she feels welcome, invited, and comfortable as a part of her partner’s family. Regardless of your relationship with your own during this holiday season, let her know that she’s an invaluable part of your life and you want her to stay in it.
8. Share your space with her.
As intimate as physical and emotional closeness are, just being in each other’s presence can be nice, too. As an introvert, it’s hard for me personally to allow someone to enter my places of solitude, but the simple act of inviting someone into a private part of your world is often one of the most romantic gestures an introvert can make. Have you allowed your girlfriend into your sanctuary?
9. Tell her “I love you” randomly.
Along with gift-giving, the words “I love you” can lose some of their meaning when given out of duty or obligation. Instead, tell her you love her when you think of how much you love her – not just when she says it to you or before you leave the house. These little words don’t lose their meaning by being said too often, they only lose their meaning if they’re said out of habit.
10. Be there when she needs you.
Your physical presence in her life most likely means a lot to her, but even if you can’t be there in the flesh you can still be there for her. If you know she’s going through a rough time, make yourself a little more available. She may try to resist taking your help, but you can be sure that she appreciates it.
11. Leave her love notes and doodles.
Creating something out of nothing is one of the most amazing powers we have as human beings – and articulating your love, either through art or words, is a way to show your girlfriend exactly how much you care. Your notes and doodles don’t need to be masterpieces, nor do they need an exquisite canvas – a black pen on a sticky note is likely plenty.
12. Remember the little things.
Some people have a hard time remembering names, dates, phone numbers, or appointments, but the things that matter most to us, we find a way to remember. For me, that means stacks of notebooks to reflect on my days, because the act of writing things down helps to commit them to memory. For others, it might be mementos and souvenirs that do the trick. Whatever your best way to remember is, make the effort to remember the things that matter to her – and it’ll show her that she matters to you, too.
13. Take on a chore she doesn’t like.
No one really likes any chore, but everyone has that one chore they absolutely hate. For me, it’s sweeping and mopping, and for my girlfriend, it’s the litter box. Even though neither of us really cares to do those things, the simple act of taking away each other’s most dreaded chore is an act of love – and it’s one that holds tremendous meaning. (And every now and then, she takes my turn with the other chores, too – it really is a blessing.)
14. Do chores and run errands together.
Lastly – and this one was suggested by my girlfriend when she heard about this list – find little ways to do more things together. Even with the busy schedules we keep, we can find time to do some of those things together. Doing those boring things together will make them a little less boring and help keep you motivated along the way – there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the mundane in life, too.