The 11 P’s of Gift-Giving

ChoosingChristmasGiftsThe 11 P’s of Gift-Giving

What kind of gifts does your partner like? Practical, handmade and simple? Expensive, showy and shiny? One gift that you remembered your partner telling you about months or even years ago (if it is still within his or her range of interests) might even be more special.

Does your partner seem to appreciate and come alive more when he or she receives a gift more heavily weighted toward money, time or energy? Some people feel special when they imagine the amount of time invested in a gift and the background arrangement of surprises that led up to the gift presentation. When our partners know us well and see all the sacrifice, energy and thoughtfulness that went into procuring a gift for them, the gift may be much more special and meaningful.

Others may feel important when they ponder the monetary value of a gift. When a sacrifice was made and long-term saving was required to secure a gift, they appreciate the selection and meaning of the gift and feel more valued.

We need to study our partners in order to comprehend the degree to which they would feel special when receiving any combination of the many possible gifts from which to choose.

Consider the many types of gifts and reasons and occasions to give and its specific impact on your partner:

  1. Personalized: A special, heart-touching gift that shows uniqueness and thoughtfulness (Hint: this gift could not easily be replicated or resold at a thrift store).
  2. Practical: A gift that meets a functional need and makes his or her life easier and maybe mood lighter.
  3. Private: An intimate gift you might not show to others or tell him or her about (Hint: you likely won’t show your parents or children).
  4. Proud: A gift that helps your partner feel proud of himself or herself or of you and your relationship such as an acknowledgment of an accomplishment.
  5. Public: A gift shared in the presence of others such as a surprise party, special gathering to honor him or her for a promotion or a medical battle won.
  6. Precious: A deeply meaningful and special gift that your partner could highly value and treasure that could be costly in time or money or simple but very thoughtful and original.
  7. Pretty: A gift that expresses or exhibits beauty in its characteristics, uses and effects.
  8. Perfect: A thoughtful, personal and meaningful gift that may be uncommon but fits your partner perfectly. You are quite sure it would evoke a positively heightened mood reaction, perhaps something tangible or intangible that he or she has wanted for a long time.
  9. Precursor: A gift before a gift! A gift that involves a more elaborate plan and helps prepare him or her for an upcoming gift such as a larger surprise, treasure hunt or a clue-type of gift.
  10. Process: A purposefully planned gift that is exciting in the sense that there exists some suspense that builds up in anticipation of its delivery or execution.
  11. Prepared: A gift you have both saved and prepared for but one you could still present as a modest or elaborate surprise.

The list of gift types, uses and occasions can go on and on. We’ve heard, “It’s the thought that counts.” Surely the thought that goes into it, whether the gift is personal or practical, can indicate that our partners are important to us. But we also want our gift selection and delivery to be effective in building closeness! And to execute smoothly we need to know and meet our partners’ preferences.

Some Words of Caution!

Although some financial seasons may allow for excitement with a practical gift that benefits the whole family, it is usually recommended to be sure our partners would see a gift such as a vacuum cleaner or blender as personally valuable. If such an item is presented, it is advised that another, more special gift helps the receiver see this gift as a secondary item! A good rule of thumb is to remember that a general household or cleaning item may not invoke the positive emotional reaction we might think when given as the primary gift.

With all this talk about right or wrong gifts and the many options and types of gifts, we don’t have to feel pressured and overwhelmed in selecting a gift. Help is available through many channels so examine and enlist our available resources. We might ask someone at a store, search gift ideas online, or ask people who know our partners about what they might like. Of course, our partners may be the best resource to ask! We can frequently inquire with them to gather several gift ideas months before an occasion in order to preserve the surprise.

Gift giving is an interaction. It involves two or more people. How the gift is given makes a difference, and how a gift is received is significant. Including two people, gift giving provides the opportunity to bring a couple closer together. However, if giving a gift is executed with ill intent or is forced, the receivers’ reactions upon reception may also be insincere. And for some people, last-minute gifts of convenience don’t quite do the trick. For those receivers, a well-planned gift is more special and meaningful. Again, it’s the genuine gesture and thought that went into the gift planning, seeking and procuring that matter most.

Enjoy your gift giving and gift receiving this season!


Excerpted from “40 Forms of Intimacy: Integrating Daily Connection Into Your Couple Relationship” by Alex A. Avila. This book is now available in paperback and Kindle at

Alex A. Avila, MA, LPC, NCC, CAC, CBCP, is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works with couples at all stages of their relationships. In his new book, he expands on the many ways couples can create and sustain intimacy to connect deeply and regularly in their most important relationship on earth.


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