Commentary

How to Make Christmas Special Without Breaking the Bank

By Beverly Hallberg | December 16, 2016 | 10:20am EST
(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

“I love you, man.” It may not be the easiest thing to say, but it’s definitely the cheapest.

Yes, sharing why you appreciate someone is much cheaper than buying the hottest gift on Amazon. Maybe more painful for you, but definitely the budget-friendly choice.

If you find yourself thinking, “Ugh, feelings,” you’re in good company. While some people love to communicate how they feel about a person all day every day, others would rather volunteer to have their appendix removed. Talking about feelings is polarizing at best.

But it’s the holiday season. And if you don’t want to pay homage to “Every Kiss begins with Kay,” you can use words to tell the people you love why you love them. To convince you to suck it up and express yourself verbally in the next couple weeks, there are three simple steps to make Christmas extra special.

Here’s how to communicate to the people you love how much they mean to you. We promise it’s a gift not even Santa can shove down the chimney.

Common Ground

Just as you would when talking to a liberal about the absurdity of income inequality, start with common ground.

In this case, common ground translates to what you both know about each other. Is this a new relationship you’ve formed in the past year? Reference how glad you are to know this person and that you look forward to more fun adventures in the new year.

Or, is this person a family member you’ve known all your life? Start with the recognition that you’ve always been in each other’s lives and how grateful you are for that permanence and why. Was 2016 a particularly tough year because of various challenges? (No, Kanye going to rehab doesn’t count. Make it your own!) Mention the hardship and pivot to how much you admire this individual’s perseverance in the midst of it.

The common ground should be pretty easy to find and name, because you probably wouldn’t know each other if it didn’t exist.

Now, on to examples.

Examples

This piece of the feelings communication puzzle involves a little more work.

However long this person has been in your life, and in whatever way this person has been important to you, be sure to list specific examples of the things you love/appreciate/value, etc.

It can be something small and mundane: “I appreciate how well you care for our family, which is especially evident in daily tasks like taking out the trash.” Or maybe this person supported you in a tough time. If so, feel free to list a specific way he/she helped and how doing so meant a lot to you.

Or maybe this person is full of joy and has therefore made your life more joyful just by his/her presence. If so, be specific about the impact. Examples matter because they prove you pay attention. People feel most loved when their kindness toward you is appreciated, which you can only (truly) make known with words.

Words

This may seem obvious, but concluding a letter or a toast with the words that explain how you actually feel is important. So, end with an “I love you,” an “I don’t know how I would have made it through this year without you,” “you’re my best friend,” “I look forward to another year with you,” etc. You get the point.

Just make sure to end with a clear declaration of your care for the other person. Think of it as your tagline. Sometimes we hesitate to express our feelings because it feels awkward and we don’t think we have the right words to say. A tagline allows for a tidy, but confident end, which seems necessary when talking about feelings.

REMEMBER: The thought behind every gift is what matters most, so why not express (rather than purchase) those thoughts this year? Not only will the recipient feel loved and appreciated, but words of affirmation often leave the giver feeling pretty stellar too.

Beverly Hallberg is a contributor to The Daily Signal, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and president of District Media Group.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.

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