Valentine’s Day, February 14th, is a time to share a gift with someone you love (or like) and is celebrated in many countries across the world; those that don’t often have a similar holiday during a similar time period. Although the object (or subject!) of our affection may be a “romantic” partner, Valentine’s Day has also morphed into a general celebration of people for whom we have affection.
But what do you get someone for Valentine’s Day? As an Enneagram Two who loves to get thoughtful gifts for others, I thought a blog about gift-giving and Enneagram type might be fun to write. In doing so, I am not considering the recipient’s gender, age, the degree of intimacy of the relationship, or how much money you have or want to spend. Sometimes gifts that cost nothing mean the most!
My thesis is that what matters most is not what gift you give, but how you approach the gift giving process; knowing the recipient’s Enneagram style gives us a great deal of information about the approach to use. So here is my best advice:
For Ones, what matters most is that you choose the perfect gift for them. This can be daunting if you feel intimidated by the challenge, but think again. Perfect has some standards to it, but what is perfect for one person is not for another. Pay attention to what the One recipient likes. If they like flowers, notice the colors they prefer by the clothing they wear, the décor in their homes, and more. And whatever genre of gift you choose, keep your focus on something simple and elegant. If you choose flowers (most people like flowers, and this includes men and boys), choose one perfectly formed flower, then add a classy and beautiful ribbon. This is far better than a huge bouquet or an ornate display, which many Ones would perceive as bad taste. A sweet, sincere card to go with it, even one you make yourself, gets you right into the One’s heart. Just make sure the paper quality is made of high-quality card stock.
For Twos, it’s the thought that counts. More costly presents are also nice, but an expensive present without much thought put into it might as well have never been given. As a Two, here’s my best advice. Put a great deal of effort into the card you give or the note you send. Make it one in which you write your own message, and make it go beyond, “Wishing you a nice Valentine’s Day!” Make it feeling-rich and original, not something from Hallmark Cards. After that, anything else is just extra. I’ll save wonderful cards for years, but presents, not so much unless they have positive emotional value. Somewhat embarrassing to admit is that I have given away items (even expensive ones) when they were gifts from someone that I associate with some degree of emotional pain or where I believed there was a hidden agenda.
For Threes, think of giving them something that money can’t buy: precious time “doing” something that engages them in “being.” For example, think of something that you can “do” together that has no value other than the act of doing it. How about a picnic on the beach; a hike up a beautiful mountain that ends up at simple stream; a lovely lunch or dinner at a restaurant genre that is new to them (Korean BBQ worked well with my 3 son)? Because Threes tend to go with the more familiar, something they wouldn’t have considered themselves is simply a wonderful gift.
For Fours, make the gift something original. For example, if you paint, sing, cook, write, dance, make up something especially for the Four in your life. As long as you have just a bit of talent (you don’t need to be a master!), Fours will appreciate the effort you’ve made and that the focus was on them for the period of time you created it. And the more it is a surprise or is unexpected, the more the Four will be delighted. Surprise and delight are the two key concepts.
What do you get the person who doesn’t appear to want very much? You get him or her something special. Underneath the “not-wanting” anything often lurks a person who is so appreciative of receiving something, even if they don’t show it. But, what? Pay attention to their interests and it becomes much easier. Here are some things that I’ve given to Fives that they’ve deeply appreciated: an antique (but not expensive) restaurant menu from a favorite restaurant; a hard-to-find book by a favorite author; a simple orchid in an unusual color. It takes some digging, but the result is so worthwhile.
Many Sixes are very sentimental. Yes, they hold onto experiences and recycle them in their minds. But they also hold onto dear people and objects that they associate with something that is meaningful to them. The main thing is whether the gift is something they hold in their hearts, then giving a gift that somehow reminds them of that. Relevant photographs in a frame, a book by their favorite author or poet work well, but also “objects.” My Six brother loves me and also loves cats (I dare not ask him which he loves more), so any clever piece of cat paraphernalia is always a big hit!
My experience is that Sevens are both difficult and easy to get gifts for. On one hand, if the gift doesn’t capture their “fancy” – that is, it doesn’t stimulate them in some way – giving a Seven a gift can be disappointing to a serious gift-giver (like me!). Thus far, my best operating principle with Sevens is to give them something they are likely to like and don’t know about yet. Just-released books or even a classic that is new to them; some unusual music; the very best cupcake you can find, in their favorite flavor and from a store they don’t know. Getting gifts for Sevens can be an adventure for the gift-giver!
For Eights, give a gift that sparks their heart. Hearts are good, for men and for women. Flowers are also good. Beneath every strong-looking Eight is a tender-hearted Two, who loves a sincerely-given gift. Once I gave a very strong Eight a beautiful leather heart, a paper weight, to keep on the desk as a reminder. That was a wow! Another time, I gave an Eight a cuddly teddy bear. This was also a big hit! Underneath every Eight is a teddy bear with a big heart, and these serve as welcome reminders.
Many Nines collect things. All you have to do is find out what they collect and produce another version of the same. Here are some examples of collections: salt and pepper shakers; fake alligators; wood crosses; crossword puzzles; pigs; angels. Just ask, observe, and produce. Even a card with the Nine’s favorite thing can be a major gift. The fact that you took the time to notice them and what they like goes a long way!
As a note, women buy 85% of all Valentine’s presents. This should be a pause to consider that if men knew how to buy for us, women might be happier, relationships might be better, and men might feel less frustrated. So this blog is for everyone, whether the present is for you parent, child, office worker, amour, school-mate, husband or wife, partner, or whoever!