11 Free Gifts She Will Love

Hands holding out gift box

The heart cannot be contained in a gift box.

Meaningful gifts don’t have to be expensive. In fact, they don’t have to cost anything at all. Here are 11 examples. (Especially helpful if their love language is Receiving Gifts.)

  1. Love Note – You don’t have to write a novel, just a quick sentence or two that lets her know how much she means to you. If you need some tips, check out the Sticky-Note Love ebook.
  2. Back Rub – As long as you’re willing to put in some time and focused attention, you can’t really give a bad back rub. Pay attention to her and she’ll tell you what and where it feels best.
  3. Foot Massage – Even if she’s not on her feet all day, a foot massage will feel wonderful. Just like the back rub, pay attention and she’ll tell you how to make her feel good.
  4. Help with Chores – There’s nothing like getting some non-complaining help when you’re doing chores. Maybe you heard the drier ding, then go fold the clothes without being asked. Notice the trash can is full? Empty it. Anything she doesn’t have to do will be greatly appreciated.
  5. IOU – A simple IOU can do wonders, it’s the gift that gives twice. Write a quick note saying that you will give a back rub, foot massage, candle-lit dinner, or anything else and watch her eyes light up. In the case of the dinner, you can go ahead and set a date, but for the others you might want to just let her know that she can redeem the IOU whenever she wants.
  6. Origami Flowers – Grab some paper, check out some paper-folding instructions and have fun! Give her a bouquet that will never wilt.
  7. Love Letter – Love letters don’t have to be hard to write. You’re simply telling her how much you love her and why. Writing it by hand will make it worth so much more! If you need it, here’s more advice on how to write a love letter.
  8. Hand-drawn Picture – It doesn’t have to be “good.” With such a project as this, it’s the thought that counts. Put some time and effort in to your project, even if it’s just stick figures holding hands and some word balloons. Remember, drawing a picture is easy: children do it all the time. So what’s stopping you?
  9. Candle-Lit Meal – Guys, you don’t have to be a chef to make a meal special. It’s all about the setting. Fortunately for us, that doesn’t mean that we have to go somewhere fancy, hire a musician, or even provide a fancy meal. Pizza or mac-n-cheese can be spruced up by simply making sure the table is clean, folding some napkins, using real plates and silverware, dimming the lights and burning some candles.
  10. Photo Slide Show – Have photos of you and your gal? Compile them in a slideshow. This could be a Powerpoint presentation, a free photobucket slideshow, or even just a new album in facebook. Whatever you choose, be sure to take the time to put them in an order that makes sense and add some captions to them!
  11. Mix Playlist – The important part of this gift is the playlist that you make, something just for her. How you deliver can add some spice to the gift, however. If you happen to have a blank lying around you could burn a CD for her to listen to in the car. You could copy the songs to a thumb drive and she can copy them to her computer. You could load the playlist on her mp3 player as a surprise. Perhaps you could email her a new song each day, with a comment on why you chose it.

While I wouldn’t recommend trying all of these at once, I would suggest working your way through the list. There are plenty of other free gifts that you could give if you just give it some thought.

How to Write a Love Letter

fountain pen on paper

Let your words flow

Have you ever written a letter to express your love? It’s not nearly as hard as you might think. In fact, it’s quite easy. All you have to do is tell them “I love you” and then give some reasons why.

And if “Words of Affirmation” is your spouse’s love language, they’ll appreciate it all the more!

Why write a letter

The written word has a few advantages over the spoken: it lasts longer, it allows you to say exactly what you mean the first time, and it can be reviewed whenever the recipient wishes. Unlike an email they can be physically held, and there’s something more “real” about a tangible object.

Even though you may share the exact same sentiments that you will be writing down, they will last longer in written form. Memories will grow fuzzy, expressions will be forgotten. A letter can be held on to through the years, a tangible item that can be touched and held, and even passed on. Love letters will be saved and over time will create a record of your relationship.

The ability to edit what you say gives the written word a great advantage over the spoken. You have the opportunity to plan what you will say, try it out, and then edit until it sounds exactly the way you want it to. It’s much less stressful when you know that you can erase and re-write your words.

A hand-written letter will have much more meaning than an email ever will. There’s just something about being able to hold the paper that someone took the time to write their personal thoughts down on. Especially when those thoughts focus on the reader in such a positive light.

What you need

Ok, enough about advantages of letter writing. Let’s go ahead and get to it!

It doesn’t take much to write a letter: something to write with and to write on. The possibilities are endless! However, the most common materials are pen and paper (though you can carve your letter into a stone slab if you really want to.)

A pen works better than a pencil because your writing will last longer. Over time pencil fades more than ink does and will be harder to read. You can use any kind of pen, from the ballpoint you forgot to leave at the bank desk to a nice fountain pen.

While any kind of paper would work, the back of a receipt just won’t have the same effect as a nice sheet of paper. Everyday typing paper will do just fine, though there’s just something nice about holding a sheet of good quality paper. It has more weight, feels better against your fingers, and shows that you took the effort to get something nicer just for the letter.You can buy parchment or a “resume paper” in most store’s stationary section.

Don’t worry if you choose to use something that it doesn’t have lines. Simply place a piece of darkly lined paper underneath your blank sheet as you write. Unless your paper is terribly thick you will be able to see the lines rather clearly.

What to write about?

While the idea behind a love letter is simple and straight forward, some of us find them hard to write. It can be challenging to express one’s feelings. If you’re one of those people who can easily express yourself in writing, have fun. For the rest of us, here is a basic outline that we can follow:

Express your love

Jump right in and say why you’re writing. Perhaps something along the lines of:

I was thinking about you and just wanted to let you know how much I love you! I don’t tell you often enough and thought that I should. I wanted to write it down so that you can read it whenever you wish.

Recall when you first felt that way

When did you first realize you were in love? Recount that moment, sharing what you were doing, what made you realize you were in love, how that made you feel, etc. Maybe this wasn’t a moment, but something that gradually crept up on you. Then you could talk about the time you first met each other, how you felt when you first asked them out, or about when you proposed.

I remember first seeing you at the 4th of July Bar-B-Que. I was completely entranced and am pretty sure that I ignored my friends, distracted by you. You were obviously having a great time and I couldn’t get enough of your smile. I made sure to find an excuse to talk to you.

Tell why you’re still in love

Over time, your love has only grown. Now it’s time to say why. On a separate piece of paper make a list of things you love about them: personality, character, physical, and all that they do for you. Then write at least a sentence about each of those things in your letter.

I’m still distracted by you, with your beautiful smile, fabulous hair, and sexy body. I love your sense of humor and how you can make me laugh so easily. Your way with people is amazing to watch, as you put those around you at ease and help to brighten their day. I know how lucky I am that I get to hold you close and be part of your life.

Talk about your future

Talk about how your love will continue to grow as time passes.

I know that I will find you even more amazing as time grows on. Our friendship will grow stronger and our love will deepen. My life will continue to be better than it ever could be without you at my side.

Restate your love

End strong with another statement of your love. Sum up the letter in these last few sentences.

I will always love you, and can’t wait to grow old with you.

Actually writing

Don’t worry too much about how it sounds to you. As long as your saying what you truly feel, it will come across, even if you think it sounds cheesy.

Here are a few tips for the actual writing process:

Plan it out

Most of us will require some thought to figure out exactly what we want to say and what order we want to say it in. Even if you use the above outline, you might find it easiest to jot down the memories you wish to write about, the reasons for your love, and what you think your future holds. Scribble some notes to yourself so that you have an outline before you get started.

Practice

Writing something more than once is a great way to get it to sound how you want. Editing is a letter-writer’s friend. Using your outline, sit down and write your letter (this is a great time to use a computer, with its speed and editing capabilities). Write down whatever comes to mind as you work. Once finished, print it out and carefully read over it, pen in hand, and correct any errors. Perhaps you only have some spelling to change, or maybe it would sound better after changing the order of the paragraphs. You might find that you have become repetitious and need to do some deleting. Whatever they are, make the changes that you need.

Pick up your pen

Once you have everything edited, it’s time to actually write. Pen in hand and paper ready to go, you can copy the letter word-for-word. Since you already know what you’re going to write and how you’re going to say it, the writing process is now much easier. Don’t worry about making mistakes, they will be completely overlooked and only go to show that you really did this yourself.

Don’t wait!

While a love letter goes over quite well on a holiday, there’s no reason to wait to give a loved one such a gift. Such an unexpected surprise will be received quite gladly. Tell that special someone just how much you love them, today.

Even if you don’t have the time to write your letter right now, you can at least start brainstorming what you will say. Begin your list of things that you love about them so that you can write your letter later. You could write a short love note right now and write the longer letter later. No matter what you do, it’s time to start writing!

What’s Your Love Language?

The Five Love Languages - Gary ChapmanHave you ever considered what makes you feel loved? Or how you show others that you love them? If not, here’s a “decoder” that will help you identify your love language.

In The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman discusses the different ways that people show love. He compares them to languages and states that you have to learn your spouse’s “language” so that is is possible to communicate your love to her.

Imagine that you are an English speaker and your wife speaks only Japanese. You might be shouting I love you! until you lose your voice, but she won’t be able to understand the gibberish that she hears. Likewise, you will have no idea what she is saying. Getting over this language barrier is a simple matter of learning their love language so that you can communicate effectively. (Simple, yes. Easy, not necessarily.)

The need to feel loved is at the heart of marriage; you enter into marriage expecting to always know that your spouse loves you. The secret to doing this is speaking the proper love language. As you read through the descriptions of the different languages, see if you can spot the one that best describes your spouse so that you can best communicate with them.

Words of Affirmation

Words are important! Hearing the words, “I love you,” is important important, and hearing the reasons behind that love can send spirits soaring upward. Verbal compliments (both alone and in front of others) mean the world to you, and being encouraged can mean the difference between completing something or not.

Sticks and stones may break bones, but insults and words can be crushing.

Quality Time

Nothing says, I love you, like focused, undivided attention. Not just spending time together, without any kind of distractions. 15 minutes a day can have a huge impact. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do together for free.

Never taking time out just for your spouse can be especially hurtful.

Receiving Gifts

It really is the thought that counts. Taking the time to put effort, thoughtfulness, and love into the gift makes all the difference. Fortunately, great gifts can be free. This isn’t materialism, but a focus on the love the gift shows.

Nothing is worse than a missed gift-giving opportunity or a thoughtless gift, except for the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service

Did you know that you can show love by vacuuming the floor? Taking the time to do things for your spouse is a great expression of love; an even more powerful one when they know it’s something you don’t like to do. The chores don’t get done because you want to, but because you are doing them to show love. Fortunately, you get to show love while doing things that have to be done anyway.

Laziness and broken commitments can cause you to lose major love points.

Physical Touch

Holding hands, kissing, and embracing can be powerful vehicles for communicating love. This language manifests itself in very touchy people. Physical presence is vital and can be strengthened by such actions as running your hand through their hair, giving back rubs, and sitting close to each other.

Physical avoidance can be torturous.

 

Identification

Did you find one that describes your spouse? What about yourself? Keep in mind that each language can have different “dialects” or variations. If you’re having a hard time identifying yours, you might want to answer these 15 questions to find it. Ask your spouse take it as well, so that you can show her that you love her in the best possible way.

 

Real love

Once the euphoria of being “in love” wears off (which is normally about two years), continuing to love each other can be hard work. Real love is intentional, uniting reason and emotion. It involves an act of will, requiring discipline and a willingness to grow personally. Meeting your spouse’s need for love is a choice that you make each day. Once you know their primary love language and choose to speak it, their deepest emotional need will be met and they will feel secure in your love.

If you want to speak romance to your spouse, become a student of your spouse, enroll in a lifelong “Romantic Language School,” and become fluent in your spouse’s language. As a study guide, pick up a copy of The Five Love Languages (Kindle/Paper) and read through it, highlighting the important statements and making notes in the margins. Use it like a workbook and reread it occasional to continue learning how to say “I love you!

I re-read this book every year or two as a reminder about how to best show my wife how much I love her. This book has been on our shelf since around the time we got married and will always have a place there. It’s one of the books that I most commonly recommend to anyone in a relationship.

All of the links to this book are affiliate links, which means that if you buy one through this link I will earn a few pennies – so while your price won’t be affected at all, you will be helping me keep the site up.

The Art of Getting Lost

We bought an RV!

But that’s not the exciting part.

No, not at all. The exciting part is what we’re going to do with it. We’re going to explore the continental United States. All of it. Just driving around, hiking in all of the National Parks and National Forests – and visiting whatever else happens to catch our attention along the way. No time frame, no deadline. Just the two of us in our RV, on the open road.

There will be challenges, set-backs, and plenty of wrong turns. But that’s ok – and not just because we’re expecting it. How exciting would an adventure be if there were no challenges to over come? How many fewer memories would be made if everything went along perfectly? And it’s just not a road trip unless there is at least one wrong turn somewhere along the way.

We haven’t hit the road yet, or even moved into the RV, and there have already been a few debates between us. We have begun getting rid of our stuff so that we can downsize from our filled two bedroom, one car garage place into a 29′ box on wheels. But we’ll get there, together, working toward the shared goal of living in our RV and exploring the world around us.

Wrong turns? Our trip isn’t planned out. We have mapped out all of the National Parks and Forests in the US (literally – there is a map sitting on our bookshelf, filled with stickers that indicate where everything is) and we have plotted a direction to help us get started – it’s a zig zagging north, by the way. Beyond a direction for the first few months, we have only the foggiest of ideas.

That is just the beginning, though, and it’s enough to get us started.

No, we don’t have a final destination in mind. There is no set date to finish. There is a big ole world out there, and we’re equipped and exited to go and explore it. To see what there is to see, for ourselves.

Won’t you come and get lost along with us?

Making the 30 in 30 Game Plan

People who collect experiences are more interesting than people who collect things.

You might notice that out of my 30 goals, only two involve buying something. I want to live a full life, and that doesn’t necessarily having a full house. These purchase goals will provide experiences to make my life richer. My wife and I have been wanting an Airstream for a few years now, and purchasing one would include the experience of remodeling and then living in it. Buying coffee for 12 strangers? The goal is to make myself meet people, coffee is just the medium.

So how do I plan on accomplishing these 30 goals in 366 days (since that leap year “bonus day” will fall in this time-frame)? By making them as automatic as possible. This means that I will be heavily relying on my calendar and automatic email reminders. I am still in the process of planning the schedule out, but here is the process that I’m using.

Know what I’m working with

You may have noticed that there is a pretty wide range of goals included on my list, free and fairly quick (#12 – read the Bible) to expensive (#13 – buy an Airstream) to time intensive (#1 – cross-country motorcycle trip). To help me come up with a realistic plan I have broken the goals into different categories based on the time and money needed to complete them.

Pre-arranged
A few of the goals have already been scheduled, and so they were the first to go on my calendar.

  • move
  • pay down school debt
  • go on 7 day backpacking trip

Long term
A number of the goals will only be reached after investing quite a bit of time (from about a month to the entire year). I am scheduling them as a recurring weekly activity, with an initial focused burst at the beginning. This beginning burst of energy will allow me to stagger their starting dates so that I don’t end up beginning a lot of new projects in February and then burning myself out. Many of these goals are free, or only incur a small cost (like gas or the purchase of a book).

  • read 1/2 of Personal MBA
  • find 576 more geocaches
  • learn 5 magic tricks
  • read the Bible
  • 30 informational interviews
  • go on 30 dates
  • make 30 things
  • learn to weld
  • some sort of fitness goal – to be further defined
  • learn to program
  • circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  • get in touch with old friends on a regular basis
  • buy coffee for 12 strangers
  • see moonbow (again)
  • become conversationally fluent in a language
  • become a publicly recognized expert
  • have a business of my own

Events
Most of the other goals are more of a multi-day event. Some planning, a big burst of energy, and some money, and they will be completed. These will be interspersed through the year, and combined whenever possible (ie: I can visit DC and the Grand Canyon during the cross-country motorcycle trip).

  • visit the lower 48
  • cross-country motorcycle trip
  • stop in DC to visit the Wall
  • see Grand Canyon
  • hot air balloon ride
  • see Northern Lights
  • buy an Airstream
  • take flying lessons – airplane
  • learn to sail
  • hang glide

Further Definition

Many of these goals are already pretty easy to measure (ie: go on 30 dates, go on a 7 day backpacking trip, etc). There are a few, however, that still need to be narrowed down a bit. So that I know when I have “learned to program” I will come up with a final project that I want to complete, and then I will have a definitive ending point to cross. Likewise, “learn to weld” will involve coming up with a final project to create.

I will write an explanatory post for most of these goals as I begin working on them, including the guidelines for completing each one, my detailed plan of attack, and the reasons behind each one.

Funding?

No, I don’t have a sponsor of any sort. These goals will be completed around work and my wife’s school/work schedule. The money comes from my pocket. Goal #4 (business of my own) will not only make some of the goals financially possible, but will also allow you to participate! Come back Wednesday to find out how.

The 30 in 30 Project

It’s not the outcome that matters. It’s the decision to act.
~ Chris Guillebeau

A few months ago I read Sebastian Marshall’s post about strategically checking off a bucket list and I continued to mull that idea over. I can do the same thing. Most of the items on my life list are things that I could do relatively easy with a direct application of time or money. Though I might not have the money at the moment, completing many of my goals will cost far less than I imagine, and I do have some time available if I make these goals a priority. So I came up with a new list to work toward for now.

I will be 30 in a few days. To start this decade off right I am going to focus on strategically completing a few of the goals on my bucket list, in addition to some goals that hadn’t quite made it to that list yet. In no particular order, here are the 30 things that I want to complete by February 6, 2013.

  1. cross-country motorcycle trip
  2. stop in DC to visit the Wall
  3. read 1/2 of Personal MBA
  4. have a business of my own
  5. pay down school debt
  6. become conversationally fluent in a language
  7. hot air balloon ride
  8. see Grand Canyon
  9. become a publicly recognized expert
  10. see moonbow (again)
  11. see Northern Lights
  12. read the Bible
  13. buy an Airstream
  14. take flying lessons – airplane
  15. 30 informational interviews
  16. make 30 things
  17. learn to sail
  18. hang glide
  19. go on 30 dates
  20. learn a skill of some sort – welding?
  21. some sort of fitness goal – to be further defined
  22. learn to program
  23. go on 7 day backpacking trip
  24. circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  25. get in touch with old friends on a regular basis
  26. move
  27. buy coffee for 12 strangers
  28. find 576 more geocaches
  29. learn 5 magic tricks
  30. visit the lower 48

Come back Monday to see how I plan on completing all of these.

List Making

A month ago everyone online seemed to be reviewing their lives in 2011 and putting together their action plans for 2012. For some reason that I couldn’t quite explain, however, I just couldn’t bring myself to do the same.

Sure, I sat down and came up with a long list of things to achieve this year, but it felt forced. And since it was forced I knew that, realistically, I wouldn’t be enthusiastic or driven enough to complete them.

Taking a break

Eventually I just decided to sit back and watch everyone else post their reviews and action plans. The stress lifted from my shoulders. I was still making progress, building things, reading and growing. Serendipity would take care of the rest.

The list grows

Apparently I was just starting too soon. Starting a new set of goals on January 1st just didn’t seem important to me, but February 6th seemed just about right. A list of goals seemed to grow of its own accord.

In a few days I will be entering my third decade upon earth. Anticipating this supposed milestone I have been tossing around ideas about how to celebrate it. Something epic, no doubt. The list that formed on its own has grown into the “30 in 30″ project.

30 in 30

During my 30th year I have compiled a list of thirty things that I want complete. Some are free while others will cost a decent amount. A few won’t take me long at all though others will take the whole year. A few will involve me spending time alone but most involve others. Easy and challenging. I tried to cover many things.

30 things to complete. Friday I’ll tell you what they are.

The Next Step

The next step in the Ready-to-go Dates adventure has been taken. It’s sequel has been created and is live. In fact, the first subscribers joined about two weeks ago.

Like the free Ready-to-go Dates guide, I provide date ideas. Unlike the guide, these are more detailed, are delivered directly to your inbox, and also include romance tips.

Curious about Dates by Design? Go check it out. But you’d better hurry, because I’ll be raising the price in a few more weeks.

Making Progress
Though it might not look like it from the outside, putting together both Ready-to-go Dates and Dates by Design have been a lot of work. Before making either one of them available there was a lot of behind-the-scenes hustle. Writing the actual guides, the first emails, putting together the offers, seeing what people wanted, learning new technologies that make it all possible, creating graphics, and so much more.

Neither of the guides have yet grown to their full potential, but they are making progress. Moving in the right direction. It’s just a matter of time and continued effort before they get there. The momentum has begun.

Inspiration
And, just like before this newest project has inspired another one. While Ready-to-go Dates and Dates by Design are growing I am also working on another project. But that’s a post for another day. (Like Wednesday, in fact, so be sure and come back then.)

Until then, check out Dates by Design.

What I Am Building Now

I recently asked what you were building. (I have also noticed that Ev Bogue seems to be asking something similar recently.)

Even though it was not that long ago that I asked that question my answer has already expanded. Even more people have downloaded the Ready-to-go Dates guide since then. Their feedback has helped me to do two things.

Continue the cycle
Though it would be easy to release the guide and be done with it, that would not fulfill its purpose. Ultimately, I want this to be an amazing, free resource that can help anyone who needs it. To do that, it needs to continue growing, improving, and becoming more accessible.

The feedback that I have received has provided me with encouragement to continue, suggestions of ways to improve the guide, tips and ideas that I would have never come up with on my own. Together, we will all make Ready-to-go Dates into everything that it can possibly be.

The next step
Because of the premise upon which Ready-to-go Dates is built – dates that need 20 minutes or less of preparation, and that can be done just about anywhere – it can only be expanded so far. There are many great ideas out there that just require more preparation, have too many options to fit into the one-date-per-page format, or can only be done at a certain time of the year.

Again, based on the feedback that I have received, I am now building what I am thinking of as “Ready-to-go Dates 2.0″. It is going to be the personalized, detailed, ongoing version of Ready-to-go Dates – four emails a month that provide two date ideas and two romance tips.

I am almost done. Or at least done enough.

- whispering - Those who have are on the Ready-to-go Dates list will get first access to the service, and a discounted price. So if you haven’t gotten your free copy of Ready-to-go Dates yet, you might want to go ahead and do so! But don’t tell anyone, that’s a secret! - ends whispering -

I’m so excited that I can barely contain it!

What are You Building?

I recently ran across the site LiveYourLegend.net by Scott and love it!

Here’s one of the quotes that really stood out to me.

Build things. This starts from day one. If you are reading about how to write, then start writing. If you’re being taught how to interview, they go find some job openings. People dramatically overestimate how much time them must spend learning before they start doing. The answer is exactly ZERO. The moment you start learning is the moment you must start building and testing.

I recently started doing this, as I decided to go ahead and release my newest ebook Ready-to-go Dates before I got it back from my editor. As soon as I did get the edited copy back I updated the link and informed those who already had a copy that it had been updated.

All of this because I want to be building, doing. As much as I want that, though, I seem to have a tendency to spend time learning things instead of doing them. So this time I defaulted toward action, and it paid off. A few hundred people have downloaded Ready-to-go Dates and a number of them have reached out to give me some amazingly useful feedback.

And now it’s up to me to continue the cycle. If I do nothing, the project will die here. However, I am not going to do nothing, I will implement their feedback, test their ideas, and include the best of them in a new version of the Ready-to-go Dates guide. It will continue to grow and improve over time, spreading and helping even more people.

What about you, what are you building?