by Matt Hern


The festive season can be a financially stressful time for many people. One of my favourite ways to create Christmas magic on a budget is to give a gift of each person’s love language.

In his book The 5 Love Languages, Dr Gary Chapman explains that everyone gives and receives love and appreciation differently. And each of us will have a hierarchy of the five languages such that one or two methods really mean a lot to us, while another method may barely register for us.

Giving and receiving gifts is only one of the five love languages, and for some (like me) it barely registers. Instead what lights me up is for my children to make a card with a personal note about what they appreciate about me, and for it to be delivered with a big cuddle. The total cost is less than a dollar!

The 5 Love Languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Gifts

Can you guess which are my top two love languages?

Take the free quiz on the 5 Love Languages website to discover your love languages. Who doesn’t love a personality quiz at this time of year?

Here are some ideas to give a priceless gift that costs you next to nothing.

Words of Affirmation

  • Give them a heartfelt message detailing the many things you appreciate about them and memories of moments you’ve shared.
  • This could be a card or even a video or audio message, which smartphones make easy.

Quality Time

  • Take them out 1-on-1 to share an activity they really enjoy. For example, if my children went on a bike ride with me without whinging that’d be a miraculous gift.
  • Or do the activity at home such as playing board games. My son wrote on my Father’s Day card that he appreciated me trying to play video games with him (emphasis on the trying). For Christmas instead of buying a new game I could give him vouchers for five hours of slaying me in games he already owns.
  • Many retirees do volunteer work and don’t need more stuff, so a precious gift for your parents could be to volunteer with them for a few hours at their favourite charity.

Acts of Service

  • Think of their least favourite errand or household chore and do it for them, especially if it’s one they never quite get around to.
  • For example, clean their windows, gutters, pool, car or kitchen exhaust fan.
  • Or you could help in their garden by spreading mulch, weeding, mowing or pruning.

Physical Touch

  • Give them a massage rather than buying a voucher for a massage.
  • Got teenagers who are too cool to hug you anymore? Drop the hint that you want a ‘gift card’ of 10 hugs, which you may redeem individually.

Combine the love languages

Once the creative juices flow you discover how easy it is to combine multiple love languages:

  • Cook them a meal, eat together and really talk. Sprinkle in some words of affirmation.
  • Volunteer together at a festive season charity event that they choose.
  • Sit on the couch snuggling together and watch a whole movie of your child’s choosing, even if you don’t like it or have already seen it a million times.
  • Give the experience before Christmas, take a photo and stick it to the front of a home-made card, including a heartfelt message. For example, a photo of you cleaning their car or mulching their garden at the start of Summer.

Part of the magic of a gift is in the effort of thinking about the recipient. So, if you’re new to the love languages resist filtering out ideas that aren’t your love language or aren’t experiences you enjoy. Remember, it’s about the way they feel loved.

If you’re worried about having something to ‘give’ them on Christmas day, then make a voucher detailing the experience you are offering them and slip it into a card.


Matt Hern

I’m passionate about helping people afford what brings them joy.

For over 15 years I advised people in achieving their goals, working as a Certified Financial Planner practitioner. Clients I have advised achieved goals such as being mortgage free by age 40, working part-time while raising their family and pursuing dreams to start their own businesses.

Now I exclusively offer money coaching to help you navigate the money decisions to afford what matters most to you.