Let’s face it, the holidays aren’t all jingly and bright for everyone. Lots of folks feel alone and disconnected this time of year. Many others are grieving losses, battling illness, or still trying to grapple with the divisiveness resulting from the recent US presidential election.
People who are depressed don’t need gizmos and gadgets as gifts. What they really need is a big dose of love — and something to light up the darkness.
The Love List is a gift that will lift their spirits not just at the holidays, but all year round. Here’s a handy guide that’ll walk you through creating a Love List and presenting it in a Joy Jar, complete with tiny fairy lights.
By the way, if you happen to be blue, too, making this gift is sure to cheer you!
What’s a Love List?
It’s simple. A Love List is a list of all the things you love about someone.
Items on the list can be sweet, silly, funny, romantic, or sexy. They can be memories of things that person said or did. They can be attributes like how kind or goofy someone is. You may love unique things about someone’s dreams or accomplishments. You might love the way someone handled difficulty.
To create a Love List, you simply set aside some time, at least 20 minutes. Have paper/pen or a computer handy to jot things down. Then think about the person you are creating the gift for — and brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.
Your list might contain things like this: I love that you always make me cherry pie when I visit. I love the way you greet me at the door with a warm hug. I love your crooked nose. I love the way you dance around the kitchen with me listening to Cab Calloway. I love that you were game for a spontaneous trip to Niagara Falls that summer night and we sang show tunes all the way there. I love your dedication to writing and how you finished your novel despite working full time. I love the blue streak in your hair. I love your love of candy apples.
Why Give a Love List?
In a culture that is so often focused on what’s wrong and what’s missing, a Love List is the perfect antidote. People are longing to be seen and appreciated. We all want to know that we’ve made an impact — even in some small way. A Love List can be a touchstone for someone, to remind them they matter.
Stories abound about people who were given such lists and are still carrying them around in their wallets, folded and crumpled, decades later. I’ve heard many stories of people framing a Love List that was given to them and hanging it someplace where they could read it every day.
One woman told me she and her children created Love Lists for her husband for his birthday last year. He was so touched, he cried. A few months later he died unexpectedly from a heart attack. She was so grateful that they had all expressed their love to him and he knew all the reasons he mattered to them.
Tips for Writing a Love List
- To begin your list, set aside at least 20 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time to focus.
- Begin your list by simply starting to write whatever drops into your mind. There will be some obvious things that come to you right away.
- Look at photos of the person you are creating the list for. This will help spark memories and ideas.
- Listen to music that person loves. This, too, will inspire specific thoughts.
- Try to recall memories of trips you’ve taken, holidays you’ve shared, events you attended together, or places you go on a regular basis. What made these experiences especially great?
- Think about when you first met this person. What attracted you to them? What stood out as unusual or especially appealing?
- The more specific you are, the better your list is. For example, instead of saying, “I love your sense of humor.” What if you said, “I love your sense of humor: every time you tell that story about getting lost in the parking lot at Costco with Suzy and pushing her around in one of their big carts, it cracks me up.”
- Check out these Love List Prompts for more specific ideas for creating your list.
How to turn that Love List into a Wow ‘em Gift
Let’s say you’ve written a list of 10, 20, or 100 things, now what?
You could stop right here and you’d have an amazing gift. Even if you handed someone a plain white piece of paper with your Love List scrawled in messy pencil, it would likely be one of the best gifts that person ever received.
I’ve heard from many people who had great success when they left just such a hand-written list at the breakfast table or on someone’s desk for them to find.
However, you could go one step further and present your list on one of Simply Celebrate’s free, professionally designed Love List printables.
And if you’ve got an hour or so and $10, go the extra mile and create a Love List Joy Jar. It’s quite simple to make and you’ll have a great time making it.
Love List Joy Jar Supplies
Here’s what you need to make a Love List Joy Jar:
- List of reasons you love the gift recipient
- Clear, wide-mouth jar
- 7 ft. long copper ultra-thin wire LED lights
- 3 AA batteries
- Festive label(s)
- 1-3 sheets white card stock
- 8.5 x 11 white label sheets (optional)
- Color card stock (optional)
How to Make the Love List Joy Jar
Watch this five-minute video for step-by-step instructions for creating this amazing gift.
Presenting the Love List Joy Jar
The best way to present a very special gift like this is when you will be meeting one-on-one with the gift recipient. If the person you’re making this for has been depressed or having a hard time, it would likely mean a lot to them if you set up a time to get together for a meal or tea. Meet at one of your homes or a quiet restaurant or café.
You may want to turn on the fairy lights and wrap the jar in some tissue paper for a beautiful, glowing, mysterious what-the-heck-is-that effect. Or, you can place it in a gift bag, which will also have a li’l glow.
This is a big gift and it will be obvious to the recipient that you put a lot of time and thought into it. Gifts like this can sometimes be hard to receive. (Accepting love can be surprisingly awkward and vulnerable.) Don’t expect a response right away. Know that they may need some time to take it all in.
You can gently suggest to your friend or family member that they read one or two of their scrolls but that they wait and read the others when they are alone. You can tell them that many people choose to read one “love” a day as a way to extend the gift.
For someone going through a hard time, reading one thing a day that someone loves about them could be just the fuel to keep them going. It would be a daily mood lift and connection.
After you’ve given your Love List Joy Jar gift, take a few moments to appreciate yourself. All too often we’re running around, busily checking things off our to-do lists and thinking we’ll express our love and appreciation someday. And all too often, , never comes. But you are someone who shows up wholeheartedly.
Creating a gift like this for someone is one of the most important things you can do. Acknowledge yourself for this act of love.
I hope that making this Joy Jar brought the recipient a deep sense of being seen, know, and appreciated. AND, I hope that making this one-of-a-kind gift brought you tons of joy!