Some Holiday Gift Ideas Suggested Specifically for The Four Tendencies

person holding gift box

It’s holiday season, so it’s time to choose gifts. This process can be frustrating when you’re not sure what someone would like to receive, so to provide some inspiration, here are some gift ideas based on the Four Tendencies.

Yes! If you know whether your gift recipient is an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, you can use that knowledge to make predictions about what that person might like to receive.

No idea what the “Four Tendencies” framework is? Read about it here, listen to an explanation here, and take the quick, free quiz to learn your Tendency here.

If you’d like to give the gift of self-knowledge, my Four Tendencies video course is a terrific option. This course provides five weeks of video lessons and interviews to help participants learn about each of the Four Tendencies—and to create practical changes to create the life they want.

Upholders like to-do lists, and schedules, and are good at execution. Some ideas:

  • To-do list pads
  • Planners
  • If they’ve made a gift wish list, buy from the list because they will like to get that checked off
  • Beautiful tools for whatever they like to do: great kitchen knives for a cook; a new yoga mat for a yoga practitioner; a toolset for a wood-worker

Questioners value efficiency and justification; they like to monitor (because monitoring gives them more information), and they like to customize systems to suit themselves. Some ideas:

  • A fitness tracker like an Apple Watch or Fitbit
  • A timer to use for “Power Hour” or for the Pomodoro technique
  • A subscription to The Week magazine, a very slim magazine that’s a round-up of the week’s news—”all you need to know about everything that matters.” For people who value efficiency, it’s a very satisfying, time-efficient way to consume news.
  • Remember—always get a gift receipt, but especially for a Questioner! They may well have done the research to know that there’s a better version of this gift out there.
  • And buy from their list—Questioners have done the research; they’ve decided what they want.
  • Questioners can get overwhelmed by the research they need to do. As a gift, you could offer to do the research for them. Let them tell you the criteria, and you’ll present answers. Maybe that Questioner doesn’t want to figure out the best tent to buy—so you could do that.

Obligers thrive on outer accountability, even for doing things they enjoy. Give an Obliger a gift along with accountability for something you know that recipient wants to do. Some ideas:

  • A massage that’s already booked and paid for
  • A gift card for a great restaurant or a movie theater
  • Obligers can feel overwhelmed by all that they need to do, so make a gift that celebrates everything they’ve done in the last year—a “ta-da” present
  • A subscription to a healthy food-delivery service
  • A shared experience, so someone is expecting the Obliger to participate. (“We’re going to go hiking together.”)
  • If you know the person wants to exercise, a set of sessions with a trainer or a class. (Note: a gym membership alone is unlikely to be enough accountability!)
  • If the person would like to do a happiness project, but fears that they won’t stick to it, you could give The Happiness Project Experience online video course, and say either “I’ll do it, too, and we’ll talk about it together” or “I’m giving this to you, and I want you to keep me updated on how it’s going.” Outer accountability, always!
  • Give the Obliger a gift receipt, and assure them, “If this isn’t right for you, don’t feel like you have to use it! I expect you to exchange it, if something suits you better! That’s what I want!”

Rebels like freedom and choice, and they don’t like to feel directed or controlled. They can be tough to buy for, because often, as soon as they want something, they buy it. Some ideas:

  • A gift card of an amount of money that can be used anywhere
  • A surprise—Rebels often like to be surprised
  • An ephemeral gift that doesn’t carry expectations or identity, like fresh flowers or gourmet foods
  • A gift that reflects the Rebel’s identity: if that person loves to fish, listen to music, or cook, choose something related to the core identity. For instance, a Happier Podcast listener made her Rebel husband a Chatbook of photos of himself doing the activities he loved during the previous year.

Of course, you can also give a gift that allows the recipient to display their Tendency! Go here to find mugs for each of the Four Tendencies as well as t-shirts—some include the motto of each Tendency, and some just have the name of the Tendency.

What gifts have you received, that you found particularly satisfying because of your Tendency? We can all use more ideas!



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