We all have those moments of overwhelming appreciation for a friend, teacher or colleague; moments of intense love for our significant other, parent or child. Why do we wait for a birthday, anniversary or holiday to write a heartfelt note or give a gift? Why don’t we move on the moment and show our gratitude when we feel it…on a Tuesday?
“Etiquette is about enhancing relationships,” said Peter Post, author of Essential Manners for Couples. “The status quo of a good relationship is always comforting – but every now and then, a pleasant curve ball is in order.” A surprise gift doesn’t have to coincide with any particular day and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Remember: gifts are about giving, not about value.
Here are some reasons to give a gift “just because.” Accompany with a thoughtful note.
- Your best friends took both of your kids for an overnight so that you and your SO could have some much-needed quality alone time. A bottle of something delicious with a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant would be welcomed with open arms.
- An unexpected year-end bonus – unheard of but very welcome, yes? Let your boss know how honored you are that the company is recognizing your hard work. Because giving a gift to your boss can be tricky, consider a note and a “temporary gift” such as a plant, flowers or candy.
- You were out of town for two weeks and your neighbor mowed your lawn – and you didn’t even ask him! Wisteria Lane be darned! Your neighborhood is the place to live. Let your neighbor know that with a six-pack of his favorite or invite him to go with you to cheer on your minor-league baseball team.
- Your husband has been longingly gazing at outdoor speakers in catalogs for months. He’s a good guy – get them and have them installed. He’ll appreciate you every time he’s in the back yard listening to the ball game while clipping the hedges.
- The friend who is always there for you: when you broke your ankle skiing, she brought a hot meal every night for a week; when your daughter had the lead in the high school musical and you couldn’t be there the second night, she went; when you wanted someone to try yoga with you, she willingly tried the lotus position. Do something for her: a day at a spa or a night on the town.
- Mom and dad drove 500 miles to deliver your stuff to your new apartment. Just part of their job description? Maybe. Should you show them how much you appreciate their efforts? Definitely. Give them a big hug and a warm thank you when they arrive and again before they leave. Have flowers delivered for when they arrive home.
- A stranger found your wallet and turned it in to the police station with his business card. Call him and thank him; offer a cash reward. If he accepts the reward, send it with a note of thanks. If he doesn’t accept the reward, send the note along with a gift certificate.
- You have a group of close friends at work who organized a surprise bridal shower for you. Just another example of how they always go the extra mile for you. Show them your appreciation by discretely putting a special small gift at each one of their desks or sending something to their homes.
- Your teenager has consistently done her chores for the past six months (bringing the laundry downstairs, cleaning her room, unloading the dishwasher and watching her little brother for an hour after school). Wow! Get her the pair of jeans she has been wanting or a subscription to the fashion magazine she reads every month or just take her out for an ice cream. Let her know you’re impressed with her maturity.
- You wife does it all: works; volunteers at the food shelf once a month, as a Girl Scout leader and serves on the PTA; manages the kids’ schedules and most of the duties ensuring their well-being, happiness and health; and she still seems to find time to let you know she loves you. It’s your turn. Arrange for those family friends or grandparents to take the kiddos and whisk your beloved away for a weekend get-away. Your words of love, devotion and appreciation in the hot tub will make her feel appreciated, loved and so happy.
- School has been challenging for you child this year and his teacher has been amazing: she has been in constant contact with you; she has worked with your child to establish a learning program the works for him; and she has done all this while making your child – and you – feel like he’s terrific. This calls for a one-of-a-kind card, maybe made by you and your child together with a picture of the child and teacher on the cover and a hand-written note inside. Accompanying the card could be a gift certificate to a book store or stationery store or a beautiful scented candle.
- You’re always on the road. When in Dallas you stay with your sister; in Chicago, you always stay with your best friend from high school; and in San Francisco you bunk with your brother. Let them know how much you appreciate their revolving door hotel policy. Send them flowers “just because.”
“Whether the surprise is big or small, the fun lies in planning it and carrying it out, and then in seeing the reaction. There’s nothing better than knowing you’ve made the day just a little brighter for the people who matter to you the most.” -Peter Post