This morning, my husband sent cookies to a mechanic. You might think this is strange, but my husband is great at knowing when to give unexpected gifts.
We thought our car had a big, and I mean BIG, problem that was going to cost us a heap of money. It’s an old car and not many mechanics will work on it, so my husband contacted the only specialist who does, told them the problem, and braced himself for the cost. But the mechanic told my husband how to fix it himself—for FREE. The mechanic could’ve easily done the fix himself and charged us high labor costs, but he didn’t, saving us both time and money. My husband and I were so relieved. The cookies were totally worth it and the mechanic was thrilled.
It reminded me that some of the best gifts are the ones no one expects to get. Like we say here at Wrapped In A Ribbon, “We believe the right gift for the right person at the right time will make the world happy.” Those times aren’t always about birthdays and holidays.
You don’t have to give a big gift, and it can even be your time. But unexpected gifts make people feel special, and we all need that.
So here are 10 times you should give an unexpected gift and some ideas of what to do.
IF SOMEONE’S SICK
Years ago, while I was the managing editor of a magazine, I was sick, in the office, and miserable. Just when I thought the only way my day could get worse was if a meteor hit my building, I got a call about a delivery I had to pick up at the front desk. I grabbed tissues, dragged myself to reception, and suddenly my day was made. A friend had sent me chicken noodle soup from an amazing local diner.
One of the things that made this so special and memorable was that my friend was in New York and I was in Los Angeles. And since this was before Amazon and one-hour deliveries of anything under the sun, it meant so much to me that he’d taken the time to find a diner that would deliver and ordered over the phone just to make me feel better.
When your loved ones are sick, make them feel loved with a special gift. Soup, broth or comfort food are great ways to say get well soon. But what about someone’s laid up for a while, like after a surgery? Get them something to help pass the time like a game, or something that will make them smile like candy from their childhood.
FOR A FUNERAL
When someone has lost a loved one, they definitely need comfort. Sympathy cards are wonderful, letting the person know you’re thinking of them. But a gift goes the extra step to help them through this difficult time. Flowers are common sympathy gifts, or casseroles if you’re local. But you can also try to make your gift useful to them in their time of need. A few years ago, that same friend in New York sadly lost his father. He mentioned that his mother was stressed about feeding people at their family gathering. I asked where they would be meeting and had a local restaurant deliver some cold cut platters.
See if you can find a way to take away some of their stress and they’ll be touched and grateful.
FOR THE LOSS OF A PET
Our pets are just as special to us as our human loved ones, and losing them is devastating. This is a time to give some comfort. When a friend’s dog passed away a few years ago, my husband sent them fresh baked cookies that are delivered warm. They loved them. My new go-to gift for comfort is scones, like the ones in this post. They’re warm, sweet, and taste like they’re filled with love.
TO CELEBRATE A NEW JOB
A new job is always something to celebrate, but no matter how positive it is, change is hard and can make people feel nervous. Let your loved ones know you believe in them with a gift that’ll immediately make their office more fun. If they’ve got a promotion to management, make them laugh with a fun gift fit for a boss.
WHEN SOMEONE’S STRESSED
There is so much in life that can give us stress. Our kids having problems. Our parents health failing. Losing a job. And when someone’s stressed, a little comfort goes a long way. Help your loved ones take care of themselves with a little pampering to help ease their stress, like aromatherapy oils, bath balls or good old gourmet ice cream. If they could use help with the loss of income, consider a gift card that will ease their budget until their next job comes around. You can let them know the gift card will allow them to get a little extra for themselves so it doesn’t feel like charity. And if their stress is from a new job interview, big project, or promotion, give them a smile with a good luck charm–even though you know they won’t need it.
FOR FAMILY CHANGES
There are family changes that are a given for gifts, like getting married or having a baby, but there are lots of other family changes that could benefit from gifts too. For example, life changes like divorce or becoming an empty nester can leave your friends or loved ones feeling lost with lots of time on their hands. Give them some support by introducing them to a new hobby with some classes or give them gifts to encourage them to travel.
TO SAY THANK YOU
As you can see from this post, cookies are my husband’s favorite way to say thank you. As well as sending cookies to the mechanic, he has also sent them to the doctor and nurses who helped him through surgery and others. When my first novel was published, I sent my publishing team a delivery of milk and cookies, which they loved. But sometimes, you want to send an extra special thank you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be something a little more personal. For example, whenever my agent sells one of my books, I send her a gift that’s somehow related to the topic of the book.
If you want to say thank you to someone, think of what they love and get them something to complement it.
TO LET SOMEONE KNOW YOU’RE THINKING OF THEM
Recently a friend sent me a notebook, some British biscuits and a set of gorgeous cards for no reason whatsoever, just because. It completely made my day. You don’t have to spend a lot to let someone know you’re thinking of them. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. But you can try to make a statement with your gift to make it all the more special. Like, perhaps they’re feeling homesick and you can get them a candle scented like their hometown. Or maybe they’re feeling stressed and you can get them a diffuser so they can have aromatherapy with them all day.
TO GIVE ENCOURAGEMENT
A card with just the right encouraging message can bring a loved one out of a slump. But if you want to give them encouragement that’s a little more memorable, consider getting a personalized gift with the encouraging words you want them to know. Like a bracelet with “You’ve got this” written in your handwriting, or a bottle of pill capsules full of encouraging words, or a candle with your own message. These types of gifts will lift their spirit for a long time to come.
TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL GOOD
Yep, sometimes the best reason to give a gift is purely selfish: It makes us feel good. Whether we’re volunteering our time or giving someone a gift just because, gift giving gives us gifts of our own. According to Mental Floss, giving to others can even help us live longer, lessen chronic pain, and lower blood pressure. Sociologists even say it can help teens get better grades and self-image. Perhaps it’s that sense of purpose we get when we give a gift that makes someone smile. Perhaps it’s a sense of satisfaction that we did something today that made someone else’s day better. Whatever the reason, making someone else feel good and feeling good yourself in return is a win win.
What’s your favorite unconventional reason to give a gift?