It’s Day 39 of the Idea Machine Project and today is all about nice, inexpensive ways to surprise your friends and family.
It feels good to do nice things for other people. Research clearly shows that being kind to others makes us feel good and makes us happier. Doing something nice for others boosts your own endorphins, so there’s a positive effect on your brain chemistry and it tends to create a positive loop that leads to even more kindness.
Here are 10 ideas to show others you care.
Write a Note
Handwritten notes are always a good way to show you care about another person. It doesn’t have to be long. Just a note to say “hi–thanks for being my friend” can work wonders. And don’t worry about buying Hallmark cards. Use what you have on hand. It’s the message that counts!
Bake or Cook a Surprise Favorite Dish
If you live in the same household this one is easy, but even if you don’t you can still bake cookies, brownies, muffins or even make a casserole.
If you’re not a cook or don’t have time, no worries. You have 9 other ideas here. Find one that works for you!
Digital Memories to Print
Now that we increasingly share photos online, the old family photo albums are looking a bit thin and dated. Go through your digital photos from a family get-together or select a random series of photos of you with a friend.
Order prints and then arrange the printed photos on a heavy sheet of paper or in an inexpensive photo collage frame. If you’re more artsy-craftsy, you might decide to fancy it up a bit, but that’s not required.
Leave a Flower
Leave a single flower on a co-worker’s desk or room-mate’s nightstand, along with an inspirational quote written on an index card.
Tickets to an Event
Surprise a close friend or family member with tickets to an inexpensive lecture or an event he or she might not otherwise attend. This one might require a bit of sleuthing to make sure the date is convenient.
I recently asked my mom to “save the date” after confirming she was free and bought a ticket for her to see a former First Lady that she really admires. Another friend did the same for her mom (I bought the tickets together). Since our moms are best friends, they will have a special, early Mother’s Day gift this year.
Vintage T-Shirt for a Teen
If you spot a vintage tee in a thrift shop, pick it up for a teen. Even better, find one from your stash of college tees.
When I asked my 19-year-old nephew what he wanted for Christmas, he mentioned a vintage rock t-shirt or sports apparel. It just so happened, I had a Braves baseball jersey, circa 1990, that I’d been planning to sell on ebay and it was a size that would fit my nephew. Wrapped it up for Christmas and he was thrilled.
Used Books for Readers
Pick up a gently-used book from a yard sale or thrift store to surprise your reader friends from time to time.
Share a Family Video
If you have a modicum of tech skills, you can probably transfer an old family in digital format and upload it to YouTube or vimeo (password protected) to share with relatives scattered around the globe. If you don’t know to do it, ask a friend to digitize the video for you. Don’t worry about editing, just get it into digital format and share.
For relatives who aren’t online, a DVD of the family video might be nice.
Collect pebbles, sand, leaves, dried flowers, costume jewelry or even a poem that is symbolic of a fun memory you share with a loved one. Drop these mementos into a jar and tie a scrap of fabric over the top with a string, include an explanatory note just in case!
Tag And Say Hello
If you’re connected on social media, simply tag them and say “hello-I’ve been thinking about you!”
I’d love to hear some of your ideas–please share in the comments!