A Thoughtful Gift
Thoughtful Gifts Are Unique Gifts
A thoughtful gift has less to do with money and more to do with planning. Anyone can come up with gift ideas that are both personal and memorable. If you follow the below strategies, you are guaranteed to come up with a gift idea that will warm the heart of the recipient, no matter who they are, letting them know just how much you care. Plus, making the extra effort with make you feel good as well.
Planning is Key
The better you know someone, the more personal, therefore meaningful, you can make their gift. There's really only one thing you need to do: pay attention. Your loved one has probably dropped hints left and right. I don't mean subtle suggestions about what they want you to buy, but clues to what interests them; what they are passionate about.
On the other hand, consider that an appreciated gift could also be the solution to a problem.
When you prepare a gift based on someone else's likes and needs, your attentiveness is bound to be successful. Remember, you don't have to like or want the gift you're giving - the person who's receiving it does. Buy preparing something you would never give yourself you are showing the person you love that you value them for who they are, despite - or maybe because, of your differences.
Action is Paramount
Once you've figured out what pleases your loved one or what they need or want, it's time to decide how best to show them that you've been paying attention.
Unique Gift Ideas
Any personal gift will, by its very nature, also be a unique gift, so don't spend so much time thinking about that aspect. Instead focus on getting creative.
Track Down Someone or Something Meaningful From Their Past
My mother used to be a model and her very first job was doing a major ad campaign for Seville cars. She's proud of this time in her life and yet, because she moved around a lot, she lost her original prints. My sister somehow tracked down a copy of the original advertisement, had it framed, and gave it to our mother for her birthday.
Along those same lines, one of the best presents I ever got was a ride out to my mother's house. Let me explain. When I was twenty, I lived downtown Chicago and was short on just about everything, especially money, so, I couldn't afford a car. My mother lives about an hour outside the city and she hates going downtown. One evening, while talking on the phone with my (then) boyfriend who was in N.Y., I mentioned that I missed my mother. Shortly after that we must have changed the subject, because I didn't give it another thought, and we continued to chat. About a half hour later my doorbell rang. It was a limo driver there to pick me up, take me out to my mother's and drive me back home.
Put Together a Personal Photo Book
It can be of anything that has meaning. You're loved one's life story, family history, children, your last vacation together.... You get the idea. You could even scan and make a book out of all of their disorganized family photos (this would be great one for me).
A couple of years ago, I gave my husband a family trip to ski in the French Alps. Since that's a little hard to wrap up, I made up a silly poem, set it to pictures and had the whole thing printed up for less than $20. This is a great way to present a gift that they can't immediately get their hands on.
But, its also a great gift in and of itself. You could write a love note, poem, story...
Make a Picture Out of Your Family Tree
This should be done collage style. Cute out a picture of a tree, or the silhouette of a tree and instead of apples make copies of all your families faces and then cut (just the face out) and paste them into the tree. Frame it and your ready to induce a smile... and a laugh.
Make a Shadowbox
Shadowboxes are just plain wooden boxes with a glass front that you can fill with anything you want. Ikea has lots of them in different sizes. Line it with some pretty paper, or a blown up photo or just paint it and fill it with objects that have meaning to the two of you. Make sure to secure them in place so it can be displayed without ruining your creation.
For my husband's 50th birthday, I made a shadow box of all the things I planned we would do and see on a get-a-way weekend. Then I made another one with the actual mementos of that trip. He keeps them displayed, side by side, on his nightstand.
Make a Personal Message and Take a Picture of It
You could arrange seashells in the sand, or twigs on the grass or prints in the snow, to say "I love you, Matthias," (course, that's my husband's name, you should use the one that means something to you), then take a picture of it. Blow it up to poster size and have it framed.
Another cute idea - if you have kids, have them pose in the form of letters to spell out your message. Then, photoshop the whole thing together into one image for printing.
Write and Sing a Song for Them
You don't have to be a musician to compose music and you certainly don't have to be Mariah Carey to sing it. You can use software, like Apple's Garage Band, with out any musical training what so ever. It's loaded with royalty free riffs and music samples. If you can play the piano or guitar, all the better. I do however, suggest that you use a real microphone and not the microphone integrated into your computer. The sound will be much better that way.
Convert it to an Mp3 file (apple's software does this for you) and burn it to a CD. Either present the CD as a gift or make a special dinner and put it on the stereo. Imagine their face when they realize it's you singing to them.
Sign Up to Take a Class Together
Is your loved one crazy about photography, skiing, cooking? Show them how much their interests matter to you by not only giving them the gift of learning about their passion but joining them in it. There are lots of inexpensive classes available at adult education centers, community colleges, churches, art centers... just google it.
You'll also be creating a memory for the two of you to share (which is another gift).
Don't worry, you don't have to be able to draw with this one. Make a silhouette of your loved one's and your own profile. Or, If you have children, line them up, turn them one by one in profile, aim a light at the side of their face, tape a large piece of paper to the wall, and trace the shadow onto your paper. This also works with pets. If they absolutely won't sit still take a snap shot of the shadow, have it blown up to the size you want and trace over that.
Then, carefully cut the image out and place it on either colorful construction paper, wallpaper samples (which are pretty and free at any store that sells wallpaper) or whatever else appeals to you. Trace around that image and then cut it out and paste it on a background. You can write a one line phrase under each head. Make sure to write something that is specific to that person or pet. Our dog, Phoebe, is always stealing our slippers so under her silhouette I wrote The Slipper Thief. Frame it and wrap it.
Create a Book of Coupons
This is actually one of my least favorite ideas. Not because it's not great, in theory it is, but because the follow through on this one is usually pretty low. The reason for this is that nobody likes to say "hey, you owe me..." which is basically what you are forcing them to do when they hand you a coupon. The way to fix this, is to put dates on your various coupons. These are for YOU. On the date you have written, you need to fulfill whatever promise you have made. Write it down in your own calendar so you don't forget. Only give this gift if you will follow through. Otherwise its just a bunch of empty promises.
Well Don't Just Sit There...
I hope I've inspired you. If you do decide to put one of these suggestions into action, I would love to hear what you did and how it went.