Gift-giving is traditionally guided by occasions: birthdays, holidays, graduations, anniversaries, and more. Exciting as these are, the best kinds of gifts are the unexpected ones.
You know the ones I’m talking about: the out-of-the-blue gift basket that magically appears on your doorstep, the box of gourmet cookies next to your Amazon packages, an e-gift card that shows up in your inbox, etc.
It’s heart-warming, and the gesture forces you to ask, “What made them think of me?”
Let’s examine that by identifying three moments that trigger gift-giving.
Appreciation for Someone Who Helped You
How good does it feel when you turn to someone for help, and they work with you to resolve a problem? That rush of relief and appreciation is unparalleled and often triggers the desire to express gratitude with a gift. The result is a two-for-one. The person who helped feels valued, and you feel fulfilled for giving back.
What’s more, gratitude and giving are scientifically proven to be good for your health. A study conducted by NeuroImage concluded that, “…gratitude tasks work, at least in part, because they have a self-perpetuating nature: The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.”
The Urge to Surprise
File this under Just Because, Making Someone’s Day, and Thinking of You. The beauty of surprise gifts is that both the recipient and the giver get to experience the surprise. For the former, it’s obvious–out of nowhere, poof, a gift arrives. For the latter, a jolt of inspiration hits you and stirs the creative juices.
A friend of mine recently lost his father, and in his eulogy, he recalled the memory of his father waking him up when he was 6-years-old and surprising him with a Stretch Armstrong doll. Immediately, I searched online, found a miniature version of the doll–the only kind available–and sent it to him. He was surprised in the best way.
When a Friend Needs Encouragement
This last year has done more than enough to discourage us. The stress of the pandemic, economy, and divisiveness has at times made us feel down at best and spiraling at worst. A Friend’s pain is our pain, and sometimes a gift of encouragement can go a long way.
One of my favorite examples of this came from a colleague of mine. Her friend was completely overwhelmed when the school year started, struggling to meet the needs of his kids who were at home e-learning and the demands of his job. The friend is an NBA fan and loves a message that his favorite coach expresses to his players during close games: Embrace the grind.
My colleague surprised her friend with a basketball paper weight with “Embrace The Grind” engraved.
Summing it Up
Giving a gift for a special occasion is thoughtful and gracious, but catching lightning in a bottle with an unexpected gift idea elevates the act of gift-giving.
And that can truly make a difference in someone’s life.