Making Good Gifts Great (without costing more)

A gift that fills a need or a want is good, but with some extra effort you can make that gift great. The best part is that taking your gift from “good” to “great” doesn’t cost any extra money.

A gift that fills a need or a want is good, but with some extra effort you can make that gift great.  The best part is that taking your gift from “good” to “great” doesn’t cost any extra money.

Adding a personal touch takes a gift up a notch or two.  For me, the personal touch involves words. Words that convey feeling and emotion.

Most people say the same things in their cards– the standard greetings, the same well-wishes, just enough to fit nicely in the card without being too full or too sparse.  We figure the purpose of the card is to say who the present is from and share an appropriate customary phrase or two.

Have you ever been at a gift-opening occasion (birthday, Christmas, baby shower, wedding, etc) where the gift opener read the cards out loud?  Amidst all the standard greetings, the recipient starts reading an un-assuming card, when she suddenly stops reading aloud and becomes emotional.  There may be smiles, there may be tears.  Her face lights up, there is a giggle or a thoughtful sigh.

That card was different from the others.  It conveyed more than just the appropriate seasonal phrases and the to/from details.  That card warmed a heart and touched a soul.  The gift in the box will take on a new level of meaning because of the depth and the thoughtfulness of the card.

Has this happened to you?

Let me tell you how my husband made a good gift great a couple of years ago to illustrate this principle.

My birthday is in August, around all of the back-to-school mayhem. As I was picking up school supplies for my kids (and of course stocking up on extras), I fell in love with a set of 21 different colored Sharpie markers.  I was tempted to buy it for myself, but I felt silly buying something for myself when my birthday and anniversary were just around the corner.

There was no way my husband would ever think to get me colorful Sharpies as a gift, so I dropped some hints.

You might remember that I’m not a list-maker when it comes to gifts, which my husband thinks is funny because I make lists for everything else you could possibly make a list for.  He really appreciates hints, though, so I dropped some hints about the Sharpies that I wanted.  There is no way he would ever think of that one on his own.

I told him how I really wished that I had Sharpies in lots of colors when the kids made shirts to enter in the fair.  Did you know that if you draw dots with Sharpies on T-shirts, then spray them with rubbing alcohol, they bleed and make cool designs?  They do.  You can see a tutorial here.  There are also cool mugs you can make with Sharpies.  The list goes on and on (do a Pinterest search for Sharpie crafts if you don’t believe me).

I figured my hints were obvious enough, that he would probably get me the markers I had my eye on.

I was right, but he did much, much better than that.

My wonderful husband is very vocally affectionate, always telling me the many things he loves about me. He has an amazing gift to always speak kindly.  He has honestly never said anything hurtful to me, ever. Anyone who knows him will tell you that he never says hurtful things about anyone.

My point is that I really am blessed beyond anything I could ever imagine, so I should be content with the love he showers on me.

Yet I still ask for more.

I always tell him that I want him to write love notes to me so that if anything ever happens to him I can have his precious words to read over and over.  He knows that heartfelt, written love notes mean so much to me.

Instead of just giving me the set of markers, he made it personal.  For each of the 21 colors, he wrote several sentences sharing something thoughtful, meaningful, or sentimental. It brought tears to my eyes and is a special treasure of memories and love through his eyes.

Thoughtful words can take a good gift and make it great.

I love the markers– they are useful and just what I wanted.

The three typed pages oozing with love and memories?  They are priceless.  I love that man!

Go the Extra Mile

As you are giving gifts this holiday season, take a little extra time to put sincere thought into them.  Whether it’s a gift for your spouse, your kids, or your next-door neighbor.  Really touch someone’s heart by giving a piece of yours.  The words you share will likely outlast the gift itself, as they become a pick-me-up later down the road.

How About You?

  • Have you given or received a good gift that was made great with heartfelt personalization?
  • Is anyone else a sucker for love notes?

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Originally published 18 December 2015 but updated to be added to the Frugal Festivities series.

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