Several weeks ago I was wrapped up in my own stresses and quite frankly in need of taking a step back and remembering all of the valuable things I have in my life. And by things I mean the loved ones, opportunities & experiences that make up each and every day. Because I’m generally an open book, I was sharing some of that stress with my friend who sent me this article, a letter Holly Butcher wrote a few days before she passed away of cancer at only 27 years old. I try to refer back to it often, as her thoughtful outline of the things that are most important in life is a pretty perfect reminder in many ways.
One of my favorite parts of this letter was her advice on ‘buying your friend something kind’ instead of something materialistic for yourself. I totally agree with her suggestion on a candle or a plant and have added in a few other things to round out the list. Of course it’s fun to let a friend know you are thinking of them, but you could do the same for a coworker, family member or another loved one. I’ve linked some of my favorite books, recipes and gifts throughout this post and some shoppable items are at the very end.
Candle & Matches
I have a friend who requested NO gifts at her bachelorette party. To me that means I should still bring something, but maybe instead of lingerie I will just bring something small. I bought her one of my favorite Voluspa candles and match sets, linked below. Upon opening my gift she was screaming & gasping, which just made me laugh as it was such an over-the-top adorable reaction for something as small as a candle. But in all seriousness, who doesn’t love a candle? I prefer soft scents that aren’t overpowering and cute matches that make the gift a little more special. While Dyptique candles are very popular they’re a little too pricey for me but would also be a great option.
Flowers or a plant, to Holly’s suggestion, are always a welcomed gift. I love when friends bring me flowers if we are having them over for dinner. Visiting a friend out in the suburbs is a great excuse to buy a little bunch of flowers from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and there are a ton of budget-friendly options. Of course having flowers delivered is a great option if you’re sending long distance for any reason – to feel better soon, as a congratulations for a promotion/new baby or simply to let them know you are thinking of them. Bouqs has unique options and if you’re local to Chicago, “Flowers for Dreams” is a favorite.
Few things excite me more than seeing I have actual snail mail in the mailbox. I need to figure out a way to make sure I never miss a birthday (suggestions welcome!) as one of my New Year’s resolutions a couple of years ago was to send a family member an actual birthday card on time. Outside of birthdays, sending or bringing someone a card ‘just because’ is such a special, sweet way to let a friend know you care about them. My college roommate really instilled in me the importance of thank you cards, in addition to no-brainer ‘thank you’ moments (receiving a gift) thanking a friend for being there for you, a meaningful visit or phone call can really mean a lot.
No matter if you’re a cook or a baker (or neither!) bringing someone homemade food, especially new parents or friends that may be grieving, is always something people will appreciate. For new moms, one of my ultimate favorite things to make is lasagna. I’ve made roasted vegetable, turkey sausage with goat cheese, as well as Pastisio, which is Greek lasagna and really fun to make (recipes all curtesy of Ina Garten). A couple of years ago three of my friends had babies within a few weeks of each other and I made three Pastisio lasagnas at once! To keep transport easy I usually buy the disposable tins with lids so I don’t have to worry about tracking down one of my pans. Whatever your specialty, chili, cupcakes, granola or casseroles I’m sure your recipient will be thankful. Making dinner for friends, however simple or complex is also a really nice way to have friends over and enjoy your time together.
There are tons of different types of books you can give a friend for many different reasons. One of my favorite gifts I received was a cookbook from a friend, which I still pull out and use to plan meals even with all of the digital options available. A table book can be a nice going away present for a coworker depending on their passions it could be a book on style, photography, travel or another favorite I received was “The Art of the Cheese Plate.” A book that was popular in your book club, one that you’ve had on your shelf that you no longer need or even a book for your friend’s child is a kind gesture. I currently have “Big Magic” on my nightstand and would highly recommend it as a fun dose of inspiration!
Especially if you are bringing a friend wine, bubbles or an appetizer bringing along cocktail napkins adds a nice little touch. I have two gift shops down the street from me and tend to grab whatever strikes my fancy, but you can also get them from Etsy, Target or Whole Foods. I like setting them out for guests alongside drinks and cocktail snacks for a fun little conversation piece or simply a little elevation above a white napkin.
After writing this I keep thinking about how nice it would be to have ALL of my favorite gift ideas in one place that I’ve gathered from others suggestions over the years. It’s always been something that has stumped me a bit so I usually end up gifting my favorites on repeat. Engagements, new babies, promotions, new jobs, a move, a bill of good health or just because. What are your favorite go-to gifts? Let me know, either comment below or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.