We all have those moments of overwhelming appreciation for a friend, teacher, or colleague, or of intense love for our significant other, parent, or child. Why do we wait for a birthday, anniversary, or holiday to write a heartfelt note or give a gift? Why don’t we move on the moment and show our gratitude when we feel it…on a Tuesday?
“Etiquette is about enhancing relationships,” says Peter Post, author of the book “Essential Manners for Couples.” “The status quo of a good relationship is always comforting — but every now and then, a pleasant curveball is in order.”
A surprise gift doesn’t have to coincide with any particular day, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Remember: Gifts are about giving, not value.
Here are 12 reasons to give a gift “just because.”
- Your best friends took both of your kids for an overnight so that you and your significant other could have some much-needed quality alone time. A bottle of something delicious with a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant would be welcomed with open arms.
- A year-end bonus — unexpected but very welcome, right? Let your boss know how honored you are that the company is recognizing your hard work. Because giving a gift to your boss can be tricky, consider a note and a “temporary gift,” such as a plant, flowers, or candy.
- You were out of town for two weeks and your neighbor mowed your lawn — and you didn’t even ask him! Wisteria Lane be darned…your neighborhood is the place to live. Pay your neighbor back with a six-pack of his favorite beer or invite him to go with you to a local sporting event.
- Your husband has been longingly gazing at outdoor speakers in catalogs for months. He’s a good guy — get them and have them installed. He’ll appreciate you every time he’s in the backyard listening to the ball game while clipping the hedges.
- The friend who is always there for you: When you broke your ankle skiing, she brought a hot meal every night for a week. When your daughter had the lead in the high school musical and you couldn’t be there the second night, she went. When you wanted someone to try yoga with you, she willingly tried the lotus position. Do something for her: Take her on a spa day or for a night out on the town.
- Mom and dad drove 500 miles to deliver your stuff to your new apartment. Just part of their job description? Maybe. Should you show them how much you appreciate their efforts? Definitely. Give them a big hug and warm thank you when they arrive and again before they leave. Have flowers delivered for when they return home.
- A stranger found your wallet and turned it in to the police station with his business card. Call him and thank him, and offer a cash reward. If he accepts the reward, send it with a note of thanks. If he doesn’t accept the reward, send the note along with a gift certificate.
- You have a group of close friends at work who organized a surprise bridal shower for you. Just another example of how they always go the extra mile for you. Show them your appreciation by discretely putting a special small gift at each one of their desks or sending something to their homes.
- Your teenager has consistently done her chores for the past six months: bringing the laundry downstairs, cleaning her room, unloading the dishwasher, watching her little brother for an hour after school. Wow! Get her the pair of jeans she has been wanting or a subscription to the fashion website she visits religiously, or just take her out for ice cream. Let her know you’re impressed with her maturity.
- You wife does it all — works full time, volunteers as the Girl Scout troop leader, serves on the PTA, manages the kids’ schedules — and yet she still seems to find time to let you know she loves you. It’s your turn. Arrange for those family friends or grandparents to take the kids and whisk your beloved away for a weekend getaway. Your words of love, devotion, and appreciation in the hot tub will make her feel appreciated, loved, and so happy.
- School has been challenging for your child this year, and his teacher has been amazing: She has been in constant contact with you, working with your him to establish a learning program that works for him, and she has done all this while making your child — and you — feel like he’s terrific. This calls for a one-of-a-kind card, maybe one made by you and your son together, with a picture of him and teacher on the cover and a hand-written note inside. Accompany the card with a gift certificate to a bookstore or stationery store, or a beautiful scented candle.
- You’re always on the road. When in Dallas, you stay with your sister. On your trips to Chicago, you stay with your best friend from high school. And when you visit San Francisco, you bunk with your brother. Let them know how much you appreciate their revolving door hotel policy. Send them flowers “just because.”
Post says, “Whether the surprise is big or small, the fun lies in planning it and carrying it out, and then in seeing the reaction. There’s nothing better than knowing you’ve made the day just a little brighter for the people who matter to you the most.”
3 ‘just because’ gifts to consider
Still not sure what to get that person who has gone out of their way to make your life just a little easier? We’re sure they’ll appreciate one of these gifts below.