What fun would life be without whimsical, unexpected surprises? My husband came home the other night, asked me to close my eyes and hold out my hands. I did, and when I opened my eyes, I observed with delight a package of various sizes of post-its covered with the designs of the late, great pop artist Keith Haring. As someone who loves both paper stationary items as well as Haring's work, this was the perfect small surprise. Plus, as someone who writes my daily schedule down on post-its, it was something I could put to use right away.
A bunch of years ago, I saw a terrific performance choreographed by a young teacher from a dance studio. Unless choreographers are famous, they are given very little, if any public recognition for their work. I called the studio and asked if I could send a bouquet of flowers to her there. They gave their okay, so I sent the flowers as well as an email expressing my appreciation of her choreography.
If you know that you are going to see the recipient in person, you can pick up a bouquet of flowers or a plant and give it to him or her directly. I just brought two little brightly-colored potted flowers to the guard at the front desk of a local public school. I knew that something colorful and living would go a long way with her, since her desk is covered with clipboards and computer monitors.
Another thing I like to do is stock up on an inexpensive item and give it away as a gift, even if it is not that person's birthday. I recently gave a mini wall calendar to a branch librarian who has always gone out of her way to be friendly and welcoming to me when I come in.
One of the most cherished surprises, especially in the age of the internet, is the greeting card with a hand-written note. I often add fun touches to the cards I send, e.g. stickers and a fun stamp design that I've picked out at the post office. To make card-sending an easy task, I recommend setting up a drawer just for that activity. Fill it with stamps, stickers, return address labels, stationery and cards. In the spirit of being budget-minded, look for the .99 cent cards (there are lots of cute ones!) at Trader Joe's and local drug stores. Also: go for boxed cards so that you don't have to always buy them one at a time.
Tiny inspirational books can make a nice surprise gift. I love La Vie en Rose: The Little Book of Joy and Happiness Is: 500 things to be happy about.
A phone call out of the blue saying "Hello, how are you?" can be a lovely surprise. A phone call can be filled with far more nuance than an email, and it can be comforting to hear a real human voice.
Finally, for a bigger surprise for a bigger occasion, a basket or box filled with the recipient's favorite things can bring delight to both of you. One holiday season, I filled a basket with my great aunt's favorite food treats and brought it over to her apartment.
What are some lovely surprises that you have both given and received? Please do share; I'd love to hear from you!