Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Hello again dear readers,

Sorry for my unexpected absence. I’ve been under the weather, but I’m back in time for Friday.

For today’s topic, let’s write about the best gift you’ve ever given someone. Doesn’t have to have been for Christmas, and it doesn’t have to be something that money can buy. Let’s get creative!

I’ve always prided myself on trying to give the very best gifts I can. Often they end up coming from a store, but in one case, I was able to give something truly from the heart.

I used to date a guy who suffered from clinical depression. While he appeared happy-go-lucky to the outside world, he was often convinced that no one loved him and that his life mattered to nobody.

One Christmas, I came upon the perfect idea to cheer him up whenever those dark moods struck. I used my journalism skills to track down and interview everyone who loved him–family members I’d never met, friends who were working in Malaysia–the works. Since I had so much experience doing interviews, I was able to get these people to really open up and tell me how they felt about the man in question–which was as moving an experience for me as it was for them.

I printed the quotes–which included a favorite memory from each person–on separate pieces of paper in different fonts, and then wrote my own message of love and encouragement. The Bombay Company had a beautiful memory box which resembled a mahogany book, and it was the perfect receptacle for my gift. On the brass plaque on the cover I had the words “Open when you’re feeling blue” engraved.

My ex cried as he read each message. He couldn’t believe how open people had been with me, and that I’d managed to reach so many people I’d never met. His reaction was just as I’d hoped, and even though we haven’t spoken for years, I hope he still uses that gift whenever he needs it.

In a way I never expected, that present ended up being a gift for me as well. I got to know my boyfriend better through the people who love him, and I also got to share something incredible with the amazing people in his life. It’s rare that you have the opportunity to give a gift like that–it simply wouldn’t have had the same impact for anyone else, but when you do have the chance, it’s well worth the trouble.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thanks for reading!
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  1. kungfusinger

    The best present I ever gave:

    My first year living in the dorms, I had to come up with presents for my grandmothers. Since they both lived in small and overtrinketed homes, I did not want to add to the clutter. I also did not have a lot of money. I wanted to give them a present that was disposable. Once used, throw away. I had only a few things at my disposal.

    I had a colour Inkjet Printer.
    I had some photo paper for said printer
    I had a three hole punch
    I had some yarn for crocheting…
    I had MS Outlook…

    What this resulted in was calendars.

    On the shiny side of the photo paper, I printed photos of our family growing up. On the matt side, I printed a calendar month. Twelve of these babies for each Grandma, and I had a personalized calendar.

    They were very simple. I used the hole punch to punch a single central hole on the outside edge (for hanging) and several holes on the inside edge. I used the yarn to bind the calendars together.

    The next year, my parents asked for one
    The year after that, my brother and sister asked for copies.
    The year after that, I made ones for my husband and his family.

    By this point, it was getting too expensive to make them. I had to go out and buy two sets of colour ink cartridges at $50 a shot. My printer was also not that fast. It took about two minutes to print out each page. Make that each side of a page. Multiply 8 copies by 12 pages by 2 sides by 2 minutes and you had a full day of just printing.

    That was the last year I had the time and money to make the calendars. I know they were loved though. There are still random calendar pages hanging in the homes of every one who received one.

  2. Story Teller

    Great gift idea, kungfusinger! I’m sure they were appreciated. You could still use your photos but get a printing place to do them for you. Faster and a lot cheaper, but still a personal touch.

  3. Mystic_Mom

    We make homemade gifts and one year that was all we could afford to make – so we made gifts in a jar for our friends and family. It was a lot of work but it was worthwhile to be able to make someone ‘sand art brownies’ or a ‘taco soup’ mix or even ‘Mexican hot chocolate’. Making a gift, to me, is the best gift you can give because it comes from your hands and your heart. I’m making one this year for my sister-in-law which is very similar to the one you made Holli – will post about it after Christmas 🙂

  4. Niki*

    I actually made a calendar too last year. One of those funny inspirational ones with my hubby that I did up in photoshop. It was great, because every time he turned the page there he laughed just a bit harder.

    That was my gift that cost nothing but effort.

    I also once got him a bar globe that looks like an old school globe that you find in a library but you open it up and it holds all your booze. That gift was awesome because whenever he went into Bombay he always checked it out – for about 2 years in a row. So what I did was go 1.5 hours to a mall on the public transit to pick up the LAST one in the city, then hauled it back to work where I wrapped it in branded plastic bags. Then when I FINALLY got it home I convinced him for 3 weeks that it was actually a gift for my brothers. When Christmas rolled around I said: “Oh there’s another gift for you somewhere…” and then pointed to the big box. He looked like a kid in a candy store when he opened it up. That was a great surprise…costly ($300) but worth every penny 🙂

  5. Cindy

    I think that the best gift I ever gave was a quilt that I made for my mother-in-law and another for her mother. I printed family photos on fabric and made a quilt for each of them with pictures of the family, friends, and pets. They both loved the gift, and I enjoyed the process of making them.

  6. Lisa

    I have two special gifts that I still remember giving with much joy.

    #1 – I, too, have done the calendar gift. I had taken a bunch of wonderful nature shots over the year and had gone and printed off 8×10’s of them and had a blank calendar that I cut up for the months. I mounted each month on some heavier paper and voila!… I had a beautiful calendar for my father and he absolutely loved it. The calendar was so heavy though that he took one month at a time to work where he hung it. “February” was on his office wall when we lost our house and the entire contents to a fire. Later after things settled down and he was back to work and looking at the solitary month hanging there he told me he kicked himself for not just bringing the entire calendar to work…

    #2 – When I was married I had done an intricate pen and ink drawing of my husband’s childhood home. I had taken a picture of the house one afternoon, and whenever I had a free moment I would sneak down to my craft table and secretly continue with the drawing. My parents helped frame it with old boards from my grandparent’s barn (which tied into another picture we had in the house). When my ex opened the present he was speechless. The picture still hangs in his house. I guess the memory of the home is stronger than the memory of the ex-wife who drew it. I’m thankful for that.

  7. Story Teller

    What wonderful, creative gifts, Niki, Cindy, and Lisa. Thanks for sharing your stories.


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