Missing important dates, losing touch with old friends, forgetting to check in on a loved one in need—when we get busy, often one of the first things to fall to the wayside is thoughtfulness.
By making these simple habits part of your routine, it’s easy to make being thoughtful come, well, easy. Here are four small tweaks that make a big impact; not only will they show that you care, but they make for much easier and more thoughtful gifting down the road.
Sure, it sounds obvious. But keeping an ear out for those little hints that allow you get to know your loved one on a deeper level takes practice, and a keen attention to detail. Become a better listener (and a better friend) by noting the things that mean the most to them, and ask pointed questions about the specifics. When in doubt, consider the five Fs:
- Firsts: What was the first concert they went to? Their first job? Their first big trip? The place they went on their first date with their soon-to-be spouse? These special, memorable moments mean a lot to them, so they’re worth noting. Better yet, they can make for the most thoughtful gifts (like finding a vintage poster from their first concert and framing it, or treating a couple to a dinner at the place they first met).
- Favourites: Same goes for favourite things. Anything from favourite TV shows to flavours to colours to restaurants can make for meaningful conversation starters and gifting fodder.
- Food: You never know when you’ll have an opportunity to make them a meal (say, when they’re sick in bed or have just lost a loved one). But when the time comes to do so, remembering allergies, preferences, and diets they’re following will help ensure it’s a success, and prevent you from gifting something they can’t enjoy.
- Family: Remembering their parents’, siblings’ and grandparents’ names is a simple way to show that you care. If there’s something specific a family member has been up to—like a job they’re interviewing for, or an illness they’re grappling with—ask pointed questions to show you care about the people they care about too.
- Fun: If they had a day all to themselves with no plans, how would they spend it? Everyone has a different idea of fun, and knowing what their ideal day involves—whether it be a shopping trip, morning fishing expedition, or trip to the amusement park—will come in handy when planning experiential gifts.
Which leads us to...
Keep a running list of things they love (and things they don’t)
It’s so much easier to remember a brilliant gift idea—that restaurant they mentioned, or that book they’ve been itching to read, or the brand of wine they detest—in the moment. But trying to recall bits and pieces of conversations months later when it comes time to pick a gift can be challenging and you may find yourself having to resort to something less personal. This is what can make gifting more of a pain than a pleasure: when a feeling of urgency meets a lack of creative, tailored-for-them ideas.
We suggest keeping a running list in your phone or journal (we use our Notes app)—jot down notes every time you hear something relevant: it can be as simple as their uncle’s name to more specific mentions, such as a favourite dessert from their childhood. Not only will this help guide you in the right direction around busy gifting seasons like the holidays, but it’ll make your gifts all the more memorable. Beyond gifting, jot down favourite moments together or quote things they said that meant something to you—these can all be used to help make your card writing as thoughtful as your gift.
Set two notifications for important dates:
One on the date, and two weeks before the date
How many times has your phone buzzed to remind you about a parent’s anniversary or a cousin’s birthday on the day of, forcing you to scramble for a lackluster same-day gift? The busier we become, the more effort we have to make to stay thoughtful. Set two notifications for dates you want to remember to give you enough time to pick out a gift without panic-purchasing. It will also ensure your faraway friends will love your gifts by giving you enough time to send your card or package—because nothing says “I forgot” quite like an express-mail sticker, right?
Write them notes
Whether it’s a post-it left on the door for your significant other after an argument, or a quick “good luck” text to a friend before a presentation—notes are the sweetest, simplest way to show you care. If the habit tends to fall to the wayside, write your notes in bulk and challenge yourself to randomly reach out to five different loved ones each week.
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