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An unexpected gift list

By December 13, 2022No Comments

At least Mum’s got my birthday present sorted


(Team MBS and I are taking a decent break over the holidays. We’re resting up and having fun. The next newsletter will be on January 10th, no doubt brimming with new year vim and vigor.)

My mum loves to give gifts. It’s a source of deep joy to her, to find something delightful, wrap it, and see the delight on someone’s face as they open it. It’s (one of the many reasons) why I drive her crazy, because I’ve proven difficult to buy for. I’m both fussy and content, a terrible combination.

It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the myriad of gift guides that come out about this time of year. They not only give me ideas for other people, but give me ideas of small gifts people might buy for me. (My go to is Recommendo, another Kevin Kelly creation, who put out a really good weekly email suggesting six cool things. ArchiveSubscribe).

But if you’re looking for something that might strike a different chord, here are five other types of gifts to consider giving.

The gift of appreciation. Write a note to someone you care about telling them just what it is about them that you deeply love. It doesn’t have to be long. Make it more about “you are” rather than “you did.” Here’s a helpful list of traits to give you some words.

The gift of your presence. We’re all distracted, we’re all pulled into our gadgets or our worries or our many obligations. Can you put it all aside for a moment, and be absolutely and completely present to that other person? It’s a rare thing to have someone fully listen to you.

The gift of your sense of adventure. Plan a trip to somewhere you’ve not been before. Be the map maker, navigator, and chief guide. Make it feel safe for those who don’t like surprises as much, but take them on an adventure nonetheless.

The gift of your concern. You may have heard the saying, “be kind, we’re all fighting a hard battle.” Perhaps you could check in with some of the people that matter to you less for a general natter (although that’s lovely), and more to ask, “what are you up against, and how might I help?”

The gift of your sense of occasion. Celebrate an unexpected thing. Create a moment. Make it over the top, or unexpectedly elegant, or solemnly beautiful, or ritualistically magnificent. But make it something to remember.

My guess is that you’re already giving some of these to some of the people some of the time. Bravo! And I’d be curious to know (and of course I’m asking myself this as much as I’m asking you), what would be the “level up” version? And how might you give these gifts throughout the year, not just in this flurry at the end?

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.