Now more than ever, we truly value and appreciate how important it is to connect with others. Here we uncover some refreshingly original ways to show someone you’re thinking of them…
Staying in touch with friends and family isn’t just about being sociable – it’s something that actually supports our wellbeing. But not all our loved ones live close by, which can make meeting up for a meal, or popping round for a coffee, hard to do as often as we’d like. And right now, as coronavirus has us avoiding social contact in person, we’re all too aware of how much we can miss that connection with the people who mean most to us.
Fortunately, thanks to WhatsApp groups, Skype, and social media, there are great tools to help us keep in touch. But there’s something even more magical about reaching out to people in a creative way...
For the past few years, one of my close friends and I have made each other gifts to stay connected through living in different continents, various hospital stays, and the recent worldwide situation.
One of my favourites is spending hours crafting a handmade zine for her. I sew several folded sheets of thick paper together, and then fill the pages with things I know will resonate with her: a recipe for the vegan tiffin I brought to a picnic; a collage of Simpsons quotes; an ironic travel guide to the city where we both went to university (“Love pottery kilns? Love Stoke-on-Trent!”). I enjoy putting it together, finding I get into the creative flow and relax, and she has the fun of reading it through, and laughing at the silly in-jokes.
A care box
Who doesn’t love opening a parcel full of wonderful things? If someone you care about is going through a hard time, or you just want to show you’re thinking about them, putting together a care package can be a lovely surprise.
You could include their favourite tea bags, scented candles, art supplies, fluffy socks… Anything you know they’ll love and will give them some comfort. And if you’re unable to get hold of some of their favourite items, you could always be creative and write them a letter, or print off a photo of you both. It doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s the thought that counts.
Write a poem
If you love using language, try penning a poem for your friend. Whether heartfelt or funny, it will be sure to make them smile. You could handwrite it and post it to them, or record yourself reading it and send them the video. Or maybe there’s a poem you’ve read that brings your friend to mind, which you could share if you don’t fancy writing your own. Writing and reading poetry can be therapeutic, and by sharing what you create with others, you’re adding even more meaning to it.
Connect using music
Music means so much to many of us. If you love strumming your guitar or writing lyrics, you could compose a song for your friend and record it. If you’re not up for writing your own, you could try sending each other song recommendations, or making a playlist for them, meaning you can share music together, no matter the physical distance between you.
Most of us are familiar with services that let us send a bouquet of flowers. But a cheaper and craftier version would be to pick flowers ourselves (being sure to act responsibly and never pick rare flowers in the wild) and press them, for our friends to keep. There are plenty of guides available for how to do this effectively, often using simple tools like paper and an old book. If you’ve been lucky enough to be given fresh flowers by someone, pressing is a great way of preserving them.
I’ve always collected postcards on my holidays. But you don’t need to have travelled far to have an excuse to send one. Whether it’s a postcard featuring a print of your favourite painting you picked up from an art gallery, or an image of a beautiful landscape from a gift shop in town, there are plenty of options. When my friend was living abroad, I loved getting a postcard from her with interesting artwork and a short update.
I have a few friends who are gifted artists and who have sketched me beautiful pictures as presents. Knowing they spent so much time and effort creating something they knew I’d love makes their artwork extra special to me, and takes pride of place on my wall. If you’re a pro with a paintbrush, consider making something for a friend. And even if you’re an artistic novice, it’s the thought that counts – you could do a funny sketch or caricature instead.
Cooking and baking can help us relax, and many of us love sharing food with others. But when you can’t have your loved ones round to eat, perhaps you could try doing the next best thing: share recipes. If you’re a keen cook, put together a booklet of recipes to give to friends, or send your favourites electronically. You could even host a virtual bake-off, and cook along together. Take photos, too – lots of us love looking at delicious food for inspiration.