Two years ago, my mom, Sandy, and my daughter, Erin, each said that the present I put together for their birthday was the best gift they had ever received.
If you’re searching for that perfect gift for a loved one, I hope you give this a shot. It’s the ideal present for birthdays, holidays or just because.
What is it? An Appreciation Album filled with letters from friends and loved ones telling the recipient how much he or she means to them.
Start by making a list of everyone who the recipient is or has been close to. Reach far back into the past and cast a wide net in the present. For both my mom and my daughter, I was able to collect around 50 letters.
E-mail a letter (use snail mail if you must) to each friend or relative asking them to write a letter. (You’ll find a template of a letter that you can send out at the end of this post.) Start at least two months in advance because there will always be a certain percentage of people who procrastinate. After the first month has gone by, check in with the stragglers once a week or so to urge them to get their letter done now rather than later.
Ask people to handwrite the letter or at least sign a typewritten letter by hand to ensure a personal touch. DO NOT allow someone to e-mail their letter to you—way too impersonal. Nothing says, I’m only doing this because I have to like a cold, sterile e-mail printout.
As the letters start coming in, place each letter on its own album page. If you’re artistically inclined, decorate the album pages as you see fit with graphics and photos of special significance. I have great organizational skills but no taste whatsoever artistically, so I turned over all of Erin’s letters to her mom, Kate. Kate hunted down special stickers relating to Erin’s hobbies and interests as well as colored, textured papers to give the album a more professional look. Kate also took the photo of my mom shown here.
Present the album to the recipient with lots of family and friends around. Both my mom and Erin wiped away tears of laughter as they relived favorite stories and brushed away tears of heartfelt sentiment as they came across letters from long-lost dear friends.
My mom and my daughter have mentioned more than once how much their Appreciation Album means to them and how they have returned to it every so often to savor the love and affection from the people they cherish the most.
You’ll enjoy putting this album together almost as much as the recipient will enjoy receiving it. Good luck!
TEMPLATE OF LETTER FOR YOU TO SEND OUT
I’m putting together a surprise for my mom for her 75th birthday on September 30 and would very much like for you to be a part of it.
First of all, let me emphasize that THIS IS A SURPRISE for her so please DO NOT breathe a word of it to her.
I’m asking people who are important to my mom to write a letter to her expressing how they feel about having her in their life. I will then assemble all the letters in an album and present it to her on her birthday.
Why am I doing this? Telling someone that you appreciate them and are grateful to have them in your life is perhaps the best gift you can give to someone. My mom will be deeply touched and will treasure this album for the rest of her life.
Here are the details:
CONTENT: Just write what you feel. Here are some idea starters. You can use all of them, some of them or come up with your own ideas entirely.
• Tell her why you’re glad she’s in your life
• Tell her what impresses you about her
• Comment on a particular element of her character
• Comment on a particular talent she has
• Perhaps share a story or two that speaks to your relationship
If you’re not big on writing, then just a few paragraphs will do. Please write something, because your absence from this album would be a glaring omission.
If you have any photos of my mom and you, that would be a bonus. Also, a photo of just you would be welcome, too, so we can decorate your page with it.
Please date the letter September 30, her birthday.
LENGTH: Anywhere from a few paragraphs to a few pages. IMPORTANT: DO NOT write on both sides of a piece of paper. Use a fresh piece of paper for every new page you write because your letter will be placed in an album with only one side showing.
DEADLINE: Right away. Her birthday will be upon us before we know it and I need time to collect all the letters and assemble the album.
WHEN YOU’RE DONE: Please mail your letter to me at the address below. Do not e-mail it. A personal signature is so much better than a typed one.
Thank you so much for doing this. I know your letter will mean a great deal to my mom.
Your Phone Number
Your E-mail Address
P.S. Three important things to remember:
• This is top-secret
• Only write on one side of a piece of paper
• Do NOT e-mail me your letter
RELATED POSTS ON WRITING NOTES AND LETTERS TO LOVED ONES
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.
Tags: appreciation album, best gift ever, birthday gift, birthday present, cherish, cherished friends, family, family stories, friends, ideal gift, ideal present, letters, love, loved ones, perfect gift, perfect present, surprise, tears of joy