What Makes A Gift Special?

What makes a special gift?

What’s the most special gift you’ve ever received?

This holiday season 2021, I’ve started asking people this question. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Christmas topped the list.

As I listened to their gift stories, I noticed a common thread as to what makes a special present.

l.  There is an element of surprise or the unexpected.

2.  The gift showed thoughtfulness or effort.

3.  The gift said: “I know what you like. I get you!

What did not matter was the expense of the gift, even if the gift did cost a lot.

Handmade or experiential gifts were frequently mentioned. A love poem. A trip to the Grand Canyon.

Childhood gifts were often a long-coveted item. A chemistry set. A locket. A Cabbage Patch Doll.

Here’s the story of my favorite childhood gift. 

Growing up, my brothers and I received a small present or gelt (coins) on each night of Chanukah. My parents saved the best for last. The year I was eight, I unwrapped my 8th night gift to find a great surprise. A ballerina music box. A tiny dancer inside a glass dome with a white and gold skirt. She spun around to a waltz from the Broadway show, Carousel, the same song I had danced to in my first ballet recital.

This alone would have delighted me. What made the gift most special, though, is the back story.

A few months prior, while on a family trip, I spotted this Swiss-made music box in a fancy gift shop. I begged my mother to buy it.

“It’s lovely,” she said, “but much too expensive. I’m sorry, sweetheart.” 

I remember the feeling of longing and sadness. So unfair! I believed this one-of-a-kind music box was meant to be mine. Now it would go to some other girl who loved ballet.

Weeks passed and the pretty music box was soon forgotten.

That is, until it magically appeared in my hands the last night of Chanukah. 

Surprise. Thoughtfulness. Effort. I get you! 

This cherished gift had all these elements. It’s no wonder that I’ve continued to love music boxes all these years.

When they were young, my children liked to hear this story every Chanukah (with Mom’s dramatic effects, of course.)

I shared the music box with each daughter when she began ballet lessons.

I’ve tried to emulate this gift-giving style for my children. In turn, I’ve seen them do the same with family and friends. They enjoy hunting for that perfect gift that says, “I get you”.

One Chanukah, my then thirteen year-old daughter surprised me with a copy of a rare, out-of-print book I had so loved as little girl.

And this Chanukah, my son surprised his younger sister with an inscribed Harry Potter music box.

I get you!

What was your favorite gift?

Sending you readers the gift of words.

Happy Holidays!

Author: EvelynKrieger

I'm a people watcher and word crafter, author of fiction and essays. I also blog on living the creative life during hard times. When not writing, I work as a private educational consultant. Special interests: dance, the moon, astronauts, beaches, poetry, staying alive.

15 thoughts on “What Makes A Gift Special?”

  1. Thank you for all the wonderful gifts, Evelyn! 🙂

    My favorite gifts are the ones that surprise me and are sentimental.

    My mom sends the same type of gifts from Swiss Colony every year, but it’s a different variation each year. Her traditional gifts mean the world to me!

    When I gift others, I try to be thoughtful about who they are and/or what they need. I don’t have much energy or money to always give the gifts I’d like, but I do try to put some effort and thought into it.


    1. You’re welcome! Giving, whether your listening ear, time, or a wrapped package, is good for the soul. I’ve never heard of Swiss Colony but specialty food packages can be a great gift. I just received a box of delicious pears from Harry & David. Another favorite gift: an original musical composition from my grandfather. A glass Coke bottle filled with sand from Cape Cod. Thank you for your thoughtful gift but mostly for the gift of friendship.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Evelyn! I, too, cherish the gift of friendship. That’s the best gift I could ever receive, and there need not be a declared holiday for that. Giving both gives to the recipient and the giver. There’s something about feeling happy when attempting to help others feel happiness as well – whether it be through friendship or gifts.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this post! Mine was my first brand new bike at age 10. Up to that point I always got my older brothers bike. As we unwrapped presents that morning I kept opening the biggest presents down the the smallest like most young boys do. I was starting to feel a bit disappointed when it came down to my last presents wrapped in a small box. I opened it and inside was a note the read, “Go look in the garage”. I rushed out, opened the garage door, and there was my very own brand new black and red huffy bike. Best present ever! ..thanks for bringing back that memory 😊 🎁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing this memory. The element of unexpected and surprise really adds to the gift’s meaning, doesn’t it? While writing this post, other special gifts came to mind that I received over the years–including a red Schwinn bike!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing!.. “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” (Mother Teresa)…. 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with peace and love and until we meet again…
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely thoughts. I especially relate to the delight when a gift shows the giver really “gets me”–that they were paying attention and put themselves in my shoes, sucessfully!

    Liked by 1 person

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