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The No-Fail Gift You Can Literally Give To Anyone And They Are Guaranteed To Love It. No, SERIOUSLY.

I know you probably think I’m going to say something like “a hug” or “tell them that you love them” and yeah, sure, but this is an actual GIFT, too!!!! Three years ago our emotional mascot at EHD, Jess, (she’s so thoughtful) had a great idea for a gift that I coopted and it has become a tradition not only at EHD but something I employ frequently. It’s what we call the compliment vase (or box). No one in the history of time has not liked this gift. Guaranteed.

Here’s how you do it. You buy a cute vase, bowl, or box (because most people like those ANYWAY) and then you type out and print a bunch of compliments (you can also hand write obviously). At work, we would do 3-4 per person for everyone’s birthday. Then you print them out and cut them individually like the fortunes in fortune cookies. You fold them and shove them in the jar. The compliments can be silly (you pull off crop tops better than anyone I know) or serious.

a really good day celebrating ryann and veronica

Before Covid, we would all go to a happy hour and the birthday person would read the compliments out loud and try to guess who it was from. You may have seen this on stories–we laugh and cry and that person walks away feeling more special than they ever have (at least that was my experience). Now you don’t have to read them out loud, it can just be a gift you send and they read it privately, but as I was writing this I think that we are going to do it for Christmas–even with the kids. You can go around in a circle and have each person open their vase and read the compliments and you are GUARANTEED to feel good. And if you know anyone that is celebrating solo this would be an AMAZING gift to make them feel loved.

I don’t know why it’s more special than a card, but it is. I think it’s the act of opening each one and reading it out loud, and listing compliments is actually easier than writing a meaningful card.

This was from my team this year on my birthday, which they snuck into my house (in LA since I was coming to visit) and left it for me. Especially in such a dark year, waking up on my birthday and reading what my team likes about me made me feel seriously incredible. So touched. It was so special and it honestly improved my self-confidence knowing that despite being apart and not being able to have fun together they still really like me. (The feeling is very mutual).

You also don’t have to put it in a cute box or vase, you could put them in a card or even a bowl or mug you have in your kitchen. But I personally think that it makes it even more special to give them a place to store them, that also acts as a nice piece of decor. Your dad who is so hard to shop for still likes compliments. Your co-worker likes compliments. Your neighbors like compliments. EVERYONE likes to be told what people genuinely like about them. They’ll think they are just getting a cute lidded box, and then as they open it they’ll be so surprised and touched by the nice things you’ll say about them.

Arlyn even framed hers and put it in her gallery wall – an idea I meant to steal.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: arlyn’s moody dining room reveal is all about the insane power of paint

So if you are into this idea we figured we’d give you some ideas of boxes or vases that we love. You don’t need to spend a lot, obviously. The gesture is what’s inside. 🙂

1. Varia Sculptural Vase | 2. Holland Vases | 3. Lidded Wood Vessel | 4. Chope Mug | 5. Bella Box | 6. Blakely Pot | 7. Glass Jar w/ Mango Wood & Marble Lid | 8. Black Marble Footed Bowl | 9. Vintage Wood Lidded Vessel | 10. Mini Barro Pot II | 11. Kaya Solid Ceramic Cups by Justina Blakeney® | 12. Clear Glass Box | 13. Roma Vase | 14. Casafina Fattoria Kitchen Canisters | 15. Round Wooden Planter Black

If you have any other ideas like this please share in the comments. And thanks Jess for letting me tell the world about your fantastic idea. 🙂

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: How Sara Created Her First Traditional But Youthful Christmas (With All Target)

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Mariana
3 years ago

This is genious, thank you!

3 years ago
Reply to  Mariana

I think it’s a great idea and good for the giver (bring to light all the good things you appreciate about someone) and the receiver (helps them see how they project all the goods things they do)

Susanna
3 years ago

Maybe it is just the nature of year-end posts, but the past few weeks I’ve found the content long-winded and less interesting. Or perhaps this is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” but I know I find the site less of a “must visit” than I did previously.

LouAnn
3 years ago
Reply to  Susanna

This comment is like being invited to dinner and complaining about the free food you’re served.

Rusty
3 years ago
Reply to  Susanna

Ya know, for me it’s the exact opposite.
E.g. Jess’s post about being alone at Christmas, Emily’s canoe epiphany, and others are THE stuff of life!
They are the thing that has changed this blog from “just” a pretty picture design blog, into a true community.
I say more real stuff, with sprinkles.
*shouting now*:
IT’S EVOLVED INTO THE PERFECT SMORGASBORD!!!

Jane
3 years ago
Reply to  Susanna

I find it’s only relevant to those of us who’ve got enough money to have disposable income on presents.
My partner and I have made no income because the Government’s C-19 restrictions so Christmas is not some thing that feels relevant to me. I certainly don’t feel jolly or Christmassy!

Robin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Christmas is about more than gifts!
Celebrate our Savior- celebrate what you do have, celebrate your family and loved ones.

Tarynkay
3 years ago
Reply to  Jane

That is actually one thing that I really liked about this post. Normally these gift idea posts are about more things to buy or craft supplies to buy to make more things.

They are suggesting a gift that could be almost free. Just sit down and tell the people you love and appreciate sincerely how and why you love them. You don’t need the decorative vase or box. An envelope is just fine.

I get that you don’t feel Christmassy. It’s been a hard year, and it’s been extra hard for you. This might help with that, though.

Ash
3 years ago
Reply to  Susanna

Ew. Why even post this comment… if you don’t like it, just go away… this isn’t constructive feedback, it’s just pure critical.

Catherine
3 years ago

I’ve done this a few times for friends and family, and my daughter did it for me. It will make YOU and the recipient feel SO GOOD. And they get to re-read their compliments anytime, which is great for a pick-me-up when you’re having a bad day. Awesome gift!!

Karen
3 years ago

This is fun! It’s so important to SAY and share the good stuff . Love it. Not the same thing, but an idea about writing down stuff (sentimental for us mamas) is in my daughter’s 1st grade class a few years ago, for their Christmas craft project, they used a clear plastic ball ornament that opens up (halves), and they wrote little notes on strips of paper about themselves – like, “My favorite animal is a golden retriever” that are all bunched up inside (red and green paper, so the whole thing looks Christmas-y). At Christmastime, when we’re decorating the tree, we have fun opening it up and reading about our precious Maggie of 2017.

b
3 years ago

Eh, might be a fun gift from friends. But I’d rather stay far, far away from hearing compliments that my boss forced my coworkers to give to me as some kind of team-building birthday gift. Awkward.

Rusty
3 years ago
Reply to  b

I think it has to be people who either know each other really, really well (beyond small talk) or takes extraordinary vulnerability and trust.
In a snarky workplace it’d never go down.
Mind you, even in snarky workplaces, Secret Santa can still catch a tiny smile on the harshest Grinch’s face!
Hehehe…

3 years ago
Reply to  b

Just hopping in to say that this was something we all looked so forward to doing for everyone. This wasn’t an “awkward” thing we were “forced” to do. I can see how at some workplaces it’d be weird ha but the genuine love and care for one another is the real deal at EHD. Besides, I think the point here goes well beyond a work gift. It’s such a delightful thing to give to someone you really care about! Imagine giving a jar full to a parent from all their kids! It would be magic!

Marian Schembari
3 years ago
Reply to  Arlyn

What Arlyn said! I read this post and immediately emailed all my brothers and we’re hustling to get it together for our mom’s birthday next week. Thanks for the PERFECT, feel-good gift idea.

Liz
3 years ago

Such a great idea!!

Charlotte
3 years ago

While the uk and us might have many things in common I can’t imagine this going well on my side of the pond here in England. We would just ruin it with sarcasm or be excruciatingly uncomfortable with the nice comments.

Rusty
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlotte

Mmmm, such is British humour, eh?
Like “The Two Ronnies”?

Sona
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlotte

Charlotte,
That’s so interesting to read. I never thought how it might go over differently in another country, even one that is similar in culture to the US. Thanks for sharing that tidbit!

Rusty
3 years ago

This is gold! Thanks Jess and Emily! HAPPY TRIGGER: When I was a teacher, my all-time favorite class were in Year 10 (@ 15/16 yrs old) and they were THE best class, ever! EVER!!! I’d very luckily been timetabled as their (80% the same kids) English teacher for the 3rd year in a row! SO lucky! So, we knew each other well. On the first day of the first semester, I made them an offer that if they worked hard and completed the curriculum by x date, we’d do something special, BUT they had to commit to giving up their lunch time after the double period class, just in case we needed more time, because I wouldn’t do it if we didn’t finish it. It had to be a unanimous vote. I had immediate, 100% commitment. They reminded me regularly. I reset their commitment. X date arrived. I’d checked their commitment the day before and reminded them about the lunch time thing. Then, we all moved the furniture out of the way and sat on the floor in a circle. Each one of us had to phrase a constructive comment for one person until the whole circle was completed. *… Read more »

Gabriele
3 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

Rusty,
THIS is why I look forward to your comments… being a teacher myself I can SO relate… “They lit up like Christmas trees…” Then you know why you’ve become a teacher in the first place, right?

Rusty
3 years ago
Reply to  Gabriele

Oh, thank you, Gabriel! ❤ xx
YESSSSSS!!!!
I loved, loved, loved teaching and planned to go ‘back’ to teaching one day, but then I got sick.
Thinking of tutoring one-on-one next year.

Kelly
3 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

Rusty – You sound like an amazing teacher! My son’s elementary school class does something like this for birthdays. As part of their birthday recognition, the kids all sit in a circle and provide a compliment for the birthday child. We were invited to join for my son’s birthday. The comments were so specific and so thoughtful, it left me in tears. I loved getting to know my child from a different point of view. What a wonderful gift for the birthday child and for all the people these children will interact with through their lives as they have been taught how to give and receive compliments. The students in your class were similarly blessed.

Malia
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

What did they do for the summer birthday kids?

Martha
3 years ago
Reply to  Malia

Half birthdays, or a chosen date right before break. I have two summer bday kids, and they were similarly acknowledged in their lower-school classrooms.

John
3 years ago

Where have all the comments gone?
There’s been barely any recently :/

Rhonda
3 years ago

This is a great idea!! Thank you!!

It’s almost too late this year but in the past a really special gift is the 12 days of Christmas. The person gets to select a gift every day to open. You can label one #12 so they know to open it last if you want. It can be a mystery or made known at time of delivery. The gifts can range all from very inexpensive, homemade, and even just lottery tickets.

Natalie
3 years ago

Love this idea! I’m going to make it for my husband, who has been a little down lately. He loves giving and receiving handwritten cards, so this is pretty much perfect for him. Thank you! Y’all are the best. ❤️

megan
3 years ago

I’m not trying to be a downer and I understand the kind spirit of this idea, but this would be an awful experience for me. Just receiving it and reading them in private would make me uncomfortable. Being told to read them out loud would be the worst “gift” I could imagine (within reason). I realize that I’m probably the odd one out here, but I thought it was worth adding a different perspective. I do think it’s a sweet thing to do at home with your children.

Heather
3 years ago
Reply to  megan

I agree?

Lill
3 years ago
Reply to  megan

This idea is apparently heaven for extroverts. Hell for an introvert like me. So…. cute for the right person, but count me out please.

Roberta Davis
3 years ago

This is a great idea! Especially this year, when we can’t be with the ones we care about!

Meredith
3 years ago

Years ago, I was going through a rough patch and my two best friends, each living hundreds of miles from me, mailed me surprise envelopes full of compliments just like this. I opened some, but they made me feel so loved and I got through my rough patch, so I saved the unopened envelopes for later. Whenever I was feeling down, I could open a new envelope. If you know anyone struggling, I HIGHLY recommend this! It was incredible.

Suzanne
3 years ago

I was planning on weaving small bowels for friends this year. Now I’m going to add compliments, too! Thank you for the wonderful idea!

Another low cost vessel could be an origami box. I used to make them for small gifts. Magazine pages and gifts wrap scraps make great origami paper. You just need to cut perfect squares.

Suzanne
3 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Here’s one origami box that looks pretty easy to make. Fun for kids, too!
https://origami.me/box/

3 years ago

That little pearl and gold box is amazing!

Catherine
3 years ago

My son did something similar to this for his girlfriend’s significant birthday. He typed out wishes on cardstock and cut each one out. He made sure he had the same number of wishes for her as her age. Some were a bit silly and others were very significant. He decorated an old jar by using etching solution and put some bits and bobs inside the bottle to dress it up.

She loved the effort he put into a rather simple gift.

Abby
3 years ago

This is such a cute idea! I would love to make this a family tradition, it would be great to have the kids learn the value of giving compliments, AND how to receive them gracefully and with confidence, something that is often harder for women and girls as we are taught to be self-deprecating and reduce ourselves to make others feel better.

With that,I’d like to give a compliment to the EHD team for the variety of content you have been churning out for us! I really appreciate how there is something for everyone, a mix of design posts, product roundups,gift guides and some of the deeper ideas as well. I also appreciate how you have been walking the talk with respect to widening the variety of regular contributors to include more POC, and featuring products from Black-owned companies. In sum, I’m grateful for your work, for which I don’t pay a cent and get to enjoy every day 🙂

Rusty
3 years ago
Reply to  Abby

YESSSS!!!
Emily, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… you and your team are walking the talk, creatinga smorgasbord of content for everyone and,,personally, helping me get through the most difficult period of my life! REALLY!
Love n hugz,
Rusty x❤x

Jordan G
3 years ago

This is such a sweet idea and something that we can all tweak and translate to fit our needs. If the person would be too shy to read them in person, send them via snail mail because snail mail is amazing! If the person is super sarcastic, maybe have everyone do a funny roast comment instead? I still think the concept is fun and attainable. I think this would be such a great gift to organize for a teacher or coach, especially. Having all the students or players write some kind things would make any educator melt, and that seems like just the thing they might need during the year they’ve had.

kaycers
3 years ago

I did this for my mom’s 60th birthday, and I wrote 60 things. But I also included sweet memories with her. For the woman who has everything, this meant so much to her. I put it in a cool box, and she still calls it her treasure chest 12 years later.

I’m so glad you wrote this post, because shopping in COVID is no bueno, and connecting and encouraging are so huge right now. I’m going to do this again for a dear friend- thanks !

Sam
3 years ago

Love this idea! Definitely using it:)

Eve
3 years ago

I LOVE this idea-def stealing! 😉

Lisa
3 years ago

I think this is such a lovely idea – and I think it says so many lovely things about you as a team that this is something that you like to do together, you sound like such a wonderful and thoughfull bunch of people! I have been in a couple of long term projects (theater, voluntary service) where we would do versions of this at the end of the project and I still have every scrap of paper from these exercises and treasure them greatly – can absolutely recommend this!! I also wanted to echo the compliments below to say that I have really loved the posts you’ve been making recently – I have looooved the varieties of beautiful design, enjoyed the thoughtful and personal gift ideas and was really touched by your personal thoughts you all put out there. I have read your blog for years and I truly do read it every day and it has been such a lovely companion especially right now in these strange and uncertain times. I appreciate so much how you have made this blog a place of vulnerability and sharing now more than ever – thank you so very much!!

Rusty
3 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Yes!!!

JO
3 years ago

Love this idea. It’s so much in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season. We’ve do a variation for birthdays – where we go around and share appreciations for the person celebrating his/her birthday. It’s really sweet. Last year, we did it for our holiday work party – we didn’t do individuals appreciations for work but more general things about the group. This last year when we did a lot of zoom celebrations, I did (fill in age) things I love about you for each of my nieces who turned 9 years, 10 years, 11 years and 13 years. They absolutely loved it. I thought about doing it for my brother when he turned 50 but quickly decided not to.

Gina
3 years ago

I’ve made various iterations of this idea, usually in book form. I love the idea of gifting it in a beautiful jar or box that can be either displayed or used for another purpose too though! I hadn’t thought of that. One particularly hard year, I made my mom a Soul Book. It’s one part scrapbooking/collage making mixed with one part compliment jar. It has lots of lovely reminders about who the recipient really is in their soul in the form of a beautiful handmade book of art. I can’t take credit for the idea…I believe Melody Ross trademarked it. But it is one of the most special and heartfelt gifts to give and receive.

Nora
3 years ago

Thank you for this post – it’s a great idea and one that I think most would really enjoy (especially if they can read them in private and it can be anonymous). Also nice that it’s non-consumerist. I was a bit surprised by some of the grouchy responses – for what it’s worth, I’ve actually run into a version of this idea – optional and sometimes-anonymous ‘compliment bags’ that everyone then takes home – at a few meetings/conferences (outside of the U.S.), and it’s usually a hit. And I think we also did this in elementary school one year? Every time, I’ve kept the bag/box/list….not to read regularly or anything, but it’s a nice thing just to have and to recall, especially on ‘2020’-esque days 🙂 Super late comment, but I just wanted to add this take and bit of appreciation.