The Little Things We Do…

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Question for you: What are your favorite “little things” to do for the ones you love?

I think we all have certain “little things” that we do for others.  Some are conscious efforts – like cooking a special meal or treating a friend to lunch, and some are almost second-nature… like making sure the fridge is stocked with your SO’s favorite drinks, or relinquishing some of the blankets (without being asked) when you wake up at 2 a.m. and realize you’ve unconsciously stolen them all.

Personally, I’ve always loved the element of surprise, so the “little things”  that I like to do have always been somehow intertwined with surprises. However, as I was thinking about this today, I also realized something that seems unfortunate: I was way more creative – and frequent – with these “little things” back in high school and college than I am today! Sure, I’ve hosted my fair share of “big things” like baby showers and bachelorette parties over the past decade… but the last time I sent a simple “hello!” or “love you” card out of the blue? I’m drawing a blank. Shoot.


Back in the day, I used to send little care packages or leave “surprise cards” for different friends on a regular basis – usually placed somewhere unexpected like a car windshield or doorstep. And of course the cards were always delivered in colorfully decorated envelopes and usually accompanied by something fun like gerbera daisies, candy, or a certain CD or lip gloss the recipient had been eyeing. These days, the closest I’ve gotten to surprising friends with “just because” treats is sending virtual Easter Peeps or throwing a sheep at them on Facebook. (If you’re not a Facebook user that probably sounds ridiculous, but trust me –  in that world it makes perfect sense!)

My “excuse” for slacking is that there are so many more stressors that post-college life brings… bills, deadlines, household chores, meetings, taxes, endless emails to return, and a to-do list that seems to keep getting longer. Sometimes just the everyday responsibilities are enough to suck the creative juice dry!

But on the flip side of things, I found myself feeling creative & happy today just remembering how good it feels when you know that you’ve made someone else happy… even if it’s just a small gesture like surprising them with their favorite dessert, showing up at the movie theater with their favorite candy already in hand, or posting a nice comment on their blog just so they know that someone is actually reading…

With everything that’s going on in the world today, it seems like now might be a better time than ever to start paying attention to the “little things” and spreading some more joy around.

So to get the conversation going, I’d love to hear about YOUR favorite “little things” to do for the ones you love… or about specific gestures that someone did for you – or vice versa – that really stand out in your mind. You might inspire someone else to do the same… and maybe tomorrow there will be a few more handwritten notes being opened and a few more tangible pieces of candy being enjoyed. (That digital stuff doesn’t have much flavor, anyways!)

{Pictured above: various greeting card designs from Hallmark}

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POSTED BY:jenn s.JENNIFER SBRANTI is the Founder and Creative Director of Hostess with the Mostess®, a hip and modern party planning resource.

30 responses to “The Little Things We Do…”

  1. Princess says:

    I leave surprises on my roomie’s bed. Our schedules are really different and I’m usually in bed when she gets home and leave before she wakes up. I’ve left her everything from candy to a necklace in her style that was on sale and a break-up book after she and her boyfriend split.

    I’ve also gotten into the habit on leaving nice notes on random people’s windshields. I like imagining them finding a happy note from a stranger. I know it would make me smile. :-)

  2. ljcadv says:

    i havent done this in a long time, but before my Husband and I were married we had a long distance relationship. We talked on the phone every day but I would send him little cards in the mail. I think I got mre out og it then he did, but it was still nice to do, and he may secretly have liked them..

  3. I love to go and stock up on cute little “Thinking of You” greeting cards in the $1 card section at Target. I have a whole folder and try and send one to my grandma’s or great grandma every other week.

    Another thing I like to do is print off cute blog posts I find and mail them to my grandma. She isn’t the best with computers and so taking the time to print them helps her out.

  4. mom says:

    1.05 am? you need to sleep sometime!!!

  5. aleta says:

    Jenn, what a sweet little reminder! I never show up at someone’s home without something totally delicious and homemade…in fact, I think it’s become expected of me! But I like holding that role in our circles of friends.

    I also try to give to my favourite people unique little gifts I find/make throughout the year, so if I forget someone’s birthday or run out of money around Christmas, I know I already let them know I think they’re special. And anyway, off-season gift giving is always way more exciting and memorable anyway. =)

  6. emily says:

    I like to give little gifts to my friends at the beginning of each season. Just something small…target usually has great $1 items that are great for this. Sometimes it’s a candle with the scent of the season, or just a cute little post it note. nothing fancy, but just a way to say, “Happy Spring! I’m glad you’re my friend!”

  7. Mrs. Priss says:

    This was a fabulous post!

    I love leaving nice little notes on random people’s windshields too… I keep a stash of blank cards in my car’s center console for that purpose. :)

    Snail mail is also highly underrated. I LOVE getting a handwritten card or gift in the mail. I just need to remember to send them out more often…

  8. Bree Johnson says:

    What a great post! Sometimes I’ll send my top ten reasons I love you-who dosnt like getting compliments? Sometimes anonymously I’ll leave the cards- even better..One time A friend of mine left 6 coconut cupcakes on my doorstep because my kids had the flu all week. I cried it made me so happy.I always carry a stack of cards in my car just in case I need one at a random moment. Theres nothing like old fashioned mail.

  9. JAN says:

    Thanks for the reminder… I needed that!

    My favorite way to surprise people is by giving fresh flowers with a short, but sweet ‘just because’ note. You can go to almost any florist and get something for under $5 (just a stem or two wrapped nicely in cellophane), and even though it is not big or fancy, it is always a pleasant surprise to whoever gets it!

  10. I like to bring baked goods wherever I go. I rarely turn up at a friend’s or family members’ house without some tasty treats. I’d say they go a long way!

  11. Emily F says:

    At least once a week I make sure I make something my husband REALLY likes to eat for dinner. In general, I’m doing the cooking so I want to like it, and our tastes are sort of different. But he always really appreciates it and it makes me feel good. I also like to send notes in the mail, just to say hi. I love getting real mail, and my friends do too.

  12. Emily Ley says:

    My favorite thing to do for someone is write them a short handwritten note – even if its something short and sweet like “Thinking of You” or “Have a good day!” I do this for my husband a lot when I head off to work a few minutes before him in the mornings. It conveys the fact that I took a few minutes to find something pretty to write on, jotted down a sweet thought, and placed it just for him to see.

    When I dont have time for that – I send a quick text message to let someone know I’m thinking of them. Even though it’s somewhat impersonal it conveys the same sweet gestures as I mentioned above.

  13. Chic Runner says:

    I love giving cards for anything. Writing a thank you card is also very important to me. :) People always appreciate it.

  14. jenn s. says:

    It makes me so happy to see all these comments! Thanks, everyone!

    Mom – 5:32am?? YOU need to sleep in longer! ;)

  15. Well… I’m painting tiny portraits of everyone in my family to hang in the dining room. It’s so much more special, I think to paint my children at this specific moment in time than to just take snapshots. All of the portraits are embelleished with items and feelings specific to the person, so I think they will always be meaningful to them! :)

  16. Nicole says:

    I still like to do little things for my husband…and he does in return. Whether it’s a card or a new CD, we enjoy surprising each other with little things and watching the reaction. At work, I enjoy surprising my co-workers from time to time with their favorite coffee or drink. I know how much that specialty coffee can help get you through the day!

  17. Julia says:

    Great Post Jenn! When my husband (boyfriend at the time) went to bootcamp after college, I mailed him a long letter everyday, so he would have something in his mailbox everyday to get him through the hard weeks. I would often decorate the envelope with stickers and photos to make it fun.

  18. Jennifer says:

    Sometimes I will leave a note for my husband in the shower…you can put it in a ziploc and then it will stick to the shower wall.

    He also travels for work so every so often I’ll leave notes in random places in his suitcase…tucked in a shoe, in toiletry bag, etc.

  19. Mirielle says:

    When my hubby is taking a shower I sometimes put towels in the dryer so when he gets out they are nice and warm for him :o)

  20. Trips to Pelicans (! I mean, it was the favorite little ones who first introduced ME to Pelicans when I was the superstar afternoon nanny :-)

  21. As an anniversary gift, I gave my husband a year of love notes. Every day, I give him a note that tells him a reason that I love it. It is a simple gesture that keeps him excited and reminds me to appreciate all of the little things everyday.

    I am a big fan of a handwritten note in the mail too- makes my day! I need to send them to friends more often.

  22. Amber says:

    When my children were in school I always, always made their lunch. Most moms send notes, but I used to send really cute holiday napkins for the week and all month for Christmas. When my son remembered it as a teenager with a smile I knew it had meant something.

  23. Taylor says:

    Great post! It’s fun to see everyone’s ideas…I will definitely be stealing some of them! When I was in college every so often I would make my roommates beds for them and leave them a note wishing them a great day. They really appreciated this!

  24. Katrina says:

    I love this part about how you did this more often in high school & in college, this is the same for me! Lat time I remember doing something like this is in college. I was talking with a friend about sherbet ice cream on the phone, 15 min. later I was popping up at her door with a gallon of it!
    Lately, for my husbands birthday, I had everyone that we know *around the world* send something little to him that represented their culture… we got a ski-haat from Norway, a few coins from japan, a trivet from London, & a chocolate bar from Croatia. This require doing little things on everyone elses part!

  25. Sandra @ Ribbons and Favors says:

    Ahh-ha, being in the business of the wrappings of little things, it is so very refreshing to hear that people still want to, and try to remember special times and special people with LITTLE THINGS. I really liked Aleta’s comment …”off -season gift giving is the best and most exciting”
    I totally agree.

  26. Pansy says:

    I can especially appreciate all of the comments about how it just seems that people do not have time to devote to thinking of others even in the little ways. This is why ThePlaidPansy was launched, a service that provides “little gifts and handwritten notes” delivered right to the recipient’s mailbox. Just think creative, stylish unique little gifts in the midst of all those bills and junk mail; this is the ultimate in the element of surprise! Thanks for the affirmations of what is still a human need.

  27. What a great message! I am a HUGE fan of sending hand written notes to friends and loved ones in the mail. It’s always exciting to see the familiar hand writing on an envelope when you check your mail.

    My new years resolution for 2009 was to stay better connected to all my friends, so a week before all holidays (from Valentines to Christmas – and all in between) I pull out my address book and write a quick note to all my friends. It only takes a little time and is so much fun to spend a few minutes thinking about each and every person that I love.

  28. Melissa says:

    What a great post! I wish I did more “little things” for my family and friends. Sometimes I’ll surprise my daughter with a piece of candy in her lunch box. If I’m sewing something, I’ll make an extra item for a friend – like drink/tea cozies or fabric grocery bags.

    Now this makes me think of more things I need to do!

  29. […] few more hours (even if they are just perceived hours). I read a wonderful blog the other day from Hostess with the Mostess about getting back to doing the “little things” for family and friends. I don’t […]

  30. Melissa M. says:

    When I was 14, I used to work at a Hallmark, so my friends and family were bombarded with greetings on a weekly basis. Then the same thing happened to me. The older I got, the busier and more stressed out I got, and the little gestures of kindness faded.

    But last summer I decided I needed to bring back those habits. That’s when I started my blog (Operation NICE), which really is a daily encouragement for me to be a kinder person. For example, my “assignment” for the week is to leave anonymous Easter treats for people (my coworkers, my neighbors, my postal worker.) And I’m also trying to do those little things for my husband that I used to do when we started dating. When I went away for a few days last month, I hid love notes around the house and texted him each the morning with the location of one note. I’m still working on it, but I think being mindful of it all really helps!