Friday, September 19, 2008

Ten Ways to Make Someone Smile

There’s nothing better than knowing you’ve made someone happy – especially if you can do so in some simple, thoughtful way. Here’s ten easy ways to make someone smile today: I guarantee you’ll be smiling too!

I’ll start with the most straightforward and work up to ideas which need a little bit more planning.

1. Write a note to say “thank you”

This is such a simple thing to do, but can mean so much. Write a note today to say “thank you” to someone who has helped you or done something for you. It could be to a parent, a child, a colleague, a friend, or even the helpful assistant in your local store.

Bonus points: Post or hand-deliver your note – don’t just send it by email.

2. Set a fun screensaver or desktop on their computer

If you’re in an office, why not switch a colleague’s screensaver for something fun while they’re away from their desk?

Or at home, sneak into your partner or parent’s office to set up a new desktop background for them. Make it something that you know will raise a laugh.

Bonus points: Find a screensaver or desktop picture from their favorite [1] TV show or movie.

3. Buy them their favorite candy

Even once we’re adults, candy can still make us smile. If someone’s a bit down, buy them their favorite candy – you could give it to them with your “thank you” note. It needn’t be anything expensive: a well chosen chocolate bar might be just the thing.

Bonus points: Find out their favorite candy from their childhood, and buy that. (I’m very fond of [2] Kinder Surprise…)

4. Send them an unexpected card

One step up from sending a thank you note is sending a card. A “congratulations” on a job well done or on a big life change (such as graduation) will always raise a smile. You might have to be a bit creative, but there’s always some special occasion to offer an excuse to send a card.

Bonus points: Hand-make the card. Don’t worry if you’re not great at craft; just keep the design simple – if possible, making it personal to the recipient.

5. Do their chores

There’s nothing nicer than coming home to find that someone else has cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed! Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in with the chores: this goes down especially well with partners and parents.

Bonus points: Do a chore which you know they hate – cleaning the oven, perhaps, or ironing.

6. Make their favorite breakfast

Breakfast is an often-neglected meal – yet there are so many tasty options. One morning, get up early and prepare breakfast for one of your family or housemates. This could be as simple as nipping out to the bakery for some really nice pastries.

Bonus points: Set the table and get everyone to eat together, or lay out a special tray for the breakfast person!

7. Wrap up a surprise present

Receiving birthday gifts is always fun – but it’s more of a surprise to get a present on an ordinary day. Buy a book, DVD, card game or other small gift that you know the recipient will love, and wrap it up for them.

Bonus points: Try making this into a game that you play on a regular basis, perhaps each surprising the other with a small gift once a month.

8. Make a mini photo album

Collect some photographs of friends and family, and put them into a mini photo album. You could either try making your own from card and ribbon, or use an online service such as [3] PhotoBox to upload photographs and get a mini album printed.

Bonus points: Dig out some old childhood photos (you might have to use a scanner if you’re making the album online).

9. Give them a day off

If you know someone with children, offer to take the kids off their hands for a day. It can be really hard for busy parents to get a break to rest and recharge – and if you pick some fun things to do, you’ll have a great day too! (Theme parks, kid-friendly museums, ice-cream shops and leisure centers are all good options.)

Bonus points: Combine this with theater tickets or another “activity” gift that the recipient can enjoy without the children around.

10. Put together a book of their achievements

This requires quite a bit of planning and preparing, but it could become a treasured gift. Get a nice scrapbook and fill it with photos, newspaper clippings, graduation programs and anything else you can find that relates to special moments and days in the recipient’s life.

Bonus points: This makes a great 21st birthday gift, with a page for each year from 1 to 21 (my mum made one for me which included things like my first postcard home from camp).

Hat tip and thank you: Written by Ali, a writer and website creator (

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