Earlier this week I talked about the phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted”. What can you do right now, where you are, with what you have, to make someone smile? Jennifer, with Thoughtful Gifting, takes the idea of random acts of kindness, and applies them to every day.
She uses her creative imagination, pulls inspiration from all over, and does everything that she possibly can to make the world a better place for everyone in it. Her Instagram feed is full of ideas for ways to let people know that you are thinking of them, to say Happy Birthday, or just to brighten someone’s day for no reason at all. She posts craft ideas, jokes, puns, and inspirational things that she sees around her in the world.
Her creations are made with what she has, or things that are simple to find. Anything from re-purposed return envelopes from junk mail (or bills you pay online), to old magazines that you’re finished reading, are used to create something fun. Or she picks up a little treat while she’s at the store, and leaves it with a fun note for someone.
One of my favorite ideas that she has is to create bookmarks out of coloring pages. Using one of the adult coloring books, she cuts the shape of a bookmark, punches a hole in the top, and puts a ribbon through it. Easy peasy. (You can also add a button to the top if you want to) Then the recipient can color the bookmark in and use it as well. Or, you could color it in, and send it on. It’s the perfect way to use those pages that we may not otherwise use.
Another idea that I really like is to make banners out of motivational sayings or pictures. You take an old greeting card, a picture from a magazine, or write your saying on paper, punch holes in each side, and run ribbon through it to make a banner. Then you can put it in an envelope and send it to someone. You could also hang it in your own house, wherever you’ll see it, for inspiration every day.
Let’s get to know Jennifer a little better:
1) What brought you to start Thoughtful Gifting?
I have always loved creating and gifting little things to friends and family. People would often say, “That is so thoughtful.” I attended a social media conference last year and decided to start sharing my ideas online with the hope that it would inspire others to do simple acts of kindness. It is my dream that people will find my ideas to be doable, practical and full of love. It doesn’t have to cost much to give from the heart.
2) Where do you get all of your different ideas?
I get ideas from all over the place. Of course, things like Instagram and Pinterest are big sources of inspiration, but I also like to go to gift shops, as well as card and paper shops to see new things. I’ll often see something, and it will spark an idea for me (usually to make it simpler). I am grateful to all the people that have sent me ideas and I’m constantly inspired by creative ideas online.
3) Have you always been crafty?
I have always loved crafts and finding easy ways to be creative with things that I already have.
4) Why do you choose to support those causes that work with senior adults and dogs?
I am passionate about so many things. Seniors, both humans and dogs, hold a special place in my heart, but I donate to all organizations. I’ve recently sent lots of crafts to children sending out care packages. There are so many incredible people in our world.
5) What are you learning right now?
I am a lifelong learner. I am always reading and researching. I am currently reading up on hospice care.
6) When things are challenging in life, how do you remain positive?
Focusing on the positive things in life is the first step. There is so much negativity out there, but I make it a point to avoid that as much as possible.
When faced with a challenge, I first acknowledge that it is a challenge, then think of things that can get me past it. Sometimes, the solution is a specific set of actions I can take to get me through the challenge; other times it is a change in mindset that will help me see things differently. If all else fails, I’ll turn to my online friends to see how they are dealing with things in a positive manner. Sometimes, just seeing what they are doing will help me see a path to positivity for myself.
7) What would you tell someone who wants to do nice things for people, but they really don’t know that many people personally? (How would you suggest that they get started using their talents basically?)
Excellent question. Honestly, I don’t know that many people and I have a small family. (I’m an only child!) There are so many ways to help. I’ll often leave things for my neighbors (some I know, others I hope to know soon), I reach out to organizations that collect cards (I love snail mail) and find out what they need and since starting Thoughtful Gifting I’ve received lots of requests. I’d start small and simple. Leaving a note by someone’s front door will spread joy.
8) How important do you think it is to give back?
“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll. I find great joy in both starting the cycle of giving, as well as being a recipient of someone else’s generosity. Often, one must be the starting point for joy in the world; whether that joy returns to me, or is paid forward to someone else, I’m happy to know that people are looking out for each other.
9) Who inspires you?
I am inspired by our world. There are so many beautiful acts of love and kindness going on. Some are big, others are small, but all spread cheer. The trick is to look past all the negativity and focus on the good things that people are doing for one another.
10) What are a few simple things that people can do weekly, or even daily, to spread kindness?
When people reach out to me, I encourage them to start with snail mail. It can be as simple as leaving a little thank you note on your fridge or sending out a few postcards. Look for things that interest you and follow that path. There are also several apps that you can use to volunteer at home with. I really enjoy helping the visually impaired via the BeSpecular app on my iPhone.
11) What are some of the other hobbies, or things that you enjoy doing?
I love spending time outside, riding bikes, and making tacos. I also enjoy reading. I love getting books electronically from the library using the Libby app. I have also used CloudLibrary.
12) Do you sell any of the stuff that you make?
Currently all my items are free and I donate them. I do this through the people, or organizations that I know. I’ve sent items all over the world. I am working on a small project that will hopefully fund some of my donations in the future. My main goal right now is to inspire people to share kindness with each other.
13) Do you do any type of “how to” videos for people to learn to make the things that you make?
I do not have any videos, but I love to help people create. I try to give directions on my Instagram account and I’m always happy to send more detailed pictures or directions to others.
14) What is your definition of creativity?
I see creativity in everything – from the way we walk, or jump the curb, to the stack of books we arrange. Creativity can be simple, or it can be deep and from your soul. I celebrate all creativity, and I am always looking to learn something new.
This week, search through Jennifer’s feed and find at least one thing that you can create, with what you have, to give to someone else. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s truly the thought that counts. The whole goal is to make someone smile.
It could be something as simple as leaving someone in your house encouraging notes. I like to leave them in sock drawers, put them in jacket pockets, and even stick them in shoes. Somewhere that the person will see it quickly and easily.
I also enjoy making little cards with puns on them and leaving them for people, or sending them to people. Jennifer has ideas for things like this that you can do: for someone who likes avocados – “You Guac My World”; a pencil box that says “You Are Sharp”; or make a garland out of old ribbon and fabric, or out of paper, that says “HAPPY”, to celebrate a random Tuesday.
Really, anything your imagination can come up with. If you’re fresh out of ideas, go look through Jennifer’s Instagram page, and/or search on Pinterest for artsy ideas. Learn to do something new and see how you can use it to make people smile. You may not think that it will make that big of a difference, but it will. Sometimes the smallest, most simple things can change someone’s day for the better.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Remember too, that you can also use these fun ideas to brighten up the space around you as well. Make a banner and hang it up in your kitchen or bathroom. Create some little signs and put them around your house, to remind you to have a happy day.
The more smiles that we put into the world, the happier this world will be.
Thank you, Jennifer, for joining us, and for inspiring The Novel Turtle community to use our unique gifts and talents to spread kindness!!! Thank you for all that you’re doing to put more happiness out into the world!! We are looking forward to seeing what you do next.