The Bright Side: The gift of giving

Published 8:45 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone with one of my closest friends; we were chatting about Valentine’s Day and what we were getting our significant others. I was proud of myself for being ahead of the game this year, already having purchased a T-shirt Eric had interest in. I made sure it was tucked in the appropriately sized brown bag with white tissue paper and a hand-written note sticking out of the top. I looked at it, set beside my office desk, as I chatted with my friend.

“I would say my love language is receiving gifts,” I shared with her. Eric knows how much I absolutely love chocolate covered strawberries, and it’s been tradition that every Valentine’s Day he orders a heart-shaped box of beautifully decorated strawberries from Forbes Candies for me. “I think it’s because it means the world to me that someone cares enough to go out of their way to purchase something they know I will like. It’s the fact that they’re willing to show how much they care,” I continued.

She responded, “I think it’s interesting how people who really like receiving gifts are the same ones who love giving them.” I glanced back over at the little brown bag and smiled: she was right. I’ve always loved to give gifts. I love making people happy, and showing them how much I care. It’s nice to have the act reciprocated, but I would say seeing how happy a small present makes someone means so much more to me than opening a gift myself.

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I call it the gift of giving. Perhaps I spend a little too much time shopping for the perfect present, taking hours to drive up and down the beach looking for just the right thing. Whether it’s a client, family, friends or even my pup, I put a lot of time into making sure the person I’m gifting receives something they will really love.

Since I have begun making goodies – candles, smudge sticks, herbal oils and sachet bags – I have enjoyed gifting even more so. Now I can put even more love into what I am making for someone. When fresh flowers begin to die, I dry them and use them to make smudge sticks. The herbs I grow in our backyard garden are used in my oils and sachet bags. My next goal is to try and use natural dyes from flower petals in my yard to color candles and decorate envelopes.

When my mom gifted me a handwriting workbook for Christmas a couple years back, I practiced my lettering for months, mainly so that I could put my handwriting to the test for cards and gift boxes. It’s much more satisfying for me to decorate a plain white box with colorful text and cute doodles than to coat it in wrapping paper.

Through utilizing the nature that freely surrounds me, I’ve come to realize that I can make anything that much more special. And it’s grown my love of giving. I am in no way an artist, nor do I consider myself the most creative. But when someone receives a handmade offering, it becomes that much more meaningful.

When Eric came home from work with a box of chocolate covered strawberries, a gorgeous plant and the cutest coffee mug on Valentine’s Day, I was overcome with joy. But it was the smile on his face when he opened his gift and read my note that almost brought me to tears. Because the best gift to me is the one I took time to gift to someone else.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at