How to give a meaningful gift

Giving someone a meaningful gift is difficult.
We want the gift to say what we feel:
“I love you!”
  “Your life is so adventurous!”
    “You’re gorgeous!”
      “I treasure your friendship!”
        “You’re unique!”
But our gift can not talk.
So we buy something expensive and hope it conveys the right messages.
Or, we just convert our love into money, and send a gift voucher.

Why is giving a meaningful gift so difficult?
How did we end up expressing our love through money?
Why do we try to send messages through objects rather than expressing how we feel?
Are our words really that worthless?
After all, what could be nicer than accidentally overhearing someone say something lovely about you?

Everyone wants to be appreciated, and secretly, we covet praise. It makes us feel good. It reinforces our social bonds, it makes us feel accepted, part of the tribe. Without it, we feel ostracised, rejected, and lonely.

We've even invented a medium to convey our appreciation - the greetings card. So why is a humble handwritten card not the most treasured gift one can receive? We do we spend so lavishly on products to demonstrate our affection?

Alas, senders of greetings cards rarely open their hearts to express how they really feel. Instead they quickly scribble what they believe they’re expected to write; like a safe message wishing the recipient a lovely birthday, that they’re thinking about them, and they love them lots. What goes unsaid is why they love them, what makes them so unique, and why they absolutely treasure the time they share together.

Tell those close to you how you feel, before it's too late! Friends can drift apart, family members can move far away, and sudden tragedies can silence any one of us. What record will there be of the journey you shared? Do not save your feelings for a memorial. Tell them now.

And what power words have.

A couple of years ago, a friend was feeling down, so we contacted her friends and asked them: what is it about her you love so much? And they told us: scores of beautiful messages, heartfelt words, and quirky in-jokes. It gave us goosebumps. We married each comment to an image, and made them into a hardback book. When we gave her the book, she read it, then she smiled, and then she cried. She hadn’t realised how much she was loved. Few of us do.

Her friends loved it too, we’d provided an opportunity to truly tell her how much she meant to them. It was as if we’d given them all permission to say something heartfelt. Our creation had brought joy to our small world of friends, and it felt awesome. 

Producing this first book was tremendously time-consuming, unexpectedly hard work, but as Paul Graham says, at the heart of every good venture is a schlep - a tedious task you believe you can do better. Still, we sat on the idea for a year, thinking someone should do something.
The realisation dawned slowly; gift giving was broken, and we had an opportunity to fix it.
We imagined a social gift, where feelgood messages of appreciation didn’t just accompany the gift, they were the gift.

And so we created gleambook.

The idea was to bring friends together to create unique, heartfelt gifts. Now all you need to do is say something nice, and invite your friends to do the same, and we take care of the hard work. From the collected comments we design and produce a truly unique work of art, a physical artifact, a book full of pages that look like this:

And you get to see your loved one gleam.

How much better it is, to give the gift of feeling good.

Come and say hello at gleambook.
We’d love to hear from you.


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