In 2014, my dear college friend Ali moved to Africa for the better part of a year. I mentioned this a few months ago when I posted about this Engraved Travel Journal I gifted her before she left. I couldn't imagine living in another country for so long without friends and family but I knew at some points it would be pretty hard. She spent her birthday there and I wanted to send her some encouragement to show that all of her friends back here in the U.S. were thinking about her and rooting for her! I know whenever I'm sad or having a hard time, just knowing that you have people that care about you is helpful.
One of the things I love most about good friends are the unique relationships and experiences and what they bring to life. Sometimes you know exactly who you want to talk to or who can give you the best advice for a certain situation. I know I have different friends I call for various situations, whether it's to talk about something, tell them about my day, have a laugh or to bitch about something tough that is going on. It's good to know that you have a supportive group standing behind you, especially when you're physically far away. Since Ali wasn't able to talk to everyone whenever she wanted, I wanted to give her the unique, individual support from each of her important girlfriends. My goal was to give her all of our advice wrapped up in one package to open whenever she wanted to hear from someone.
I came across a version of this idea on Pinterest and knew I could adapt it. I glued several envelopes (16 to be exact!) together by the flaps. I asked each girlfriend to send a short note and whatever else they wanted to include: photos, inside jokes and words of encouragement. Ali and I have a close group of friends from college so I gathered letters from the three of us, her college roommates as well as her roomies in D.C. I then sprinkled the notes from each girlfriend throughout. In between, I added group photos, a few quotes, some postcards and little notes. I absolutely loved putting this together and reading each of these notes. Each note and photos were suited perfectly to that person and their friendship with Ali. It was exactly what I had in mind. I knew she would really love and appreciate this kind of gift.
This kind of gift is priceless and something that can be looked back on for years to come. It encapsulates everything that is gift giving to me: thoughtful and anticipating what somebody maybe want or need when it counts the most. It really didn't cost me any money to make – just to send it. I gathered a couple other gifts I wanted to send her and sent her one big care package. She was very surprised by the gift and I think it was a hit!