How do I show a fantastic friend that I appreciate her?
April 15, 2009 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Help me do something sweet for a friend.

It's weird, but I've never had many female friends (I'm female). Till recently, my closest friends were all male. So I just have very little experience with female friendships.

I met a girl about two years ago and she and I have gradually become really good friends- I'd say she's probably my closest friend, currently. In the past few months I've run into a few spots of hard luck and she's just gone above and beyond for me- for example, I was broke for a while and she cooked up a bunch of food and brought it round to me. And then just recently I was hospitalized for a few days and she came by twice to visit and brought me a book to read and fuzzy slippers to wear, etc.... it really touched me and was just such a generous thing to do.

So I'd really like to do something nice for her. I don't want it to feel like I'm paying her back, or anything like that, because she does all this out of the kindness of her heart and doesn't expect anything in return. So I'd like some ways of showing her that I'm just really touched by what a good friend she's been, without it looking like a quid pro quo kind of thing.

Do you guys have any ideas of ways to do this? Maybe a cute gift, or something I could do- like I said, I have such little experience with being friends with girls that I'm pathetically clueless as to how one straight girl shows another straight girl appreciation for being a fantastic friend. She's pretty reserved, and I am too- so something over the top would probably make us both uncomfortable, but there has to be something I can do to show her that her friendship really means a lot to me.

If some demographics would help- she and I are both 30 and we live in Manhattan.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
How about a fun thing that you could do together? I don't know if you're into the spa thing, but maybe a reasonably priced spa day that you both attend? Perhaps a concert? I think you're right to not make it an issue of paying her back for her kindness - that's something you can do when she really needs it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:05 AM on April 15, 2009

Give her a card or letter that says how much you appreciate what she's done for you and what a wonderful friend she is. It can be accompanied with a gift, or not. If I were you, I'd think about giving something small and fun (for some reason homemade baked goods come to mind, but maybe that's not your thing) with a card or letter attached--the emphasis should be on your message of gratitude and appreciation, not on the gift accompanying it. Lest this should sound too puny, try to think about how wonderful it feels to be praised by someone for being a good friend (or daughter, or whatever). Not to be corny, but I think that's one of the best gifts you can give.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:16 AM on April 15, 2009

Most anything you give her now will seem like a 'thank you' gift. Which, don't get me wrong, random 'thank you for being a friend' gifts are cool, but it seems you don't want that.

My suggestion is more long term. Try be the friend to her that she is to you. The things she has done for you that have made you appreciate her so much are things you didn't ask for, but she felt you needed anyway - which is a pretty cool thing about friends. Listen to her when you guys talk. Maybe she'll mention she's going on a trip soon - offer to drive her to the airport. Be aware of her life, like she is of yours, and look for ways to help her out and be a good friend.
posted by NoraCharles at 10:25 AM on April 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

I tend to like the thought implied by the homemade, so crafty gifts are good in my book. Also, I enjoy doing those things, so that's the kind of stuff I've done for my friends. I like the activity-sharing idea from The Light Fantastic as well.

Really, just remembering her kindnesses when she goes through a rough patch, and reciprocating, will mean more than anything else. I once decorated a friend's apartment door with silly things explaining the reasons she's awesome when I knew she was having a rough time, and she talks about it still.
posted by amelioration at 10:30 AM on April 15, 2009

If you do want to suggest a spa treatment for the two of you (so it won't seem so much like a thank you gift", it's currently "Spa Week" and a lot of places are doing $50 specials. Tons of places here in NY.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:58 AM on April 15, 2009

I think the ideas posted are good ones. It's the gratitude behind it, not the size or cost of the gift. Things that have worked really well for me were:

a) making a tiny scrapbook of a vacation I took with a friend (she let me stay with her and took time off of work to show me around and take me to museums and a fancy tea). That might be a little TOO intensely girly if you're not already a scrapbooker, but maybe a set of matching frames with a picture of the two of you together, one for her and one for you. (Maybe even a picture from the fun activity ala Light Fantastic's suggestion.)

b) a themed gift box. I have a friend who loves lilac, so I took a box and filled it with a lilac colored pencil & crayon, a little amethyst crystal, a purple beaded necklace, lilac soap....none of it was expensive or really anything special, but she really appreciated the thought.

I actually wouldn't give any baked goods or anything. Not because it's a bad idea or wouldn't express your thanks, but personally I like things that can be a permanent reminder.

If she's as awesome as you've made her sound, I'm sure she'll really appreciate ANYTHING you do.
posted by Caravantea at 11:01 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry, hit submit too soon before realizing you may need to register to see that link. Anyhow, the fact that it's a limited "spa week" (though some places have the specials longer) makes it seem more informal and more of a "hey, let's go take advantage of this!"
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:01 AM on April 15, 2009

What are some of her interests? Make her something (or give a gift that you can both experience together) that will let her know you are paying as much attention to her life as she is to yours, as NoraCharles said. Even something like a mix cd or baking her favorite dessert treat.

That said, she sounds to me like one of those kinds of people who just appreciate being able to help other people sometimes, and she is likely not expecting any sort of huge payback for her friendly deeds. Just letting her know how appreciative you are is probably going to be one of the best things you can do.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:01 AM on April 15, 2009

I don't think that gender has a lot to do with being a good friend. What difference does it make whether she's a male or female? As NoraCharles said so well above, she's paying attention to what's going on in your life and she's responding to your needs. Wouldn't you do the same for any friend, man or woman? Just listen to her and look for cues on how you can return her kindnesses. That's what being a friend is. What would you do for your male friends? Do it for her too.

You could also just say to her something like: "These last few months have been so rough .. money problems, health issues, but you've been a rock for me and a great friend and I appreciate it more than I can say. I hope I'll have an opportunity to do the same for you some time soon. Thank you." Just acknowledging out loud to her that you've noticed her efforts and her kindness and that you really appreciate it will mean a lot to her, I bet.
posted by Kangaroo at 11:03 AM on April 15, 2009

I give my friends flowers from the farmer's market just 'cause. In this case I'd include a note, too, telling her how grateful you were for the hospital visit and generally being awesome.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:20 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I still think one of the most meaningful things can be a handwritten thank-you note. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when someone takes the time to:
a) think about what I've done for them
b) appreciate it
c) take the time to put it on paper and give it to me

But maybe that's just me. I'm a sentimental pack rat when it comes to things like that.
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:33 AM on April 15, 2009

What does she like to do, or what do you like to do together? Here are some easy and low-key gifts that might work.

- new cookbook or baking book
- nice set of spices
- small potted plant or herb (basil or rosemary are always nice and easy to grow)
- farmer's market bouquet (SO lovely to receive and casual enough that it's not over the top)
- is there a play or event coming up that you could get tickets for you both?
- suggest doing something one day and buying dinner or brunch - "No please, the pleasure is mine, you've done so much for me lately." An easy gesture that is a bit 'thank-you' but not over the top.
- new book that you know she'd like
- new CD that you know she'd like
- selection of loose teas or a pound of delicious coffee

Honestly giving a picture frame or scrapbook of the two of you would seem over-the-top for the kind of relationship you have here.

What else is going on in her life right now? Did she just move? Get a new job or lose another one? Express an interest in x (cooking, gardening, sewing, gaming, running, travel, whatever)? Get an ipod or iphone? Something useful that fits into one of those categories, or a gesture you can make (a drive to the airport is a great idea, or plant watering, animal sitting, etc.) in the same vein will both "pay it back" in a non-literal way and show your friend that you care.

And a very small mention like Kangaroo says, of the help she's given you and more importantly, that it really meant a lot to you, can be done without being embarrassing.
posted by barnone at 11:47 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dude, straight-girl-on-straight-girl friendship in Manhattan is about the easiest gig for gifts/acts-of-kindness ever. Whenever I'm thinking about nice things to do for my friends, I frequently find myself (implicitly) wishing I were in a straight-girl-straight-girl Manhattan friendship. (Repressed, English lesbian-straight-boy friendship 'gifts'? Fraught as hell) Basically you are nervous because you are used to being in a situation where this could go wrong, and both of you could end up feeling awkward and miserable. The person who said that gender has nothing to do with gifts couldn't be more wrong.

Get her candles, flowers, cookies, stationery, a nice mug, jam, maybe (at a pinch) a book. You want to aim for less useful, more superfluous, because you're not trying to awkwardly create an alibi against this being a symbolic representation of your goodwill towards her - you want to draw attention to the fact that it's about your goodwill towards her. Knit her a scarf on big needles. Get someone to deliver muffins to her place of work. Get her massaged or have that weird shit done to her hands. Go crazy! You're straight! You're female! There's a world of gifty little nonsenses out there for you to enjoy.
posted by Acheman at 12:05 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definately send a handwritten note with whatever you decide to give her. That means the world when I get those.
posted by meeshell at 1:06 PM on April 15, 2009

I think a heartfelt "thank you, I really appreciate everything you've done for me", like what you've put in your post here, maybe a hug (if thats your kind of thing), and making sure you go above and beyond when she needs your help in the future are the best things you could do.
posted by Admira at 4:41 PM on April 15, 2009

I also think a handwritten note is a good idea.

I once helped out a friend when her daughter had to go into the hospital. She gave me a small gift along with a card saying she was glad to have a friend like me. I'm pretty reserved, and would have been embarrassed if my friend had spoken the same words aloud. I don't remember what the gift was, but I kept the card and thinking about it makes me feel good.
posted by pizzazz at 5:44 PM on April 15, 2009

telling her 'thank you' is a good start, and bank what she has done for you, because she may well need that reciprocated in the future.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:14 PM on April 15, 2009

follow-up from the OP
I only posted it anonymously because that friend tends to scan AskMe and obviously I want to surprise her. I got a lot of really thoughtful and useful advice that I intend to follow and I'd just like to tell everyone who responded that I appreciate it!

Thanks so much-
posted by jessamyn at 10:20 AM on April 16, 2009

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