What are some non-tangible gifts that you've given or received?
January 6, 2005 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Non-tangible gifts that you've been pleased to receive (or give?) [MI]

For instance, on my seventh birthday, my mother quit smoking as a gift to me. I appreciated it at the time - but I appreciate it much more now; she's still around, and healthy!

The typical gift seems to be a material object; I'd be interested in learning about thoughtful or creative gifts that weren't.
posted by ikkyu2 to Human Relations (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I fix my friends and co-workers bikes. It makes me happy, and warms my heart to see someone riding.
posted by fixedgear at 3:52 PM on January 6, 2005

Reiki treatments always work well with me.
posted by jasonspaceman at 4:01 PM on January 6, 2005

Ooo, I like that idea ikkyu2. I think I might decide to lose some weight for mom's birthday. Hmmm...

I'll even make money from not buying Big Macs. This could be the most profitable birthday gift yet... :-D
posted by shepd at 4:08 PM on January 6, 2005

Non-tangible gifts I've been pleased to receive...my first thought is definitely not PG-13, but I'll go with a more wholesome, Dawson's Creek moment:

For my tenth birthday my sister gave me $20 in quarters and drove me to the arcade. As far as I could calculate, that many quarters equated to infinity minutes of video game play. That afternoon is one of my fondest memories of childhood.
posted by Loser at 4:13 PM on January 6, 2005

My grandfather secretly taught me how to use the woodturner one summer. (Had my mother or grandmother known, they would have flipped since I Was only ten) We built a display cabinet together that I still have in my house.
So I vote for non-tangible gift being "skill" or knowledge of some sort. It's much appreciated.
posted by dabitch at 4:27 PM on January 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

hmmm... actually when I think about it, it's not just that I learned something, it was that whole quality time and 'dangerous tools' thing too.
posted by dabitch at 4:38 PM on January 6, 2005

Send one hand-written letter a week to my grandma.
posted by Arch Stanton at 4:41 PM on January 6, 2005

I received a free acupuncture treatment for my 22nd birthday.
posted by rhapsodie at 4:45 PM on January 6, 2005

$20 in quarters

Err, um, were those non-tangible quarters?
posted by fixedgear at 4:57 PM on January 6, 2005

For Christmas we received a card from a relative verifying a donation on our behalf that would provide healthcare to a family in Nepal for one year.
Very non-tangible, but very cool.
posted by bruceyeah at 5:19 PM on January 6, 2005

Took my mom to a cooking class for a day.

Donated to The Heifer Project, so a family somewhere now has goats.

Called dad from the other side of the world.

Took over all household responsibilities for a day and demanded that my wife do something -- ANYTHING -- as long as it was not on her "to do" list.

Random, unsolicited compliments from/to complete strangers.
posted by Framer at 5:26 PM on January 6, 2005

After I gave up cable tv (to save money), my sister taped hours and hours of music videos for me so I could continue to keep up with the entertainment I missed the most.

I also loved receiving a gift certificate for enough money to take a photo class at ICP.
posted by xo at 6:05 PM on January 6, 2005

Waking up to see my husband every day is a gift.

Kind of an odd one: my teeth are in poor shape, so I see the dentist often. My old dentist used to ask me every time I went if I wanted to whiten my front teeth, which were stained by braces. I always told him I couldn't afford it. One day, while waiting for a numbing shot to kick in, he pulled out the whitening stuff, and started applying it. He fixed my four front teeth so they are now white, and he never billed me for it.
posted by veronitron at 6:09 PM on January 6, 2005

Arch Stanton, I need to follow your example. I love that you do that. And dabitch, the "teaching" idea is a great one. I remember being ecstatic when my grandfather taught me to shine shoes in the classic rag-popping style with the beautiful old shoeshine kit from his boyhood. The smell of Kiwi polish still makes me smile.

In college, I befriended a friend's teenaged daughter. She was going through a terrible time and had written depressing poems and cynical phrases all over the walls of her messy room, the walls of which were a shade of the most hideous blue. I took her to the store, bought some cans of creamy, pretty yellow paint that she liked, and we spent a weekend painting and cleaning her room. She visibly brightened with every paint stroke. Her hard times weren't over, but at least she didn't have a reminder of them decorating her life anymore. Eventually, she was okay, and we're still friends.

Since then, my favorite gift to give to someone who's sad isn't a long conversational wallow or Chicken Soup for The Unhappy Demographic, it's action. I don't know how to talk anyone out of their problems, but I know how to help them do their dishes, or accompany them on their sad appointments, or clean the crazy-making clutter out of their garage with them, so they feel like they have some power over life again. It makes me happy too, and this thread reminds me that it's been a while since I've done something like that for anyone. So, thanks for this little intangible gift, ikkuyu2.
posted by melissa may at 6:24 PM on January 6, 2005 [4 favorites]

Melissa May, that's really wonderful.
posted by mothershock at 6:54 PM on January 6, 2005

One of my birthday presents from my girlfriend was a plain piece of cardboard, about 3"x6", with those three little words that mean so much...

posted by jtron at 7:02 PM on January 6, 2005

I wrote an illustrated short story for my niece and nephew (one each) two christmases ago. Very simple formatting of the typeface and layout in MS Word, printed on some nice, heavy paper, printed a cover, bound with string. It's tangible, but it's not expensive.

Also, I give and receive books like a goddamn lending library.

I told my dad this year that I didn't want any Christmas gifts.. that being with family was enough for me (and, as a practical matter, I didn't have anywhere to put anything else). His head assploded.
posted by socratic at 7:23 PM on January 6, 2005

If sex isn't tangible, jtron, you're doing it all wrong. :-)

Framer's suggestion of the Heifer Project is, of course, wonderful. A donation to MSF or OXFAM is great, too.
posted by stonerose at 7:23 PM on January 6, 2005

I'll vote for being taught a skill. On past birthdays of mine, I've been taught to weld, surf, ride a bicycle, and play the drums, and I'd count each one as one of the best gifts I've ever recieved.
posted by saladin at 8:21 PM on January 6, 2005

Er, not in that order, thankfully.
posted by saladin at 8:21 PM on January 6, 2005

Unconditional, and lifelong, forgiveness, acceptance, and loyalty. I have a circle of friends within which I can't lose. It's the only group of people I've seen implement the idea that if you are not acting in a loving manner, you are not yourself, and should be forgiven. It's a great thing to give and receive, and means you will never be alone, even when you screw up in the worst manner possible.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:30 PM on January 6, 2005

Master's swimming at the Y. Going to Winter Camp when I was ten, so I could see snow for the first time.

Good intangible gifts are things that show the person you really thought of them; as above they are often time or experience or both. Bad intagible gifts are a star or donating to charity in someone's name. Those are just evil. "Your gift is . . . forced charity. Mwa ha ha ha!"
posted by dame at 8:34 PM on January 6, 2005


Some assembly [foreplay] required.
posted by Doohickie at 10:08 PM on January 6, 2005

When MrsMoonPie and I got married this spring, our friends (several of whom are fellow MetaFilterians) chipped in to buy us a honeymoon. That was the perfect gift, seeing as how we already had all the stuff we needed. We also got an oh-so-fabulous dinner. We treasure those memories far, far more than a s'mores maker or a fondue set.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:54 AM on January 7, 2005

My wife digs (tangible) cards. One of my gifts to her that she really appreciated was thirty hand-made cards for her thirtieth birthday. I made her a multi-page card on another occasion, with our faces photoshopped into different odd scenes from around the world.
posted by booth at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2005

When I was a kid we didn't have a lot of money, but my mom managed to send me camp a few times, and also sent me to stay with friends and relatives who lived in the country (we lived in the city).

She also told me, at every turn, that I had to go to college. By the time I got to high school, I couldn't begin to imagine not going to college.

Those were incredible gifts of love. Since we don't have kids, we try to do similar things for our nephews and neices.

On a different note, one thing that's on my resolution list this year is to finally get involved with Habitat for Humanity.
posted by vignettist at 12:25 PM on January 7, 2005

for my dad's 50th birthday, my sister and I videotaped many of his friends from throughout his life and all of the family, talking to him. on his birthday, we sat him down and had him watch the tape. he had spent most of his life taping our childhood so it was nice to be able to 'pay back' and this way he has it to keep and rewatch.

i did a similar thing for my sister's 30th. i got her friends to write about her and send me photos and i made her a bound book of them.
posted by karen at 2:01 PM on January 7, 2005

Thank you all for your responses!
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:09 PM on January 13, 2005

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