How to cheer up a friend long-distance
October 10, 2013 2:05 PM   Subscribe

My best friend just got laid off from her new job and gave birth to premature twins. The twins can't come home for a month and she is understandably really depressed about that. She lives about 3,000 miles away from me so I'm trying to think of some ways to brighten her day and let her know I'm thinking of her. Some of her likes: movies, acting, makeup/beauty stuff, Dave Matthews.
posted by trillian to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think sending her a little something every day, with a hand-written note will be nice. It gives her something to look foward to.

Cheap DVDs are in a bin at Wal-Mart, the goofier the better. I like the old black and white Dragnets. I think they're $2. I got a copy of Reefer Madness that way!

Nail polish. Once the babies come home, she won't have time for it, so send her some funky colors or textures to play with.

The National Enquirer. It's awful. But I'd bust out laughing if I got a copy of it.

Bubble Bath.

Or a box full of goofy things like this wrapped up with instructions to open only one per day.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:09 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Everybody likes getting chocolate delivered. I sent a glum friend some from Kakawa and she was pleased.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:10 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

You mentioned that your friend likes makeup/beauty samples. I don't know how much you're able to or looking to spend, but I have heard good things about birchbox. It's a monthly subscription service that sends you several makeup/beauty samples in a box each month. It's $10/month and you can give her a three-, six-, or twelve-month subscription.

Outside of the interests that you mentioned, a food delivery (whether you do this one time or more than once) could be really awesome for someone who has just had twins. However, given that the twins are still in the hospital, I might suggest sending her a card with an "IOU" for one, two, or three delivery meals that you'll be having delivered once the twins come home.
posted by juliagulia at 2:35 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

You could give her a gift subscription to Birchbox (if you are in the US, UK, France, Spain) or something similar (e.g. Canada, Australia, New Zealand options). It'll cheer her up when she gets her regular package, she'll know you are thinking of her, and they're not likely to be things she'd splurge on for herself.

Best of luck to your friend. It's nice of you to be so thoughtful!

(On preview...what juliagulia said. I'll still leave my comment in case you're not in a Birchbox country.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:38 PM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would send her Birchbox and Ipsy.
posted by discopolo at 2:43 PM on October 10, 2013

A Netflix, Hulu, and/or Amazon Prime subscription might be really good for her too.
posted by discopolo at 2:45 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe do a search of the amenities in and around the hospital? If she is there every day, she might love gift cards to Starbucks, Subway or the local sushi stop, for instance. Or perhaps she and her mate would enjoy a gift certificate to a good restaurant located between their home and the hospital. I'm sure what and when to eat are those decisions made last in times like this.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 2:47 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

It seems a long shot to think she is currently concerned with the stuff she usually enjoys; I think the correct response here is practical support. Gift cards for gas stations? Contact the hospital, see if it's possible to prepay for parking?
posted by kmennie at 2:50 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

With the laid-off + preemie twins combo I would try to send something that helps with day to day life needs as the bulk of my gift (especially money towards gas and food - if you're in the hospital all day and eating meals out it gets expensive quickly). A house cleaning service for one or more sessions is another idea. I'd also call/text/send cards in the mail on a regular basis, and maybe a small package of bubble bath/self-pampering stuff (but I'd put most of my budget towards helping with food/gas/housecleaning).
posted by handful of rain at 2:57 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I agree that her former life likely means very little to her, and that a daily affirmation from you (a letter, an e-card, anything) would help her feel loved and protected at a time when she's feeling vulnerable and scared.

I'd also agree that anything practical (shopping service, cleaning service, prepaid valet parking, even cash) would be valued. It's hard to send a friend cash, but at a time like this it's likely to feel like a major relief to her and she's unlikely to feel that it's weird. Her world has been rocked, and if you tell her you're sending it so that it's just one fewer thing for her to worry about, you're likely to assuage her worries.
posted by Capri at 3:08 PM on October 10, 2013

Some of the cosmetics/beauty boxes end up being a lot of perfume samples (I'm looking at you, luxebox!).

There are some very thoughtful answers above, so I'll be coldly practical and suggest sending an e-transfer as well - just tell her you wanted to send a 'universal gift card'.
posted by variella at 4:29 PM on October 10, 2013

Postpartum depression can be really serious. Sounds like you're suggesting she's depressed bc of worry for the babies, but just in case there's a hormonal element, I'd suggest making sure someone is keeping a close daily eye on her in case she might need medication.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:05 PM on October 10, 2013

When my baby was in the NICU and I was spending all day there, I wanted fresh fruits and veggies more than anything. Maybe something from Edible Arrangements or similar?

Reading material was also nice - depending on how her babies are doing, she may be discouraged from using her phone while hanging out in the NICU, and there's a lot of waiting time. Maybe magazines or positive books - light on the violence/horror.

Lush bath bombs might be comforting, or similar easy-to-use self-care products. Toss in some gas cards for practical help.
posted by linettasky at 11:14 PM on October 10, 2013

When my sister needed cheering up, I sent her tiny gifts off Etsy every other day for a month. Soap samples. Lip balm. Solid perfume samples. Magnets. Badges. I don't think anything was more than $2, and the people shipped it direct to her instead of to me. All of the sellers were happy to include a tiny note (I was very undemanding and just said "Would you mind sticking Love, Sabrina xoxox on a Post-It?") My sister was delighted by the experience of being postal gift-bombed.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:30 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

> Lush bath bombs might be comforting

Every birth and recovery is different, but I wouldn't've wanted to take a bath for a good long time after my kids were born.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:17 AM on October 11, 2013

Does she have a partner? A quick call or email to that person (or to her mother/sister/other friend, if the partner is overwhelmed too, which is likely) will give you a lot of info about the current situation and how you can best help. Her local network may have the cleaning/food at home situation covered. If so, do what you can to ease her time at the hospital. Gift cards for Starbucks or whatever is nearby, Amazon/iTunes gift card for books/reading/movies/music on her device, or just a general card that helps with parking/gas or whatever she needs, as noted above. I second the idea of sending texts/emails/ecards/postcards/snail mail often. Silly jokes, cartoons, whatever will let her know you are thinking good thoughts for her and the twins. While her primary concerns are about the babies, her own health, and family, she will need those touchstones that life exists outside the hospital and reminders that life will return to something like normal--maybe a new normal, but something like before twins--so catering to her interests is a good idea.

I like the gift-bombing idea, but she may not have the energy to even open them up when she gets home from a day at the hospital. Weekly treats or the once-a-month beauty boxes might be plenty. Remember to keep it up after the twins come home; being home with preemie twins will be exhausting and isolating. She will really need your supportive thoughts & deeds then. I hope you will be able to visit them when things are on an even keel! You're a thoughtful friend.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 10:56 AM on October 13, 2013

Response by poster: Wow, you guys are awesome - thanks so much.
posted by trillian at 6:15 PM on October 13, 2013

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