Everybody likes to be happy, right?
And I don’t know about you, but I can definitely say that it brings me great joy to make a friend smile or laugh.
That’s especially true when it comes to friends who are going through something and are feeling a little down — or who maybe just need a reminder that, if they need a cheerleader, they’ve got one who believes in them wholeheartedly right here.
But there’s more to being a good friend than just cracking a joke to lighten the mood. Sometimes, you need to make sure they know you’re there for them — whether they’re going through something truly awful or just feeling blue enough that happiness feels out of reach. When you’ve got someone by your side, willing to witness and help you hold the heaviness in your heart … well, it doesn’t take it away, but it can make it a little easier to bear.
Meeting up with a friend in person is fantastic, but for any number of reasons, that might not be possible — or you might be looking for a little something to supplement your visits. And with the thoughtful cards and gifts below, you can be there for anyone, even if you’re a world away.
Emily McDowell & Friends
I’ve been sharing my love of Emily McDowell for years. She’s long been attuned to the need for cards and products that manage to be empowering and honest and thoughtful without being cheesy, like the card featuring one of her well-known graphics (“You’re doing a f*cking great job.”) I have hanging in my office. I recently broke my matching mug (commemorated for all time below), but received a replacement to review that I love an awful lot.
She now has a couple of postcard books, one with a pep talk focus with sayings like, “Now is the time to live your dreams! Seize the day! The sky’s the limit! Seriously, though, no pressure.” and another with an empathy theme, with phrases more along the lines of, “When people say, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint,’ I don’t think they get how much you hate running,” or “This darkness is not a dead end. Keep going.”
These postcard books are amazing for a few reasons: First, they’re easy and affordable — and since they come in a book, you’ll automatically start with 20 on hand, eliminating that whole barrier of going to the store to buy a card. And also, postcards are naturally lower-pressure than a letter or more formal card — just jot a few words down, slap a stamp on, and send. Plus, there’s the fact that, when your friend receives it, they’ll be able to read it before they’ve even gotten it inside.
However, if you are more of a formal-card-in-an-envelope type of person, you’re in luck — her site has collections of cards, made both by Emily McDowell and a few other trusted artists, for all kinds of holidays, as well as empathy cards and “reasonable achievements.” (I’ve ordered the discounted mystery box of cards before and never been disappointed. If you have a card on hand, you’ll always find a person who deserves it!)
And, I know I mentioned my mug — there are also tote bags, canvas pouches, pins, keychains, and more … including “Fill in the Love” books that you can fill in and personalize before giving to a loved one who you’d like to cheer up.
With a mission to bring humor, creativity, and smarts to everyday life, Knock Knock makes clever gifts, books, and more, sometimes with their in-house team, and sometimes by collaborating with authors, bloggers, or comedians. In fact, Emily McDowell & Friends joined the Knock Knock family last year, so I knew right away that I was gonna love what they offered.
And boy, do I.
They sent over a deck of Affirmators! — “50 affirmation cards to help you help yourself — without the self-helpy-ness” — and they’ve been a great pick-me-up on days when my self-talk could use a tune up. (Interestingly enough, the first two times I pulled a card, I got the exact same one, even after shuffling … and it was a message I needed to hear. Coincidence, or the universe? I know my answer, but I’ll let you come to your own conclusion.)
They’ve also got these Inner-Truth Journals (plus a pocket-sized version) that offer helpful prompts and quotes to help you loosen up and really write from the heart. From a focus on gratitude to a journal designed to keep your feminist fire blazing, they’ve got one for just about everyone … which means you can easily buy one for a friend as a gift and pick one up for yourself, too.
When’s the last time you received a pick-me-up in the mail, just because? How about the last time you sent one? I’ve gotta say, giving is every bit as good as receiving with fun products like these. —Kristen