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  Children's Ministry Today    

Today's Featured Article

Words as Gifts: Seven Ideas for Meaningful Holiday Giving
                    By: Ann Zuccardy


I recently faced the daunting task of finding a gift to bestow on a dear family friend who has had a profound impact on my daughterís life for nearly a dozen years. Somehow, a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, a day spa, or a bouquet of flowers just wasnít going to adequately reflect the deep sense of appreciation, gratitude, and love I feel for this person. Whatís a harried gift giver to do when nothing seems to express your feelings?

Give the gift of words.

Iím on the executive board and serve as the newsletter editor for a womenís entrepreneurial organization, so I did what any word lover would do. I wrote something for the newsletter. I wrote an article dedicated to my friend, a local child care provider, thanking her for incredible value, nurturing, and education she has added to my childís life. (Read it here: WE Entrepreneurs Newsletter.)

Two days after the article was published, my friend left a teary voice mail message of thanks on my answering machine. She said sheíd been having a terrible day and was questioning the value of her work. She said my tribute was the most thoughtful gift sheíd ever received from a day care parent and the timing was perfect. Soon I was crying, too. My gift had done its job well. I had given the most meaningful gift I could give - my heartfelt words. And it didnít cost me a penny.

You donít have to be a writer to give the gift of words. In fact, all you have to be is you. Speak from the heart, be genuine, creative, and kind, and your gift is bound to be the hit of its recipientís day.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Write a poem. Who says poems have to rhyme? Perhaps youíre a poet and you donít know it. Try your hand at a limerick (a light humorous poem) or haiku (Japanese lyric poem with 3 lines and 17 syllables) for starters. Search online for poetry forms you like for more information. Or just write a free form poem of your own, print it on pretty paper, put it in a picture frame, and wrap it up.

2. Write a testimonial. Does your gift recipient provide a business, service or product you adore? Write a heartfelt testimonial explaining why that personís product or service is the best. Any business owner will be thrilled to post your testimonial on her web site or in her office.

3. Dedicate an entry in your blog to someone. People love to be recognized publicly. What better way to show the world you care than to post your thoughts in your blog? Donít have a blog yet? No problem. There are plenty of blog services out there that are free or inexpensive. Do a search for free blog services on Google.

4. Make a card. This is one of my favorites. My parents still have the homemade cards I created over thirty years ago. People LOVE homemade cards. You donít have to be an artist. Use scraps of fabric, glitter, old pieces of wrapping paper, photos, finger paints, crayons...anything goes!

5. Write an article. Write an article for an online article site such as EzineArticles.com or a local print publication. Highlight an important issue or business need in the article and support your statements with specific stories about the person to whom you're dedicating the article.

6. Write a song or record your spoken feelings on tape or CD. Not a musician? Thatís okay. Take a popular tune such as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and add your own words. Present it by singing it to your lucky recipient. One of the sweetest gifts I ever came when I first started dating my ex husband in the form of a cassette tape (okay, I know I'm showing my age here) outlining his life story and feelings for me.

7. Create a web site. You donít have to be a technogeek or a millionaire to create a web site with the plethora of tools out there. Add photos and your own words and voila, an instant gift! Hereís a gift I gave one Christmas. I created an online help system outlining the timeline of a romantic relationship. It included an index, table of contents, and graphical timeline with clickable sections that launched pop-ups containing photos of special moments. (Iím sorry, I canít help it, I was a technogeek in love.)

The list of word gift ideas is endless. Can you think of more? I'd love to hear about them.

The best thing about the gift of words is that it operates on the law of attraction. Simply stated, that means the thoughts and words you put out into the world are what you will get back. Think and write positive thoughts and actions and I guarantee they will come back to you in ways you never imagined. When you express your love and gratitude in written words, you immortalize your feelings. Your recipient can read your words and experience your love over and over again.

Give the gift of words.

Copyright 2005, Ann Zuccardy, All rights reserved.

Article by:  Ann Zuccardy is a freelance writer and entrepreneur with 17 years of industry experience in marketing and technical communication. For engaging copy, blog consulting, or article ghostwriting with heart, soul, passion, vision, and humor, Ann's your gal. Visit Annís blog for more writing samples AND other gift giving ideas at Vermont Shortbread Company. This article is dedicated to my colleagues on the Visionary Writers on Purpose team.

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