In a 2006 American Sociological Review study titled "Social Isolation in America" one-quarter of the 1,467 surveyed adults said that they had no person in their lives with whom they were intimate enough to discuss "important matters."
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Even though society is more wired than ever before with iPhones, Twitter, Facebook and a range of social media sites, the reality is that as humans we are more isolated (and lonely) than ever before.
What does that mean to me? It means that the people I am fortunate to have in my life are even more important than ever before.
A great friendship, like a great marriage or any other type of special relationship requires work, time and personal commitment. If you don't do the time a relationship withers on the vine.
I've always cherished my friends, but more than ever I'm trying to do a better job of showing my commitment to those relationships. I doing that in ways which range from doing a better job of remembering their birthdays and anniversaries to writing personal thank you notes instead of emailing, texting or cheating with Facebook messages.
In addition I am exploring ways to put more love into the gifts I give. Yes, we're in one of the worst economic climates since the Great Depression. However, you can still show special attention to detail in creating unique gifts without breaking the bank.
Listed below are some of my favorite lost cost/no cost gifts to give:
1. Reprint old photos of your friend or of you and your friend and frame them or create a custom CD or DVD.
When my beloved husband Michael died five years ago one of the best gifts I received from a framed photo of the two of us in one of my favorites times with him. That photo has given me tremendous comfort over the years.
Recently a dear friend made a special DVD of trips we took together over the past 2 1/2 years. It meant the world to me. Her gift cost her very little but her time, which was even more touching since she's a very busy lady.
2. Personalize or have something meaningful engraved. The cost of the engraving won't break the bank, but it does show special love that you would take the time to have the item engraved.
A good friend gave me a pretty, but inexpensive bracelet she had engraved with her secret nickname for me. I still have that bracelet and it still has special meaning over 40 years later.
3. Specialized gift certificates for everything from grocery shopping to baby sitting to dog walking. Use your imagination and print blank certificates from the web. I love these types of gifts because again they are truly from the heart.
4. Give the gift of a home made goody. Awhile back I made a friend her very favorite home made treat of Rice Krispy treats. Yes, I could have afforded to buy her a gift but my time is so limited, for me to shop for the ingredients and then hand make it was a very special treat for her. Yes, I could have bought the treats at a local bakery but it would not have been the same.
My niece Brigid often makes home made chocolate chip cookies, packs them in cute Chinese takeout boxes she buys at a specialty store and then decorates with a gorgeous hand made card or bow. These are some of my favorite gifts from her.
5. Go to a used bookstore, movie store or similar and pick out a custom gift for your friend's special interest. Recently I found a gorgeous poster of Alice In Wonderland at the local half price video store. I picked up the actual DVD for half price and invited her over for a mini-Alice party. She's a huge fan and loved the hand selected items.
6. Use your special talents as a unique gift. Although I have been doing astrological charts since I was 16 years old and Feng Shui charts for the past 10 years, I rarely do them professionally because of my over jammed schedule. Both types of charts take lots of time but when I provide them as gifts my friends and loved ones really appreciate how much time and love went into my offering.
If you have a special talent offer it as a fabulous gift from your heart. My hairdresser used to send me a birthday gift certificate every year for a complimentary hair cut. Why not offer a birthday scalp massage, mani/pedi or even trimming your trees and bushes.
Another friend of mine digs through Amazon.com every year before my birthday to locate used books I might enjoy. One time she found a perfect copy of an out-of-print hair book for 01 and shipping costs. She decorated the box with inexpensive headbands she found at a thrift store which she spiffed up in case I wanted to wear them.
Even if you're not into gift giving for any events, a phone call can mean so much to someone who's feeling lonely, isolated or disconnected.
If you nourish a friendship it will grow and flourish and ultimately you will indeed have someone
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