This article by Jamie Hershberger was also published in the December, 2021 issue of The Writing Shorts Newsletter.
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a great way
to take a vacation
via your imagination.
It can even be a great way to vent your frustrations!
But, where does one begin?
Why not try writing for fun?!
For the first time in over a decade, I am employed outside the home. To celebrate the holiday season, my new workplace is hosting a “Secret Santa” gift-giving event. This means I have been given a budget, and have made a promise to give a gift within that price range in exchange for one for myself. The organizer of this particular exchange has also arranged it so that each participant fills out a questionnaire of general “likes and dislikes” in order to ensure the gifts given will be appreciated by the recipient.
While I haven’t yet received the name of the person for whom I shall “play Santa,” I have already started to ponder what sort of gift I might offer, and how I might best present something a bit “extra special” to the recipient. Naturally, my thoughts turned to things I might write for him or her, which I believe would add a personal touch to any purchased gift.
Through my brief brainstorming session, I came up with 5 (plus one!) great gift-giving ideas. Of course, not all of them will work in this instance, especially the more complex ideas, which will take more time to execute than I will be allowed, but I thought I might share them with you, wonderful reader, in the event you have a special someone you’d like to bless with a bit of writing this holiday season.
Gift-Giving Idea #1 Create A Name Acrostic
Difficulty: Simple to Challenging
Directions: Write the poem with each line beginning with the next letter of the person’s name. The words can be printed on regular paper, or even on a large poster board, with the first letters of each word in a larger font and different color or pattern, so that the name of the recipient stands out.
Example: The simple name SUE might result in the following acrostic poem:
Advanced Challenge: Instead of singular words, use complete sentences, depending on your proclivities/abilities. If you are so inclined, you may challenge yourself to make each sentence rhyme, or for every other sentence to rhyme.
Gift-Giving Idea #2 Write A Personalized Haiku
Directions: A Haiku is a poem of three lines, each with a prescribed number of syllables, first five, then seven, and then five again. Create a poem of three lines, each with the requisite number of syllables to 5-7-5, and make sure your subject is something special to or relevant to your intended recipient.
Advanced Challenge: Work hard to make your haiku as “authentic” as possible. See this link for more detailed instructions for creating haiku.
Gift-Giving Idea #3 Personalize A Fairy Tale
Difficulty: Easy to Challenging
Directions: Think of the old fairy tales we all heard as children, such as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” and retell one, but replace the hero of the story with your gift recipient, and replace familiar themes and items in the story with things you know to be of significance to your recipient.
Example: Parodying the story, “Goldilocks…” you could write, “Sue and three Heiresses.” Instead of a little girl stumbling upon the abode of three bears leaving porridge on the table, your recipient can wander around the home of three wealthy sisters who leave closets full of new clothes and shoes for your heroine to explore.
Advanced Challenge: Instead of retelling an old fairy tale, create an entirely new one, starring your gift recipient.
Gift-Giving Idea #4 Design an “Advent-Style” Story/Activity
Difficulty: Challenging to Super-Challenging
Directions: Divide your gift giving budget in order to purchase several smaller gifts. Wrap each gift and label with a number. Write a story in the same number of parts, each of which ends with the directive to open the package with the corresponding number assigned to it.
Advanced Challenge: make the story a “choose your own adventure” style story, with some choices leading to the inability to open a gift for that day.
Gift-Giving Idea #5 Write a Gift “Mystery”
Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
Directions: Present your gift with the story attached in an envelope marked “classified” and be sure the recipient understands it is to be read before opening. For added fun, you may print the wrapping with several question marks, to indicate the “mystery” theme. The actual story should be a mystery, in which the gift features as an integral part of the tale (ie. the case of the missing football).
Advanced Challenge: Write a story in which several gift options are mentioned, leaving the recipient to wonder which of those items is inside his or her present.
BONUS Gift-Giving Idea: Plan a Treasure Hunt
Difficulty: Intermediate to Challenging
Directions: Write a series of clues leading your recipient to their gift and present them in a treasure-themed package.
Advanced Challenge: Make each clue rhyme, or make each clue a puzzle/riddle to solve.
Advanced Challenge Alternative: Turn your gift into a scavenger hunt by sending the recipient to different locales in order to get the answers for the next clue or riddle. Of course, they should be accompanied by a corresponding gift card (provided by you), so that they can patronize any business to which you send them.
Example: “Congratulations on solving the first clue and arriving at Abeantogo Coffee! Please use the enclosed gift card to purchase a little pick me up! Your next stop will be XXXXX S. Main Street. Solve for the address by adding the price of a small regular coffee to the store number (found on your purchase receipt).
Do these Gift-Giving Ideas Have You Feeling Inspired, Yet?
I’ve reached the end of my gift-giving suggestions, but this is by no means is an exhaustive list of the ways you can add a personalized touch to any gift by including just a little bit of writing. In fact, something as simple as a heartfelt note of gratitude for the recipient’s presence in your life can be a great addition to any more traditional present. I hope these 5 (plus one!) great gift-giving ideas have inspired you to try writing for fun!
PS – Did you know I’m a Co-Host of The Christian Indie Writers’ Podcast? Here is an episode in which we discuss giving the gift of your writing! Check it out!