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The Big Awesome: How to Give Life-Changing Gifts

Stefan Loble

A vintage photo of three young boys wearing orange + black while sledding in the snow.


Think back to when you were a kid and the thrill you used to get receiving the right gift. Your blood rushed. Your energy surged. It was like your world was busted open by something you knew was going to make you happy forever. It was all good.

Let a couple of years go by and as we become adults these feelings show up less often. In fact, when you ask an adult what they want for a birthday or holiday gift, they might just shrug. We’re not even dreaming of that perfect gift, let alone asking for it.

The best gift you can give is to help someone break out of that rut, and get back to the rush of being 10 years old.

This isn’t a traditional gift guide, and I'm not going to tell you exactly which bike or surfboard you should buy for someone — because I haven't met them, and as a result I don't know.

What I'm going to do is show you the way to make someone’s dreams come true — even when they haven’t given themselves permission to dream that big yet. I’ll reveal my method to blow. someone's. mind with the perfect, awesome gift.

Of course, this approach isn’t for everyone on your list.

But for those you want to make jump out of their footie pajamas this year, buckle your seat belt: I'm going to show you the way.

The Approach: 5 Ways to Blow Their Mind With a Gift

Whatever your reason, you’ve decided that there’s someone on your list who deserves a far better than average gift this year. There are five main ways you can knock their socks off:

1. An Indulgence they wouldn't buy for themselves

I once read there is a luxury market for everything. Chewing gum, socks — Neiman Marcus is even selling $69 frozen collard greens in their Christmas catalog this year. And luxury feels great. The problem is, many of us are frugal with ourselves, possibly more than we should be.

The Indulgence approach is to buy your loved one something they deserve. Something they long for, but wouldn't get for themselves.

Like an unbelievable bottle of scotch. If you spend triple the amount they would typically part with, who knows where the pleasure might take them. When I drink like that, I begin to question my priorities (like all the crap I spend time and money on that doesn’t give me real pleasure.) It can be that good.

Favorites ideas: high end clothing, concert tickets (6 months in future, no problem), super awesome version of something utilitarian like a coffee thermos. There are inexpensive indulgences too. Start in an area you know your person loves and go from there.

2. Pooling resources

One step beyond an indulgence is to pool multiple people’s resources to get something amazing. With this route, your gift goes beyond the money, as your thoughtfulness and coordination is a big part of what you give.

Consider this:

Guy #1 woke up on Christmas, got a bunch of gifts - some really cool, but others just OK, and none that caused Mr. no longer 10 years old to jump for joy.

Guy #2 got one gift. Poor guy... Oh wait, it was a SMOKER.

Yeah, a smoker. In the winter. Oil drum body, big meat rack, and exhaust pipe sticking out. Maybe it came with a gift-certificate to the local butcher. Think of the afternoon he'll spend putting it together, the urgent trip to Barnes and Noble to get books on smoking meat, and the number of conversations you'll have about "does it make more sense to start with brisket or pulled pork?"

Looks to me like guy #2 is the winner. Well done. You just added to his world.

Favorite ideas: significant pieces of gear - like tents, bikes or boats. A meaningful trip. Or something big for the house.

The big gift here, however, is the coordination: You’re in charge of getting other people to chip in, show up, commit or whatever. And that is huge.

3. Opening up a passion

I know a lot of adults who have given up on their passions. Whatever it was they couldn’t get enough of during their youth, seems to have fallen by the wayside. And now that they’re older, there’s no room for taking on something new.

This is a tragedy. Years can go by pretty fast, and it’s easy to look back, and be like “wow, I missed the best stuff.” It’s your mission to get them back on track.

The first step is to decide that your recipient deserves this.

I know a guy who's always wanted to learn to shoot a bow. So, the gift for him is a bow, plus lessons, and a set time in the family schedule that he's free to shoot. The guy I know is interested in the sport due to its meditative aspects, and if you were to bring something like this to his life, you'd be making a big contribution.

Favorite ideas: Learn to fly, pick up a musical instrument, membership at a martial arts gym. Latch on to whatever it is he’s talked about in passing, but was never able to take on himself.

4. Grant permission

You know the most significant part of the opening up a passion gift, above? It's the permission.

Beyond the expense, and all the research to find the right gift, the permission you grant for an activity gift — like going to shoot a bow twice a week — is the biggest give. It’s permission you’re granting, that they may not grant themselves.

Yes, you can train for the marathon. OK, you can build that boat. I’ll finally let you rebuild your old bike (just wear a helmet.) Here’s how you can go back to school, or get your novel or screenplay written this year.

And here’s how we’re going to make it happen because I’ve figured it all out for you...

Money can be replaced, but time is precious. With a gift like this, you’re freeing him to spend his time, while giving up a little of yours. Real love.

Favorite ideas: Think for a second, and you may already know what the special thing is. They’ve talked about it… kept coming back to it, even… but every time as if it were far off in the distance. You need to tear down that wall.

5. Connect People

Lastly, if time is our most precious commodity, then time with those we love is the pinnacle.

A meaningful gift is to enable your recipient to spend some special time with someone they love.

It could involve you, such as via a weekend away together. It could be a week away on a canyoneering trip with old college friends. Or a fishing trip with dad. A weekend in Vegas with the guys.

Whatever the angle, your gift is finding the special activity, funding it, coordinating who goes, and most importantly, tackling whatever needs to happen behind the scenes — like wrangling kids, or even clearing vacation time with a boss.

If you were to stop and think of the most amazing way to spend a week next year. What would it be? Imagine someone made that happen for you. It would be incredible.

Favorite ideas: Most of mine involve travel, as getting away is often a big part of being able to focus on that special connection, and build new ties.

What To Do Next

If this year isn't right for you to pull off something big, maybe it's the next.  Maybe you start planning now for that next big birthday, or the right occasion.

However, should this post find its way into your loved one's hands, and should something really amazing happen to you, I hope to be partly responsible. And if so, I definitely want to hear about it.


Stefan Loble



P.S. If you’re really stuck… shoot me a note or leave a comment below, and maybe we can brainstorm a gem.


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