- Give small “just-for-you” presents. Whether it’s a candy bar you know the other likes or a paperback book you found at a garage sale, it really is all about the adage that it’s the thought that counts.
- Make it a point to slightly touch him or her often. Nothing intimate; just an enthusiastic hug of pleasure when you greet or part; a casual touch on the shoulder as you pass; a friendly squeeze of the arm as you walk side-by-side. Many studies have shown the power of touch to boost people's mood and sense of connection; one paper found that even the most fleeting touch of the fingers when a librarian returned a reader’s card made the customer remember the library visit as a more pleasant experience (thought without ever realizing why).
- Share a warm memory of the other person with him or her. I was thinking the other day about the time I saw you... Knowing that you are noticed, remembered, or thought of, is wonderfully flattering to anyone.
- Make something. Whatever your talent, employ it to create something that will make someone feel special and appreciated. If you can cook, invite the friend for a home-cooked dinner or tea with your own baked treat. Such gestures are long-remembered: A man in my life long ago made me a meal that had almonds in everything—the salad, the main dish, and the dessert, all because I casually mentioned when we first met that I liked them. Needless to say, the fact that he took such a casual comment to heart impressed me even more than the meal. Similarly, a folded paper crane made by a young relative just learning origami has had pride of place on my desk for more than a year and always makes me smile.
- Plan an event. A friend once picked me up at work for an arranged lunch date and brought a blanket and packed basket for a picnic with everything—including (chocolate-covered) ants, an experience in themselves! What might have been a rushed workday meal in a crowded food court became a memorable event. This was almost 50 years ago. How many lunches have I eaten with friends in the intervening years I couldn't guess but this one stands out and so does the person who arranged it.
Many times over our lives, hopefully, we have been made to feel special through such gestures as these. We should all hope that we have spread as much warmth around through our own thoughtful acts, and will continue to do so, as well.