Wednesday, May 18, 2011

PSA: Crappy Day Present Tutorial...or How The Crappy Day Present Came To Be

EDITED at the beginning because I finally remembered and at the end to offer suggestions for more generic CDPs and links to examples.

*As I was thinking about it, I remembered that, during high school, I used to bring Crappy Day Presents to my friends on days I knew they were having (or were going to have) a Crappy Day!  One of my favorite things to do was to bring a cheerful bunch of helium balloons, a supportive note/card, and their favorite treat and leave it in their bedroom for them to find when they came home.

Shortly after Ian was born, we had to move (BAD, BAD timing!).  One of my best friends came over before we pulled out, handed me a brightly decorated/beribboned gift bag, and said, "Here.  This is a Crappy Day Present (CDP) because this is a really Crappy Day!"  There was a box of tissues, some chocolate, and I don't remember what else (Who can remember anything past "chocolate"?). 

During the long drive, I had a long time to remember (brain damage from pregnancy and sleepless nights and all that) how wonderful this Crappy Day Present idea was.  I am the kind of person who will be out shopping and see the PERFECT thing for someone I know, and I will excitedly buy it, or maybe I have just learned how to make something new, and I can think of someone who would love it...but then I get frustrated because their birthday or Christmas seems EONS away and I want to give it to them FIVE MINUTES AGO!  Also, I like to do things to try to cheer my friends up or be supportive when they are having a rough day, but that gets trickier when you've moved across the country from the people you want to cheer up, so I decided that I would still be able to do this:  send something IN ADVANCE so that it is on hand when the next Crappy Day happens!  Also, just having something on hand to look at and wonder about can improve a Crappy Day because you can think "Well, if this day gets TOO bad, I'll just open a CDP!" or "This day really sucks, but someone loved me enough to get me a CDP, so maybe I can make it!" or "Is this day really so bad that I want to use one of my CDPs?" 

So!  If you are this kind of person, or you just want to randomly brighten someone's day, READ ON...(This is partly taken from a really long comment I left at Swistle's.)

These are the suggestions I would have for a person wanting to do Crappy Day Presents for someone (you can absolutely modify any of this to fit your situation):

Step 1
a.)  Think of what you are good at--shopping, painting, card making, crocheting, knitting, organizing, sewing, baking, playing with children--ANYTHING you are good at, and keep that in mind during the rest of the process in case you can use something you are good at to help with your Crappy Day Presents.

b.)  Then, think of any helpful piece of information you might have about your person (we'll assume your person is female):
*Do you know her favorite color or treat or movie?
*Does she have dogs/cats/kids?
*Have you noticed she brings/orders a certain thing for lunch quite often?
*Has she ever mentioned that she has a cow/sunflower/apple/rooster/americana/bird theme in her kitchen/living room/bathroom?
*Has she ever mentioned that she likes to bake/read/do crossword puzzles/take bubble baths?
*Has she ever mentioned that she really needs a new set of measuring cups/kitchen towels/muffin pans, etc....?
Think of ANYTHING you know about your person that might help you pick something out. 

c.)  Then, think back to the things you are good at, and see if you can think of a way to use what you are good at to find something that goes with the things you know about her; if you thought she would use them, you could make little "coupons" that can be redeemed for something you can do: babysitting her kids, running to the store for milk/eggs/bread, a loaf of fresh bread, a batch of cookies, a batch of soup, dinner for her family some night so she doesn't have to cook, cleaning a bathroom, creative! 

d.)  *Insert encouraging voice* I know this next part could be HARD, but this process could also involve GOING SHOPPING to find the right things.  I know, I know!  It's a sacrifice!  But it's for THE GREATER GOOD, so, do what you can do. 

Even if you don't feel like you can think of anything amazing, I can't imagine that anyone wouldn't be cheered up that someone cared enough to bring her a bag/basket/box of brightly wrapped, mysterious little packages! 

Step 2
a.)  Once you have gathered together some things you think your person will like, get out your wrapping supplies and any froofy things you have been saving for some occasion that never seems to come up (stamps, stickers, ribbons) and apply them generously to your gifts!  (Think how fun it is at Christmas to see a cheerful pile of brightly wrapped presents under the tree.)  If you'd like, put a little note in the present telling why you picked that thing for her.

b.)  Attach some sort of note or tag to your present(s) so your person knows what to do with it (them).  I have two different tags I use, depending on the person.  For someone I am not really close to, such as the lovely lady at the post office or my favorite nurse at the doctor's office, my tags say:  "This is a “Crappy Day” present!  Open it the next time you are having a CRAPPY day, and know that you are appreciated for all you do to make the world a better place!" and for family members or close friends the tags say:  "This is a “Crappy Day” present!  Open it the next time you are having a CRAPPY day, and know that you are loved!!" 

c.)  If I have a bunch of presents to give someone all at once (usually this happens when I'm sending a box to someone far away;  I figure if I'm sending a box, I might as well FILL IT UP!), I try to label the tag for the appropriate level of crappiness:
  • Minor—“Life certainly can be blah!”
  • Moderate—“Why is everyone around me *SO* IRRITATING?!”
  • MAJOR—“If people don’t *WATCH OUT*, HEADS MAY ROLL!!!!”
Step 3
Deliver your package and enjoy the knowledge that you have made someone's day a little less crappy!

This can be a really involved process if you are trying to distract YOURSELF from YOUR life's stress like that sort of thing, or you really could just put a present in a brown bag, staple it shut, and hand it to your friend saying "Open this the next time you have a Crappy Day."  Whatever works for you!

It is usually around Step 3 when I start to PANIC, and I think, "This was a REALLY STUPID idea!  She isn't going to like any of these things!  I should just wear a sign that says 'I AM A DORK'!"  I try hard to ignore the nasty, demon voice to persevere and deliver/send the present anyway, but sometimes the voice wins.

Also, Life of a Doctor's Wife asked about more generic CDPs, so I thought I would add some information about that:

I think for generic CDPs you could do some of the same kinds of things you would do for teacher presents: some sort of candy, a cute mug, bath stuff, candles, cute little notebooks/notepads...check Swistle's posts on teacher gifts for more ideas because that's all I can remember at the moment =).
What else? You could wrap: a container of brownies/cookies with instructions to open that package first...a gift card to somewhere to eat with instructions to take herself to lunch...a cute reusable shopping bag...a CD of your favorite cheer-yourself-up music...a cute necklace, bracelet, pair of earrings...The Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive...if you email me with whatever information you have about your person, I will try to tear myself away from my sweet, obedient, precious children, um, abandon my much appreciated efforts to keep the household running email you back when I get a chance!

Even if you don't manage to pick out her VERY FAVORITE candy or candle scent or whatever, I would think it would make her feel better just to know that somebody cared enough to try! And never underestimate the power of LOTS of cheerfully wrapped packages, even if the packages only have little things in them! I'm usually one who puts the cookies in a ziploc bag and presents them to someone that way, but I have a friend who is REALLY GOOD at making things look nice (for example, she puts her cookies on a festive-looking plate), and I've decided those little things really can make a difference in the cheeriness factor of the gifts!
It can be a good idea to read the following post and print it out for yourself or the person you are giving CDPs to =)!
The Rules For the Opening of Crappy Day Presents

Crappy-Day-Present-Receiving Etiquette

Link to Crappy Day Package example #1
Link to Crappy Day Package example #2
Example of a Crappy Day Package #3
Example of a Crappy Day Package #4
Example of a Crappy Day Package #5
Example of a Crappy Day Package #6
Example of a Crappy Day Package #7
Example of a Crappy Day Package #8

Links to Other Examples of Crappy Day Packages/Presents