gift ideas


I’ve never gone back to an old post and completely reposted it verbatim, but I love this post so much that I’m going to do just that.

I think this is something that everyone should do, regardless of who coordinates it.

Parents- you could definitely do this over the summer and give to your child as she/he goes off to college or enters the “real world”

Graduates- you could send meaningful letters to people who have touched your life over the years.  Chances are they’ll respond with a heartfelt letter in return… or you could ask for a letter to carry with you through your next chapter in life.


After my graduation dinner (at The Palm, naturally), I walked into my room to see a thick stack of envelopes and a note from my mom. It said:

“Dear Carly, There have been people in your life who have watched you grow up and develop and become the person you are today. Here is a collection of notes from people far and near who know you, love you, get you. Happy graduation, Car. Go out and light the world on fire. Keep these letters close–reflect on them often– these are the people who will love you always. Love, Mom and Dad”

I spent hours opening, reading, and rereading the letters. I cried so much when reading them. Every one of the letters were so thoughtful and personal.

My mom made a list of all the important people in my life– literally since birth– and sent them postmarked envelopes with stationery ready to go. She asked them to share a memory, write advice, etc. [I kept seeing a million of the same white envelopes showing up in our mail slot, but I was still so surprised!!!!]

A list of people who sent me letters:

  • The owner of my favorite store
  • Babysitter from Atlanta (age 0-4) & Boston (age 4-8)
  • Family friends
  • High school coaches
  • Parents of close friends
  • Middle school SADD mentor
  • Best friend’s mom
  • My best friend in the entire world
  • 6th grade math teacher
  • The person who interviewed me for Georgetown <— how clever!!!
  • My doctor
  • Elementary school principal
  • Super close friends
  • AP Physics teacher (she saved my life one day, nbd)
  • Painting teacher
  • 9th grade English teacher
  • Ex-boyfriend
Not many people really and truly get me. As you can see from the list, it’s kind of random. But each person that sent me a letter impacted my life.

  My principal included newspaper clippings she had kept of me!

  My Boston babysitter included pictures I had drawn her– Quite the artist?

  And a picture from my first day of Kindergarten.

  As I may have mentioned (I think I have) before, I have not exactly had the smoothest college career. Every time I felt upset, I would read the letters to make me feel better! I’m so glad my mom gave them to me because they really helped me get through tough times. One of my favorite ones– it’s from my ex-boyfriend… I love him, he is such a sweetheart. It takes a really strong person to put up with me: I’m crazy, remember? I didn’t so much as kiss the poor thing in the four months we dated.
  “Carly, I’ve never quite met a girl like you. Yes, that is a good thing. Despite only knowing you since my senior year it feels like so much longer. I’ve seen you turn into a truly wonderful young lady and a real bitch of a coxswain. And, yes, that also is a good thing. Remember in college to keep your fists up, stick to your guns, and don’t let anybody change you. You’re already perfect to me. Take care in the year ahead, I know you’ll do great. If you ever need anything my phone is always on. I will always pick up….” 
If you have a daughter graduating, you should really consider doing this for her. I love my letters and will keep them for the rest of my life.


I love these letters from the absolute bottom of my heart.  They mean so much to me.  Do you have something similar?


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Gracie Beth

That is a tradition at my hs. At your senior breakfast you get a manilla envelope FULL of letters. Some of them are from the most surprising people!


It is such a lovely idea! We did something similar in my last year of high school – on our three day retreat we had to write letters to everyone in our year group. It was amazing to read, not only from your close friends but also from those people you didn't socialise with regularly. Some we had to read out – I was a mess!

Chelsea x


That is such a beautiful idea, I love all the thought that has gone into it and how personal it is 🙂
It's not quite the same but I've just left my school of 7 years and during the last week we all brought in leavers books and wrote messages to each other and the teachers did too. I read them all on the last day and cried my eyes out! Definitely will treasure that book forever 🙂

Paige @ Everyday Belle

We did this at my high school! The day before graduation everyone in my class got a basket of letters from our classmates, teachers, and "little sisters". I still read them, too!


That sounds super amazing! Wish my parents had thought of that at my sister's graduation this year, but I'll remember it for mine!


We do this with my church group and I had a few of them framed they were so meaningful.

Sundresses and Smiles

Such a great idea. For my 16th birthday my parents gave me a similar present. It was a memory book and had letters/memories written by all of the loved ones and they put them all in a scrapbook with pictures. I pull it out every so often and re-read it all!


For my 21st birthday, my roommate and best friend (she is actually the one that showed me your blog) gave me a different letter everyday for the 21 days leading up to the BIG one. There were letters from old friends, new friends, my first love, my grandmother, sister, and parents. Those letters are the most special gift I have ever received and by far the best birthday present. I read them whenever I'm down or just need a reason to smile. I will do this one day for my daughter. I happy to see someone else shares something as special! 🙂


So sweet! I got a similar idea from a retreat and used it for my sorority. I was in charge of making initiation special for the new girls so I got older sisters, parents, alumni and advisers to write letters to each girl and I put them in decorated bags. It was so great and such a hit!


My mom did something similar but it was for my 16th birthday. She had a surprise birthday dinner including all of the people who had "mentored" me at some point in my life – my grandmothers, my best friend, my piano teacher, my favorite science teacher, etc. At the time I thought it was really cheesy but their encouragement over the years and wonderful notes from that dinner are something I'll treasure forever.