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We asked, you answered: Here are 15 of the best gifts you've ever given.

'My gift to them ended up being one of the best gifts I ever got too.'

What's the best gift you've ever given someone?

It doesn't have to be a tangible thing or something life-changing. As long as it made a difference to that person in the moment they received it, it counts.

Image via iStock.


Giving a gift is always a wonderful thing to do, whether it's Christmas or someone's birthday or just your average Wednesday. It not only makes the person you're giving it to feel good, it makes you, the giver, happier too. In fact, studies have shown giving a gift has a greater positive impact overall on a person than receiving one.

We asked you — our readers — about the best gifts you've ever given. Your answers did not disappoint.

Here are 15 of the best gifts Upworthy readers said they have ever given:

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

1. A prosthetic eye for a soon-to-be teacher

Image via iStock.

Kim Dahill was a member of wish-granting website Wish Upon a Hero and read a wish from a man with a prosthetic eye who was studying to be a teacher. The eye didn't fit well and caused him a lot of discomfort and anxiety, but he didn't have money to buy a new one.

"I was able to contact a prosthetic clinic in his area and they agreed to give him a new eye free of charge," Dahill wrote on Facebook. "He was so moved by this that he reached out to me to thank me and we have been friends ever since. It cost me nothing but my time, but it made a huge change in both of our lives. He is a very successful teacher now."

2. The gift of being able to buy gifts

Deborah Cook wants families to have the opportunity to be gift-givers even if they don't have the means.

"We find out what stores they could use gift cards from, including grocery stores, and we give them an envelope full of them," explained Cook. "... We like the idea of families having the ability to enjoy the holiday season in the same manner as the fortunate among us."

3. Carrying a child for a couple that had miscarried

Photo by Loic Venance/Getty Images.

"I carried a baby for a couple who would otherwise be childless. It was hell on my body, particularly my booty with all the shots, but worth every second to see their family complete." — Amy Donahue

4. A wine box full of gratitude

"A few years ago, I was hospitalized twice within 8 months for suicidal ideation. One of my safe places was my best friends house and one time he said I wasn't allowed to kill myself until I bought him one last drink, but that he would never accept it. (At this point I think I already owed him three or four). I finally found the right combinations of meds that helped me to start thriving in life so for his birthday, I wanted to do something special. He is an avid wine drinker so I decided to buy him a wine box and I had it engraved with 'the last drink' and filled it with index cards of all these words and adjectives to describe all that he has done an meant for me. He said it was one of the best gifts he's ever gotten." — Jeremy Morgan.

5. An escape to a dog-friendly hotel

Photo by Dan Kittwood/Getty Images.

When Shanon Arm's friend had no place to stay, Arm found a dog-friendly hotel and put up her friend and her canine companion for a few nights until she could get back on her feet.

"I lost my own beloved dog a few months ago," wrote Arm. "... I am still somewhat lost without him, and it was such a privilege to be able to help someone else who loves their dog as much as I loved (and still love) mine."

6. Kind words to a stranger

"I reached out to a stranger on a forum on the internet [who] had commented just two little words, but those words made me want to brighten their day a bit, lift a bit of weight off of their shoulders by being kind and offer to listen. Nothing more. Just an act of kindness from one stranger to another, who and where ever they were on this earth.

"We kept talking. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. We really got along and I found myself really enjoying this anonymous and platonic contact.

"However, one day we decided to tell each other who we were. Up to this point we had stayed away from this, but we felt it was time. It had been long enough and we felt comfortable. I told him I was a 22 yr old female living in Europe. He told me he was a 33 yr old male, living in the US. Fast forward 5 years, we have been married for 3 years now, and he is the love of my life. All because I said; 'Care to share with a stranger?'"Willemijn van Rijn-McGhee

7. A photo a loved one thought was lost

Image via iStock.

Ashley Johnson had an old photo of her as a baby sitting on her great-grandmother's lap with her aunt standing next to her. Her mother swore there was another photo with a similar pose where she's in the photo instead of her sister, but it wasn't in the album. No one had ever seen it.

"Jump forward to about 2000 ... all of the old bags of photos and negatives are out ... I'm sitting in the couch and I'm haphazardly looking through them and I find the negative strip for the photo of my aunt and the first negative was the one of my mother. The film had an extra exposure and the picture was never developed. I had the photo print[ed] and bought a pretty frame and gave it to my mom for Christmas that year. It's the most meaningful gift I have given anyone so far. It was a wonderful surprise for her (lots of happy tears!). I was so happy to give her a memory."

8. 365 memories in a jar from Target

On the surface, Danielle Auretto gave both her sisters 365 strips of paper and a jar, but it's what she wrote on the paper that made the gift so special:

"Each had a quote, family memory, the name of a family member to think about, or a wish for them. Each day that year they drew a new paper. Sometimes they would call me when they found one particularly funny or thought provoking. The next Christmas they each made a collage of their favorites with answers to some of the questions or thoughts when reading it. ... [M]y gift to them ended up being one of the best gifts I ever got too."

9. A special blanket that would've never been finished otherwise

"[My best friend] once told me his mom had started to crochet a blanket, but passed away before finishing it (five years ago, and he still never got rid of the yarn). While house-sitting, I took the bag of yarn and small swatch of blanket. I had a friend finish the blanket with a different pattern, so he could always see the part his mom's did — her final project. It is hands down the most special gift I've ever given — to see the man I admire most hold that blanket that his mom worked so hard on, finally finished." — Amanda Fliflet

10. 200 raincoats

"Last winter, my 10yr old and I crowdfunded to buy 200 high quality rain ponchos for the residents of skid row. Every time it rains, I remind her that 200 people are dry and grateful. This last Valentines Day, her and my son (4) made 300 valentines with lollipops for them too. They wanted to shine a little light where it may otherwise not." — Lisset Gutierrez

11. Tickets to a Bulls vs. Magic basketball game on Christmas Day

"I had 4 tickets to a Bulls vs Magic (Jordan Shaq) Christmas Day game while visiting in-laws in Chicago. Due to family constraints, [we] could not go. Standing on the L, I spotted a lady [with] 3 children all in bulls clothing and walked up to her and asked her if she'd like to take her children to the game tomorrow. She couldn't speak. Handing her the tickets, tears rolled down her face. A total stranger. It still warms my heart today." — Brian Kelly

12. The gift of mentorship

"[We] signed up to be a Big Couple 10 years ago on December 19th," wrote Kelly Malquist of a gift she and her husband gave. "We got so much more than we ever imagined. They are both young men now and we couldn't be more proud of both of them. It started with an hour a week and turned into family, love, patience and laughter and so much more."

13. A red scooter for an elderly neighbor

"An elderly lady, Mrs. Yates, lived next door to us. She told me that she always wanted a shiny red scooter when she was little, but Santa never brought one to her. So we got her one and placed it on her porch right outside her front door with a big bow on it and a card from Santa saying he was sorry for being late with her scooter! She was ecstatic!!" — Jennifer Inman

14. The gift of life

"I donate blood regularly," Whittney Williams wrote. "Every time, I hope it saves someone's life, or [makes their] life a little easier."

15. Letters from students, friends, and loved ones

Photo by Warenski/Flickr.

Denise Helen Norwood spent a year collecting letters from people who loved, respected, and admired her husband, then she tied the letters to balloons and invited all the letter writers to a surprise PJ party at their house.

"Our doorbell rang, and my husband opened the door to see our entire front lawn filled with his friends each holding their letter balloon," she wrote. "We all came into the house and enjoyed hot chocolate, pastries and mugs of tomato soup. The PJ's provided endless photo ops and laughter and a sweet sense of coziness. It took my husband an entire year to read all of his beautiful letters. ❤"

The "best gift ever" can be anything. It's not so much what it is but why it matters to the receiver and the thought that the giver put into it that makes it special.

Next time you're looking to give someone something, think about them and what they've been missing. Maybe it's an airline ticket so they can see their family. Maybe it's as simple as a note that says "I'm here to talk whenever you want."

It doesn't need to cost a fortune for it to mean everything.  

We also asked you about the best gift you ever received (spoiler alert: Your answers were equally beautiful). You can read that article here.

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

True
The Wilderness Society


You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)


There's this dude named Captain Ahab who really really hates the whale, and he goes absolutely bonkers in his quest to hunt and kill it, and then everything is awful and we all die unsatisfied with our shared sad existence and — oops, spoilers!


OK, technically, the narrator Ishmael survives. So it's actually a happy ending (kind of)!

whales, Moby Dick, poaching endangered species

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Basically, it's a famous book about revenge and obsession that was published back in 1851, and it's really, really long.

It's chock-full of beautiful passages and dense symbolism and deep thematic resonance and all those good things that earned it a top spot in the musty canon of important literature.

There's also a lot of mundane descriptions about the whaling trade as well (like, a lot). That's because it came out back when commercial whaling was still a thing we did.

conservation, ocean water conservation

A non-albino mother and baby sperm whale.

Photo by Gabriel Barathieu/Wikipedia.

In fact, humans used to hunt more than 50,000 whales each year to use for oil, meat, baleen, and oil. (Yes, I wrote oil twice.) Then, in 1946, the International Whaling Commission stepped in and said "Hey, wait a minute, guys. There's only a few handful of these majestic creatures left in the entire world, so maybe we should try to not kill them anymore?"

And even then, commercial whaling was still legal in some parts of the world until as recently as 1986.

International Whaling Commission, harpoons

Tail in the water.

Whale's tail pale ale GIF via GoPro/YouTube

And yet by some miracle, there are whales who were born before "Moby-Dick" was published that are still alive today.

What are the odds of that? Honestly it's hard to calculate since we can't exactly swim up to a bowhead and say, "Hey, how old are you?" and expect a response. (Also that's a rude question — jeez.)

Thanks to some thoughtful collaboration between researchers and traditional Inupiat whalers (who are still allowed to hunt for survival), scientists have used amino acids in the eyes of whales and harpoon fragments lodged in their carcasses to determine the age of these enormous animals — and they found at least three bowhead whales who were living prior to 1850.

Granted those are bowheads, not sperm whales like the fictional Moby Dick, (and none of them are albino, I think), but still. Pretty amazing, huh?

whale blubber, blue whales, extinction

This bowhead is presumably in adolescence, given its apparent underwater moping.

GIF via National Geographic.

This is a particularly remarkable feat considering that the entire species was dwindling near extinction.

Barring these few centenarian leviathans, most of the whales still kickin' it today are between 20 and 70 years old. That's because most whale populations were reduced to 10% or less of their numbers between the 18th and 20th centuries, thanks to a few over-eager hunters (and by a few, I mean all of them).

Today, sperm whales are considered one of the most populous species of massive marine mammals; bowheads, on the other hand, are still in trouble, despite a 20% increase in population since the mid-1980s. Makes those few elderly bowheads that much more impressive, huh?

population, Arctic, Great Australian Blight

Southern Right Whales hangin' with a paddleboarder in the Great Australian Bight.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, these wonderful whales are in trouble once again.

We might not need to worry our real-life Captain Ahabs anymore, but our big aquatic buddies are still being threatened by industrialization — namely, from oil drilling in the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight.

In the off-chance that companies like Shell and BP manage not to spill millions of gallons of harmful crude oil into the water, the act of drilling alone is likely to maim or kill millions of animals, and the supposedly-safer sonic blasting will blow out their eardrums or worse.

This influx of industrialization also affects their migratory patterns — threatening not only the humans who depend on them, but also the entire marine ecosystem.

And I mean, c'mon — who would want to hurt this adorable face?

social responsibility, nature, extinction

BOOP.

Image from Pixabay.

Whales might be large and long-living. But they still need our help to survive.

If you want another whale to make it to his two-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday (which you should because I hear they throw great parties), then sign this petition to protect the waters from Big Oil and other industrial threats.

I guarantee Moby Dick will appreciate it.


This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.