I decided that since my 25th birthday was full of a little bit of reflection (my favorite blog post ever) and two days of crazy Sar-attention (Day 1 and Day 2), this year I wanted something lower key, toned down, and more focused on spreading love ('cuz duh, who doesn't need more love?).
So I decided to give 26 gifts to 26 strangers.
Since I don't have family in the state (or in a day's driving distance), holidays and celebrations are always a little less fulfilling than how they'd be if I could hug my mom or laugh with my dad. Thus, why not celebrate with 26 people I didn't know?
First, I went to Target and bought 22 gifts and gift bags (plus 4 $5 Starbucks gift cards). I'm pretty sure I bought out their dollar section!
Then, I wrapped them up (some creatively; pens are hard to wrap!) and attached my favorite Mary Oliver poem to the outside as inspiration.
At the bottom, I included a thanks and my blog URL (since I knew I wanted to take photos of all the recipients and thought they should be able to come check them out if they liked).
Then, I patiently waited for my birthday to celebrate the love!
The day started out a little awkwardly because I didn't know how to ask people if I could give them presents ("HimynameisSarahanditsmybirthdaycanIgiveyouapresent?" didn't seem to work), but it got better throughout the day. In general, I told people that it was my birthday so I was hoping they would celebrate with me by accepting a small gift, and in return smile for a photograph. Everybody was accommodating (even though a few people were taken aback or skeptical that I was going to sell them something), and it turned out to be one of the best birthdays to date. Check out my new friends:
Sasha was given a Starbucks gift card. I stood behind her in line, gave her the gift, and she ended up paying for my drink––so sweet, right?! Kind of defeats the purpose, but she was paying it forward by paying for my drink! A great way to start the day, even though she thought there was a catch when I first asked her to accept the gift. ;)
This is Belinda, my favorite Baylor Starbucks barista. She received thank you cards and a matching pen. Giving Belinda a gift was kind of cheating because I see her multiple times per week (her and her coworkers make the best iced tall Americano with two pumps of white mocha), but besides her name and her daughter, I know little about her so I thought that counted as a "stranger."
Jacob received a Starbucks gift card as well, which I gave him after he paid for the food he was eating!
Colin received one of my favorite gifts, a small but nice notebook with an inspirational quote and a pen to go with it. I know, it's kind of a girly gift for a man, but Colin took it in stride ("My 10-year old daughter would love this!"). Also a cool story, almost immediately after I gave it to him, he found my email address and sent me a thank you email. Makes sense considering he works in the Electronic Communications department at Baylor!
After Colin, I sat down and started to do some work ('cuz that's what the cool kids do, work on their birthdays) when I looked up and made eye contact with this nice man. He kept smiling at me, so I figured I'd go give him a gift (Starbucks gift card). He thought I was a student and apologized for being late to our nonexistant meeting, so I surprised him by giving him a gift. This is Dr. Corey Carbonara, who is probably one of the nicest men in the world. He works in Film and Digital Media, and apparently was 2000's one of the "Most Powerful Texans in High Tech." Um, awesome.
Andrew made me want to give him a gift when he wore a Wenatchee Junior Golf shirt. Nobody ever wears Washington state shirts here, so I excitedly asked him about it and he sadly informed me that he bought it in a thrift store in Alabama. Damn. Regardless, he was very thankful for the notebook and pen I gave him, then we had a 5-minute conversation about our favorite types of pens. Thanks for being a nerd with me, Andrew!
I caught Kristina going to class and snapped a picture quickly so she wasn't late (so sorry it's blurry!). She received thank you cards and a matching pen.
After my regular Tuesday morning meeting, I noticed Alyssa nicely sitting outside of the office working by herself, so I asked her if I could give her a gift! She's adorable, right? She received one of the quote notebooks with a pen.
I'm pretty sure I caught Caroline right before she went to class as well, but she was a trooper and posed for a picture before hurrying off. Caroline received some blank cards and a pen.
Taylor was one of my favorite gift-giving experiences of the day because she seemed so geniunely touched that someone would give her a gift on their birthday. She was interested and engaged, and I love that in an undergraduate! Taylor received cards and a matching pen.
I saw Michael coming out of the Moody library Starbucks with a venti blended drink, so I knew he'd appreciate the Starbucks gift card (it's on the ground for this picture, but trust me, it was huge). He joked with me for a few minutes and chatted about photography, then smiled for this photo with his gift card.
I saw Michaela and Kayla (their actual names, cute right?) walking together as I was headed back to the parking garage to pick up more gifts. They both received a card set with a matching pen.
Right outside the parking garage, I ran into Carleen who was incredibly polite even though I probably looked terrifying as I walked straight up to her making a ton of eye contact. She was delightful, however, receiving her quote notebook with a pen.
Then, Meg (who also got a notebook with a pen) walked up behind me unknowingly about to receive a gift. Meg noted that she loved the idea of sharing her birthday with strangers and we chatted for a few minutes while walking towards the parking garage together.
I reloaded my gifts (I couldn't start out by carrying all 26 at once) and then headed outside of the parking garage when I ran into Katie. A sweet woman who was very thankful, Katie received a mug and notepad combo.
I was about to leave the parking garage area when I ran into my good friend Victoria (or Vicky, the one in the sunglasses) and her friend Angie. I didn't know Angie, but since Vicky vouched for me, I bombarded her with a gift! She also received a coffee mug and some post-it notes with cupcakes on them.
Later on that morning by the library, I ran into Jiawen and Mackenzie walking together. Jaiwen was adorable and asked me why on earth I was celebrating my birthday backwards ("I think we should be giving you gifts!"), but they both received their gifts with smiles! Both Mackenzie and Jiawen received a set of two nail polish bottles and a cute Sally Hansen nail file.
Right behind them stood Emily, a sweet girl who received a quote notebook with a pen. Emily was very accommodating considering she seemed more introverted and I walked straight up to her walking past the library. Thanks for letting me give you a gift, Emily!
I had a meeting in the library (yay for writing groups!) so I walked through to find some people to gift. I noticed a smiley man in a nice suit, so I thought what better than to give him the gift of a water gun?! This is Matt, a student at Baylor Law, proudly accepting his gift. You're never too old for a water gun, especially during a hot muggy day like yesterday!
Sitting next to Law Student Matt was Hannah Beth, who was working on a paper for class. I'm pretty sure that if I got to redo my freshman year of college, I'd totally pick Hannah Beth as my roommie. She received two bottles of nail polish and a nail file.
Coming out of the library, I ran into Katy studying. She also received two bottles of nail polish and a nail file. +10 cool points for Katy, as she has a sister who spells her name like I do. Winning!
I had one more water gun and needed a guy (since most were girly gifts) who looked like he'd use it. Enter Cody, who mid-bite told me he'd love to accept a gift. He made a joke about food in his teeth, but I'm sure y'all don't notice 'cuz he's such an adorable man.
I saw Holly turn her stroller in front of me in Fountain Mall and I hadn't given a gift to a mom yet (that I knew of), so I thought she'd be perfect. I walked quickly to try to catch up with her, but she was bookin' it fast so I ended up saying "Excuse me!" and hoping she turned around. She did, and introduced me to Jacob. Although Jacob seemed more interested in the bag and tissue paper, Holly received a candle and a votive holder. Holly's from Pennsylvania so she identified with only seeing family 3x a year, so it was nice to bond over our common denominator.
Lastly, my 26th gift was given to Madison in front of the Student Union Building (accurately but unoriginally called the SUB). Madison sweetly complimented my tote (thanks!) and then accepted her gift of two bottles of nail polish and a nail file.
So that was it! 26 gifts to 26 strangers and my day was made. Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me, new friends!
To celebrate (besides gifts to strangers) I went to dinner with some friends and then to the last round of pub trivia like a normal Tuesday, but I'll blog about that tomorrow.
[Shout-out to Miss Sandra SandyPants, my sister-in-love whose birthday is today! Happy birthday to the best mom under 50 I know!]