Open the Phone Book, Pick a Name, and Send Someone Anonymous Gifts



Sometimes we all have a rough night, morning, month, etc — even Barbie. About two months ago, I anonymously mailed letters of encouragement to three randomly selected strangers and wrote down 15 of my favorite inspirational quotes in the letters. Hopefully, the strangers were excited, rather than extremely creeped out. Even so, I found that this act caused me a major happiness boost and reduced a lot of stress, especially as the end of my college career was approaching. Another similar item on my “Kind Acts & Volunteering” list was “Open the phone book, pick a name, and then send them something anonymously,” which I completed yesterday.


The other day, as I ventured into the Party Store to buy balloons for another bucket list item — “attach a note to a balloon and release it into the air” — I came across a bag of smiley face slinkies. Perfect, I thought. While I know the slinkies are not the most expensive gift to send someone, or some people might think, just what I need, more junk, I felt as if they fit the tone of the letter I planned to write. And it’s the thought that counts, right? I figured that even if they want to throw out the slinkies, I hope that they will at least keep the letter.


After purchasing my smiley face balloon and slinkies, I sat outside in the sun crafting my letter. Yesterday, I went to buy a large manila envelope and stamps. After placing the letter and four of the slinkies in the envelope, I randomly selected my recipient using the same system I tried last time. First, I went to a website that lists every surname in alphabetical order. Because I’d chosen people with last names falling under A,B, and C the last time, I decided to move onto D and used my very mature, efficient system of “eenie, meenie, miny, moe” to make my selection. Once I’d chosen a last name, I used the same approach on a website that lists all people with that last name and their addresses.


For the sake of privacy, I photoshoped out the recipient’s last name and address in the photos. I can say that her name is Diane, she’s from Ohio, and, according to the website she is listed on, she is 67 years old. Yesterday, I sent her letter on its way. While I sound a bit preachy, I learned a lot of the advice I included in the letter in a great interpersonal communication class I took this year and I think it is always nice to be reminded of how to deal with such an ingrained aspect of daily life: emotions.


Below is the letter I wrote:


“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon.

Dear Stranger,

Although I can assure you I don’t know you, I figure that everyone can use a pick-me-up or a little inspiration once in a while. I am writing to remind you that above all else, you should never forget to be happy. If you are going through a tough time right now, I want to let you know that things will get better. I recently learned that rather than viewing our emotions as a part of ourselves (i.e. “I am sad,” “I am anxious”), we should look at emotions as outside of ourselves like the weather and simply observe them. Don’t try to block out sadness or anger, but simply observe the emotions and know that, like rain, they will eventually go away. And if you are not going through a difficult time right now, I hope you look back on this letter sometime when you may need it more or show it to a loved one who may need a pink-me-up. The slinkies are to remind you to never forget the child-like wonder that comes with small pleasures. If you get a chance, start a gratitude journal: Each day, write down five things you are grateful for. It can be as simply as having a good cup of coffee. You will be amazed at the boost in happiness and change in perspecive this simple exercise provides. But this letter is not meant to be a lecture. If not anything else, I hope it at least put a smile on your face and that someday, you might return the favor and help a stranger in need. Here’s wishing you all the best!


Someone Who Cares =] ❤



Has anyone tried something similar or hopes to cross this one off his or her bucket list? I’d love to hear from you!

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38 Responses to Open the Phone Book, Pick a Name, and Send Someone Anonymous Gifts

  1. ardyey says:

    Reblogged this on The Pinoy JUANderer and commented:
    Happiness – we all need it so let’s all share it!!!

  2. ardyey says:

    Wow! This is an awesome article about happiness-something i really need!!!!

  3. sspsbsss says:

    Lovely post! For my birthday last year, I decided to do 42 acts of kindness on my birthday eve, to celebrate my 42 years of life. One of the things I did was look up people with my name, that had created wish lists on Amazon. I found someone with my name who’s wishlist was set to “public” so that I could see the items she wanted. I then ordered her one of them and included a note explaining why she was getting this gift. I had so much fun doing this and was excited to get the delivery confirmation. This link talks a bit about my fun kindness day. I’ll be making it a tradition, because it was so much fun to make other people smile! t

  4. eramys says:

    What a lovely idea 🙂

  5. Incredible Christine! I felt a rush of emotions just reading about this. These are really powerful things you’re doing and writing about it here. Keep it up!

  6. Simply beautiful…. 🙂

  7. Lovely and sweet post 🙂 It is such a simple thing to do and yet brings so much happiness not just to you but to everyone that hears/reads about it. Thank you for this slice of light and love you have shared.

  8. That’s such a simple and wonderful suggestion to brighten a stranger’s day! I might have to do something similar.

  9. Love this! Awesome idea 🙂

  10. mincs1 says:

    Wonderful gestures of kindness 🙂

  11. Asha Maria says:

    What a cute idea…I hope the recipients took the kind not creepy interpretation haha! Perhaps you could replace non renewables with a packet of heirloom vegie seeds or flower seeds (something easy like sweet peas or beans) to plant. It’s eco friendly and about the same cost and your gift can grow bigger each season if the seed is collected and stored for another crop. ☆★☆

  12. julieallyn says:

    Many years ago (thirty or more?) I did something similar. My dad’s aunt was getting on in years and she tended to be a little growly and difficult at times. Still I remembered fun times playing cards at her house when I was a little girl and always loved the sound of her laughter. Anyway I stumbled across a set of secret admirer-type cards to send for different holidays and occasions. For the next year I sent them to her with a brief note and, of course, unsigned. Agnes died before I was able to clue her in — and actually I’m not sure whether I even intended to do so since I felt the act of sending her the cards was to bring HER joy and not to pat my own self of the back for owning up to it. In any case, I hope she liked receiving them. I know that I enjoyed sending them. Thanks for the reminder to keep on doing ‘random acts of kindness’.

  13. The Hostess with the Mostest says:

    That is pretty amazing, it’s good to see love and humanity hasn’t died. Definitely will try this in the summer.

  14. nymuse88 says:

    You have a heart of gold and I love that your bucket list includes RAK. Thank you for following my blog and I will most certainly be following yours to read more of your bucket list. Have a wonderful day!

  15. Summer Lover says:

    I love your blog and what you are trying to do! My friend and I are trying to do something similar: raise money all summer and give it away in funny, surprising ways. I would absolutely love it if you checked out my blog, Summer of Fun List. Again, I love your blog and I hope you keep up the amazing work!!

  16. You have such a wonderful and rare heart! Thanks for blessing me with this read!

  17. Deborah says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. If more people would spend a little time and energy reaching out to others like this, I think we’d all be happier people. 🙂

  18. teacherlife1 says:

    I love this! I have not tried it yet but I am definitely adding it to the list. Thank you for sharing!

  19. It’s enormous that you are getting thoughts from this
    article as well as from our dialogue made at this place.

  20. Pingback: Kind Acts Bucket List | Turquoise Compass

  21. What a way to manifest your happiness into this world! This is a great idea that I will try! Please give us an update if someone responds to your letters!

  22. soundhealher says:

    The world is more because of your presence/presents!

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