Today is Christmas. This is perhaps the most celebrated holiday in the entire world.

Gift giving is core to the message of Christmas. For unto this world a child was born, a gift for all mankind who believe. If you celebrate this holiday, I want to wish you and yours a blessed Christmas.

Now to my question…

I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. Why?

I’m working on a new business book (coming out this summer from Wiley). I toyed with the idea of keeping it quiet. But then I realized how cool it would be to have you involved.

The title of the book will remain a secret (for a little longer). The book is about taking your business to new heights—in often unconventional ways.

Giving Gifts

The section of the book I’m writing now is on the power of giving genuine gifts to others. Others could be your readers, customers, or industry experts.

Here are some of the thoughts I’m working on:

True gifts engage people and help build relationships. A gift is something given without expectation of anything in return. The recipient does not earn it.

Gifts show your appreciation or provide no-strings-attached gestures of assistance.

Genuine gifts cannot be wrapped in marketing messages. They must be sent to known recipients. And they should be given joyfully.

Perhaps you can help me with this section.

What is the greatest gift you have ever received? Why was it great? How did it impact you? It can be personal or business-related…

Would you share your story?

Please leave your story in the box below. And there’s a chance you might end up in my book. Merry Christmas!

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  • When it comes down to it the greatest gift I received was my life, thanks to my parents. As bad as things get, especially this past year, I have to remind myself that it could be worse. I could be living in Afghanistan out of a cave. When it comes down to it, I’m alive, I’m free and at the very least I have hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

  • I agree with Justin Beller, the best gift you are ever given is life. My other greatest gifts was meeting the right man who been my partner for over 27 years, and the father to my sons. Things can always be worse, but looking on the bright side, I have two amazing sons, and a great husband..

  • Bill Brockett

    Children are the greatest gift…

  • Twenty-six years ago, having been fired from my job as a salesperson in software sales (I couldn’t sell a plump mouse to a starving cat), I showed up at my girlfriend’s door a few days before Christmas. Neither of us had a job or a clue where the future would lead. She asked me to marry her on Christmas Eve. Her gift of love, trust, and hope continues to brighten my heart through days dark or sunny.

  • Amy

    I’ve noticed the other comments are very spiritual but, for me, one of the greatest gifts was when a friend did my dishes (huge pile, in the sink…). It seems ridiculously simple but it was something I needed, something I never expected and most importantly something that told me, without words, that he was thinking of me and wanted to help me. It made me feel special — and isn’t that the whole point?

    Amy Parmenter

  • How thoughtful! Nice guy! (Actions mean so much more than words.) Have a nice Christmas and New Year.

  • John

    Family – the values, love and friendship that my parents instilled in me and now that they are both gone, maintaining those ties with my siblings and extended family members. It truely is a Merry Christmas and the best of all gifts to have the power to give and not need anything in return.

  • The greatest gift I ever received was the news ( over the phone) that I was pregnant with my son. We had been hopeful for more than a year. In a crowded room, I yelled “all right!” I named him Matthew which means God’s gift. And to me he is.

  • The gift of emotionally learning to “let go” of what I cannot control – That was huge for me especially at a time when I thought, everything was up to me to make it happen and a lot of people were depending on me (or so I thought) – It was time to face the music, and I did…with a lot of valor, and now…I can tell my story with a much pride, all thanks to that amazing coach and mentor who gave me the gift of “Letting Go”!

  • Hi
    My greatest gift yesterday was a present from my partner’s family in UK. His mum had lovingly put together a photo book of his family and had it created through photo box and sent to us in australia. There was photos of his sister and partner who now live in canada, his other sister who lives in London, photos of the his sister’s triathalon in Australia and his parents on various holidays. It is such a beautiful gift for us and put together with so much love.

  • Hard choice, but made a bit easier by the fact that I always joke that I’m looking for a 12-step program for people who travel too much, who are addicted to travel like me. Consequently, my choice (many wonderful gifts to choose from) was when my Dad gave me a trip for two anywhere in the world for three weeks. The gift came in a box wrapped with Xmas paper and inside was the gift certificate outlining the gift,along with about 30 travel brochures. It was an experience of a lifetime, from trying to decide where to go, to enjoying the trip to reliving the memories for years afterwards. I went and visited friends in New Zealand, then spent time in Australia, in Sydney, Ayers Rock and LIzard Island in the Great Barrier Reef, before heading to Tahiti. My Dad passed away Jan. 24, 2010 and this is my first Xmas without him. Thanks for prompting me to take a trip down memory lane and to remember his wonderful present.

  • As an entrepreneur I feel the most incredible gift I’ve received is from others who believed in me and my vision before I believed in myself. Gretchen was the instructor for my first business planning class in 2003. When I asked for extra help, she was willing and quickly told me she could teach me what I needed to do my own marketing. Now I’ve launched a marketing business and I continue to be amazed at how far I’ve come, and the various people who’ve trusted trust in my vision, leadership and success.

  • Leala

    The best gift is shared time with family, a good meal lovingly prepared, a warm fire, and something sweet to eat at the end of the day. A beautiful handmade gift that comes as a surprise is always a welcome addition. As an adult, we spend so much time creating surprises for others (the smaller people in our lives) that it is great to have the surprise created for you.

  • The greatest gift I’ve ever received was on the 4th of July over 20 years ago. It was the gift of eternal life from Jesus the Christ. I didn’t earn it, I just had to receive it. It cost me nothing but it cost Jesus great pain and suffering. He went through this torment to pay the required price for being able to offer this great gift to anyone who will receive Him. You are so right! A true gift does engage people and helps build relationships. Jesus gave me this gift so that He could have a personal relationship with me. I’m forever grateful and appreciative of this precious relationship–the greatest of all gifts!

  • Brijocor

    The greatest gift besides my wife and kids was my reawakening in my religious faith and the realization that you are not alone and that you can do and accomplish anything if you believe in yourself and…just do it!!!!

  • Rey

    The unexpected love of a woman this very Christmas day is the latest gift but I have received many many of these kinds of surprising and personal gifts in my life. As many are being philosophical here that is the kind I shared. Although you said personal or business I think most are just feeling the season and feeling toasty about personal gifts. In business, I moved to Shanghai, China for work and have been here for 2 months–I interviewed a girl from Mexico and now that I am here in Shanghai adjusting the Chinese ways I had not realized how much I miss my culture. When she was saying goodbye I shook her hand (by pure chance as I had taken that habit out of me since it is not done here very much because I work with an all Chinese crew) and she being from Mexico gave me a kiss on the cheek and that was on the 23rd and it really brought all that I was missing about my culture back so without knowing she gave me the gift of remembering my roots and the little things like: saying bless you after a sneeze, Shaking hands, saying good morning to everyone and Merry Christmas and kissing and hugging special colleges and all the things we do that are not done in China just came back…things i did not know I missed because I am normally not very warm. Then a different woman gave me that special gift on Christmas, 12000 miles from Miami in a frigid day and I received things I never expected to receive and I felt and feel completely blessed.

    In business the greatest gift I have received has been seeing my business partner who is an IT Guru in his 20s grow from a poor childish business decision maker and erratic moody boss to a great business executive and boss inside of just 3 years. He has grown so much that I would put him against any executive out there! He has surpassed me and that too is a gift because now I cannot take care of the business and he has to do it all alone. As far as physical gift the greatest business gift I got was an electronic picture frame from Google, it sort of said to me, you have made it high enough in advertising dollars in Google to get a gift from them, so I felt special!

  • As a life long volunteer this question can be answered easily and in a single word, “Satisfaction!”

    The act of giving is so fulfilling and the rewards beyond measure; the greatest gifts one could ever receive.

    Here is a link to a post I did a few months ago titled, “Giving for the sake of giving…” in which I shared a few of my thoughts:

    Merry Christmas and best wishes with your book in 2011 Michael.

  • Luisodlh

    Last week I get a Ipad from a non for profit organization that I help to reach the hispanic market
    Luis O DelaHoz

  • Amen

  • Rdms87

    In 1974 my husband asked me to marry him on his birthday, 12/17. My greatest gift was the engagement ring which we picked out together, and which I still wear, since we are still married. No one in my family approved of it, and all thought it wouldn’t last. Few showed up on the day we married. We’ve had a wonderful life, and this proves that true love wins out.

  • Danielcarroll

    Hello and Happy Holidays…
    The greatest gift I ever recieved I got by accident/coincidence/good fortune… I was walking down a corridor of my college, in Apr. 1974 and I saw a Priest. he was the college chaplain, Fr. William (Bill) Fogarty MIC. I
    asked him this question “Fr. I have everything money can buy at this young age, however when I turn out the light at night “something is missing.”
    We became instant friends, and, though he is desceased now, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him and what this highly educated, super intelligent, servant of God, did for me through excellent, sound, and moral advise. It has stood the test of time and my life could have easily ended up a zero without his help.
    What a gift!
    Sincerely Yours,
    Daniel carroll

  • All real nice gifts – however, they seem to me to be very ‘American’ in a sense. I’m from the Netherlands, and over here, we’re not as religiously spiritual by a long shot as the average American is. Therefore, while love and truth and friendship and the likes are all appreciated, the Dutch hardly ever feel like voicing their gratitude. That’s not to say there’s no spirituality here, it’s just not often discussed.

    From the above statements, it occurs to me that ‘the greatest gift’ is most often something of a very personal nature. It could become yours in a moment of utter serendipity, or completely out of the blue – the unexpectedness only adding to the impact of it.

    In the end, it all boils down to desires and expectations, but the truly great gifts are those you never knew you craved until you actually got them. Kind of the reverse of not missing your water until your well runs dry. Some things you might not be aware of longing for, are things like recognition, acknowledgement, praise; these are emotions or dedications that are aimed directly at the recipient – you’re being appreciated for being you.

    So, when I first started out as a freelance copywriter, I received truckloads of advertisements and mailings of companies that were all eager to make me *their* client: I got letters from webdesigners, administration agencies, banks, lawyers, insurers, printers, computer-resellers, and what-have-you. And I got a pen. I received a pen from a company that sold customizable, promotional, give-away pens. And this one already had the name of my freelance company on it. That was the moment that for me it all became real…

    It was highly ingratiating to see something so simple, yet so personal. A pen with my company’s name on it. It could have been a USB stick, it could even have been a T-shirt, a plastic bag, or a cap. The moment someone sent me someting personalized without myself being the one to personalize it, that was great!

    All I’m saying, I guess, is that any physical gift is all the more valuable if someone at the other end has spent effort and time into ensuring the gift is more than some generic item – has, in fact, gone through the trouble of picking something personal, thereby acknowledging you as a ‘You’ and not as a client or a statistic.

    Happy holidays, everyone!

    Alexander Kenter, copywriter

  • Wow Alexander,

    This is exactly what I am looking for! Your story is the type I am seeking for my book.

  • Daniel, thanks for sharing that great story

  • I love it when stories like this are told. I wish you many more years together

  • Wow, they just sent you one out of the blue?

  • Thanks and Merry Christmas to you John

  • Hey Rey, great story about not understanding the importance of culture until it is missing. Merry Christmas

  • Hey Steve. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Unexpected gifts are indeed special

  • You’ve gotta love the Grecthen’s of this world

  • Cathy, that must have been an amazing adventure. That gift from your dad will be with you always

  • Physical photos are something we don’t seem to look at much and that must have been an amazing gift

  • Hi Ali, that must have been sine mentor. Congrats

  • That is awesome. How old is Matthew now?

  • That is an awesome gift that keeps on giving

  • Amy, isn’t it amazing what a gift a relatively small gesture can be?

  • Hey James, congrats on an amazing marriage! Merry Christmas

  • Bill, I do believe that children are an awesome gift given to us. Now the question is what do we do with them while we have them

  • Hey Km, congrats on having an awesome family

  • Hey Justin, great perspective that is uncommon in my experience

  • Everyone has a unique perspective and every viewpoint is valuable. The greatest gift I have received in my life is Love. Love from God and family. I have been lucky in Love also, having married a very unselfish, giving woman in 1974 and having two wonderful adult children who are thoughtful, intelligent and loving. A large loving family to share Christmas with [young and old] is a gift in itself. People I have met in business who understand the power of giving good service and keeping their word is a gift that builds good relationships. The amazing power technology today is a great gift incomparable in the history of the world. There is much I am thankful for, life, health, education, forgiveness, salvation, opportunity, trust, hope, charity and the greatest of all, Love. I admire people who are grateful for there great gifts and show it everyday in small and large ways. Michael thank you for SocialMediaExaminer and I wish you success with your book.

  • Richard, thank you very much. And I hope you had a blessed Christmas yesterday

  • She was, and still is “some mentor” – That’s why it’s important that we surround ourselves with people that really care, are smarter than us, and can guide us, even though at the end of the day , we make the ultimate decisions. Thank you Michael for starting this post. It seems to have hit home for some of us.

  • Suzimason

    The greatest gift I have ever received was my sister travelling thousands of miles to attend my graduation ceremony – it was when I realised just how supportive and selfless she has always been and I don’t know whether I have always deserved it but it will always be one of my most cherished memories.

  • WinkGina

    My greatest gifts: 1) the love of 4 kids and an amazing husband of 17 years, although many times I don’t deserve it, he has shown me what it is like to truly love someone unconditionally, just like Christ.
    2) the kindness of friends that helped us during our recent move after losing our house. Faith, family and friendship are all that remain at the end and I am so thankful to have them all.

  • Carla

    My greatest gift wasn’t realized until long after it was given. I also have found that the greatest gifts are usually the ones that were not expected or asked for. I had the privilege to care for my mother while she battled cancer. She fought courageously for almost a year and a half. During that time, I homeschooled 3 children, had a 4th child, cared for her by myself in and out of my home, and took her to every doctors appointment and chemo treatment she had – all 3 hrs roundtrip. Needless to say, I was living day to day in chaos and continued in this lifestyle long after she passed.

    This is our 2nd Christmas without MeMe. Looking back in time, I see that the lessons I learned from watching her struggle, caring for her up until the moment of death, and witnessing those who loved her offer encouragement and comfort have forever changed the way I look at others and myself. There could be no greater gift and I wouldn’t change a thing about the this time of my life.

    I believe that most of us don’t realize the gifts we receive from those around us on a daily basis. The gift of learning to love, learning to see things from a different perspective, learning to respect, learning to appreciate, etc… These are the true gifts of life that make us who we are and who we want to be.

  • I have always loved horses, but never been able to own one. I also tend to be shy with meeting new opportunities. With this in mind, my husband gave me the most beautiful, thoughtful gift I’ve ever been given. I opened his present to me to find a DVD, a home made one. We popped it into the TV and images of a nearby horse farm popped up. “Merry Christmas, Sweetheart,” it read, “It’s time to meet some new friends.” Then it showed shots of horses and their names. At the end of the short video, I learned that my husband had contacted the farm and arranged for me to go as often as I liked to brush, feed and just “BE” with the horses. I cried with joy. His gift is not only perfect, it shows me how much he paid attention to my dreams and overcame my fears, arranging for me to “own” a horse for an hour here and there.

  • Rey

    Thank you Michael, it is great how you have personally responded to each person!

    I think the best part of my story is that when you are alone and you need something, even if you do not know you need it as in the case of the culture and being lonely far from all that is dear to you, like I am, the powers that be provide it for you and remind you that all you need in life is attainable if only you are open to receive the gifts it sends your way. Without the Mexican girl I would not have received the eye opening that led to the other gift, my most special Christmas gift (and only one I might add). Without noticing how much my business partner has grown as an executive I would not have had this amazing opportunity here in Shanghai (even if I was lonely). Life gives you all you need, and all it asks is that you are open to see its gifts–I count myself lucky for being open and counting each little gift that adds to my overall happiness, and even when I am blind per my story, life shines a light in my path so I can see what I need to see and find the gifts I had missed!

    As many have said, the ultimate gift is life itself. Many have told of overcoming struggles and painful experiences and and still feeling appreciation for life which demonstrates my point– life always has a gift at the end; we just have to be open to receive it because its gifts always lead to peace and joy!

  • We are the same Justin our life is the most beautiful gift we have

  • Simona Pratali

    After 2 years of being unemployed and a completely “stranger” in my own country, I have been given the opportunity to work again in the US… With the freedom to live in countries like ours, as per Justin’s word, is the second best gift in the whole world, my dignity!

  • SGoodman9459

    The true meaning. What a great reminder as we celebrate the gift we can’t match, but can hope to encourage others.

  • I inadvertently GAVE someone a special gift — a tiny elderly lady and I were standing at a curb in downtown Chicago, waiting for the light to change. She was wearing an attractive knit suit and I decided to compliment her on it. “Oh, do you think it’s alright? My husband died a few months ago. He always attended shareholders’ meetings, but I never did and I wasn’t quite sure this was appropriate. I made it myself.”

    I assured her that the suit was very lovely and quite appropriate. She just glowed and stood at least an inch taller as she thanked me. The light turned green and we went our separate ways.

  • Eanescomfort

    Christ to pay the penalty for my sins so I don’t have to.

  • Thanks so much!

  • What a cool story!

  • Simona – Welcome back!

  • How awesome

  • I am with you about not realizing the gifts we receive daily. You did great service to your MeMe

  • Unconditional love is hard to give but so valuable. Thanks for sharing that

  • That is awesome and you must have been overjoyed by her attendance

  • Jackie

    The best gift I’ve ever received is the gift of sobriety. Through the grace of God and the fellowship of AA, I have over 16 years of continuous sobriety. It’s not easy, or more people would be sober today. I owe my life today to those who have gone before me in AA and who continue to show me the way to stay sober, one day at a time.

  • Jackie, here’s to another 16!

  • Earlcanlas

    I watched a grade school boy who has deformed bones because of brittle bone disease. He goes to school on a baby stroller. There is no cure at present. A news and public affairs TV station gave the family gifts to celebrate Christmas. And best of all they gave the kid a better stroller that was more suited to his going to class. The boy loves to learn though it takes quite an effort for him to write. He can think of a better future and his teacher in a special education class was all too happy to see him in a more comfortable stroller in her class.

    The gift of hope and a future is indeed part of our right sense of living. If that boy can dream of a better day, how can any of us give up on our situation today. The privilege of life and our sense of being is gift of no equal. Christmas reminds us to keep that hope.

  • The best gift I ever received was at 4:19pm on Christmas Eve, 2008. In 2005, my mom had a stroke on her 60th birthday during our vacation but survived. Shortly after that, my husband and I decided it was time to have a child. We didn’t want our parents to miss out on the joy of having a grandchild. After THREE long and disheartening years of trying, I learned in April of 2008 that I was finally pregnant. I was due December 28th and did NOT want a Christmas baby. I didn’t want to spend the holiday in the hospital. But at 11pm on the 23rd, I went into labor. Several long, but very special hours later, our son was born. I will never in my life forget the feelings I had those two special days. I thought being in the hospital over Christmas would be bad, but it was the BEST Christmas I ever had and he was by far the best gift God and Santa could have bestowed on me. What is so amazing is that even now, two years later, he is a gift that just keeps giving. I will never forget that special day, and even after all of the pain and suffering of labor, would do it again in a heart beat. I learned that day that some things, no matter how hard, are worth it – oh and that Christmas dinner in a hospital actually isn’t that bad! 🙂

  • What an awesome Christmas delivery! 🙂

  • Lori M

    I have been blessed with many gifts in my lifetime. Starting with parents who loved me, believed in me and trusted me enough to let me find my own path. At 18 I met a boy and (as 18 year old girls tend to do) fell head over heels. I’m certain that no one believed the relationship would last but here we are 31 years later, still head over heels. The gift of unconditional love is an unexpected treasure in this life. We gave each other the gift of two beautiful children who’ve grown into mature, responsible adults ( I’m still not sure how that happened) and we’ve been blessed with SEVEN incredible grandchildren. My first granddaughter was born 1 week before my 40th birthday. Truly a gift beyond measure.
    Courtesy of the US Navy we were gifted with the opportunity to travel the world and live in places that would never have been possible without that gift. And to make friends with people we would never have met otherwise.
    When he was close to retiring from the service, my husband gave me the gift of absolute faith and pushed me to take the step of opening a floral shop of my own. I wouldn’t have had the courage to take that step with out his unrelenting support and belief in my abilities. We celebrated our 15th year in business this summer.

    A family I love, a career that gives me a chance to share my gifts with the world, a home full of laughter and joy. The greatest gift I’ve ever recieved….This life that I’m living.

  • My best gift ever was being reunited with my two baby boys, husband, mother and two dogs when they came out of the smoke of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire in Kelowna on the night of August 26, 2003. I write the story here:

  • I recently read a very apt psychology article on this subject, the message was that the best gifts alleviate the guilt the recipient would have otherwise had upon making the purchase themselves.

    Check it out at:

  • My youngest granddaughter, Abby, gave me the best gift this year for Christmas. She had saved her money and bought family members gifts for Christmas. So proudly she walked up to me and papaw, with her precious innocence, and handed us a gift that she had bought with her own money and wrapped herself. It was a set of refrigerator snowman and snow-woman magnets. My heart melted! It’s not the gift that’s so great (which probably only cost $2), it’s the thought behind the gift and how it made her so happy to give. God Bless all and have a Happy and prosperous New Year.

  • Charleehanna

    Greatest gifts-a moving target in my life.
    Twice because of strange and difficulty pregnancies I should have died-but didn’t and lived. Gift was very competent Drs and life
    Twice my husband was in very serious car accidents but both times survived and is doing well. Gift was my husband
    Once we were in such difficult financial distress that the IRS, lawyers and accountants claimed we would lose everything. Gift is we still have the house and are successfully paying it all off. Almost there
    During most of the above we lived in Montana 40 below without heat and a few other things. Gift was living in beautiful Montana and being on the river in the summer. The river makes everything better.
    Five very very rebellious children. (Oh you cannot imagine). Gift-they are all doing well, finishing up their education, (one is a Ped. Surgeon) and adding to the betterment of the world.
    Another gift-all of those wonderful friends who smile, give hugs and lots of love.
    But greatest gift is my belief that their is a God and he watches over us.
    There is the list. Happy New Year Everyone. This will be a fun fantastic year and yes there are answers to all of our questions.

  • Crystina Pyper

    I know this is an old post, but I am looking for a birthday gift idea for my husband and stumbled here. On our wedding day he gave me a sketch of my wedding dress. It was so perfect and now I am trying to top it!