When a friend accomplishes something noteworthy, it often comes with a formulaic response: a congrats with a text message or FaceTime call, accompanied by a social media post. It’s a kind show of support, but deep down, you might feel that you can—and should—do better.
In lieu of posting a shoutout on social media or sending a text message full of emojis, there are other options that can be more effective at driving home just how excited and proud you are of someone.
Why texts, calls, and shoutout don’t cut it
Make no mistake, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional, quicker route of texting, calling, or posting to your Instagram stories in someone’s honor. In essence, you’re sending a direct message (pun intended) to someone that you’re proud of them and their accomplishment.
One reason to avoid it, though, is that your celebratory missive will be drowned out in a wave of similar, competing celebratory missives. Chances are high that this person’s other friends are mulling over posting a congratulatory photo on Instagram as well, or sending a text message with tentative plans to grab a drink or lunch sometime in the future. Again, absolutely nothing wrong with that, but you may want to do something different to stand out, be more thoughtful, or just more creative.
Consider a handwritten note
Want to impart a message that will stay lodged in someone’s memory? Send them a physical copy of a note they can put on their refrigerator. Writing something out by hand shows a personalized touch that a social media post lacks. It’s indicative of actual effort—which can seem in dwindling supply when it comes to the comfort and ease of shooting a text or crafting a post.
Order dinner for them
This gesture screams thoughtfulness, as you have to know your friend’s favorite food or restaurant and go through the process of actually ordering it to their home address. Nothing says congrats like giving someone an actual experience rather than a shoutout or text message. It has a personalized feel that doesn’t beg for the kind of recognition inherent in so many social media posts—plus, everyone has to eat.
Ask them to Zoom…then have more people meet them there
Call it a surprise party for the pandemic age: Ask a friend to log on to a video conference about ten minutes after you and a few other friends have already logged on—then boom, surprise party. You’ll probably find your friend brimming with gratitude, perhaps teary-eyed over the other end of the chat. Or you might not, but this is still a fantastic way to show that there’s a whole community of people out there ready to celebrate their triumphs.
Digital cards, especially sent from a group
It’s hard to get multiple signatures on a physical letter and send them to someone’s house, so try to do it digitally. There are great options, such as Kudoboard, which allows you to put together a kind of digital board with different forms of media, added by different people, all expressing a message of congrats.
Why it matters
Too often, friends are subtly competitive with one another. Sending a message of congrats that requires genuine effort flips that paradigm on its head. That’s something we should strive to be doing, so long as we have relationships worth nurturing.