By Genny Glassman
The hardest part about college ending is that I don’t often get to see my friends from school anymore. We are all living in different places and for the most part, we are all too broke to live anywhere but at home with our parents. It can be all too easy to let little things pull you apart when you aren’t spending the same quality time that you’re used to. Besides the typical texting, status liking, or Snapchatting that most of us do, I think giving your friends a physical token of how much you miss them can keep your friendships going. Some may say this is the equivalent of buying love, but I think making the gesture of sending something personal reminds them that you are willing to put your time, energy, and money into someone who you feel is special. Here are some easy and cheap (because remember, you’re broke) ways to keep in touch.
1. Made With Code Bracelets:
If you follow Mindy Kaling’s instagram you may have seen these bracelets before. Along with Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling hosted an event to celebrate the start of Google’s $50 million initiative to get young girls interested in coding. All you do is go on the Made With Code website (madewithcode.com), go through a series of very easy coding prompts, pick your color and the words you want written on the bracelet, and then the whole thing is printed off on a 3D printer and sent to you for free from Google.
Maybe it was abusing the system, but I made a couple for my friends to let them know I was thinking about them. I just put their addresses in the prompt for shipping and warned them that they would be getting a package that wouldn’t be sent from my home address. The bracelets are really cute and I think everyone gets a little happy jolt when they get mail that isn’t a loan repayment bill. It takes about a month to receive your Made With Code bracelet, so if you are planning on getting one for a birthday or special occasion, make sure you plan accordingly.
I’m not exactly a crafty or DIY kind of person. The last time I thought I could forgo going to a professional, I gave myself bangs when I was bored on a Sunday afternoon. In hindsight, I can’t decide if they looked cute, but in a you tried kind of way or just weren’t cute. In any case, at the time I proudly boasted that, yes, I was the hairstylist behind my Frankenstein’s-head-scar line of fringe. Knitting is not like that. Knitting is an incredibly easy skill to pick up and practice while you do other things, and even a novice can make something that looks professional.
If you want to learn to knit I suggest picking up a beginner’s guide book like Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller (trust me, buy it used on Amazon), getting a free account on the knitting site Ravelry.com, and looking up how-to videos on YouTube. The first thing you want to learn is how to cast your yarn onto your needles, then move on to stitches. You want to learn the knit stitch first, and then once you feel comfortable with that, you can move on to a purl stitch. Voila, you’ve already mastered enough to make a myriad of DIY projects.
If you are going to knit for other people, especially people who do not knit, keep in mind that they may not be able to understand or appreciate how much hard work and time goes into one knitting project. You don’t want to spend three months of hard work and ambition on a sweater, only to give it to someone who just sees it as just another article of clothing that wasn’t made in their favorite color. So the best thing to do is keep gifts small and practical, a hat, mittens, slippers…etc. How much money you spend on your materials, yarn and needles, can vary, but more often than not a chain like Michael’s (not Hobby Lobby) will have 40-50% off coupon on their website that you can apply to at least one of your purchases, and their prices are often reasonable. Right now, I’m making a hat for a friend who is about to spend the year teaching in Korea and my total expenses for needles and 2 skeins of yarn was only about $6. A more experienced knitter could probably get it for even cheaper.
3. Postcards & Letters:
The first few months after I graduated I really got into the idea of letter writing. Most of the ways that you will communicate with your friends post-grad is electronically through social media, liking and re-blogging their words or pictures. I’m not going to tell you that this is the wrong way to keep in touch. If your friend posts a selfie on their Instagram, it is your responsibility to like it and write a flattering comment. However, there is little romance in a thumbs up. Sometimes I wanna see my friends curly, crazy handwriting, and hear stories that are more intimate than they would share in their status (unless you hang out with those people who like to share everything). I think there something intimate and affectionate about how a person will tell the story to you, specifically. What nicknames they will call you, and what memories they will call upon to explain how something looked or felt. Plus buying stationery can be really fun and personal, and sending postcards is as cheap as it gets. I sent off a couple of letters to people, though in truth most of my friends are not as writing-focused as I am, so they were not entirely as enthused. I got some responses back, some only texted to say they got it. The problem is that most people don’t have the time to write letters anymore, and if they did, they’d rather watch Netflix. Don’t let this discourage you, though. There is a reason why I included postcards/letters to my list. Here is what I suggest:
- If you want to pursue letter writing, find a friend who is willing to commit with you. Letter writing is a whole art that you must learn about and get better at. We don’t really communicate with the written word that often, so there is a good chance that you may need time to figure out your writing style and the best way to tell a story or an idea to another person.
- If you don’t want to put pressure on them to respond, send a postcard. Find something funny and write a message that doesn’t ask them a question, for example: “I’m so happy you got that internship!” “‘Game of Thrones’ sucked last night (though we all know it didn’t).” “Your dog and I are in a secret relationship and she says she like me best!” Whatever. Just go into it with the idea that you are sending them a little love to brighten their day and are not expecting anything in return.
The best part is that even if they don’t send something back, more often than not your friends will at least send you a Snapchat or text showing you what they’ve received and telling you how much it means to them. I have one response that I received from my friend Sarah where she handmade the stationery. And another friend, Christi, keeps a postcard I sent her at her desk at work. All of these mementos can just be special tokens that keep you feeling connected. Best of all, your friends will appreciate that you tried to make them feel special, even if you did it while sitting on the couch in your underwear. I think I’ll end on that mental image for my buddies, enjoy!
Genny Glassman is a writer from the most beloved city on the east coast, Philadelphia. If there was a name for fans of Amy Poehler, a-la Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, she would be one of them. But the best name she can think of is Poehleroids, so ya’ know…that name isn’t going to happen. In college she was involved with sketch comedy and now that she out of college, she would still like to be involved with sketch comedy. She has spent time in both England and Los Angeles, so she is also very well rounded. You can find more of her writing on her personal website.