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Nicole Yang / Columbia Daily Spectator

As quarantining and self-isolation have drastically shifted where and how we live our lives, some of us may also be experiencing milestones away from those we care about most. If you have a friend who might be spending a special occasion alone, check out these tips on how to show your appreciation from afar, as opposed to physically going out to a store to buy a present.

DIY Present

Being in quarantine means no running to the store to buy a present for your friend, so you’ll have to make do with what’s at home. Luckily, this is where the Internet comes in handy. If you can make something for a friend that you would otherwise buy, check out online tutorials for how to create certain gifts yourself.

Picture Collage

Ever find yourself debating what your laptop or phone background should be? Your friend might have as well. Consider compiling your favorite pictures or videos of your friend to create a collage. Though our time physically at Columbia has been cut short this semester, it can be great to relive memories by revisiting virtual ones via your camera roll or Snapchat.

Gift Card

As the convenient and quick option, a gift card could be the perfect present for a friend. If you’re worried about any feelings of impersonality, try tailoring it to them by picking their favorite store or attaching it to a shared memory together.


If you have any artistic inclinations, you might want to consider a heartfelt painting or drawing for your friend. Whether it be a portrait of them, their pets, or the two of you together, an art piece shows your special someone that you are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to make them happy.

Online Shopping

In the age of the Internet, online shopping has become a societal norm. Make sure you have your friend’s address and send them a nice gift from Amazon. Now what exactly that gift should be is up to you. Note that clothes might not be the best fit if not bought by the person themselves.

Letter of Appreciation

Even if you don’t have the best stationary, a letter of appreciation is always a nice surprise to receive in the mail. Write down what you love most about your friend and what exciting things you’re looking forward to doing with them once we’re all back at Columbia.

Meal Delivery Service

You won’t be able to invite your friend to a nice dinner in the city or cook for them , so the next best option would be delivery. There are plenty of meal services like Send a Meal for one-time deliveries or longer commitments like with Dinnerly or Gobble. A meal plan containing ingredients and instructions might be the best gift for an amateur chef, especially if they’re bored in quarantine.

Zoom Party

Get your friends together for a virtual party! Of course, it won’t be the same as having everyone together physically, but coordinate with your friends to have a birthday dinner together to celebrate. To simulate a surprise party, get everyone together before sending a Zoom link to the person of honor.

While these times can be difficult, it’s important to hold our friends and families close (while staying physically distant). And for those born in the springtime, happy birthday from Spectrum!

Staff writer Ariana Novo can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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