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Creative Gifts for Our Loved Ones

How we turned our time and talents into meaningful gifts for family and friends


"I will always remember seeing the joy on my parents' faces."
—Julia Bencomo Lobaco, executive editor

Surprise box

— Illustration by: Greg Clarke

Julia loves surprises. So the surprise party her best friend threw for Julia's 45th birthday is one of her favorite gifts. She still remembers seeing her mom, dad and older sister among the party-goers. They'd traveled from Arizona to Florida, where Julia had been living. "Besides family, the best gifts that night were my Miami friends," she says. "They were from around the world, of different faiths, gay and straight. Diversity, to me, is a gift too."

Later, Julia would surprise Mom and Dad, who both died in 2009. After saying that she could not attend an upcoming anniversary or birthday, she'd appear from behind a door or drive up just as the celebration was starting.

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