Guest Post: The Art of the Surprise Note with Lauren


Lauren from The Thinking ClosetHello dear readers! My name is Lauren, and it is a delight to be here today. I’ve been following along with all of the creative happenings over here at Sweet Athena ever since Jessica and I first struck up a bloggy buddy-ship back in November.

When she and Linz generously invited me to share something with y’all on this season’s theme of celebrations, I got to thinking not just about the grand fanfare celebrations, but the little ways one feels celebrated in a day. You know what I mean?

Like that hug that you get out of nowhere from a friend. Or that tilt of the hat from an older gentleman as he opens the door for you at the post office. Or perhaps that surprise note waiting for you on the counter when you get back from grocery shopping.

And then it struck me:

The Art of the Surprise Note by The Thinking ClosetAnd I bet you do, too!


I grew up in family of surprise-note-writers. My Mom loved surprising me with a note in my lunch bag (even through high school), and my Dad would often leave notes on the counter wishing blessings upon my day. Then, at age 25, surprise, surprise, I fell head over heels for a note-writer named Mark. He takes surprise notes to all new levels.

There’s just something so wonderful about receiving even the simplest of notes when it’s unexpected…uncalled for…and totally “just because.” I think we appreciate those little celebrations all the more because it’s often on those un-birthdays and un-anniversaries when we need a little pick-me-up the most.

So let’s dive into exploring some tips and tricks for mastering the art of the surprise note, shall we?

The Art of the Surprise Note by The Thinking Closet

Tips & Tricks:

1) Surprise notes should be just that – – a surprise. Try your best to sneak your note in its spot without your victim catching you. And if you’re in the room when they find it, you should act as surprised as they are. “What? Where did that come from?” (spoken with feigned shock…followed by a sneaky smile).

2) Ordinary days are the best days for surprise notes. That and job interview days. Because job interviews are scary, and we need all the encouragement we can get! Can I get an “Amen”?

3) Less is more. I often find that just a few carefully chosen words on a scrap of paper or a post-it are just as effective if not more than a sonnet on fancy stationery. The key is to celebrate your recipient…not your mad writing skeelz.

4) Location, location, location. The possibilities are endless for where you can leave your surprise note. Have fun with it! Here are a few suggestions:

Inside the lunch bag:

A classic move. Never gets old in my mind.

The Art of the Surprise Note via The Thinking Closet

Between the pages of a book:

Once you’ve chosen your victim, figure out what they’re reading, find their bookmark, skip twenty pages ahead, and stick your note inside. Post-its work well for this method since they’re not likely to slip out accidentally. (P.S. Bonus points for anyone who can “name that book” pictured below without the assistance of a Google search. Anyone? Anyone?)

The Art of the Surprise Note via The Thinking Closet

Atop the countertop:

Nothing fancy, but it has its benefits of being a prime check-in spot, so your victim is not likely to miss it!

The Art of the Surprise Note via The Thinking Closet

On the bathroom mirror:

The mirror is one of my favorite backdrops for the surprise note, especially when having house guests! My college friend Crissie introduced me to this method when she brought Crayola washable window markers into our apartment culture senior year. In the photo below, I used washable chalk paint markers, but if you don’t have markers on hand, you can always use eyeliner or lipliner.

The Art of the Surprise Note via The Thinking Closet

Inside a balloon:

This is a fun one…especially for kiddos (or adults who are kids at heart). Imagine coming home from a long day at school or work and seeing a bright balloon inviting you to pop it. I know this would make my day! Here’s a visual tutorial to feast your eyes on:

The Art of the Surprise Note via The Thinking Closet

What are your ideas?

Where are other fun places to leave surprise notes? Or other tips and tricks? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment section.

And now, a charge.

Here is my charge to you: You just took 5 minutes to read this post. Now, take 1 minute out of your day today to write a surprise note to someone…anyone. It could be your significant other, your roommie, your mother, your mailperson, a co-worker, your cat…anyone! Scribble a few celebratory words on a piece of paper, leave it somewhere surprising, and then sit back and watch as you make their day just a little brighter. Or maybe even a whole lot brighter.

And just because I recently saw The Hobbit and found this quote quite apropros:

Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.”

-Gandalf the Gray

No person is too ordinary, no act is too small, no note is too simple. So, let’s get scribbling.

To close:

When I’m not leaving surprise notes for Mark in his lunchbag, I can be found over at my blog The Thinking Closet, whipping up a crafty tutorial like this one on Anthropologie Wallpaper Coasters, offering 10 Tips to New Bloggers, or using my new Silhoeutte Cameo to create projects like this “A Thousand Thanks” Card. I’d be tickled silly if you stopped by sometime and left me a “surprise” comment.

Projects by Lauren at The Thinking Closet

Thanks again to Jess and Linz for having me. I had a blast!

And dear readers, I hope you have a celebratory day.

This is Lauren, signing off.


16 Responses

  1. Cindy

    January 29, 2013 2:11 pm

    Surprise notes are the best! My mom used to write a little note or draw a funny picture on my lunch napkins when I was a kid. So of course, I do it for my children. I love the note in a balloon idea…I’ll have to give it a try!;)

  2. Aubrey

    January 29, 2013 2:56 pm

    Surprise notes are some of my favorite ways to share my love with someone. They are such a simple way to make someone smile. Gosh do I love simple and sweet. 🙂

  3. kelly thompson

    January 29, 2013 6:56 pm

    good idea! my husband always surprises me with a card when its an anniversary or b-day and I should do that for him more cause he enjoys it- I will leave him a silly note in his lunch though like – glad you did not forget this again for a 3rd time this week or – I wouldn’t eat that if’n I were you !

  4. Justine

    January 29, 2013 8:23 pm

    I also like leaving surprise notes in the ‘Notes’ section of the iPhone or in the calendar on the ‘Iphone’- definitely not as special as these but kinda fun:)

  5. Carolyn Cathey Castelli

    January 31, 2013 6:09 pm

    I am so glad you remember the notes in your lunch box…some were original and some were pre-made with lots of colors and designs that I got at a bookstore (remember those?). And I am thankful you are continuing the tradition. Love the Gandalf quote, too, from the Hobbit. It is SO true!

    I never thought about the balloon idea…I might even try it at work with my boss. We need to have fun at work! It’s a hospital and can be tense sometimes.

    Other places I’ve put surprise notes are under pillows and in suitcases (before a loved one goes on a trip)…for them to discover while they are gone. It’s been a while since I’ve hand-written a surprise note so I best get at it. I like the idea of leaving one for the mailman! I do that at Christmas asking him to ring the doorbell for his Christmas treat—a card with a little gift inside.

    Do text messages count?

    Sending a little love note to you!

    • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

      February 1, 2013 10:59 am

      How could I forget those notes? And yes, I do remember the brightly colored ones…those seemed to be in never-ending supply!

      Ha ha – – I think that’d be awesome for you to leave a note for your boss in a balloon. That would certainly change the mood the day. And when the boss is happy, everyone is happy, right?

      You were always so good at brightening the spirits of our mailman and sanitation workers at Christmastime.

      And text messages can be like surprise notes…especially if they’re a “just because” text message.

      Thanks for the little love note!

  6. Jessica @ A Humble Creation

    February 3, 2013 7:49 pm

    Loved this post! You are obviously a natural at brightening the days of your loved ones!

    Two ways I thought of: I find “surprise notes” in my calendar quite frequently from my children. While it could be easy to get annoyed that they are making messes in my calendar, I actually like them. Once my son started writing and reading well at age 4 I would find the cutest little “I love you” or “Hi Mama” just randomly in my planner. I would never trade those kid handwritten notes for a clean planner! Adults can do that too – pencil in a love note or encouragement a week or so ahead on a calendar for a quick surprise.

    Last year starting around Valentines Day the Christian radio station in my city was hosting a campaign for people all over the city to leave post-it notes of encouragement in surprise places like on public restroom mirrors, restaurants, shopping malls, etc all for the benefit of showing love to a stranger. I had such fun with that project leaving random notes and occasionally even finding one!

  7. Lisbeth

    February 16, 2013 1:39 pm

    Thank you for my digital surprise note on your blog, The Thinking Closet! Though my thanks is late, I received it on my birthday with great joy. And I needed that lil’ note of love, since I ended the day getting the stomach flu. So thanks, dear Lauren! I really love your “Tips and Tricks” section, especially. I often do focus too much on how clever my words are, whereas your call to celebrate the recipient, snaps me out of that. Thanks for keeping us focused on loving others. I am so loved by you!


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