What Will Your Gift Be?

 In DIY Projects, Free Printables, Lifestyle

What will your gift be?:  A Senior tradition you don’t want to miss



It’s Back to School time for most of you and today I want to share the most incredible High School Senior Tradition that one of my best friends from Ohio started a few years ago. Cindy created this for her son, Alec, when he was a rising senior.  This year she will be doing it for her daughter, Amelia, who happens to be one of Brynne’s oldest and longest best friends. If any of you have followed our original blog Anders Ruff Custom Designs, Brynne is my oldest daughter. Some of you may have seen her grow up over the years in our past Anders Ruff party photoshoots and it’s hard to believe she is also celebrating her senior year.

That being said, I asked Cindy if she would allow me to pass along this heart-touching tradition to our ARW followers because it was too good not to share. I think it would be even more meaningful for Cindy to write her thoughts on how she started this concept of “What will your Gift be?” and then I will explain my spin on it as well.


An excerpt by: Cindy Gilmore


For every high schooler rising to their Senior year, there is a parent who knows the same emotions of a chapter coming to a close end, making some significant life decisions, experiencing last firsts and the unknown of the future.

My son Alec turned the age of 18 a couple of months into his Senior year. Adulthood was coming fast for him in terms of being able to vote, signing up for the selective service, and receiving medical results. But it was what my son came to ask me the start of his 12th grade year that had me start thinking about what a “gift” really is.

My son asked if this boy, a friend that was struggling with his family situation, could live with us. We quickly agreed and started on this journey of having another son and brother in the house. It was then that I decided to gift Alec with letters, my way of communicating and actual items that related to this certain gift of a practical future purpose.

The letters started flowing, and Alec was gifted the 12th of every month, the actual day of his birthday. While my favorite gift to him was the “Gift Of Life,” receiving a box wrapped with just air in it…finding your Life’s Purpose; I believe the most relatable letter in his perspective was the gift of giving someone the “shirt off your back.”

“We rise by lifting others.” R. Ingersoll.


The Origin derives back to the 18th century, finding a needy person on the road in the cold weather without a shirt. You would take off your own shirt to help him and would lend your shirt him as it would mark your greatness.

I was so moved by the grace of my son helping a fellow friend, I wrote in one of his letters, “May your story be filled with many times finding yourself without a shirt and never cold…only because you were busy giving and thought of others first.”

What will your gift be?


To name a few of my other letters: the gift of listening, comprehension, leading, The Giving Tree, putting your thinking cap on, a tie…

My baby girl Amelia will be a Senior this coming school year, and she wanted to make sure she was going to receive “those letters.” Next week, little does she know, Amelia will receive the gift of strength as her first of many.

Those letters helped make me be present and accept a new page. “At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up. Who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” D. Washington

Like I have shared with Alec, “And the tree was happy” from my favorite book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. This book is 54 years old now and was written before my time. I am happiest being a mother. Some may say how sad the fable is, but I have come to realize the lessons of what it means to be mortal and flawed, enlightened and wise.


Continuing the Tradition

To give a little more background, Brynne and Amelia were two peas in a pod growing up.  They shared many “firsts together” along with special moments throughout their lives.  Even though we had to move to the south during the girl’s second grade school year, they maintained their ever-lasting bond regardless of distance. They are truly the modern day Thelma & Louise.



Cindy has always achieved greatness when it comes to parenting, and she has forever inspired me to be a better mom.  I loved her “what will your gift be” tradition that she started for Alec, and I knew I would absolutely continue the tradition for my daughters when the time came.



I told my family and closest friends about “gifting” Brynne the monthly life lessons along with a gift to symbolize them and their reactions blew me away. Not only did they love the idea, but they all also wanted to take a month.  Brynne will be receiving monthly gifts of wisdom from all who love her until she graduates.  


The First Gift

I kicked off the first month by “gifting” her, the Gift of believing in yourself. I want her to believe that it was possible for her to have a stellar academic year. Her gift included a coffee mug that said: “She believed she could so she studied her a$$ off and she did”, Starbucks k-cups, and Starbucks gift cards to go along with it in case she needed some late night pick-me-ups. We wanted to share with you this free “what will your gift be” printable file, in case you would like to start this tradition for your children!


I encourage you to share this with friends & family who want to do something special for their child’s senior year. Brynne was so touched by this, she asked me to share this concept with her friends’ parents because she wanted them to experience it too!

Good luck class of 2020 and Much Love to you all!

Cindy Gilmore, the Best Mom Ever


Adria Ruff, Co-founder/Creative Director for AR Workshop


Download the free What Will Your Gift Be? Printable HERE


And make sure to never forget the gift of being able to do it yourself!



Recommended Posts
  • Miguel

    Unreal! I am so proud of all the ladies in my life. Of all the gifts to give, the gifts of love, knowledge, encouragement, caring, sharing and listening should be paramount. This exercise not only helps share those sentiments, it helps everyone slow down our crazy lives and focus on what is most important. Thank you Cindy and Adria ?

Leave a Comment

ar workshop office