"Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them." -- Richard L. Evans
This quote reminded me of a conversation I had last week with my wife, Carole. She visits the outpatient clinics at Seattle Children's Hospital as a clown. The hospital receives donations of sports trading cards. Volunteers put them together into packets held with rubber bands. They are assembled at random so a packet may include some baseball cards, some football cards, and some basketball cards. The hospital gives them to Carole to distribute to some of the patients. She brought home a bunch of the packets and asked me to help her reassemble them. We separated them by sport, and then banded them together again. Carole said, "It isn't that I am giving them something. It is that I make them feel important. I ask them if they like sports. Then I ask them their favorite sport. We talk about that, and then I give them cards with players of that sport."
Another thing she distributes is a metal ring with a smiley face on it. She doesn't just hand them out. She says, "You deserve an award today because ... I have something just for you." Then she presents them with a ring. She gives many to patients, but also may give a custodian a ring for doing such a great job cleaning, a nurse a ring for taking such excellent care of the patients, an older child a ring for being patient while their sibling is being treated, or a parent a ring for their courage during a difficult time.
When I am doing strolling entertainment I like to draw trick cartoons and distribute them. I try to guess which cartoon in my repertoire is one that an individual might like best. For example, I may write the word CAT, add some more lines to turn the word into the face of a cat, and give it to a preschool girl because I know girls of that age tend to like cats. When I see a little older girl, I write the word HORSE, and then with a few extra lines turn that into the face of a horse because I know girls that age tend to be interested in horses. If a child is wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a dog on it, I print the word SPOT and then turn that into a picture of a dog. Sometimes a child will request an animal that I have never done before. I always make an attempt at drawing it. It may not turn out as well as the drawings I have practiced, but that isn't important. The important thing is that I listened to them and tried to honor their request.
People feel most cherished of all when you learn and use their name. I have trouble remembering names, but I make a special effort to do that because I know its value. When I perform at a birthday party, I use a change bag to magically produce a birthday greeting for the guest of honor that has their name printed on it. After my variety show I give them a birthday card that has their name and age printed on the front. (I use my computer to design and print out a customized card for each birthday party I perform.)
An entertainer who is great at making people feel cherished while giving them something is Angel Contreras. He is an artist who designs and sells his own line of stickers. One of the stickers is a Smiley Inspector. He wears one of the stickers while searching for somebody who has a nice smile. Then he deputizes them to be a smile inspector. He gives them one sticker to wear, and a second sticker to give away so they can deputize another inspector themselves when they find somebody with a nice smile. Another thing he does is start to give somebody a small Smiley Face sticker, declare that they deserve more than that, and use a change bag to turn it into a regular size sticker that he presents to them. In his "Stickerology" class he teaches many other ways to make somebody feel cherished using stickers as an excuse to interact with them.
Do you use giveaways of some type as an entertainer? What can you do to make a person feel cherished when you are doing that? How can you make somebody feel cherished without giving them a material object?