So you want to gift massage?
When you’re relaxing on a massage table, it’s easy to see massage as a gift. Whether you’re there to reduce pain, ease anxiety, or help recover from physical and mental stresses, work or athletic training or parenting or just simply LIFE, massage is a slice of freedom in an occasionally crushing world. If you’re thinking of sharing the gift of massage with someone else for a special occasion or “ just because”, you are certainly doing so from a place of love and generosity.
Obviously, I’m a big fan of giving massage as a gift! But just as with choosing to visit a massage therapist yourself, there are some considerations when offering this kind of gift.
How to (successfully!) give the gift of massage.
Massage is an AWESOME gift! But there are a few steps to think about in advance.
Think about the best way to deliver your gift
Gift certificates are the easiest way to give a massage as a gift, as it allows the individual to schedule on their own. Scheduling on their behalf can sometimes work as well, although this can require additional strategic planning.
Look for REAL excitement
When you mention massage are they enthusiastic about the idea? “OMG! That sounds wonderful!!” is what you’re looking for, not a polite “Oh, thanks.” If you can get a more excited response by offering a pair of new socks, go with the socks. But many people are thrilled by the idea of getting a professional massage as a gift.
Talk with your massage therapist
Are they accepting new clients right now? Do they allow people to purchase massages as a gift? Do they offer the kind of massage this person needs or wants? For example, I offer therapeutic massage for folks dealing with injuries and chronic pain. If you’re looking to give a massage as a gift for someone who needs lymphatic drainage, this won’t be the best fit.
Plan WELL in advance if you want to make the appointment for them
Massage openings fill quickly, especially around the holidays! Don’t assume that spaces will be available on a particular day just because you’ve got a month to spare.
Consider and remove obstacles
Unlike a nice sweater or a juicy novel, there can be a few barriers to someone enjoying even a gifted massage.
- Transportation and accessibility. Will you need to help them get to their massage?
- Childcare and other caregiving responsibilities. Will they be more likely to accept the gift if it’s accompanied by an offer to babysit?
- Tips, parking and other expenses. It helps to cover the entire cost. want to know about my tipping policy? Read about it here
- Anxiety. Receiving a massage for the first time can be intimidating. Going together or talking about what to expect can be useful.
Massage should never come as a surprise
Massages are great!( For most people) Surprises are pretty great too! ( again, for most). But if you’re cooking up a surprise outing for a loved one, consider something else. There are a few reasons for this:
- They might not like massages at all. It’s hard to imagine if you’re a fan of massage, but some people are just not comfortable with it. Imagine being invited out for your birthday and finding out on arrival that your loved one has planned for the two of you is getting your teeth cleaned together. Uhh… not my idea of fun.
- They might have a contraindication that you don’t know about. Taking your niece for a surprise afternoon of pampering might seem like a fun idea until she tells you she’s dealing with lice or a fresh tattoo.
- They might want to prepare for a massage. Some people feel more comfortable getting a massage if they’ve dealt with their personal appearance first. Others might decide to forgo a hair or makeup appointment if they knew they would be getting a massage that day. People should be given the opportunity to prepare however they see fit.
- They might want to plan their day around the massage. Some people feel extra tired or a bit sleepy after a massage. If they plan on delivering an important speech or competing in an important athletic event shortly afterward, they might be concerned about how it would affect their performance.
- They might have a preferred massage therapist. Not all massage is the same! If they already have a relationship with a massage therapist that works best for them, they might not want a massage from someone who has a completely different style.
The solution to this? Talk about it in advance. It’s better to take some of the mystery out of a surprise and know that it’s welcome than to end up with the WORST GIFT EVER trophy.