a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Jul, 2016

How do you show someone how much they mean to you?*

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Giveaways and product reviews

How do you show someone you love them, honour them, respect them? You can definitely buy a gift, a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, or send a card. Teachers get mugs, retirees get a cake, graduates get a laptop. These are great – and HELLO – who wouldn’t like cake! Certainly, gifts have their place, but telling someone you care might be the best gift there is.

Enter, scapes.

I was contacted by the folks from scapes* awhile back and I was intrigued. I’m always on the lookout for cool stuff I can use/recommend and I really liked this idea and wanted to share it here.

At its core, scapes is a web-based service that gives users a very easy way to create and collaborate on a word cloud. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a word cloud is essentially an image composed of multiple words. The size of each word indicates its frequency or importance, and you can see, at a glance, what the most important words are.

Here’s an example of one that was created for a local school volunteer:

Scapes for a school volunteer

So in this case, you can see that more people chose the words “caring” and “awesome” and “helpful.” Which is what ultimately describes her best!

You can make a scape…

  • for a milestone birthday – or any birthday!
  • as a gift for a co-worker who is departing or retiring.
  • as a wedding, anniversary or engagement gift.
  • for graduation: elementary, high school, university.
  • to acknowledge a special volunteer, nurse, teacher, caregiver … someone who’s made an impact.
  • to a frequent traveller (name all the countries!), a chef (titles of her best recipes!), a gardener (his favourite flowers!)
  • for Father’s or Mother’s Day. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to get the kids to describe daddy in their own terms? Ha.
  • as a memorial or memento of a loved one who has passed.
  • … or just because.

Really, the possibilities are endless.

The process is very very simple. You open an account (it’s free!) and you start a project. Collaborators can be added at the click of a button (these are all the people who will be contributing to your masterpiece). Then you go to town! There is a list of suggested words you can use but the fun really begins when people add their own personal words and phrases (like “GRILLED CHEESE!!” in the example above)! The awesome part, really, is the ability to have multiple people (friends, family, loved ones, coworkers) contributing to the scape and sharing their unique perspective on the person that is being celebrated. As a bonus, it takes a bit of the pressure off the organizer when more people are involved in the creation.

When you’re done, you can download a high-resolution file of your scape to share or create something else from it: a print, t-shirts (this would be hilarious for a bachelor party!), cards, invitations… really, anything! Many of these kinds of items can be printed locally or with an online service such as Zazzle. I really recommend you check out the scapes Pinterest board for some very creative – and easy! – ideas.

I’m in the middle of creating a scape about someone but I’m not ready to reveal it yet. (I’ll post it once it’s complete so you can see who it was for and how it turned out!) I will say, it’s been surprisingly fun watching it evolve as I invite more people and see everyone adding their words and favourite memories. I can’t wait to share it!

Check out the website to start your own scape. It’s free! In the meantime, tell me, who would you make a scape for? I’d love to hear your ideas!


* I was compensated for this post but my opinions and experience with scapes is my own. Confession: I am secretly hoping someone makes one of these for me. :)

6 Responses to "How do you show someone how much they mean to you?*"

1 | deb

July 8th, 2016 at 4:08 pm


By BFF is nuts about Instagram and hashtags and it’s a running joke in our circle. I’d create a scape with some of the ones she likes to use the most and bring it to bookclub: #selfie #hotmomsclub #livinglife etc. It would be hilarious to see her face!

2 | andrea tomkins

July 8th, 2016 at 4:14 pm



Your book club idea gave me another idea. Has your book club been together a long time? You can also make a scape using a list of book titles you’ve read together. It’d make a thoughtful memento for your group, especially if you have some history.

3 | Claudette

July 8th, 2016 at 8:26 pm


This sounds interesting. I wonder if you can use it for inspirational word clouds. I’ve been thinking about making myself a poster of words with inspiring quotes, maybe this app would work for that. I will look into it!

4 | andrea tomkins

July 10th, 2016 at 9:52 am


I don’t see why you couldn’t Claudette. I’d love to see yours when it’s done. :)

5 | Patti

July 9th, 2016 at 6:02 pm


My parents have a big anniversary coming up! I think this would be really fun!

6 | andrea tomkins

July 10th, 2016 at 9:56 am


For sure Patti! You could include words to describe the happy couple and about some of the big events in their lives: places they’ve travelled, shared interests etc. Siblings, extended family and friends could all contribute. It could be really fun, and a lovely memento too…

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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