Once again, the Christmas holiday is upon us and I’m looking around wondering where the year went! The older I get, the faster it seems to go. Part of getting older means hopefully getting wiser too, right?
As I get “wiser” I try to focus more and more on gratitude – all of the things in my life that I take for granted and how much they bless me: my car, my “day” job, this blogging opportunity, comfortable shoes, macaroni-and-cheese…okay, okay, I digress, but it’s all true!
I also like to use this time of year to remember all of those people who give to me all year long and bless my life as well, and that’s really the focus of this post. I’ve put together a list of my favorite appreciation gift ideas for those people who help all of us get through our years!
One caveat: I’m not saying our Holidays need to focus on shopping and gift giving, nor do I believe you need to exhaust yourself finding a gift for every single person in your life! But, if you do feel the need to show gratitude to those other people in your life, these great service workers who add special joy into your year, then this list of ideas is for you!
Appreciation Gift Ideas for Mailman
Giving appreciation gifts to your mailman is a tricky one as there are actually laws about giving cash, though that seems to be everyone’s favorite “go to gift” for the mail carrier, so first, let’s deal with what you can’t or shouldn’t give:
Unacceptable Gifts for the Mailman
Postal workers are prohibited from accepting the following items:
- anything that can be exchanged for cash
- and anything of monetary value such as meals, gift certificates, event tickets and clothing
Source: Tom Murse, US Government Expert. Read the whole article here: http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/consumerawareness/a/gifts-for-the-mailman.htm
So now, let’s talk about what you can do!
Here are a few of my favorite things to gift mailmen:
- I don’t know many people who don’t appreciate a plate of homemade goodies – especially when real intent and time are involved. Plus, making holiday treats is already a big tradition for many people – and if it’s not one for you yet, this is a great reason to start! Homemade cookies, fudge and special family-recipe goodies are a tasty and much-appreciated gift! Every family tends to have a few favorites that have been passed down – my family’s favorites include made-from-scratch cheese crackers, buck-eye candies, summer sausage, and sugar cookies with icing. Mmmm-mmmmm!
- Gift cards, as long as they are under $20.00 and cannot be redeemed for cash. Try Amazon, Starbucks or Target. Does your mail carrier wear ear buds? Try an iTunes gift card!
- This super-nifty and affordable gift comes in handy, almost anywhere you live (except Hawaii…it never gets cold there, right?). Even down here in south-central Texas, we get days cold enough to make us all shiver, so why not help your mail carrier out by gifting them this great variety pack of hand and toe warmers!
- I can’t say enough how much I love Etsy! I can always find great ideas for a fair price – and this mailman coffee mug fits right in with my sarcastic and slightly sick sense of humor:
Appreciation Gifts for Hair Dresser
People normally give a generous tip to hair dressers, barbers and stylists, and that’s always acceptable, but here are a few other great appreciation ideas for these super-important people in our lives!
- I love giving gifts that encourage continued use; my family always had a special bowl we used for popcorn on our movie nights! Why not put together a special “popcorn bowl” with movie night supplies? Popcorn kernels or bags of microwave popcorn, flavored popcorn salt(s), a couple of 20 oz. bottles of pop, and don’t forget their favorite candies! Supply them with some popcorn boxes or bowl and wrap it up! To make it even better, throw in a gift code for Redbox or gift them a gift certificate to VidAngel.
- Crayons and coloring books. This is an awesome gift for beauty salons, not so much for your hair dresser to sit down and color (though he or she might want to!), but to put out in their waiting area so patrons have something to do while they wait. Make a placard for the outside or inside cover instructing clients to color a page, then sign and date it, but leave it in the book. It also makes a really cool table piece for other patrons to look through or finish a half-colored page that someone else started! This one would be perfect for all age and skill levels!
- Find a unique tip jar for him or her to place at their station – the more unique and attention-getting the jar is, the more likely people will be to fill it for them!
- One of my favorites, mostly because it is so affordable and easy to make, is a jar full of Lemon-Sugar hand and body scrub! This is a gift that your hair dresser may want to take home and keep for him or herself, but it’s also a great item for them to use in the salon bathroom or at their station. You mix it yourself, using this diy lemon scrub tutorial, with only a few simple ingredients and then package it in a cute jar.
Appreciation Gifts for Doctor or Nurse (Your Favorite Ones at Least!)
Several of the gift ideas previously mentioned work great for doctors or nurses too, but here are a few additional ideas just for them!:
- Think about how many times each day your doctor and/or nurse put on and remove gloves and wash their hands. All that protection can really be hard on their hands! According to several nurse friends of mine, it’s difficult to find a good hand lotion to help, but this brand that is their favorite. You just need to wrap it up in something cute…like a medical glove!
- Dealing with sick people all day is a really stressful job, so how about gifting a fun assortment of stress balls?
- Yet another great stress reliever / relaxation tool – and very affordable too! Try this head massager:
- You’ll find lots of links to Amazon in this post, they seem to have everything – including these super-cute flash drives made for both doctors and nurses!
- Syringe-shaped high-lighters are so much fun – and you’ll help your personal medical file to look great too!
Appreciation Gifts for Teachers
- Warm their hearts and homes with a special glow! Scentsy warmers make a great gift and there are so many beautiful varieties of both warmers and scents to choose from!
- Give them relief for their tired eyes – Sephora makes fiber eye masks that can be bought a pair at a time. These would be great in a care basket with other items, or even as a stand-alone gift. We all know these teachers work hard into the night!
- Give the gift of reading – a classic book is a great gift for a teacher! You can often find really cool, gently used classic books at a Half-Priced Books store near you! Try Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Self-Reliance and Other Essays; there are so many more great titles! Make it really special and choose your favorite and include a special story about your favorite teacher, and how he or she impacted your life. Or buy them a Kindle because Kindles are awesome (and apparently so are you for gifting one).
- I’ve received tons of input from teachers themselves on one of their favorite gifts to receive, and it is so simple – supplies, supplies, supplies! Teachers spend so much out of their own pockets for classroom supplies – why not check in with the principal or another teacher to find out what your recipient’s classroom needs are and help by supplying those items…crayons, paints, books, etc.
- Teachers spend a lot of time at home preparing lesson plans and grading papers. Why not tuck a $10.00 bill into your favorite restaurant menu (be sure they deliver!) and gift it to them. Now they can at least spend an evening grading papers with some good Chinese food! Or hook them up with some gift certificates to online grocery stores!
Appreciation Gifts for Apartment Staff or Doormen
This group of service people usually include a team. It’s a little unusual to gift one particular person unless they have truly stood out in some way for you personally throughout the year. They are typically managers, assistants, leasing staff and service staff, and many of them are behind the scenes, so it’s better to focus on gifts that can be shared by everyone.
- Tins of multi-flavored popcorn are a sure pleaser! The Popcorn Factory has tons of great choices with holiday-appropriate themes and a myriad of flavor options!
- Several companies out there have beautiful gift basket selections full of meats, cheeses and crackers, as well as other goodies. Check out this grouping from Hickory Farms as one example:
- Check out this gorgeous and healthy (well…healthier!) fruit and treat basket from gifttree.com.
Note: for people that live in a smaller building with just a “super” or apartment manager or single doorman – it is appropriate and acceptable to tip these service people to show appreciation as well.
Appreciation Gifts for Military Service Men and Women
Just a quick note – I take great joy in looking for opportunities to honor our local heroes, especially during the holidays. Service opportunities abound – as you see service men and women going about their daily lives, you can:
- buy their coffee or meal
- Shovel their walk or driveway when it snows
- deliver a meal or care package to their residence
- Worst case scenario, when I’m caught off-guard, unprepared, or just don’t have an opportunity to do anything else, I love to shake their hand, look them in the eyes, and give them a sincere “thank you so much for your service” from my heart!
Truly Unique Gifts for Anyone You Appreciate
Giving what I call “unique” gifts means you either really, really know the recipient well enough to give something this zany or you’re just a unique individual yourself! Either way, these are really fun!
- A little pricey, but hilarious!!! You may have seen this already, and maybe it struck your funny bone the same way it hit mine. Company Modern Nativity has created a “hipster nativity set” that depicts the nativity scene and what it would be like if Jesus were born in 2016, complete with politically correct beef, wise men bearing gifts from Amazon on Segways, and Joseph and Mary who are busily posing for “selfies” with baby Jesus. If you don’t mind being a little irreverent, this one is too much fun to miss!
- Chia Zombie! This has to be one of my favorites of the season – super affordable, fun and definitely unique. Who else is going to give someone a chia zombie, if you don’t?!
- The gift of NOTHING! Who could possibly want for more?! Perfect for the person who says they don’t want (or need) anything for Christmas.
The Best Gifts: Praise, Appreciation, Recognition
Last, but not least, and this applies to all of these wonderful people in our lives that give to us all year round: if you truly appreciate the work they do write a thank you letter for them, via their boss!
Yes, you heard me right!
Write a letter to the Post Master, Bank President, Apartment Manager, owner of the car repair shop, Superintendent, salon owner, or whoever their boss is and praise the great service you receive from their employee. Tell them why you feel they are exemplary, how much you appreciate the service they provide, and how their work ethic, great attitude, or constant smile make the business look better, etc.
Now not only have you thanked your service provider in a deeply personal way, but shared it with those above them who are also able to reward them for good service!
These types of compliments go a very long way because they are more visible than a personal note directly to the person who served you. A lot of companies also have recognition programs for their employees and you might cause your service person to get a bonus or even better, a raise!
Plus, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t deeply appreciate being praised for a job well done. In the end, that’s what all these ideas are about! Simple gratitude, expressed in different ways to different people makes us all more aware, more grateful, and brings us back to the heart of Christmas.
Happy gifting and happy holidays!