30 People to Remember to Thank This Holiday Season

photo of thank you note and christmas gift on a table

Gratitude is a dish best served throughout the year, but the holiday season is the perfect time for an extra helping of appreciation.

A study from UCLA's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center demonstrated that having an attitude of gratitude can change the molecular structure of the brain — helping to keep more grey matter functioning and calming the central nervous system, making us both healthier and happier. Who can you thank this season? 

Thank Anyone Who is Involved with Your Child

 "Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me."  - Fred Rogers

This includes:

  1. Teachers and teacher aides
  2. Counselors and therapists
  3. School nurses and administrators
  4. All extracurricular activity leaders — coaches, dance teachers, tutors, etc.
  5. Church youth group leaders and volunteers
  6. Afterschool care, babysitters and daycare helpers
Gratitude Gift Idea: Gift cards for things they can use, such as items for their classroom or personal hobbies. Add a simple handmade craft or card from your child to their gift bag to show how much you value their help. 

Thank Those Who Work with You Every Week

 "It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." - Tom Brokaw

This includes:

  1. Your co-workers and team members
  2. Your boss or supervisor
  3. Administrative staff
  4. Customers and clients
  5. Church pastors and community leaders
Gratitude Gift Idea: Send or drop off holiday snacks or gift a festive craft or locally made item. Handwritten notes or cards are always appreciated and give us a chance to express thanks to these important people in our lives.

Thank People Who Won't Be Expecting It

 "At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer

This includes:

  1. First responders from your local fire department, police station or EMS.
  2. Delivery drivers and mail carriers (How many Amazon packages did you get this week?)
  3. Trash and recycling collectors
  4. Our military troops and service workers overseas
  5. The wait staff at your favorite lunch spot
  6. The receptionist at the doctor's office
  7. Baristas at your morning coffee stop
Gratitude Gift Idea: Leave a card or note of thanks — on the table, vehicle window, through the mail or however possible.  Work together as a family to remember the reason for the season; create care packages for soldiers, hospital patients and nursing homes. 

Thank People Who Help You Get Things Done

 "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."  - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

This includes:

  1. Landscapers and gardeners
  2. Handymen and women
  3. Dog groomers and trainers
  4. Personal trainers and other gym personnel
  5. Housekeepers and personal assistants
  6. Hairstylists and estheticians
Gratitude Gift Idea: This can greatly depend on their service and how long they have been helping you, but extra gratuity during the holiday season never goes out of style.

Thank Your Loved Ones Most of All

 "Family is not an important thing. It's everything." - Michael J. Fox

This includes:

  1. Long-time besties and your newest friends
  2. Neighbors past and present
  3. Your mentors and those you admire
  4. Parents of your children's best friends
  5. Your in-laws
  6. Your immediate family circle
Gratitude Gift Idea: Make it personal. Remember that gifts don't always have to be material. Offering a gift can also take the form of an extra turn at carpool so your friend can go Christmas shopping, offering to bring an aging relative to a doctor's appointment, babysitting or feeding your neighbor's dog while they're on vacation.

Sometimes showing appreciation takes its best form in spending time with one another.  No matter how you express your thanks, take advantage of the season to show how much those around you matter. Sincerity in your gift-giving makes all the difference. 

Laura Jackson is a freelance writer based in Hilton Head, S.C. with her husband and two teenagers.