“Thank you.” “I’m so grateful.” “I appreciate you.” When spoken from the heart, these simple phrases express so much. Think about how good it feels to hear them! Sincerely thanking someone honors their help and humanity as well as validates their efforts. You could make someone’s day or week by thanking them. Whether someone in your life has gone above and beyond or simply done some mundane tasks to help you make it through the day, your mama was right—say thank you.
- Improve mood
- Boost the immune system
- Reduce depressive tendencies
You are (hopefully) familiar with some standard ways to express thanks to others:
- Jot a note (for example, write a letter, send an email, or tap out a text)
- Give a thoughtful gift
- Speak your thanks out loud (in person or on the phone)
If these go-to expressions of thankfulness are getting stale, put on your artsy hat and try something new. Getting your creative juices flowing and thinking outside the box, like gratitude itself, is beneficial for overall well-being and engages multiple parts of the brain.
If you’re searching for some original ways to express your gratitude, especially this time of year, consider one or more of the following ideas. Here are 11 inspired ways to show appreciation.
1. Gift a Book
Are there any books that have shifted your perspective or changed your life? Pass them along! Is there a topic your friend or coworker has expressed interest in? Purchase a book or two to pique their curiosity and feed their new interest. Though gifting a certificate to a local bookseller is sweet, research shows novels stimulate brain connections event after participants finished reading the book. So consider giving a novel!
2. Make a Favorite Meal
Go to the trouble of looking up the recipe, going to the grocery store, and preparing someone’s favorite meal. They’ll feel appreciative that you:
- Remember their favorite foods
- Have gone to great lengths to procure the goods
- Made an effort to create the meal
Then share the meal together and offer your thanks!
3. Gift a Performance
Is there a band in town, dance show, or theater production that your gratitude recipient would enjoy? Whether you give tickets or propose to attend the performance together, gifting the experience of the arts often goes far beyond the one-time event. An experience shared is an experience remembered.
4. Write a Rhyme or Poem
Spend the time to put pen to paper and write out a silly ditty of thanks. Or record yourself rhyming into your phone. Get inventive and get ridiculous. Try some puns or incorporate some inside jokes. Jazz up your gratitude and your beneficiary will thank you for the chuckle!
5. Mail a Care Package
When was the last time you received a package (without an Amazon label) in the mail? If your mom or best friend has ever sent you a well-thought-out, personalized care package, then you know how incredible it feels to receive such a loving gift. Offer your gratitude by wrapping some homemade cookies or customized gifts and mailing them. Your recipient will not only enjoy the contents, but also the excitement and thrill of opening the parcel.
6. Share Specifics
Whether you’re thanking someone for a gift, their help, or their teachings, sharing specifically how their actions, service, or gift affected you can be meaningful. Tell them in person, on the phone, or in writing. The more detailed the better! Explain how you’ll use the knowledge from a class or where you’ll display their gift in your home. Sometimes people are unsure if they really made a difference and your comprehensive thanks can go a long way.
7. Take Care of the Small Stuff
As a gesture of thanks, for a day (week? month?), make someone’s coffee, prepare their lunch, or do the tasks you know they dread. Recognize your coworker, spouse, and friends with acts of service as indications of gratitude. Sometimes the littlest act can have the biggest impact.
8. Gift an Experience
Think someone might enjoy a cooking class? A yoga class at a new studio? A home-team baseball game? Give the gift of an experience as an expression of thanks. This is the kind of gift that keeps on giving. Your recipient may even ask you to join him or her!
9. Give a Gift Card to a Local Restaurant
Look up a new local hotspot or choose a regular go-to. Purchase a gift card that supports a local business and satiates your fortunate friend’s hunger. If you’re lucky, they’ll invite you to join them for the meal! Then you’ll have another reason to express gratitude.
10. Create a Homemade Spa
For a more intimate expression of gratitude, draw a bath, give a homemade pedicure, massage your beloved’s scalp, or mix up an essential oil package. You could use what you’ve got at home or purchase organic materials to play with. Creating a homemade spa says “thanks” by honoring the body and sharing sacred, quality time together.
11. Gift a Membership
Express your gratitude by purchasing a membership for someone. Offering your friend, client, or sibling a membership to something they may enjoy (without seeming pushy) would be a welcomed gift. Consider the following:
- Membership to a wellness/massage spa for a monthly massage
- Membership to a rock climbing gym—and offer to go with them to climb
- Pay the monthly dues for Spotify so they can access great music
- Membership to a yoga studio
- Membership to Netflix or HBO GO
- A subscription to a magazine about something they enjoy—motorcycles, crafts, vegetarian cooking, or backpacking
Bonus: Your recipient will think of you each time they enjoy their membership.
Honor the communal spirit of thanks, enjoy the opportunity of this time of year to express your gratitude. Communicate in the ways that are most meaningful for you and those receiving your thanks.
Beaty, R. E., Benedek, M., Kaufman, S. B., & Silvia, P. J. (2015, June 17). Default and Executive Network Coupling Supports Creative Idea Production. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/srep10964
Berns, G. S., Blaine, K., Prietula, M. J., & Pye, B. E. (2013). Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. Brain Connectivity, 3(6), 590-600. doi:10.1089/brain.2013.0166
Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic revision of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: E7720. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.4.e7720. (n.d.). doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f