Appreciation is defined as the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. It’s one of those words that we tend to use on a daily basis. “Thank you so much! I appreciate it!” or “I appreciate everything you’re doing!” or “Much appreciated!” What about when you are looking to do a little extra in expressing gratitude – something beyond just saying the words? But yet, still hoping to keep it simple in cost, energy and time commitment.
Whether it be a friend, colleague, family member, teacher or other professional, here are some simple ideas to celebrate someone’s good efforts.
A word cloud (also known as a tag cloud or word cluster) is an image composed of words. Many of us have seen these used throughout our professional years for employee polling and visual representations, yet using them for personal reasons is a fun form of expression too.
Earlier this year, my colleagues presented this to me for my birthday. They were asked to submit a word or two about me and the word cloud was created. This simple gesture seriously tugged at my heartstrings! It really took the spotlight over the material gifts. And I can honesty say that my colleagues “know” me! It is something that I will always treasure.
There are a bunch of free online word cloud generators, which are pretty easy to use, including:
**Some have options to purchase more advanced options.
These allow you to customize your “cloud” with different shapes, themes, colors and fonts. Input or upload your words and play around with the features. You can edit your word list, shape size, and word frequency. When you’re finished, save the image – you’ll see options to print, send or share.
So simple, but yet, it can be so meaningful! I sort of became obsessed with the idea and made a couple for my daughter’s 4th grade teacher as part of the class gift. One had the first names of all of the children in the class. The other was comprised of words that the students chose to describe their teacher and/or their 4th grade experience. My daughter also made a word cloud for her softball coach and for my husband for Father’s Day.
Bag of Goodies
Sometimes I like to head to a Dollar Tree to pick up a variety things to show appreciation. Choose from items like notebooks with cute sayings, adult coloring books/crayons, crossword puzzles, candy, chocolates, fuzzy socks, hair accessories, craft supplies, stationary, picture frames, pens/markers or even gardening accessories. Or buy them all! Everything is really $1. You can also find a nice gift bag to place everything in.
Another way to make your gratitude known is to make a donation to a favorite charity. Choose a cause that reflects the unique interest of the individual and donate in their name. Remember that it doesn’t need to be a large amount to make an impact.
Candy Bar Poem/Poster
It’s possible that I’ve been living under a rock, but in all my years, I had never seen a Candy Bar Poster until I was looking around Pinterest for a unique way to wish a happy retirement. A piece of oak-tag and some candy (see Dollar Tree reference above), along with a clever poem, rhyme or speech, and you have a completely personalized (and tasty!) creation. Adorable, witty and customized.
Old Fashioned Greeting Card
Most of us get our mail everyday and what do we find? Bills and ads. Bleh. Around birthdays and anniversaries, we’ll receive some cards. Around the holidays we’ll get a slew of cards, which I personally love, yet they are expected. But isn’t it cool when you stroll on over to the mail and notice an envelope that you didn’t anticipate?
Sending a greeting card “just because” is a considerate and deliberate action. Sometimes the language in the greeting card says exactly what you’re trying to – but consider including a handwritten message as well to make it even more personal and thoughtful. And remember – snail mail gets a bad rap! Many like to joke about the US Postal Service, but they will deliver a piece of mail for the mere price of a stamp. 50 cents to send a letter anywhere in the country! Oh, and did I mention the Dollar Tree has greeting cards too?
Speaking of snail mail….think about a subject that interests the individual you’re hoping to do something for and send them a magazine subscription. Each week or month he/she will receive a little reminder of your gratitude and appreciation. Some subscriptions are pricier than others, but often you can find pretty good deals.