It's a simple, thoughtful way to thank those who have been working 'round the clock in extraordinary circumstances. 

By Brigitt Earley
November 19, 2020
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Credit: svetikd / Getty Images

If there were ever a year that our essential workers deserve a little something special, it's this one. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers have been working around the clock to keep us healthy. Police, firemen, and service members have been dutifully keeping us safe. Teachers are navigating new family schedules amid remote learning. Postal workers have seen an incredible surge in volume with online orders and deliveries. And even restaurant staff, grocery store employees, and other retail workers have been working creatively to keep our favorite locales open and ready for business.

How can you adequately thank these hardworking and very deserving individuals? First, just say thank you. A little gratitude can go a long way to lift someone's spirits. In fact, it's scientifically proven that expressing gratitude improves well-being for both expressers and recipients. So, the next time your postal worker drops a load of holiday packages on your doorstep, smile and simply say "thanks for all you do." Or, if you want to go above and beyond, leave a handwritten note for them. Use the opportunity to share a short anecdote about how their service has impacted you and your loved ones.

Of course, you may also want to give them something a little more tangible—a gift of sorts. While plenty of items fit the bill—a homemade meal, a gift certificate to a local restaurant, chocolate, or handmade PPE—why not go above and beyond this year with an assortment of goodies in a holiday care package. If you choose to go this route, here are some items you might want to include.

Comfortable Socks

When the temperature dips, there's nothing like slipping into a cozy pair of socks at the end of a long day—especially if you work on your feet. Look for extra snuggly pairs, like fuzzy options or ones that double as slippers with grips on the bottom.

Face Masks

Chances are they have to wear a mask to work all day, every day, so this is an item they'll surely need. For something more personal, put your sewing skills to good use and craft a bunch of homemade cotton face masks. Or, opt for the disposable kind that are easy to swap out in the wintertime. 

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is another highly in-demand item that they surely depend on day in and day out. Although there are different types out in the market, there are tons of new options that not only kill germs, but also hydrate the skin. Alternatively, you can opt for a traditional squeeze pack and pair it with an attractive holder to help them keep this necessity close at hand and make the whole experience feel a little less sterile.

Hand Cream

With such frequent hand-washing comes an unfortunate side effect: dry, chapped hands—especially in the dead of winter. Help soothe sensitive, red, or inflamed skin by including a nourishing hand cream in your care package. You can even go the extra mile and include a hand repair kit that comes with creams and a set of gloves to reap maximum benefits.

A Gift Certificate to a Local Business

After a long, hard day, something as simple as cooking dinner can feel like a monumental task, so why not treat your favorite essential worker to a free meal? If possible, choose a small business in your area to help bolster your local economy. Alternatively, you could opt for a gift certificate to a local hair salon, spa, or retail shop to help them get in some much needed self-care or retail therapy when they're ready to venture out.

A Soothing Activity

It's hard to shut your mind off when times are uncertain and stress levels are high, but a calming craft—like an adult coloring book or an embroidery kit—or a bestselling novel (go for anything lighthearted!) can do wonders to help them unwind. 

A Poem, Passage, or Note in a Journal

If you've recently come across a special poem or passage, print it and tuck it inside the care package. These types of readings can provide the motivation they need to keep on keeping on. Alternatively, for something a little more personal, you can pen your own note or crowd-source a list of inspirational quotes from members of the community. A small blank journal provides the space they need to let out steam and create a record of their feelings and experiences. Studies show the benefits are profound from boosting mindfulness, memory, and communication skills to even improving sleep, immune system, self-confidence, and I.Q.

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