The series “Unboxing the Holidays” is all about bringing you top-notch advice and creative ideas to make the most of the season’s special moments. In this article, we offer gift guide suggestions for all the people who really helped out this past year with a deserving gift.

Picture of friends

Whether we are ready or not, the gift-giving season of cheer is here as we’re reminded by endless seasonal TV commercials and decked-out aisles in big box stores and local boutiques alike.

There are so many significant people who made life easier for you this year at home, school, and in the office. Show your appreciation to those who are essential to your life with a thoughtful end-of-year present.

While it’s tempting to just get them a gift card, take a moment to explore how to personalize your thanks. Figuring out what is meaningful will show how much you appreciate them. One thing that shouldn’t be missed is whatever you choose — a thoughtful handwritten note that will touch their heart.

Happy hunting!

Who: Work peers ​

These are the co-workers, bosses, and clients who make your 9-to-5 workday go ’round. Was there someone who assisted you with a remote workplace or a flexible schedule this year? Or a client who championed you for a promotion? What about the co-worker who helped you complete a project? Recognize them for their support with one of these classics, yet thoughtful gift ideas.

Picture of paper whites December birthday flower

Bamboo board – A cutting board made of eco-conscious bamboo lets your office colleague know that you care about sustainability. Personalize it for special significance.

Paperwhites – A quintessential holiday flower that says thank you without the connotation of other, more intimate flowers like roses. Plus, they don’t break the bank and smell divine.

Royal Riviera Pears – There’s a reason bosses send fruit year after year. It’s a winning gift that leaves a great taste in the mouth. The famous pears are in limited quantities this season, so order early.

Popcorn tin– You might work together, but that doesn’t mean you’re not fun, and there’s just something fun about three flavors of this delicious snack in a giant can.

Boxwood and Statice – A gorgeous traditional holiday wreath gets a twist. Send at the beginning of the season so your colleague can enjoy its beauty throughout the holidays.

Who: Childcare providers 

You couldn’t get out the door without some hand-holding (literally for the little ones) from babysitters, nannies, and au pairs. Leaving our children in the care of just anyone won’t do. Whether it’s a neighbor or your mother or a caregiver you hired at the recommendation of a friend, our childcare helpers deserve one of the biggest thank yous we can offer. Write them a note of appreciation, and give them a present that lets them know just how important they are to your family.

Picture of Thank You gift basket

Aloe plant – Aloe plants can last years and have the bonus of health uses, perfect for the person who takes care of the bumps and bruises of your little one.

Thank You Gift Basket — Breakfast in bed for the ones who often make your family eggs? Yes, please!

Safari Animal Succulents – Who doesn’t love a cactus? Easy to keep alive, and the playful containers can be reused if you don’t.

Lighted Christmas sleigh with a candle – For their table centerpiece or by the front door, this gift will save your sitter from having to decorate a bit.

Himalayan Salt Warmer –For a calm after the chaos of December, let your educator diffuse essential oils and enjoy an uplifting warm glow of the salt lamp.

Lobster dinner for two – For the childcare providers who you want to spoil — decadent lobster, crab, and chocolate.

Lavender spa kit with robe – Let your caretakers wrap in a luxurious robe and breathe in the scent of this calming herb.

Who: Household help

In a world where we have one or more jobs, volunteer and family commitments, plus we want to stay healthy by taking some me-time, sometimes we have to outsource housecleaning, gardening, lawn mowing, and the like. And the special house project (new front door anyone?) can require expertise beyond our capabilities. Let these imperative workers know that you couldn’t live without them by offering a gift of thanks (and maybe a cash bonus as well).

The Man Can men's grooming set

Cinnamon rolls – Cinnamon rolls are a hit with almost everyone. Plus it’s nice to not have to plan a meal around the holidays.

The Man Can – From plumbers who make emergency calls to the lawn care pros that saved you from weekend yard work, don’t forget the guys who helped you this year! Let them get spiffed with their own set of goods.

Herb garden trio – Give some flavor! This pretty basket of fresh herbs will keep on giving throughout 2022.

Lavender wreath – The purple-hued wreath will give a lovely fragrance to your painter or contractor’s own home.

Who: Educators and leaders

Have you ever tried to teach a child? Oh, wait, most of us with children did just that for a few months in 2020. So, we know just how challenging it can be to keep kids focused and on task — not to mention enthusiastic about learning. The school teachers, the coaches, the tutors, the teachers of musical instruments: to you we say, “you’ve touched our lives.”

Picture of magnolia tree

Airplant terrarium – Beautiful and budget-friendly, and easy to care for – what more can we ask?

White orchid– A simple, delicate orchid is always in style and conveys the message that the recipient is important to you.

Lovely Lavender Bouquet – Anyone would love to receive a mood-boosting lavender bouquet that smells as soothing as it looks. Perfect for when your sitter gets home for needed chill time.

Wine and chocolate– You’re sending your thanks, and they’ll be thankful you did with these two perennial favorites.

Magnolia tree – Make sure your recipient has a large space to plant this beautiful and fragrant tree – a forever reminder of your appreciation.

Who: Just because recipients 

Picture of a chili herb wreath

For the people who have gone above and beyond for you this year such as a nurse or doctor if you’ve been sick, a friend who helped you through a crisis, or a realtor who guided you through the process, now is the time to recognize their efforts. These folks might not be in your life year after year, so stretch your wallet with a one-time special gift that reflects your thanks.

Holiday flower tree – Giving a Christmas tree-inspired arrangement will be welcomed throughout December.

Sweet & Delicious fruit bouquet – Fresh fruit and chocolate-dipped strawberries are a healthier alternative to some of the heavier treats you could send. Winning!

Chili and Herb wreath – Lovely colors transition nicely to spring, giving a lasting reminder of your appreciation.

Tea Forte well-being gift set– Let your hard worker fill a new diffuser with calming essential oils to breathe while sipping a cup of tea. Feeling relaxed already!

Picture of 18F Christmas ad

Elizabeth Craig Wells is a former senior editor at Real Simple magazine where she focused on the Life, Style, and Simple Solutions sections. She writes for magazines, websites, and catalogs, and recently edited a 50-year history for an international women’s organization. Wells holds a B.A. in French and B.M. in flute performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She lives with her three children in Connecticut where she coaches soccer and tennis and is working on a series of contemporary novels.

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