gift guide with work colleagues exchanging gifts

When we flip on the TV, we see endless commercials for holiday sales. When we go to big box stores and local boutiques, we walk down aisles decorated with the colors and in the style of the season.

No doubt about it: Gift-giving season is here.

And you know what? That’s pretty great, because you know a lot of people who made your life easier this past year at home, at school, and in the office. This is the time to show your gratitude to those who are essential to your life with a thoughtful end-of-year present.

We know how tempting it is to just get them a gift card, but take a moment or two to think about how you can personalize your thanks. Figuring out what is meaningful will show how much you appreciate them. And make sure that whatever you choose from this gift guide, you accompany it with a thoughtful handwritten note that will touch their heart.

Who: Work colleagues

These are the co-workers, bosses, and clients who add a little light to your nine-to-five. Was there someone who assisted you with a remote workplace or flexible schedule this year? A client who championed you for a promotion? A co-worker who helped you complete a project? Recognize them for their support with one of these classic yet thoughtful gift ideas.

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.

gift guide with paperwhites


A quintessential holiday flower that says thank you without the connotation of other, more intimate flowers, such as 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 recipient’s mouth. These famous pears are a rare treat, so get them while they last.

Popcorn tin

You might just 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.

Holiday boxwood and red berry wreath

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, your mother, or a caregiver you hired at the recommendation of a friend, 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.

Aloe plant

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

Picture of Thank You gift basket

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? It’s easy to keep alive, and the playful containers can be reused (if you do happen to let yours expire).

Lighted Christmas sleigh with a candle

For her table centerpiece or by the front door, this gift will save your sitter from having to decorate a bit.

Lobster dinner for two

For the childcare providers who you want to spoil — decadent lobster, crab, and chocolate.

Lavender hand and foot spa set

Let your caretakers ensconce themselves in luxury while breathing in the scent of this calming herb.

Picture of 18F Christmas ad

Who: Household help

In a world where we have a job (or, in some cases, more than one), volunteer commitments, and family obligations, sometimes we have to outsource housecleaning, gardening, lawn mowing, and the like. And the special home improvement 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).

Cinnamon rolls

gift guide with grooming kit for men

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

Herb garden trio

Give some flavor! This pretty basket of fresh herbs will keep on giving throughout the new year.

Grooming kit for men

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.

Lavender herb wreath

This purple-hued wreath will give a lovely fragrance to your painter or contractor’s home.

Who: Educators and leaders

Teaching is hard. Anyone who has a school-aged child and has lived through the past couple of years could tell you that. 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, coaches, tutors, music instructors: To you we say, “You’ve touched our lives.”

gift guide with white orchid

Air plant terrarium

Beautiful, budget friendly, and easy to care for — what more can we ask for?

White orchid

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

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 

For the people who have gone above and beyond for you this year — such as a nurse or doctor if you’ve been sick, friend who helped you through a crisis, or realtor who guided you through the buying or selling 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 special one-time gift that reflects your thanks.

Holiday flower tree

Picture of a chili herb wreath

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

Sweet & Delicious fruit bouquet

Fresh fruit and chocolate-dipped strawberries are a winning combo, and will show the person on the receiving end how much of a difference they made in your life.

Chili and herb wreath

Lovely colors transition nicely to spring, giving a lasting reminder of your appreciation.

Herbal tea assortment

Help your hard worker find inner peace and mental clarity with this set of comforting chai teas. Feeling relaxed already!


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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