Whether you’re a parent, a teacher or a hometown hero, receiving a gesture of gratitude is always an “awww” inspiring moment. Right now it’s even more important than ever to remember to give thanks to all those everyday heroes all around us like teachers, healthcare workers, emergency responders and frontline employees. Read on for nine simple but meaningful gestures for showing your appreciation.

1. Movie Magic

With a smartphone always at the ready it’s easy to create a personal video to make someone's day. Capture the moment your little ones open up that present from the grandparents or have them record a thank you message for their teacher at the end of the school year. For next-level movie-making, try the app thankr to customize your video with fun templates for all different occasions.

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2. How Sweet!

There is nothing quite like receiving a box of chocolates to make you feel thought of! merci Chocolates, Europe's famous gift-giving chocolate, is a heartfelt way to say "merci” to those who deserve it most. You can even personalize a box on their website using the merci cover creator, making this gift extra-special. Choose your design, add a personal message, upload your photo and print it off for a thoughtful way to say “thank you.”

3. Artistic Merit

Nothing says “one of a kind” quite like a child’s artwork. Gifting an original drawing, painting, or hand-printed treasure gets your child involved and excited about giving back. It's a great activity, too, so you can keep them busy and get their creativity flowing, all while doing good!

4. Tracing Thank You Cards

When busy mom Ellen Richard grew tired of writing thank you notes on behalf of her four kids, she had a brilliant idea. “I created a line of stationery that allows even the youngest kids to send out their own thank you notes,” she shares. Indeed, her Letter Learning designs have traceable messages that can also be customized. “No tears, no misspelled words, no stress.” Thank you, Ellen!

5. Home-Baked Goodness

Who loves fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies? Answer: everyone! So why not bake your thanks right into the recipe? Even better–make it unique by baking a classic with a twist: here are 13 chocolate chip cookie recipes you haven't tried yet!

6. Living Gratitude

Send flowers? Sure. But what about something unexpected, like a succulent! Perfect for that friend who has enough living things to keep alive, these little gems are sturdy and fool-proof. Bonus: the plants are sure to last well beyond the thank you card itself! 

7. Original Gift Cards

It's always a good time to thank teachers, coaches, Veterans, and the service people who make our days. A gift card for a well-deserved treat like coffee drinks or donuts is a no-brainer. Even better–opt for a card from a local shop to support while saying thanks! If you want to put a personal spin on the usual gift card, try one of these ways to make your own holder by Gift Card Girlfriend at GiftCards.com.

photo: Jennifer Massoni Pardini

8. Calendars, Notepads, and Puzzles, Oh My!

Thanks to memory-capturing companies like Shutterfly, Minted, and Artifact Uprising (and their frequent discounts or free gift promotions), there are opportunities throughout the year to make a little notepad, calendar, or other personalized tokens of appreciation—like a puzzle, ornament, placemat, tote bag, magnet, just about anything! You can stow these away for when a little more than saying “thank you” is needed. 

9. Write That Note

As fun as it is to get creative, at the end of the day, a handwritten note does go far—both in terms of its appreciated recipient and instilling in our kids the practice and patience of expressing gratitude. A sentence or two from the heart speaks volumes. As one Red Tricycle Spoke Contributor recently wrote, “For me, receiving a thank you note really feels just like I am being given a gift; wrapped in paper and tied with a zip code and a stamp on top!” Fellow Spoke Contributor Vlasta Hillger also has some great tips for helping little ones tackle more than one note at a time.

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