6 Ideas for Essential Worker Appreciation

  1. Create a handmade sign for your yard.
  2. Send a meal to your local hospital or grocery store.
  3. Actually say “thank you”.
  4. Write a thank you letter.
  5. Get the kids involved with coloring sheets.
  6. Send custom gifts to a local business.

There’s a lot to be thankful for even during trying times. Many men and women work extremely hard every day to keep our communities alive and well! From grocery store workers to first responders, it takes a village to sustain your neighborhood.

It’s more important now than ever before to offer our encouragement to those who put their lives on the line for us. But you may be wondering just how to do that.

1. Create a Handmade Sign for Your Yard

Source: USA Today

You know when someone in your neighborhood is celebrating a birthday and there are balloons tied to their mailbox or signs placed in their yard? It catches everyone’s attention as they drive by! You can take a similar approach when it comes to showing your thanks to essential workers.

Create a custom yard sign that you put near your mailbox, closest to the street. Your message can be as broad or specific as you want. Maybe you want to thank nurses specifically, or perhaps you want to show extra appreciation for your mail carrier. Either way, write a heartfelt message showing you care.

How to Create a Handmade Yard Sign

Yard signs aren’t just for showing your support for political candidates. You can put any message on your sign, and you don’t need to buy them pre-made! Using some simple craft supplies, you can create your own sign.

Here’s how to make your own yard sign:

  • Step One: Purchase blank corrugated plastic signs from your local hardware or craft store.
  • Step Two: Using markers or stickers, spell out your message. The bigger, bolder letters will be easiest to see from the road.
  • Step Three: Push the stakes of the sign into your front yard, ensuring to stay on your property.
  • Step Four: Tap the top of your sign gently with a heavy object to ensure it won’t blow away in the wind.
Source: FedEx
  1. Step 1

    Purchase Plastic Signs

    Your local hardware or craft store will sell single plastic signs for only a few dollars. Choose your favorite and make sure it comes with some kind of stake so it will fit into the ground. If you don’t want to stick it in the ground, you can also hang it on the wall using adhesives.

  2. Step 2


    Now it’s time for the fun part – decorating! Grab colorful markers, stickers, glitter, and more to really make your sign stand out. Use big, bold letters so the message is easy to read from far away.

  3. Step 3

    Place Your Sign

    If you went with a sign that sticks into the ground, push the stake down in your front yard. Make sure it stays on your property and that it’s easy to see from the road or sidewalk.

  4. Step 4

    Pound it Down

    The final step is pounding the stake down into your yard. You can use a mallet or hammer, but either way, make sure you’re careful so you don’t cause any damage to your hands.

This is the simplest, most cost-effective way of making your own yard sign. You can always turn things up a notch by printing your design on a colored printer so it’s a bit fancier. Either way, your message will be appreciated!

2. Send a Meal to a Local Business

There are all kinds of essential workers who we rely on for our basic needs. During difficult times, their stress levels are going to be higher than usual and they’ll have less time to prepare meals.

If you’re able, consider donating one or more meals to your local grocery workers or health care teams. You can send the meal through DoorDash or other delivery sites so you don’t have to worry about leaving your home!

3. Actually Say “Thank You”

Not everyone has the ability to support a business through donations, and that’s okay! You can offer your appreciation to essential employees by simply telling them “thank you.”

Whether you are making your weekly grocery run or filling up your gas tank, it only takes a couple seconds to stop and tell the workers that you appreciate their hard work. You’d be surprised how much this means to them.

4. Write a Thank You Letter

Take your act of gratitude a step further by writing a thank you letter for essential workers. Depending on the circumstances, you can either type it out and send it over email, or write it by hand and have your mail carrier deliver it.

Be sure to include that you’ll be there to support their business even after trying times like a pandemic or natural disaster. This is incredibly important for local businesses who rely on the community to keep the lights on!

5. Get the Kids Involved

During moments like the Coronavirus (COVID-19), you may have some extra time on your hands. Those with young kids at home know it can be difficult to keep them occupied while you’re trying to work or finish a household project.

Instead of turning on the TV, try giving them some coloring pages that are centered around the essential workers that are helping us all each day. This as an act of gratitude and appreciation that young kids can actually participate in, but no judgment for the adults who want to join in, too!

Here are some free downloadable essential worker coloring pages:

6. Send Appreciation Gifts to a Local Business

If you work for a business who is thriving right now, consider sending some tokens of appreciation to those who deserve our recognition. There are tons of affordable choices out there that will mean a lot to the employees who are working long nights and weekends to keep us healthy and functioning.

The best appreciation gifts for essential workers include:

  • Travel Mugs
  • Power Banks
  • Reusable Water Bottles
  • Journals
  • Stress Relievers
  • Chocolates

Travel Mugs

Nothing’s worse than a workday that doesn’t start with coffee or tea. Can you even imagine getting through your to-do list without a little caffeine boost? Essential workers need that boost more than anyone else and having a travel mug at their side is the best way to tackle the day. Put an inspiring message on the mug to improve their spirits even more!

Power Banks

For many essential workers, their days are super long. Whether they’re working with patients all day or delivering pizzas, they may not even be near an outlet to keep their phone fully charged. That makes listening to music or communicating with customers a little challenging! Offer these employees a power bank  they can keep in their pocket in case their battery starts to run low.

Reusable Water Bottles

When you have a lot to accomplish in one day, staying hydrated isn’t always at the top of your list. It’s important to drink enough water though, otherwise you may feel lethargic or lightheaded. The best way to encourage water consumption is to have a reusable water bottle nearby. Plus, if there’s a fun message on the bottle, an essential worker might be more inclined to carry it with them. Talk about a thoughtful gift!


Studies show that journaling can reduce stress levels, increase senses of gratitude, and improve memory recall. During difficult moments, it’s essential to handle stress in a productive way. Offer essential workers a custom journal to document their days, put their thoughts onto paper, and blow some steam. They can carry it with them throughout the day in case they just need to vent!

Stress Relievers

It goes without saying that stress can wreak havoc on the body. Taking some time to focus on your mental well-being is an important aspect of overall health. Gift the essential workers in your life a custom stress reliever and they’ll appreciate it more than you know! Plus, it’s known that squeezing a squishy stress ball really does lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety levels.


Stress eating is a real thing. Sure, doing it excessively isn’t a good habit to develop, but there’s a lot of data out there that shows having a bit of chocolate in your life can help your mood. Moderate chocolate consumption increases endorphins, which helps us feel happier. In other words, if you want to bring a bit of joy to someone’s life, offer them some personalized chocolates!

In good times and bad, it’s important to recognize those essential workers in our lives. You don’t have to have a large budget to go above and beyond, either. Whether it’s a handwritten letter or a surprise pizza, anything you do to say “thank you” is going to be appreciated!


Capozzi, J. (2020, April 1). If it’s 8 p.m., it’s time to say thanks: Neighbors applaud medical workers fighting coronavirus. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/04/01/coronavirus-florida-neighbors-applaud-medical-workers-every-night/5101941002/Yard Signs.

Yard Signs. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2020, from https://www.fedex.com/en-us/printing/signs/yard.html

About the author

Kelsey Skager

Kelsey is a master of promotional products with over five years of marketing and industry experience. She is proud to have been featured on ABC 7 Chicago News and NPR.