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The Ultimate Thank You Gift Guide

Whether you've been given an unexpectedly generous gift or you've struggled to find the words to adequately express your appreciation, sometimes simply saying “thank you” just doesn't feel like enough.

When you've received a present or service that goes above and beyond, a thoughtfully chosen token of your thanks can speak volumes.

Remember: Thank you gifts don't have to blow your budget, and you should never feel pressure to match the gift you've received. Even something small and inexpensive can get the point across, if you've put a bit of thought behind it. Adding a handwritten thank you note always adds a thoughtful and special touch.

stylish bottle of red wine atop checkered napkin

Thank You Gifts for Anyone Who's Helped You Recently

creatively wrapped thank you gift with pink and white flowers and ribbon

It's wonderful to recognize those around us for the special and great things they do. A few examples of the people who help make our lives better:

  • The vet who helped save your pet's life.
  • Your child's teacher whose patience helped them grow throughout the year.
  • Your doctor who keeps your health in line.
  • Neighbors who water your plants while you're away.

All of these people deserve a shout-out, even if they were just doing their jobs. We sometimes advise against gift cards, but they're appropriate here if you don't know your gift receiver well, and especially if you pick the certificates thoughtfully.

Add a little personal charm with a corresponding gift to match. Do they typically work long shifts? Try a gift certificate for a coffee shop, complete with a nice French press. Do they spend all day on their feet? Try a spa or nail salon gift card, and be sure to throw in some relaxing bath salts, a facial mask or some calming essential oils.

Thank You Gifts for Cash Presents

Maybe you just graduated from college, had a baby, bought a new home, or did any number of things that would encourage a family member to gift you a large sum of money. While a note saying “Thanks for the cash!” can seem awkward—and inadequate—a thank you gift is a great way to show your appreciation.

Acknowledge generosity with a thank you that's truly thoughtful and befitting of the present you received. If you got a vacation (or used some gift money to take one), fill a photo album with happy memories and send them to your ever-so-gracious gift-giver, or bring back a lovely souvenir tailored to their interests or décor. For a generous wedding gift, be sure to send a framed photo of you and your new spouse, preferably with the gifter.

Thank You Gifts for the Host

Whether you're a party guest or a houseguest, don't forget to show your host you loved your time and appreciated their hospitality during your visit. The benefit of visiting your gifter's home is that you'll be able to see their style, or take note of what they need.

Tips for great home gifts:

  • Did their corkscrew break in the middle of the party? Try replacing it for them, along with a bottle of wine.
  • Have they been going crazy for vintage décor lately? Find the perfect era-appropriate token and send it their way.
  • Since their home is a popular spot, you can also go the extra mile and gift the host with a personalized pillow to add a charming touch to their living area.
  • If you're in a rush, you can opt for a functional thank you gift for the party—you can't go wrong with food or libations for the party, or some music to set the mood.

Thank You Gifts for Colleagues

Most people spend a large chunk of their lives in the workplace, and if you're lucky, you've developed a support system of fellow staff members.

A helpful boss, kind cubicle-mate or even an outstanding intern might be the difference between a bad work day and a good one, so why not show them that you appreciate them?

Many save their work-related gifts until the holidays, but if the urge to give back strikes, don't let the season stop you. As long as they're appropriate, thank you gifts can be given any time of year.

Tips for coworker gifting:

  • For those you've been working with for years, think about their likes and dislikes, particularly in the workplace.
  • Are they always talking about how chilly the office is? Try a cozy throw or a mini space heater.
  • Do they always have an afternoon cup of tea? Put together a little gift basket with an international selection of teas and a cute personalized mug so they can continue their ritual in style.

Gifting on your first day:

  • If you're worried about Day One at your new place of employment, break the ice with a small token to show your bosses you appreciate them choosing you, and that you're excited to work with them.
  • You want your thank you gift to be professional, courteous and small—don't overdo it.
  • If you're relocating for the position, consider bringing a piece of your previous home with you, like local coffee beans paired with a travel coffee mug.
  • Maybe your favorite stationery shop has the perfect planner or pen set for your new higher-ups.

Whatever the case, a little something for your new officemates is almost always a good idea when starting a new position—it sets a courteous tone for the work relationship to follow.

Thank You Gifts for Close Friends

Sometimes a thank you gift doesn't even require a present or service. One of the best surprises to give or receive is a token of appreciation for a strong friendship. To say "thanks" to your best friend, try putting together a fun surprise box full of small presents like a lip or nail color you know they'll love, a few mail-safe food products if you're long-distance besties, and a carefully wrapped candle. There's no way this won't brighten your friend's day.

Thank You Gift Do's and Don'ts

Creativity is always encouraged when choosing a thank you gift, but it helps to follow a few gifting guidelines.

  • DO: Include a heartfelt, customized thank you note expressing your sincere thanks.
  • DO: Try to give the gift in person.
  • DO: Pay attention to packaging. A pretty box and a bow can make even the simplest gifts feel special.
  • DON'T: Use the money from a generous gift to buy an expensive thank you gift.
  • DON'T: Decide to gift for the wrong reasons. Be sure that your motivations are good—your goal should be to express your gratitude, not to fulfill some sense of obligation.
  • DON'T: Expect a thank you gift for your thank you gift.

No matter the occasion, a thank you gift is always in style, and always appreciated. A little thought can go a long way during the holidays and beyond, so the next time you receive an unexpected gift, take a moment to send a note of thanks.

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