“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7.
Christmas gives an opportunity to tell people in our lives how much they mean to us through words, special moments, and, of course, gifts. And while it’s easy to remember to buy presents for family and friends, there are a lot of other meaningful people in your life that may get overlooked this season.
Now, before we dive into our list of people to give presents to, I want to make one thing clear. You don’t have to give all these people gifts, especially if you can’t financially afford it. A kindly written card or a heartfelt “thank you” will be warmly received, too. Christmas is a time to spread cheer, not dig yourself into debt.
With that in mind, here are 10 overlooked people you should give gifts to this Christmas.
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Mail carriers are some of the hardest-working people there are, especially during the holiday season. Think about all the mail they deliver on a day-to-day basis and then add in all the items you ordered from Amazon on Cyber Monday.
The best part of giving your mailman a gift is that you can leave it in your mailbox as a surprise! Make sure you wrap it up tight and put a huge note with their name on it so that they can’t miss it! If you don’t know your mailperson’s name, write something kind like, “To the person who faithfully delivers our mail.”
A few great ideas would be a Redbox gift card attached to a box of microwave popcorn or a batch of homemade Christmas cookies.
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If your family decides to head out to a restaurant on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, consider leaving a small present for your waiter. It’s a little way to show your appreciation that they served you on a day they’d probably rather have off.
But before you do this, I want to make one thing clear: a gift should be left on top of a gratuity. If you cannot financially afford to do both, leave a tip. Wait staff pay often falls short of minimum wage; and a gift, no matter how sweet, won’t pay the bills.
Consider leaving your waiter a gift card to Target or a local grocery store. These high-trafficked stores meet a variety of people’s wants or needs.
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Service Men and Women
Often, men and women serving in the military are forgotten during the holidays. It’s that unfortunate result of “out of sight, out of mind."
This Christmas, express your gratitude to those who sacrifice so much keeping your country safe by sending out a care package. There are quite a few organizations established to help send care packages overseas, and they even provide ideas on what to put in your package. Two organizations to check out are Support Our Troops and Operation Care Package. Another option is to send a care package directly to a loved one serving overseas. If you don’t personally know a deployed military member, ask around your church.
Things to include in your care package are cards, letters, hard candy, cookies, unscented hygiene products, beef jerky, granola bars, batteries, or crossword puzzle books.
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Military personnel aren’t the only people in uniform who deserve a gift this Christmas. Police, firemen, and EMTs work nonstop during the holidays, performing a tough job that's often filled with tragedy and loss.
While you hopefully won't need their services on Christmas, honor vital community members by reaching out to see how you can inspire joy in their workplaces. Deliver a few freshly baked pies to the fire station on Christmas Eve. Grab a few friends and make stockings for the officers working on Christmas morning. Take hot cocoa and marshmallows to the EMT dispatch station.
One word of wisdom, though: call ahead to ask what would work best for the first responders and schedule a time to swing by.
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There are two things I greatly dislike in life: driving loads of people in my car and operating a larger vehicle than I’m used to. And not only do bus drivers transport lots of people in an enormous bus but often those people are less than pleasant passengers. Oh, don’t even get me started on what school bus drivers have to endure. It’s hard enough taking two kids to school in my backseat, let alone 40+ kids! Talk about some angel-status-patience.
If you take a bus on your daily commute, or if your children ride the bus to school, consider spreading some tithings of comfort and joy this Christmas by giving the driver a gift. A thoughtful present would be a high-quality travel coffee mug with a gift card to a coffee shop to keep them fueled for their bus routes!
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Grocery Store Clerk
Do I have a favorite grocery store clerk? Of course! Does this mean I spend too much time at the grocery store? Most likely. But I’ll scan all the aisles to see if she’s working. She’s incredibly warm and mind-blowingly efficient at her job. She makes any trip to the grocery store more pleasant.
So why not let her know how thankful I am for her with a little Christmas present?
Standing on your feet for 8 hours scanning groceries can take a toll on your body. That’s why I suggest getting your grocery store clerk something to encourage self-care. Maybe it’s some delightful bath bombs or a sweet-smelling lotion. It could also be something as big as a gift card for a pedicure. Or honestly, if all that is way out of your comfort zone, stick a gift to a local bakery in a card with a friendly note.
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Can you even imagine your life without your garbage collectors? With no place to go, trash would pile up around your house. Who wants that? So express your thankfulness for your garbage collector's service by giving a gift this Christmas.
Now I know what you're thinking. How do you give your garbage collectors a present, without them mistaking it for trash?
Make sure you leave your gift a few weeks before Christmas, as to not look like a discarded box with wrapping paper still attached. Firmly secure it atop of the trash can lid, a write a large note that says, “For You: Our valuable Garbage Collector!” Or, of course, you could always just hand it to them in person.
Try giving your garbage collector cold weather accessories, like a nice pair of gloves. If you live in a warmer weather area, try giving them a hat to block the sun or a new pair of shades!
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Nursing Home Residents
A considerable amount of elderly people living in nursing homes or assisted living communities don’t have frequent visitors. This is especially noticeable around Christmas when the halls are filled with children running to see their grandparents while some rooms are continually void of guests.
One impactful way to spread the spirit of Christmas is to work with a local nursing home to identify a couple of residents who would be open to visitors. Wrap a few presents, like new slippers, puzzle books, fuzzy socks, or homemade ornaments. Deliver them in person and spend an hour or two socializing.
But don’t stop there. Make a commitment to come back and visit again every month for the next year. Really aiming to build a relationship with these residents supersedes any gift you could ever give.
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If you work in an office, school, hospital or any building at all, there’s a strong chance that your company has hired someone to clean up after you. This may only include common areas, like restrooms and meeting spaces, or it may consist of your individual cubicle, office, or classroom. Either way, these people deserve a sincere expression of gratitude and what a more perfect time than Christmas?
Ask your office manager if they could deliver your present for you or leave the gift in an open space like on the corner of your (clean) desk. Place a tag that says, “For the Cleaning Staff” so they can see it easily. Try wrapping up a beautifully scented candle and leave a card thanking the cleaner for all he or she does.
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If you have children in school, you’ve likely already made or purchased gifts for their teachers. But have you thought to give a small treat to the crossing guard? The crossing guard ensures your children’s safety as they come to and from school, and is consistently risking her life for your children. With the rise of distracted drivers, a crossing guard’s job is becoming more critical.
As a token of your appreciation, make a Starbucks run before the crossing guard starts their shift. Grab them a hot cocoa and a scone. If you’re feeling very ambitious, you can organize a handful of other families to participate as well, delivering a week’s worth of morning treats or hot beverages before the students leave for Christmas break. This act of love will demonstrate your thankfulness for the crossing guard.
Lindsey Brady is a wife and stepmother who loves to spend time in nature or going for long runs. When she's feeling a bit more sedentary, she'll watch an entire season of any Food Network show in a single sitting. You can follow her on Instagram at real.slim.brady.
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Originally published Monday, 02 December 2019.