When I look back to the best holiday gifts I received, some of the most memorable ones were thoughtful and sentimental. I will never forget the times people made extra effort to make me feel special.

There are many gestures that can go beyond gift giving. You can make someone something special, plan an outing, run an errand for them or share how much they mean to you.

This post is full of ideas on how to show appreciation to anyone in your life — your friends, family, coworkers or even acquaintances.

Homemade Gifts

Some of the most special gifts are homemade gifts. DIYs a fun way to spend time indoors doing something creative. The receiver will appreciate the time and energy you spent.

There are many edible gifts you can make: 

These gifts are sure to brighten anyone’s day: 

Chunky knit blanket, make a chunky blanket without any tools — just yarn!

Spend quality time together

One of our fondest memories are the times we spent with someone. Here are some ways make your time with someone extra special:

Do an at-home paint night

Get some canvas, paints and brushes and get creative. Here is a YouTube playlist that has 40 painting tutorials you can choose from.

Cook dinner together

The best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. Spend some quality time this winter by cooking a nice dinner together.

This is your chance to finally make that peach cobbler recipe you pinned on Pinterest years ago. 

Make your dinner extra special by setting up a nice ambiance — candles, a nice tablecloth and cutlery. Finish your night with a movie or a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood.

Plan a picnic

If the weather isn’t too cold outside, plan a picnic. This could be as simple as packing some homemade sandwiches and pasta salad, or even doing a fun outdoor bbq at a park.

Plan a fun day out

Treat them by planning a full day (or weekend) together. This could be an outdoor activity (such as a day skiing or a hike) or even a road trip where you stop at a bunch of popular food spots throughout the day. Your day is sure to be memorable. 

Volunteer together for a day

Feel good by spending a day volunteering. Use VolunteerMatch to find close-by and remote opportunities. This is a great on-going activity that is sure to help you feel more fulfilled.

Do something nice for them

Photo by tata toto on Unsplash

Everyone remembers that time you did something to make their life easier.

Get that oil change

If they have been putting off getting their oil change or leaky faucet fixed — lend them a hand. They will be so relieved. 

Run errands

Offer to pick up their dry clean and their groceries. Take their car to the car wash and fill up their gas tank before you head back home.

Help them organize

A lot of times people need a second set of eyes when it comes to organizing their home. If they are up for it, offer to help organize their closet. They will thank you every single time they look at their closet.

Mend clothes

Almost everyone has a handful of clothes with small tears and rips that need mending. If you are up for the task, ask if you can mend their clothes. They will appreciate you so much for bringing their clothes back to life!

Help with the job search

If they are looking for a job, offer to take their LinkedIn picture or fix up their resume. Bonus points if you send their resume out to anyone you know who may be able to help them land a job.

Share how much they mean to you

There are many ways to convey how meaningful someone is to you.

Make a Spotify playlist

We used to make custom CDs for our friends as holiday gifts each year. Now you can make a collaborative playlist on Spotify of songs that either remind you of your relationship, or songs they might like. They will love listening to your playlist (and can even add their own songs to it) the next time they are driving.

Share old memories

Everyone appreciates a blast from the past! If you have any old photos of them, send them their way (either via text or print). 

This can be full of embarrassing photos you took of your friend when they weren’t looking or even old photos from a time you both may have forgotten.

You can either text them or print them out and accompany the photos with a message reminding them of the great times you spent together. 

Call them

If you haven’t spoken to someone in a long time, call them (or set up a time to video chat) to catch up! They will appreciate hearing from you and connecting.

Write a poem or letter

Write a poem, letter or a handmade card to show how much you appreciate your relationship with them. It will be even better if you accompany it with a handmade card. Here are some DIY Christmas card ideas.

Send a letter to yourself in the future

The end of the year can be a time to reflect. Send yourself a text message (iOS users only) or an email to yourself in the future using the HiFutureSelf site.

Surely one of these ideas have inspired you to spend some extra time this holiday season to make your friends and family feel extra special.