Ideas: Find Creative Ways to Appreciate People

This idea is excerpted from Barbara’s book CARE Packages for the Home–Dozens of Ways to Regenerate Spirit Where You Live (Andrews-McMeel, 1998) $12.95 

The Idea:

Surprise people, especially those in your family, by finding creative ways to appreciate them.

The Idea In Action:

Have a special day to celebrate one person in the family. Let that person be “King or Queen for the day”. Have everyone in the family do something to honor that person – write a poem about them, do a skit, tell what they love about them, make a collage of all their favorite things, make one of their favorite foods, or invite them to do something you know that they love. Often when we celebrated a family member, we gave them special privileges such as not having to do dishes for a week or getting to eat their dessert first or getting to choose all the meals for one week.

Create a book of ______________. Have each person in the family draw a picture or do a collage about the special person, put the pages together in a book, and present him or her with it.

Instead of complimenting a person directly, let him or her hear you talking to someone else on the phone about him. Write a person’s mother to tell her how grateful you are to have her child in your life.

Barbara McCauley, a delightful person and a wonderful teacher from Salt Lake City, Utah says, “Whenever you meet a friend, take something to share–a joke, a favorite candy bar of his or hers, a book that you love, a new food, a little trinket that reminded you or them, a bookmark, a cassette tape, or something you’ve cut out of the paper or a magazine that you thought they’d enjoy.” It sends a special message that you were thinking about them even before you got together!

Susan Stewart from the State of Michigan bought a special “back patter,” A large flat rubber hand on a long plastic stick. She said that this year, instead of ringing a bell when they complete their immunization follow-up calls, they will “pat themselves on the back!” (She says it also works to call it a “pat backer.”)

Janice Kimrey from Mojave, California, wrote about a creative way she found to appreciate someone:

Your advice on creative communication and appreciation at the SHRM conference was exactly what I needed for a personal life situation. I sent a note with a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne to a special gentleman friend. His surprise was obvious, I could tell he felt very special, and it definitely got the desired message across because he’s phoned me several times in the past two weeks and has invited me to dinner twice!

A friend sent me a little gift from The Whistle Stop in Mineola, Texas. It is a small jar filled with tiny folded pieces of paper. The tag attached reads, “This little jar contains reinforcements and reminders of the strength and beauty that are within you. Take one or more a day as needed.”

Suzanne and Don Gordon have been married for eleven years. Every week they enjoy their “Friday Night Special.” Every Friday evening they exchange cards and drink a toast. Suzanne says, “There is always something you can celebrate!” In all those years, they have only given each other the same card three times!

Carol Baughman from Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, tells of a creative way she appreciated family members:

Everyone enjoyed your presentations. I, myself, put into action something I always wanted to do. Well, I did it today . . . .it took all day, and I have already received “thank you’s.” I sent out eleven “CARE” packages to my family. We never do this among ourselves. I guess, as a part of a large family, it would have been considered as too much extra. Anyway, it seems like your presentation has left a big impression with us–and I had fun, too! 

Lynn Ross from Harlan, Iowa, wrote me about something special her mother did for her:

I think my mother was so inspired by the “Johnny” story (Note: see page ), that she cut out a bunch of “thoughts for the day” for me. I put several under the glass on my desk and then for Christmas she completed the gift by giving me a decorative crock with “Motherly Advice” inscribed on it. Now I have two reasons to smile every day!

My dear friend Judy Constantino of Middletown, Delaware, recently sent me a “not for any reason” gift, and this was the note she included:

This is something that I had in my “Judy store.” Throughout the year I purchase different gift items and save them in my “store.” That way, when I need a special gift, I always have things on hand that I love to give as gifts. Here’s the rule of thumb . . . if I don’t love it, it doesn’t go in the “store.” 

Then she adds, “The only problem is that oftentimes the items in the “Judy store” wind up going to Judy!”

One of my friends told me about a delightful experience of appreciation he gets every time he goes through the toll booth at Half Day Road on Interstate 94 in Illinois. The toll booth collectors give “high fives” to each person paying their toll manually! He said this always makes his day, even when he’s stuck in traffic.


It is such fun to really surprise someone! We all need to be affirmed and appreciated, and it means even more when we know that someone has taken extra time to make that appreciation just for us.

Barbara Glanz Biography

A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at and

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