40 Ways to Bless the Socks Off Your Volunteers This Thanksgiving

40 Ways to Bless the Socks Off Your Volunteers This Thanksgiving
November 15, 2018 Bob D'Ambrosio

We all need to know we’re appreciated. So get started with these inexpensive and easy-to-prepare ideas—and bless the socks off your volunteers this holiday season!

Gifts With Notes

  1. Magnet: “Thanks for attracting people to our ministry.”
  2. Frozen dinner entrée: “Thanks for all the meals you ate on the go to be on time to serve.”
  3. Compass: “Thanks for pointing kids in the right direction.”
  4. Jelly beans: “It’s ‘bean’ fun working with you!”
  5. Basket of fruit: “To a person who’s filled with goodness and vitality.”
  6. Package of Kool-Aid: “Thanks for coming to our aid.”
  7. Paper glider plane: “Thanks for your light-hearted humor.”
  8. Loaf of bread: “Thanks for being the yeast that makes this church rise.”
  9. Bottle of sparkling juice: “Thanks for your refreshing ideas.”
  10. Sandpaper: After an absence, attach a note to sandpaper: “It’s been rough without you.”
  11. Journal: Keep a running log of memories. At the end of the year, photocopy the memories into a booklet. Attach a note: “We remember your faithfulness.”
  12. S’mores: After a camping or retreat weekend, make individual s’mores (chocolate and marshmallow between two graham crackers) and place in plastic bags. Attach a note: “Thanks for the sweet memories.”

Simple Gifts

  1. Fill an ice-cream cone with M&M’s. Cover with clear plastic wrap.
  2. Enclose a favorite poem in a handmade card.
  3. Take a photo of each volunteer in action. Write a thank-you message on the back.
  4. Give pins with funny sayings, such as “Be calm and volunteer.”
  5. Give a blank journal so volunteers can record God sightings.
  6. Have kids make coupons that detail how they’ll bless their Sunday school teachers, such as housecleaning or window washing.
  7. Fill a “relaxation bag” with candles, soaps, and lotion.
  8. Give a spiral notebook as a prayer journal.
  9. Give a coupon for a free movie download. Attach a bag of microwave popcorn.
  10. Personalize small wreaths by attaching symbols for each person, such as pencils and apples for a teacher.
  11. Have kids design pages in a blank book with words of appreciation, illustrations, and signatures.
  12. Make a digital movie on your phone of compliments, memories, and comments from the people the volunteer serves.
  13. Give a flashlight in thanks for burning the midnight oil at a retreat or lock-in.
  14. Give monthly theme gifts for birthdays; for example, in February give candy hearts.
  15. Have kids personalize paper towels by writing a note of appreciation on each paper square.
  16. Write an A-Z note by saying what you appreciate about a person; for example, Arrives early to events, Best guitar player, and so on.
  17. Keep a “favorites list” for each volunteer. Once in a while, give an unexpected favorite treat.

Gatherings and Receptions

  1. Collect photos of the years’ service activities. Add background music and record peoples’ thank yous. Host a banquet and show the movie.
  2. Host a Thanksgiving dinner any time during the year. Serve turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the fixings.
  3. Give all the people you wish to honor a small tea light at a church service. Have each one turn on their light, and then turn out the house lights. Tell everyone to look at all the people who help light the way for Jesus!
  4. Take the church staff caroling any time during the year and show up at the homes of some key volunteers.
  5. Host a “Blue Ribbon Barbecue.” Make 1st place ribbons out of blue fabric and fabric paint. Serve blue food, such as blueberry pancakes or pie.

Thoughts and Deeds

  1. Notice ways your volunteers demonstrate God’s love; then call them the following week and voice your appreciation.
  2. Acknowledge their contributions to others.
  3. Share their excitement and affirm them when they want to begin new activities on their own.
  4. Notice their God-given gifts and make sure they’re using them.
  5. Surprise volunteers who teach by designing colorful marker messages on their classroom whiteboards.
  6. Pray for them and let them know you’re doing it by sending a text message.


Bob D’Ambrosio is a 25-year veteran of frontline church ministry and now serves with Group’s content solutions team. He’s a trainer for volunteer equipping, a Refresh the Church blogger, and a ministry coach for Group U. Bob is a contributing author and general editor of the E4:12 Bible Study Series Better Together: Connecting to God and Others and Leading Out: Connecting People to Purpose.


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