During the holiday season, many of us are searching to find the “perfect” gift for our loved ones. We search and scour local stores and online retailers until we find just the right thing that says thank you to family and we believe our loved ones will want. In many instances, we stress ourselves to a point that is unhealthy in our quest for perfection and spend more money than we are comfortable with on our purchase.

Although purchased gifts are a great way to recognize and appreciate those you love, they aren’t the only thing. In our era of increased consumerism we often forget that it is the little things, such as the personal notes and the time we give, that make the biggest impact on our kids and parents and friends.  

Each of us know this to be true even though, at times, it can be hard to keep it in perspective. Let us share our seven unexpected ways to say thank you to family this holiday season.

1. Host a second Thanksgiving in May. While Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to round up the troops and give thanks for your many familial blessings, once a year never seems to be enough. Time together is one of the best gifts you can give. If you want to say thank you in an unexpected way, host an impromptu family gathering and give out the save-the-date cards at the holidays as your gift. By gathering together to share a meal, you’ll show your appreciation for all that your family does for one another.

2. Write thank you notes. It may seem extremely obvious, but the reality is that very few people take the time to write thank you notes. With social media, email and texting, it has become easy to send a quick digital note of thanks.  Handwritten notes can be kept for years to come, making them so much more special.

3. Create a scrapbook. Remind aging parents of good memories and show young children the joys of the past by creating a scrapbook. This is a great way to show how thankful you are for the incredible times you’ve spent together and to show your family how much those memories mean to you.

4. Keep note of all the times you’re thankful. As an ongoing project throughout the year, write down something you’re thankful for each day within your family. It can be anything you want. For example, if your daughter did something nice or your mom was extra sweet. Keep tabs of these instances in a notebook or journal, and then surprise your family with it as a gift at the end of the year.

5. Give an ornament. Whether or not you put up a tree, ornaments are always a good gift. With all of the options today, you can choose an ornament that says thank you by reminding that person of a special memory. For example, is your favorite memory with your sister the time you took a trip to the beach? Purchase an ornament that reminds you of that specific time to show your appreciation.

6. Bring them back to a place that holds a special memory. Was one of your favorite memories with your daughter a picnic? Did you spend your childhood in the mountains? Where did your father propose to your mother? Show your appreciation by recreating those memories with the people you shared them with by planning a trip for everyone to revisit it.

7. Complete your estate planning. While estate planning may be the last thing to do on your list right now, set a date to complete it. Meet with your estate planning attorney and let him or her know that you would like to give the gift of peace of mind to your loved ones this year. Removing the uncertainty of what you want should you become incapacitated, is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones.

Do you need more ideas on how to say thank you to family? Do you have traditions of your own? Don’t wait to try ours or share what works for you and your family! We are here to help you.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He’s all about family and has a passion for educating his community about estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.

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