Spread the love with these easy yet impactful ways to show loved ones you care.
When is the last time you checked in with a friend or loved one to see how they’re doing? The value of our personal relationships and staying connected to those we care about has never been more important. And this is where showing appreciation comes in.
According to a survey from the Cleveland Clinic in partnership with Parade.com and Ipsos, three quarters of respondents say that even though their experience with quarantine was difficult, it made them value their relationship with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers more (76%).
However, two in five say that the pandemic had a negative impact on their relationships with family and/or friends (40%). Another 38% reported that they felt lonely and three in ten (30%) say they felt left out, depressed or inadequate after using social media.
One of the best ways to strengthen your relationships is through showing appreciation. Here are 97 easy ways to show appreciation—according to experts, to let your friends or family members know you care.
How to show appreciation
Say “thank you"
Sometimes we forget why our parents teach us at such an early age to say “thank you.” But believe it or not, thank you is such an important word to show appreciation to someone, Ana De La Cruz, LMFT, explains. As simple as it sounds it can turn things around in a relationship. Say it often with a genuine tone.
Pay attention to them
When they are speaking or sharing something with you, listen and pay attention; it is validating. You can even use details that they shared to find another opportunity to later show your appreciation, which shows you were listening, says Dr. Holly Schiff, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist.
If they are having a difficult day, hold the space for them to vent their feelings, Lisa Hutchison, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, states. Listening without judgement, shows your appreciation for who others are.
Related: Can You Have Too Much Empathy?
Write an appreciation note
The art of writing can go a long way. An appreciation note has the ability to show someone that you took some of your valuable time to say how much you appreciate them, says De La Cruz. I tell my couples all the time the importance of simply saying “I appreciate that you took the time to change our toilet paper this morning”.
Show up on time, keep promises and do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t make them feel unappreciated or taken for granted. Show that you appreciate their time and the fact that they want to spend time with you, Dr. Schiff explains.
Instead of specifically pointing out a behavior and naming it, focus on the personal attributes of the person, Hutchison states. Thank them for being helpful, thoughtful or sincere.
Actions speak louder than words
We have all heard that saying, lest put it into practice, De La Cruz says. Do something nice to show your partner or family member that you appreciate them. Bring them their favorite coffee. Cook their favorite meal. Do the laundry, and let them know why you did it. “I made your favorite meal, because I am very thankful that you cleaned the house yesterday.”
Gift them a plant or flowers to brighten their day
Show your thanks through a beautiful arrangement. When they look at your gift, they will be reminded of your appreciation, Hutchison states.
Make small sacrifices
This shows that you appreciate the person enough to put their needs and desires ahead of your own, says Dr. Schiff. Not only does this show appreciation, but selflessness and love as well.
If your spouse did something nice for you this morning and you want to show appreciation later, be available, De La Cruz explains. Give them your full attention, look at them in the eye, smile and when they see that you are acting differently, tell them. “I am very happy that you washed the dishes this morning, I highly appreciate it”.
Praise them for who they are, their positive traits and qualities and things they have been successful at. It lets them know that you appreciate them, but also are noticing and valuing their achievements as well, Dr. Schiff states.
Pay it forward
It feels so good when people do things for us, the best way to show someone how much you appreciate them is to do it for them as well, says De La Cruz. Every situation is unique, but if your husband washed the dishes and you know he dislikes folding clothes, show him appreciation by completing his chores and let him know. “Thank you for doing the dishes, I decided to fold the clothes for you because I highly appreciate that you did the dishes for me."
Recommend an article that you know they would find fascinating
Send someone an article on a subject in which they are interested if it’s something that you have found informative and helpful, Arlene B. Englander, LCSW, MBA, states. It’s always nice to know that our friends appreciate our interests and wish to keep us abreast of all updates on and aspects of that topic.
One of the principles in applied behavioral analysis, is that when you want to increase a behavior, in other words, when you want that behavior to happen again, that behavior needs to be reinforced or rewarded, De La Cruz explains. When we show appreciation towards the actions of others, the likelihood of them engaging in such behavior again will increase. Which behavior do you want to happen again?"
Notice a specific action and show your gratitude
The important thing here is to be specific! It's easy in the day to day to just drop a "thanks". Noticing a specific way someone helps allows them to feel acknowledge and understand what truly helps your life, Mollie Eliasof, psychotherapist, private consultant and host of the podcast, More with Mollie, states.
Pass along something funny
Send a humorous comedy skit to someone who could use a laugh, says Englander. Laughter is therapeutic for all of us and when we find a routine that gives us a good laugh, it’s a wonderful gift to share that experience with someone else.
Smile and hold eye contact
This one does wonders! Showing appreciation happens in a flash, Eliasof explains. It's easy for the people around us to miss it or not even notice. Taking the time to hold eye contact allows you to be in that moment of appreciation together.
Create something handmade
If you know any crafts, a handmade item can be a great display of appreciation. It’s really touching to know that someone spent the time and effort to knit us a stole (my favorite straight-knit go-to), paint us a picture, make a mandala and the like, Englander states.
Engage in an activity they enjoy
Participating in an activity your friend, family member or partner loves will show them that you are also interested in their hobbies and want to take time out of your day to do something that will make them happy, Dr. Sanam Hafeez, NYC-based Neuropsychologist and Faculty Member at Columbia University, explains.
Buy something that will fix a current stressor
With busy lives, it's a treat to get help managing any ongoing stressor, says Eliasof. If there is a way to purchase the small piece of something that got broken or an item that would make life easier at home, go for it!
Physical touch tells someone they feel accepted and cared for. Body contact and closeness foster a sense of happiness and well-being and generate compassion during interactions, Dr. Hafeez states. Generating feelings of acceptance, happiness and compassion can show someone you care about them.
Take something off their plate permanently
We all have tasks that we have to get done each day, Eliasof says. Taking a load off their day allows them to have a little more space to breathe and relax.
Incorporate small gestures
Little gestures such as opening the door, kissing on the forehead and hugging for a bit longer are small ways of making someone feel loved, Dr. Hafeez explains. People sometimes appreciate actions rather than gifts or words, because as the old proverb goes, actions speak louder than words. These little gestures show someone you are thinking of them and appreciate them.
Give them a sincere thank you with personalized feedback
Telling someone you appreciate them or something they’ve done is nice, but when you can articulate why something meant so much to you or specific feedback about how the other person has made an impact on you will create a deeper connection, Dr. Tari Mack, Clinical Psychologist, Celebrity Love and Relationship Expert and Host of Dear Dater, says.
Write the words down
Do this somewhere that they can see each day, Eliasof states. Texting or a quick email can feel like the easy way to go here, but taking the time to write appreciation somewhere that they can cherish it can go a long way!
Make a photo album or memory book
Create something that will be meaningful to them. Highlight your relationship or parts of their life you know they’re most proud of, Dr. Mack explains. Offer this as a gift of appreciation for them and for your relationship with them. This is something they can hold onto forever and refer back to when they need a smile or pick me up.
Find your partner (or friend's) love language
There are five love languages: quality time, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation and receiving gifts. Knowing your partner, family or friends' love language can help you determine the best way to communicate your love and appreciation, says Dr. Hafeez.
For example, just because your love language is receiving gifts doesn’t mean your partner or friend's love language is the same. If you find out that quality time is your partner's love language, book a trip where you can spend a long time together, as this will resonate with them and they will enjoy this expression of gratitude more.
Related: 125 Ways to Show Moral Support
Make a cute, funny or heartfelt video
Videos are a fun way to share appreciation with someone and something the other person can keep forever and refer to, says Dr. Mack. Speak from the heart or add some comedy and let someone know that you appreciate them for who they are or what they’ve done.
Brag about how helpful they are to those around you
There's nothing like feeling like an all-star. Share with others in front of them how much you appreciate their efforts and actions in your life, Eliasof explains.
Make a list of the top 10 things you love about someone
Be specific about what they bring into the world, what their unique gifts are and why you love them, Dr. Mack states. We all want to be really seen and this token of appreciation will have a big impact.
Don’t wait, do it now
Holding off in expressions of appreciation leave the other person feeling you probably just don’t. And by the time you finally do they may have already incurred resentment that can be hard to undo later, says Dr. Gail Saltz, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine and host of the “How Can I Help?" podcast from iHeartRadio.
Make gratitude your practice
This begins with noticing and with loosening up. Notice what your partner does every day to care for you and your family, and write it down, James V. Córdova, professor of psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Maybe first, just for yourself. Keeping a relationship gratitude journal that write in at the end of the day is a powerful practice. And then, if you’re feeling brave, you can share it with your partner.
If you can be face to face, look at their face
This emphasizes your expression to them, which can increase the emotional meaning and amplitude of the expression, Dr Saltz explains.
Invite emotional expression and respond accordingly
Encouraging your partner to open up to you emotionally involves both inviting emotional expression and responding with genuine validation to whatever level of expression he or she engages in, says Dr. Cordova. Then, ask what you can do to help.
If somebody did something nice for you, return the favor by doing an act of service that would be helpful or meaningful to them, Joyce Marter, LCPC, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life, explains.
Donate to someone’s favorite charity, Dr. Natalie Bernstein, psychologist and mental health coach, states. It’s a great way to recognize someone you don’t know too well in a positive way without purchasing anything too personal.
Send an e-card
When time is limited, e-cards are a wonderful option for sending quick bursts of appreciation! E-cards have a personality all their own, and are often a welcome sight in an inbox full of work, says Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, speaker and author of upcoming book, Date Smart.
Give them social media love
Like, share or comment on their posts, Marter states. Give them a recommendation or endorsement on LinkedIn, Google, etc.
The element of surprise is a great way to show appreciation. Whether you plan a date night, bring a favorite food to the office unexpectedly or buy a little gift for a loved one, unexpected treats are always a hit, Dr. Bernstein explains.
Sending a care package is a wonderful way to show appreciation, Dr. Manly states. Whether a packet is filled with homemade goodies or a few store-bought goods, even the simplest care package says, “I appreciate you!”
Invite them to do something meaningful together
Spend quality time together. Put them first and consider doing something that they really enjoy that you never feel like doing, says Marter.
There are always reasons to throw parties and an appreciation party can be simple, Dr. Bernstein states. When my husband was working such long hours, we threw him a surprise appreciation party. We made signs, cooked his favorite foods and wrote cards telling him how much we appreciate his hard work.
Make a basket of homegrown produce
As summer gardens produce their bounty, sharing fruits and vegetables can be a wonderful sign appreciation, says Dr. Manly. Making a gift of a basket or bag of homegrown produce is a meaningful, time-honored way of showing sincere appreciation to others.
Leave post-it notes expressing your appreciation around their home, workplace or car
Simple little messages such as, “I appreciate you!”, “Thank you!” or “I love you!” can really lift a person’s spirits and make their day, Marter explains.
Help with chores, work projects, life! Lend a hand and help them out as a way to say, "thank you and I appreciate you," Dr. Jaclyn Bauer, PhD, and CEO of Virtue Supplements, states. Helping take something off of their plate can be a huge help and a wonderful way to show them how you feel.
Try to find one small and thoughtful gesture that's relevant to something that occurred during that week
Make it a game. Try to be as creative as possible to pick out something from a conversation or an event that occurred in your spouse or partner's day or week, says Jason Drake, LCSW-S Lead Clinician and Owner of Katy Teen and Family Counseling. For example:
Your spouse, partner or friend may express frustration over not being heard or feeling valued at work. During the week, follow up with a card and a list of the things that you value in your relationship with them.
Give a round of applause
A boss or manager can make a round of applause for an employee for their hard work or progress, Amber O’Brien, therapist at Mango Clinic, explains. It will make them feel so good and more productive in their tasks. You can also do it even if you’re with your family or friends.
Be there for them, emotionally and physically
If you appreciate this person, then they have probably been there for you in one way or another, Dr. Bauer states. Show them how you appreciate them by reciprocating that behavior and be there for them emotionally and physically.
Express loving sentiments
Take the time to look them directly in the eye and tell them sentiments, Marter explains. These includes “Thanks for all you do for me and all the ways in which you add value to my life” or “I notice and really appreciate the following about you…”
Be creative in how you greet your spouse or partner in the morning
Start the day off with a show of appreciation, Drake says. Often, we are rushing to get ready for work and rushing out the house in the morning. Our morning routine is almost automatic. But what would it mean to your spouse or partner if you were to wake up a few minutes earlier to make them coffee?
Even if you did this once a week or once every two weeks, what it communicates is that your relationship is important to you. This doesn’t take much time or effort. But such a simple thing, waking up a couple minutes earlier, is a great way to show appreciation.
Celebrate their success
If someone is a great job at something—whether work-related or otherwise—take a moment and rejoice their success even if you’re in a small gathering, O'Brien says. You can make some preparations for a small party for the sake of appreciation.
Bring a secret out of hiding
Talk and talk some more. Sharing a secret makes you vulnerable and allows for a period of intimacy, Jane Seskin, psychotherapist and author, states.
Check in during the day or send a simple message of appreciation
Once we get to work, we often get into work mode. The outside world fades away and we focus on the tasks ahead of us, Drake explains.
We may work a lot, and this takes us away from the home and our relationships. Sometimes if we aren't careful, we replace the relationship with our spouse or partner and find ourselves married to our job.
Taking time out of your day to send a simple text of "just thinking about you" or "hope you're having a great day. Love you" can mean a lot. This takes minimal effort and minimal time. But what this communicates is that you value the relationship and the importance of them in your life.
Greet them with hugs
Hugging someone warmly is a lovely way to show appreciation, O’Brien states. Apart from hugs, other physical gestures are also great to appreciate someone. This includes touching their shoulders, placing your hand on their backs or holding their hands. A physical gesture at the right time will convey your appreciation even if you have a few words to say.
Take pictures of the moments you share that are joyful
Give them the photos or make an album to give at an unexpected time, says Seskin.
Choose a day of the week for a consistent date night
Setting aside and committing to a day of the week where you can go on a date with your spouse or partner is a great way to show appreciation, Drake explains.
Life can be hectic and sometimes chaotic. It can be easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. In fact, in our efforts to be successful in life our time with a spouse or partner can become less and less. Dedicating yourself to a day and time each week to spend time with your spouse or partner demonstrates the value you place on them and your relationship.
Ask: “Is this a good time to talk?”
Don’t just assume it is, Seskin states. Here, you are showing respect and appreciation by taking the other person’s feelings into account.
By meeting a loved one halfway and compromising on decision making, we demonstrate that we value the other person’s opinions and desires, says Samara Quintero, LMFT.
This is an excellent way to show that it is not about being right, but about being happy in the relationship.
Design a day around them
Plan a whole day that is filled with the things they like to do and do it with them, psychotherapist Amy Morin states. This can help them feel special.
Offer your ear and unconditional support
Non-judgmental listening is a great way to show someone you love and appreciate them. If the person is being hard on themselves, remind them how wonderful they are, says Diana Levy, LCSW.
Perform random acts of kindness
Small gifts or acts of service is an excellent way to show someone you appreciate them. Oftentimes, people believe that gifts have to be an extravagant item or an over-the-top experience, however the significance of the gift can depend more on the meaning it has to the other person, Quintero explains.
Verbalize your appreciation with genuine enthusiasm
Note all of the little things that the person did to make you happy, Levy states. Give the person satisfying feedback for their efforts.
Gift them a notebook filled with the things you appreciate about them
Make it a habit to write down three things you appreciate the person every day for one year, Morin says. Then, gift them the notebook.
Along with giving hugs (see number 56), smiling and even a pat on the back can express feelings of human connection and openness, Quintero states. We need to feel loved and appreciated and appropriate signs of affection is one of the simplest ways to convey gratitude for those we love in our life.
Did she just find out she’s pregnant and she’s really excited? Ask her how she’s doing and how you can support her during the pregnancy, says Levy. Did he recently lose his father? Check in and see how he’s coping with the loss.
Give a practical gift
Hire someone to mow the grass for a few weeks or buy them a portable phone charger to extend their battery life. A practical gift that makes their life easier shows you care, Morin explains.
Showing appreciation can mean respecting and acknowledging your loved ones’ boundaries these are the limits they set for themselves and by respecting them we show how much we appreciate them, Monica Denais, therapist and podcast coach, states.
Give someone a book
Don't just gift any book though. Give someone a book that made an impact on you, says Morin. Giving it to someone you care about shows that you want them to have a positive experience.
Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself to be the best version of yourself for your loved ones speaks volumes, Denais explains. This can look like going to therapy, exercising or following through on your own commitments.
Speak their language
Because we all give and receive appreciation in different ways it’s really important to understand how the people closest to you receive messages of appreciation, Dr. Darcy Sterling, host of E! Network’s Famously Single and creator of the online course, Jealousy Boot Camp.
Moreover, people usually communicate their appreciation for those around them in ways they like to be appreciated, themselves. So, if you’re not sure whether to send a text or a box of cupcakes, think back to the last time that person did something kind for you and take that as your cue.
Check in for no reason
Pick up the phone and just call your loved one check in on them give them space to talk about wins or challenges they may have faced that day. Be fully present and engaged in the conversation, says Denais.
Remember the details
We all share things that are important to us with people in our lives, Dr. Darcy states. Remembering the details of what others share with you is a sure-fire way to show someone you value them—especially in the information-overloaded world we live in today.
Share what you're grateful for
Let your loved ones know how grateful you are for them on a daily basis, Denais explains. You can even have a shared moment each day where you can share what you both are grateful for.
Turn off your notifications
Nothing ruins quality time like a phone blowing up with notifications, says Dr. Darcy. When you’re getting in some face time with people you care about, turn off your notifications or turn them off completely. This will communicate that you’re as invested in the quality time as they are.
Don’t underestimate the power of words
When all else fails, simply telling someone “I appreciate you” goes a long way, Dr. Darcy explains. Take it one step further by telling why you appreciate them.
Take an interest in their interests
Show appreciation by reading a book or watching a program the other person mentioned. Then, share your take-aways with them, says Sally McDaniel, LMFT.
Watch the person’s favorite television show
Yes, even if you don’t like that particular show. This is an unselfish act and shows someone you appreciate them, says Dr. Kahlilah T. Jones, PhD, MS, LMFT.
Play music that the other person likes
Maybe it's a favorite song or just a genre they enjoy. Experience the rhythm and melody with them, McDaniel explains. Shared experiences, even brief ones with meaning, can enrich any relationship.
Pray with/for the person
This conveys that you appreciate the relationship and you have their best interest at heart, Jones states.
Share your joy
If you have happy news or good news share it with this person early, says McDaniel. Joy can be shared and is best celebrated together.
Send a motivational quote or scripture
Inspiring someone with a motivational quote or scripture shows you appreciate them and value the connection, Dr. Jones states.
Tell others about your appreciation
You can highlight the person you appreciate in an announcement or written correspondence. This works well in the workplace, as we recognize accomplishments and it can work in a family environment too, McDaniel explains. List acts and elements you appreciate in annual holiday greetings or informal emails to family friends.
Get a special picture framed
Find a photo of a happy moment and frame it to show the person they matter to you, Dr. Jones explains.
Make the other person a meal, snack or dessert
Find out what they like ahead of time, says McDaniel. Then, make a recipe you know they will enjoy. When you give the other person the food you have made, explain how grateful you are for their actions.
Go on a walk
By making time for this person you are demonstrating they are important to you, Dr. Jones states. As an added bonus, being out in nature has many physical and mental health benefits.
Let them choose
At work, socially, or even romantically, make a gesture to defer to the other person's choice, McDaniel states. Tell them why. For example, you have such a great palette, why don't you choose which restaurant to order from and I'll pay.
Express appreciation through a variation on the old game of "Show and Tell."
I teach people to not only tell others how they are appreciated (and be specific about what you appreciate them) but also show it through your actions as well, Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon, psychologist and radio host, explains. Your words and action should be congruent or in alignment, as I like to say. That way, there's no question about the sincerity of the appreciation you are expressing.
Keep an appreciation journal and each time the person does something you appreciate put it in the journal, says Dr. Wyatt Fisher, psychologist and relationship coach. Then after several months or a year give them the journal as a surprise.
Give them the benefit of the doubt
It is easy to remind ourselves of the old adage that nobody is perfect when we accidentally say something wrong that could have been construed as mean, rude or offensive. It is more difficult to remember when we are the target of an insensitive comment or inadvertent slight, Dr. Nathaniel Ivers, department chairman and associate professor in the Master’s in Counseling online program at Wake Forest University, states.
As a society, we so rarely actually listen to what another person is saying. Spend some time with the person you appreciate without any distractions. Let them talk and ask questions about what they say. Show genuine interest.
Be consistently kind, patient and gracious
This is the number one way to show, Dr. Ivers explains. At times, we can take the people who are closest to us for granted. We may show a great deal of kindness, patience and restraint with coworkers and strangers, while letting our guard down and anger out with friends and family. We can show our appreciation by not taking these close friends and family members for granted through consistently being kind, patient and grateful for their time and essence.
Give them a meaningful gift
For a person who enjoys receiving gifts, it doesn't have to be anything big, but it has to be meaningful, Tara Haidinger, Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Family and Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Individual, states. Make sure the gift reflects the person's likes, a private joke between the two of you or something that goes along with their hobby.
Cultivate an "I/thou" relationship rather than an "I/it" relationship
Engage with your loved ones, friends and colleagues in a way that acknowledges their humanity and dignity rather than portrays them as objects or transactions, says Dr. Ivers. In other words, be wary of creating relationships based on what you believe you can personally gain from them. Work to make others feel like you care for them because of who they are, not what they can do for you.
Be authentic and honest
Love is sometimes easier to develop and restore than trust. In fact, there is an old saying that trust leaves on horseback and returns on foot. Appreciation can be exhibited by bringing your authentic, honest self to your relationships, Dr. Ivers explains.
Give them some alone time
Offer to take over their duties at home or work for a portion of the day so the person can have some time for themselves, Haidinger states. There's nothing better than to be able to do what you want without worrying about others.
Mourn with them
We can show appreciation for others by being with them when they are sad, angry, frustrated, grieving, sick or in pain, says Dr. Ivers.
Ana De La Cruz, LMFT
Holly Schiff, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Lisa Hutchison, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Arlene B. Englander, LCSW, MBA
Sanam Hafeez, NYC Neuropsychologist and Faculty Member Columbia University
Tari Mack, Clinical Psychologist, Celebrity Love and Relationship Expert and Host of Dear Dater
James V. Córdova, professor of psychology at Clark University
Joyce Marter,LCPC, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life
Natalie Bernstein, psychologist, and mental health coach
Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, speaker, and author of upcoming book, Date Smart
Jaclyn Bauer, Ph.D., CEO of Virtue Supplements
Jason Drake, LCSW-S, Lead Clinician and Owner of Katy Teen and Family Counseling
Amber O’Brien, therapist at Mango Clinic
Jane Seskin, psychotherapist and author
Samara Quintero, LMFT
Diana Levy, LCSW
Monica Denais, therapist and podcast coach
Sally McDaniel, LMFT
Kahlilah T. Jones, PhD, MS, LMFT
Aimee Harris-Newon, psychologist and radio host
Wyatt Fisher, psychologist and relationship coach
Nathaniel Ivers, department chairman and associate professor in the Master’s in Counseling online program at Wake Forest University
Tara Haidinger, Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Family and Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Individual