The Power of Gratitude: Simple Ways to Say Thanks When You Can’t Be Together

November 24, 2020

Nneka McGee

Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction


Toward the end of every year, we tend to reflect on those who have made a difference in our lives. We like expressing appreciation face-to-face or through the giving of gifts. But this year is unlike any year before, and the usual acknowledgments we give in person are no longer possible. Many of us are working from home and don’t see our co-workers, nor do we feel safe meeting them for a celebration during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the same time, people need to feel valued and appreciated now more than ever. With a little effort and creativity, you can still make that happen. Here are a few simple and cost-effective ways to give thanks that will go a long way toward making them feel appreciated, even if you can’t be together.

Phoning in Positivity

A phone call can go a long way, especially when showing appreciation to the recipient. When you make that call, be specific about your reasons for expressing gratitude. Focus on the person’s actions more than your reaction, and make sure your language and tone exhibit excitement and positivity. 

Signed, Stamped and Delivered

Do you want to brighten someone’s day for less than a dollar? Grab a sheet of paper, an envelope and a stamp. Personal notes are a wonderful way to express gratitude. As mentioned above, when expressing thanks, describe in detail what prompted your communication. Inexpensive thank you cards provide a similar touch. 

Digital Appreciation

Everyone gets so much email that you may be reluctant to use it to express appreciation. But when recipients receive a wonderfully designed ecard or personalized video, they will welcome the communication. There are paid websites for ecards, but you can also use the free version of Canva to design thank you cards. Alternatively, use a phone, tablet or laptop to record a video of yourself expressing your thanks out loud and send that video.

Mini-Gratitude Parade

One popular way to express thanks that has emerged in recent months is the drive-by parade, where a group of people drive by an individual’s home in a line of cars, cheering. Whether you organize a parade, a little caravan of one, or make it a delivery of cards and treats, this extra effort especially will help demonstrate how appreciative you are.

Take a moment today to give thanks. Your gesture of gratitude will not be soon forgotten.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Nneka McGee
Nneka McGee, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Nneka J. McGee is an innovative educator, researcher and advocate dedicated to creating and promoting pathways that provide students access and opportunities to navigate a future driven by automation and artificial intelligence. Prior to earning her Ed.D. at American College of Education, Nneka obtained a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a juris doctorate. As part of her doctoral studies, she researched the experiences of K-12 teachers implementing or planning to implement artificial intelligence in classroom learning environments. She is a sought-after speaker on artificial intelligence in education and has shared her work as a panelist or presenter at national, state, regional and local conferences. Nneka is a proud member of HAKing Innovation’s Board of Directors, a non-profit, social impact organization on a mission to create a community of technical talent by exposing students to STEM experiences. She also serves as an AI practitioner advisory board member for the Engage AI Institute and was selected as an EdSAFE AI Alliance Fellow.

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