Of all the gifts I've given my mother over my lifetime, the one that has meant the most to her is a simple glass jar with a homemade label. Inside were 365 slips of paper, each containing something I was grateful to mom for. They ranged from serious ("Thank you for raising me with strong values.") to silly ("Thanks for being the official spider killer.") Every morning for a year, Mom would pull a slip out of the jar and smile over the day's message. She loved it so much that when she came to the end of the year, she put all the slips back in the jar and started over again.
Gratitude is important. Studies have shown that feeling appreciated for their work is more important to people than salary. And people who express thankfulness are healthier and live longer. Given all these benefits, doesn't thanksgiving deserve more time than just one day a year?
There are so many ways to show appreciation, from a simple, verbal "Thanks!" to a handwritten letter or small gesture. One of my favorite ways to show people how much I value them is by giving them a little home-baked treat with a note attached.
This fall I got into the "attitude of gratitude" by preparing a couple of my favorite sweets to share with friends and colleagues. I've found Absolutely Almond Cut-Out Cookies is a great recipe for making rolled-out, decorated cookies. The dough is easy to work with and doesn't spread too much during baking (Hint: Before baking, place the loaded cookie sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes or so; this helps cookies hold their shape as they bake.) I used leaf-shaped cutters and decorated the cookies in autumnal colors. Cookies are great appreciation gifts, because you can write "thank you" right on the cookie. Place one or two cookies in a plastic bag and attach a label, or use a small container (I bought some take-out food-style containers and decoupaged them with autumn-themed tissue paper to make a pretty presentation.).
Another fun way to say thanks is with bite-sized cakes. Tastefully Simple's Silicone Bar Pan is perfect for mini cakes made from our pound cake and sweet bread mixes. This time I used the delectable Pumpkin Bread & Maple Glaze Mix, the perfect warm-and-cozy flavor for this season. They baked up in just about 25 minutes; after they cooled, I drizzled them with the included maple glaze mix and added some leaf-shaped sprinkles. Nestled into cupcake liners and placed in a plastic bag with a ribbon and tag, these cakes make a sweet statement of thanks.
However you choose to share your appreciation, be assured that even a small gesture has a big impact. You'll make someone's day – and feel pretty great yourself!