From neighbors and teachers to coworkers and even therapists, a nationwide poll reveals the unsung heroes in our lives and communities — beyond traditional family and friends — who Americans believe deserve their holiday thanks.
Ranking atop the list of those who deserve appreciation, cited by 53 percent of respondents, are neighbors, who throughout the year pick up our mail, keep an eye on our kids and ground our community roots. Coming in close behind — not surprisingly — are teachers at 51 percent.
According to M.J. Ryan, author of books such as Random Acts of Kindness and Attitudes of Gratitude and her newest book, Adaptability, the exchange of gifts widens our network of friends and builds stronger interpersonal connections, which we inherently desire, particularly in times of stress and uncertainty.
“There are powerful implications of expressing gratitude and appreciation through gifting, no matter how simple and easy,” says Ryan. “The influence of personal exchanges is even more meaningful today, as we rely on more virtual ways of connecting with one another every day.”
When it comes to expressing gratitude, Ryan believes flowers are one of the most meaningful gifts to share with important people in your life when simply saying ‘thank you’ isn’t enough. “There is something special about giving a gift of beauty that shows truly how much you care,” says Ryan. “Flowers are attractive, cheerful and are visibly displayed as a constant reminder of your appreciation.”
Here is America’s complete Top 10 List of Unsung Community Heroes who deserve our gratitude, including recommendations for gifting from the Society of American Florists:
- Neighbors (53%) — Treat a great neighbor to a bouquet of flowers that will make their foyer fragrant. You’ll even get to watch their eyes light up as the delivery truck pulls up.
- Teacher or tutor (51%) — Ask your florist for a low clustered arrangement that a teacher can keep on their desk and still keep an eye on the class. The flowers will elicit smiles for the entire classroom.
- Co-workers (50%) — Thank an office mate who has been supportive throughout the year with a bunch of multi-colored tulips or other flowers that will brighten up traditionally neutral office walls.
- Childcare provider (47%) — For the one who cares for your little ones, a great floral gift would be a sweet hand-tied bouquet. Choose a monochromatic (all one color) look that is pleasing to the eye.
- House cleaner (41%) — Give your house cleaner an arrangement to make their own home look special.
- Boss (36%) — A mixed arrangement is appropriate for any boss. Choose red, gold and purple-colored flowers which symbolize accomplishment, wealth and good fortune.
- Postal worker (35%) — When your letter carrier arrives, hand him or her a small flower arrangement in a basket or small dish garden — what a special delivery.
- Clergy member (35%) — Serenity and relaxation are the essence of fllowers in shades of green and misty blues. Choose these tranquil colors to reflect the calm nature of a spiritual counselor.
- Health care worker (32%) — Consider an arrangement in pastel shades and soft yellows, peaches and pinks for a health care worker, as these colors are to make us feel safe, snug and loved.
- Administrative assistant (31%) — Choose shades of red, which elicit motivation, courage and power. Ask your florist for an up-shooting spray that also includes rich orange and fuchsia, colors which exude positivity.
Just missing the Top 10 list were school bus drivers (28%), pet sitters (22%), crossing guards (21%), school counselors (20%), therapists (16%) and financial planners (10%).
Rutgers University research conducted by psychologist Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., reveals that those who send flowers, in comparison to other gifts, are viewed as successful, caring and emotionally intelligent people. According to the lead researcher, the findings show flowers have evolved to activate positive responses from people and that each bloom has the potential to put a smile on our face.
Flower gift giving tips are available at www.aboutflowers.com/gift-giving.