Christmas is the season of giving, and honoring your organization's volunteers with parties or presents shows your appreciation for their valuable service. Gifts can be grand or simple, depending on your staff, budget and timetable. Any or all of these ideas will let your volunteers know that you are thankful for their time and energy.
Thank your volunteers with a sit-down holiday luncheon. Rent a space at a local hotel or meeting lodge, and secure a caterer. Don't be afraid to ask for discounts. Book space at least two months ahead since rental space is at a premium during the holidays. Decorations can be elegant or kitschy. Set the tone for either sophistication or fun with centerpieces of gold and red balls in glass bowls coupled with cut fresh pine boughs or Frosty the Snowman candles from the dollar store presented on a mound of red garland.
Organize an old-fashioned holiday potluck lunch if a catered event is too pricey. Invite your volunteers to a lunch provided by the staff in the boardroom, patio or break room. To make sure you don't end up with several dozen cookies and nothing else, divide the meal into categories such as main dishes, side dishes, salads, drinks and desserts. Encourage staff to sign up to bring their family's favorite holiday specialty. Volunteers will love the personal touches of traditional family recipes.
If you don't do any other volunteer appreciation events during the year, this is the time to award certificates or lapel pins for years of service.
Take candid photos of each volunteer in action. Place these printed pictures into photo ornaments that you can make or purchase from a craft store. Hang them on a Christmas tree in your organization's lobby where everyone, including the public, can see. Write an article about the tree and the average number of volunteer hours each ornament represents in your next newsletter.
Never discount the value of a handwritten note. Notes can be written on Christmas cards or made into beautiful holiday scrolls tied with festive ribbons. Be sure to include a mention of the specific work the volunteer does in your personal note. These gifts are extremely meaningful if they come from executive directors or board members. A list of volunteers and their jobs can be created and given to members of the executive team, or the board, to make the task easier.
Tailor these presents to the jobs your volunteers do for you. Care packages could include hand sanitizer (for those who work greeting the public), breath mints, candy, books related to volunteer work and gift cards you have solicited from local businesses. Package everything in festive gift bags and add personalized gift tags.