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38 Smile-Inducing Ways to Say “Thanks” to Your Volunteers

Volunteer appreciation is a huge part of retaining great people—so why not make it fun? The holiday season is a natural time to offer a wholehearted “thanks” to the team that makes ministry possible. Many children’s ministry leaders recruit their team in late summer. That means it’s likely many volunteers have just begun in their roles. What a great way to bless and affirm team members, just as they’ve jumped into a new position. You’ll be letting folks know that serving on this team is big fun!

There are countless ways to affirm volunteers with kind words, notes, or email. You can even “next-level” your affirmation with these good, better, and best ideas! Or, if you have time (or a smaller team), a thoughtful, personal gift tells people you genuinely care. (Find tips for discovering just the right gift for each volunteer here!) But with the holidays looming, you’ve probably got your hands full. So, we’ve compiled 38 budget-friendly gifts and some pun-derful ideas for smile-inducing notes!

To make these even more meaningful, add each leader’s name to the message. Or, get kids involved by having them write or color the cards.

38 Smile-Inducing Ways to Say “Thanks” to Your Volunteers

Snackable Items

A Bag of Chocolate-Covered (or Regular) Pretzels

Use a bag clip to attach a note saying, “We could knot do this without you!”

Breath Mints, Junior Mints, or York Peppermint Patties

Include a notecard that states, “To the coolest volunteer around! You’re mint to be on our team!”

Starburst Candies

Wrap with a sticky label on which you’ve written, “We’re bursting with appreciation for all you do!” or “Thanks for being an all-STAR volunteer!”

M&M’s Candies

Staple a small card to the packet, saying “Much & Many thanks for serving in children’s ministry.”

Life Savers Candies

On a card, write, “Thank you for being a kidmin Life Saver!” Tape the card around the roll of candies.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Clip on a tag that says, “There are so many Reese-ons to thank you for volunteering!”

Snickers Candy Bars

Draw a smiley face on a gift tag, then add, “Don’t snicker, but we’re super excited you’re serving in children’s ministry.”

Butterfinger Candy Bars

Drop a few mini candy bars into a resealable sandwich bag. Add a sticky label that says, “Things are so much butter since you joined the team!”

Individual Bags of Microwave Popcorn

Write the following message on colorful paper to wrap around each bag: “Thanks for popping in to serve!”

Milky Way Candy Bars

Cut out star-shaped notes and add the encouragement, “You’re out of this world! Thanks for all you do.”

Mini Bundt Cakes

“You’re nothing bundt the best!” will make volunteers smile before they dig into these pint-sized treats.

Trail Mix or Individual Bags of Almonds

Attach a card stating, “We’re just nuts about you. Thanks for all you do!”

Rolos or Nestle Treasures

Put a handful of candy into a small paper gift bag. Add a glittery note to shine the message, “You’re worth more than gold. Thanks for serving kids!”

Mounds Candy Bar

Tie on a tag that says, “We have mounds of appreciation for you!”

Extra Gum

Fun notes might include, “Thanks for going the extra mile as you volunteer in kidmin!” or “We’re glad you’re sticking with our team!” If you give bubble gum, add a card that reads, “You make kidmin bubble with fun!”

Honey Sticks or Small Containers of Local Honey

Sweeten someone’s day by tying a few honey sticks together with a card affirming, “Thanks for BEE-ing a volunteer this year. You make Sundays sweeter!”

Bottle of Frappuccino or Gift Card to a Coffee Shop

Be sure to include a card telling volunteers, “Thanks a latte!”

Beef Jerky

A fun, protein-packed surprise that makes recipients smile with the note, “Thanks for meat-ing our kidmin needs!”


Set out a box for the whole team, beside a colorful sign stating, “We donut want to do ministry without you!”

Donut Holes

Or, if your crew likes a bite-sized treat, swap donuts for donut holes and post the cheery note, “You’re the hole reason we can do ministry.”

Hot Tamales Candies, Hot Cocoa Packets, or Stretchy Gloves

Tape a card with the message, “You warm up our kids’ ministry!” to one of these gifts.

Candy Corn

Scoop ½ cup of candies into a disposable plastic cup. Use permanent marker to write the following message around the cup: “You make kidmin sweet!”

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Write “Chip, chip hooray for our volunteers!” on index cards. Tape each index card to a craft stick, then push the stick into the top of the muffin.

Oreo Cookies

Tape on the fun affirmation: “You’ve got the right stuff to be on our team.”

Tea Bags

A bundle of tasty teas just needs a colorful ribbon and a gift tag, stating, “You’re tea-riffic!”

Root Beer

Attach a note with the message, “Thanks for keeping us a-float!”

Giftable Goodies

Mini Flashlight

Tie on a note affirming, “Thanks for shining Jesus’ light to kids each week!”

Travel-Sized Hand Sanitizer, Hand Lotion, or Stretchy Gloves

Either gift goes well with a note affirming, “Thanks for being a helping hand in children’s ministry.”

Lip Balm

Use curling ribbon to attach small gift tags that say, “You’re the balm. Thanks for serving!”

Small Scented Candle

Tape the candle to a card with the encouragement, “No one holds a candle to you!” or “You brighten up our classrooms every week!”

Nail Polish

Teen volunteers will love a simple bottle of nail polish, with a note stating, “Mani thanks for volunteering.”

Small Potted Plant or Herb

A great option if you’re trying to sidestep food allergies and preferences. Just add a craft stick “plant marker” on which you’ve taped the encouragement, “Thanks for helping kids grow closer to Jesus.”

Sticky Notes

Tuck a pack of colorful sticky notes and a pen into a gift bag, along with a card stating, “We’re stuck on you!” or “Volunteers like you make faith stick.”

Emery Board

Team members will appreciate this practical gift, and will smile at an attached note saying, “You nailed it!” or “You make our ministry smoother!”

Mini Pumpkin

Tie a ribbon around the stem, then add the smile-inducing, “We couldn’t have picked a better leader!”

A steady stream of smile-inducing surprises builds a magnetic culture of joy on your children’s ministry team. So have fun making your team feel appreciated! Volunteers will love your thoughtful, punny gratitude—no matter the size of the gift.

Of course, the holiday season isn’t the only time you’ll want to thank volunteers. You’ll love these great ideas for year-round affirmations. And if that’s not enough, we’ve got you covered with 98 ways to thank volunteers!

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