With the holidays moving at full throttle, I thought I’d take time to consider all the people for whom I’m thankful. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write about it.

With this post, I’m not trying to kid anyone. We all know there are many ways to say, “Thank you.” Even so, I’ve discovered through trial, error, and observation, there are a handful of ways to say thank you that seem to resonate with everyone. After all, the goal when thanking someone is not to complete an obligation, but to make them feel thanked and appreciated.

Before we get to that handful, I’d like to mention one important prelude that is often forgotten.

Start By Thanking Yourself

Many people don’t take the time to reflect on their own good deeds, hard work, or accomplishments. Oftentimes, we move at such a breakneck pace that we forget to pause, take a breath, and look back at what we achieved over the previous year.

Perhaps it was your weekday early rises to make it to gym so you could stay healthy, cooking dinner each night for your family, or completing a big work-related project. I’m sure your list is much lengthier than you can immediately imagine.

Take a moment now to thank yourself for whatever you accomplished. Remember, life is about progress, not perfection. The last time I did the math, two steps forward and one step backward still equaled one step forward. Thank yourself for your own progress!

Finish By Thanking Them

Send hand-written thank-you cards. This means actually send them (as in snail mail, not email). Send them to family members, friends, neighbors, customers, and so on. If you spend ten minutes considering all the people who have helped you in some way, your hand will start to hurt as you envision all the cards you should write. Do your best. One is better than none.

Do something special for them. Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying. A simple, uttered “thank you” goes a long way, but an actual gesture seems to go on for an eternity. Make sure they feel the love by actually doing something for them! For whatever reason, people feel most appreciated when others expend time and energy on them. The possibilities of different gestures here are endless.

Send a gift card. People love to get thank-you cards. Tossing in a little gift card is going the extra mile. It’s always nice to see that extra thank-you inside the card. If you give someone a coffee-gift-card, he or she will likely think of you with every sip. I know I do whenever I get one.

Give your presence and listen. Since the onset of cell phones and the Internet, our world seems to move faster. It technically doesn’t, but the reason you think it does is because you can access and be accessed by anyone at any hour of any day. The world no longer “shuts down” on schedule so you can recharge and provide for others. This “scheduled” down time has been erased. The only way to get it back is to put up impenetrable barriers, which we all know is difficult to do. That’s why people appreciate this form of “thank you” so much. No one can possibly give me anything that is more valuable than his or her time and attention.

Pay it forward. Speaking personally, there is absolutely nothing tangible anyone can give me that I can’t attain myself. While I always appreciate a thank-you when I help someone, there is one thing I’d rather someone do for me—help someone else. It’s even better if I don’t know that someone or am unable or unavailable to help that someone. Just imagine if every single person in the world helped a mere one person. Go ahead. Just imagine it.

As always, I’d love to hear from you: What are your best ways to say, “Thank you!”