The Essential Worker Gift Guide – If There’s Any Group That Deserves A Gift Right Now It’s These Heroes

The Essential Worker Gift Guide - If There's Any Group That Deserves A Gift Right Now It's These Heroes

Welcome to our final gift guide of 2020 and folks, I believe we saved the best for last. This one is special to me because I got to interview some of my dear friends that are HEROS, ask them what would make them feel loved and cared for this year, and call it work. Although the inspiration for this gift guide is a result of horrible circumstances, I hope it can help you give (or receive) something extra thoughtful this year. Let’s get to it.

Nurses & Healthcare Workers

My best friend, Jamie, whom I’ve known since literal birth is an ER nurse and her boyfriend Connor is a nurse in the ICU. It’s safe to say they have stressful jobs during a “normal” year, but Covid 19 has certainly exasperated their everyday work stressors. To put it in her own words, “[The most challenging thing is] the patients are sicker and there are more of them! This puts pressure on us to provide more complex care for a higher influx of patients. In the ER we are getting one sick patient after another, we can’t go a night without having to perform multiple intubations (breathing tubes) for these sick & hypoxic (low oxygen) Covid patients. This makes nurses become “on edge”, thinking to ourselves “will we ever have a normal night again??”. In the ICU where Connor works, the patients are also very sick, but since family can’t come see the patients it’s more sad for him since he sees patients take on this virus pretty much alone. Also, the “no visitors” rule has made everything even more stressful. Family cannot come back to the ER even to help their grandmother communicate with staff if she doesn’t speak English (for example).”

From Connor: “Another tough thing is how all of it is compounded by the fact that isolation and other precautions seem like such obvious measures to us yet we have to argue for these points and defend them to people who don’t agree with us. Feeling like the entire country is working against you makes all the hard moments even harder because you know it’s not gonna be over any time soon.”

Guys, I don’t know about you but this makes me want to somehow give every nurse and healthcare worker and entire year off and a million dollars. But since I can’t do that, Jamie gave me some really amazing gift ideas that will make them feel loved and cared for.

1. Travertine Spa Steam Shower Spray | 2. Cypress CBD Balm | 3. Oil Diffuser + Essential Oil Relax Blend

1. Travertine Spa Steam Shower Spray : Eucalyptus shower spray makes your shower feel like an actual spa and helps relieve stress and sinus congestion
2. Cypress CBD Balm: This CBD balm or any CBD product can help ease anxiety and promote relaxation which Nurses can never get enough of.
3. Oil Diffuser + Essential Oil Relax Blend: Nothing is more soothing than an essential oil diffuser and a relaxing lavender blend and this oil diffuser from Target is both minimal and chic (and only $28!).

1. FlashPatch Rejuvenating 5-Minute Eye Gels | 2. Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm | 3. The Body Lotion

1. FlashPatch Rejuvenating 5-Minute Eye Gels: Eye masks for those long overnight shifts are lifesavers and these ones are great because they are 5-minute ones so they could be applied during break.
2. Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm: Aesop hand lotion is expensive (BUT SO GOOD) and I can’t think of anyone more worth splurging on.
3. The Body Lotion: I’ve heard so many people (aka influencers) rave about Neccessaire products and this body lotion is supposed to be the best for all skin types.

1. P.F. Candle Co. – Sunset Candle | 2. Garden Mint Candle | 3. No. 06 Neige de Printemps Candle

1. P.F. Candle Co. – Sunset Candle: I simply can’t imagine the smells that nurses are in contact with day to day, so a great smelling candle is a much-appreciated gift for them to come home to. I absolutely love this candle and recommend it to everyone. It smells fantastic and the tin vessel can even be used as decor when the candle is all gone.
2. Garden Mint Candle: Here is a rec from Sara which she describes as “herby, but not floral, minty, but not like a pack of gum. It’s like mint mixed with soil wet from a summer rain, and old bookstore on a crisp overcast fall day.”
3. No. 06 Neige de Printemps Candle: This candle is another one of Sara Tramp’s favorite and she loves candles more than anyone I know so you know it’s gonna be good.

1. Winc Wines | 2. Pink Esme Glassware and Coaster Gift Set | First Leaf Wines

It’s official, nurses love wine! At least I know my nurse bff does :). I can’t wait to have wine nights with her again and since there is no such thing as too much wine, a wine club subscription would be a wonderful gift, or a single bottle of wine and new wine glasses is also a great move no matter what.

1. YETI Rambler 20 oz Tumbler | 2. Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug | 3. Purist Mover Vacuum Water Bottle with Element Top  | 4. Kokeshi Nurse Travel Mug

Travel coffee mugs are always welcomed gifts as nurses are working 12-16 hours shifts sometimes back to back so caffeine is essential. Also, reusable water bottles are never a bad thing because they need to stay hydrated during those long shifts!

1. Lapel Pins | 2. Seabrook Jacket | 3. Women’s Micro D® Fleece Jacket

Nurses can put pins on their badges and these ones from Etsy are very cute and sentimental. Also, work jackets with lots of pockets are necessary for trauma shears, pens, tape, note pad, etc. Jamie says these Patagonia and Columbia ones are Nurse go-to’s.

Lastly, Jamie suggested “Notes of love & support from close family and friends to look at when work gets tough and you need a little motivation.” UM YES. This is everyone at EHD’s favorite thing to gift. It’s so sweet and you can make it a double git by putting your notes in a beautiful vessel or mug.


Here in California, teachers are still doing distant teaching for the most part and it’s not how anyone prefers to teach or learn so adjusting to this has been especially stressful. To get the whole picture, I spoke with my cousin and best friend, Makena, about what her and her students have been going through this year:

From Makena: “I think the biggest challenge for me and my students is not having the same class community and connections. For example, we can’t hug, high five, or fist bump when someone does something great or greet each other in the morning. We still celebrate the students but it just looks different and doesn’t feel the same. Also, being able to hold students accountable is more challenging. I can tell a student 100 times a day to turn their camera on or turn in their work but they still won’t because they aren’t physically in front of me which ultimately leads to a loss of learning for them.”

I can scarcely imagine what that is like so besides oh I don’t know…UNIVERSALLY BETTER PAY what do teachers really want this year?? (hint: it’s not just Starbucks gift cards).

1. Coffee and Espresso Maker Bundle with Aeroccino Frother | 2. Retro Mini Fridge | 3. Keurig K-Mini Single-Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker

1. Coffee and Espresso Maker Bundle with Aeroccino Frother: A Nespresso machine is a baller gift and if you can swing it and any teacher would be forever grateful.
2. Retro Mini Fridge: A lot of teachers are doing their zoom classes in their own classrooms, and Makena said having a mini fridge in her classroom when she’s teaching from there would be a dream!
3. Keurig K-Mini Single-Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker: This a miniature Keurig that could totally fit on a desk so it could be perfect for a home office or bedroom (if that’s their makeshift office for now).

1. Winc Wines | 2. Pink Esme Glassware and Coaster Gift Set | First Leaf Wines

Spoiler alert, teachers love wine too! Especially after this year, a bottle of wine or wine club subscription would be a much appreciated gift, and nice wine glasses are an added bonus.

1. Varia Sculptural Vase | 2. Heartleaf Philodendron | 3. Golden Coast Candle + Match Cloches | 4. Glass Mug

There are always little things you can give to a brighten a teacher’s day. But lately, things they can look at while they are teaching or grading that also make their space feel beautiful are extra special.

1. Varia Sculptural Vase: A unique vase (perhaps filled with compliments??) is a beautiful gift.
2. Heartleaf Philodendron: Everyone needs plants in their home or office because they literally bring life to a space and make everyone happy.
3. Golden Coast Candle + Match Cloches: This is another candle that I love and these match cloches are stunning.
4. Glass Mug: These mugs are really chic and would be a super cute gift paired with coffee or yes, a Starbucks (or local coffee shop) gift card.

1. Michael’s Gift Card | 2. Target Gift Card | 3. Flair Pens

1. Michael’s Gift Card: Teachers are always dipping into their own pockets to make their students learning experiences better. A gift card to Michael’s or any craft store will absolutely save them some money.
2. Target Gift Card: Like I said, teachers absolutely need better pay, but since we can’t control that before the end of the year, a gift card to Target is great because they can buy school supplies OR treat themselves to something special.
3. Flair Pens: Makena uses these pens all the time for grading and other projects and says she can never have too many of them!

And lastly, because I know that distant learning and teaching is extremely stressful and difficult, I asked Makena what parents can do to help make it a little easier. She said, “I always ask parents to have open communication with me. Some of them are at home with their children and they might be able to tell if their child isn’t understanding the work quicker than I can through a screen. Reach out in a supportive and kind way and let us know your kid is having trouble! We want to help. Also, try not to take out the frustrations of the pandemic/being at home with your children all day on us. We want to be back in the classroom with your kids & we have no control over when we are able to do so!”

Delivery Drivers

My fiancé Rocky works for a fastener warehouse and since they are supply chain company, their doors have been open this entire year. As is the case for every essential business, the new protocols and regulations simply make work more stressful. A lot of workers are forced to essentially relearn their jobs and add additional tasks to their plates. In Rocky’s case, he wears many hats including delivering orders to customers, and customer service is certainly affected (i.e. having to set packages outside instead of face to face) and pragmatically speaking, normally he would be able to go into a business and use the restroom or wash his hands which is no longer the case due to new restrictions. From Rocky: “On my route, I basically know where all the Targets are because I know I can stop there and use the restroom without being hassled”. While that’s a niche problem for sure, it’s things like this that us nonessential workers would probably never think of! And no, I can’t do much about the lack of restrooms, so I asked what are some small things that would make his and his coworker’s work/life a little easier during this time.

1. Compression Socks | 2. Gel Insoles | 3. Nike Cortez

1. Compression Socks: Compression socks can keep your legs from getting tired and achy. They can also ease swelling in your feet and ankles which is something probably every essential worker could use.
2. Gel Insoles: Yes, delivery drivers drive a lot (obviously) but they often have to walk around and lug packages too. GOOD gel insoles are an amazing stocking stuffer or gift.
3. Nike Cortez: Rocky has these sneakers and wears them to work often. They are just very comfortable and have great support, plus they look good.

1. Yeti Cooler | 2. Face Mask | 3. Bento Box

1. Yeti Cooler: Drivers often have to eat out for lunch because they are in their trucks/vans all day. A cooler lunch box would be a great gift so they can keep their perishable lunch foods fresh.
2. Face Mask: Apparently, this mask is great for working out which makes me believe it would be perfect for any essential worker. It is made with cooling technology which is ideal when you have to wear a mask for prolonged periods.
3. Bento Box: This is a bento box that would be a great gift for anyone who wants to start bringing lunch to work every day. It is great for leftovers and paired with a lunchbox or reusable water bottle would be an amazing gift!

If you don’t personally know a delivery driver, this year it might be nice to gift your postal worker or amazon delivery guy a little gift if you can swing it! Even homemade cookies or a gift card would make anyone feel seen and cared about:)

Retail & Food Industry Workers

Retail and food industry workers are unsung heroes. Think the cashier at your grocery store, the Postmates delivery person, the waiter or waitress at your favorite restaurant. All of these workers are putting their lives and loved ones at risk just so the rest of us can get the things we want and need. Additionally, with restaurants opening and shutting down constantly here in California, the emotional and financial whiplash is doubly exhausting. Another best friend of mine Fiona, (YES ALL MY FRIENDS ARE HEROS), works in a restaurant and over the course of this year I’ve been witness to the struggles she’s experienced in her industry. With customers on edge and at times noncompliant, customer service is extra difficult. Plus she’s forced to wear a mask for 8 hours straight which is uncomfortable and unpleasant, and it seems waiters and waitresses are just underappreciated and overworked. Fiona is seemingly ALWAYS working double shifts that are short-staffed and since seating is limited her restaurant is even busier than normal. I WANT TO JUST TAKE AWAY ALL THAT STRESS but can’t which is the worst. Instead, I asked her what gifts would bring some joy and relief for her and other food industry/retail workers.

From Fiona: “I really appreciate locally made items and I think others would too. A lot of people don’t realize there are so many cool items made near them or from places they’re from and it’s a fun surprise to find out that your gift is made locally. It makes it that more special!’

I love that idea so much so please do that if you can safely. But since everyone’s “local” is different here are some other options that you can buy online.

1. Heating Pad | 2. Massage Gift Card | 3. Foam Roller | 4. Bath Bomb

When you are on your feet all day your body suffers. Working at a restaurant or in retail somehow can make EVERY INCH of your body sore. A heating pad is great for lower back pain and a roller can help ease leg muscle pain and cramps. When massages are a thing again, a massage gift card is amazing but in the meantime, good bath bombs are almost as good as a relaxing spa day.

1. Robe | 2. Stripe Pajama Set | 3. Boyfriend Jogger | 4. Goodee Hoodie

1. Robe: When I worked in a restaurant, I would shower as soon as I got home to get that overwhelming grease smell off my body. I am sure I am not the only one, and nothing is better than putting on something uber comfy like this plush robe after a rejuvenating shower.
2. Stripe Pajama Set: I love matching pajamas so I may be biased, but I think pajama sets are so lovely to have and make you feel put together even after a hard day.
3. Boyfriend Jogger: I have these joggers and they are so soft and cozy. They also hold their integrity well and I should know because I am a very restless sleeper, but when I sleep in them they don’t stretch out as much as my other ones do.
4. Goodee Hoodie: I think this hoodie is so cute and it’s co-designed by Goodee and Kotn, which are both awesome sustainable brands.

1. Flowers | 2. Card | 3. Cocktail Kit | 4. Milk Bar Gift Box

1. Flowers: Sending flowers to someone, especially when you can’t see them in person, is such a special gift. Plus it’ll brighten up their day and home.
2. Card: A handwritten note letting them know you care and are proud of them is so special. I love this one that says “Until we hug again” on the front.
3. Cocktail Kit: A cocktail kit is always a fun gift. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or in retail you know a stiff one is almost required after a long shift.
4. Milk Bar Gift Box: This is a sampler gift box from Milk Bar who make the most delicious cookies, but an even sweeter gift is personalizing a gift box with their favorite drinks and snacks. Fiona and her boyfriend always do this for each other on birthdays and it’s very cute and thoughtful.

1. Blanket | 2. Eye Mask | Oil Diffuser + Essential Oil Relax Blend

1. Blanket: This blanket is so cozy (my mom has one and I love using it when I am over at my parent’s house) and blankets, in general, are great gifts because they can be expensive but you can never have enough of them.
2. Eye Mask: Eye masks are great for people who work late nights thus sleep in late and this one by Lunya is made with moisturizing silk AND doubles as a headband that you can use while washing your face.
3. Oil Diffuser + Essential Oil Relax Blend: Again, a diffuser and essential oils are so great to have when you are having a tough day (ahem, or year).

Last but not least, everyone I spoke with said they’d love Postmates, Doordash, or Grubhub gift cards. Working in such circumstances means cooking a meal is sometimes unthinkable but ordering food can be expensive, so these gift cards are always welcome.

These are just the few essential workers that I know and love, but of course, there are many more industries/workers/people in general that are working SO HARD not to mention those that have lost their jobs due to the virus. If you know other essential workers (or are one–we see you and THANK YOU) ask them what would make them feel loved this year and please, as always, let us know in the comments if you can.

Now I have to give a HUGE OVERWHELMING THANKS to my three best friends for first being goddesses and angels of this earth, and also for making this gift guide possible. I can’t wait to squeeze you all. xx

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: How to Bring “Winter” In (Without Going Full Holiday…Yet) With Target

Fin Mark

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