I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but social workers are so essential. They provide services in hospitals, community agencies, schools, shelters, therapy offices (yes, your therapist could be a social worker), and many other places. If you’re someone who regularly sees a social worker for services, you may be wondering if it’s appropriate to say thank you by giving them a gift.
“It’s definitely not planned,” says Karen Balumbu-Bennett, a licensed clinical social worker in Los Angeles. “Social workers really learn not to accept gifts.” Basically, gifts put social workers in an awkward position because they don’t want to hurt you, but they generally don’t accept gifts from the people they serve. She notes that as a customer, you are already paying them (in some cases). In addition, giving them a gift can also complicate the working relationship. “It’s not a tip-based service. We don’t want our customers to feel like they have to give us something extra,” she says.
If you want to redirect that gifting impulse, something like a card or a little thing you made yourself could be a nice way to say thank you to your social worker. And if you do eventually decide to give them a gift, keep it small and inexpensive.
However, if you are shopping for a social worker who does not work for you (like a friend or relative), you can of course spoil them. Balumbu-Bennett says, “I would say anything to take care of myself. Because helping professionals doesn’t care about themselves. We’ve rounded up some of the best self-care gifts along with other fun and useful things you can gift to your best friend or a loved one who is doing good as a social worker.
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This lavender personal care set
One of the self-care gifts suggested by Balumbu-Bennett is a candle. This handmade gift set by a small Etsy-based business comes with a lavender soy candle, PLUS hair and body butter, and oil that can be used on skin and hair.
A soft bathrobe
When they’re off the clock, it’s time to relax. Even if they can’t make it to the spa, they can pretend they made it with this luxurious robe made from lightweight materials.
This relaxing shower steam
If their favorite way to relax is a long hot shower, then these shower steamers would be such a great gift. They come in scents including lavender, rose, and pink grapefruit.
A cleaning gift card
TaskRabbit Gift Card
Bringing someone else to clean their house (or take care of other life maintenance things) would be so thoughtful. “It would be amazing for someone who works so hard and pours out on other people maybe feeling pissed off at home because everything is a mess,” Balumbu-Bennett says.
This beautiful face mask holder
Face Mask Holder/Necklace
If they work in a school, hospital, or other community setting, chances are they will be required to wear a face mask. This handmade brass mask holder is a cute way to make sure their mask is always close at hand. Moreover, they can also wear it alone as a necklace.
This lovely notebook
Balumbu-Bennett also suggests a journal as part of a self-care gift for social workers. Whether keeping a journal is part of their self-care practice or they need a way to keep track of things at work, a nice notebook is always a good gift. The Etsy Copper and Brass Paper Shop has tons of fun notebooks like this, as well as paperweights and other useful items.
Acrylic monthly wall calendar
Help them keep track of all their appointments and schedule with this minimalist undated acrylic calendar. It comes with everything they need to hang it on the wall in their office or at home.
These low maintenance plants
Set of 3 Plants
This set of three low maintenance potted plants is the perfect way to add some greenery to their office or home. Even though they don’t have a green thumb, these plants will adapt to almost any available light and are extremely forgiving when it comes to less than perfect watering schedules.
This adorable alphabet art
Social Worker Alphabet Art
This social worker alphabet print would be the perfect addition to their desk (or Zoom background).
These delicious peanut butter cups
Peanut Butter Gourmet Cups
An assortment of artisanal Belgian chocolate peanut butter cups? Say less.
These slip-ons that go with everything
Women’s wool lounge chairs
If she’s always on the move or spends most of the day on her feet, a comfortable and stylish pair of slip-on shoes would be such a thoughtful gift. These woolen designs are made with durable materials AND they’re machine washable in case things get messy.
This sanitizer and phone charger
UV cell phone sanitizer and charger
Social workers come into contact with many people throughout their day, especially if they work in schools, medical facilities, or other community organizations. More people can equal more germs, so help them stay germ-free with this neat little case to sanitize and charge their phone.
This cute t-shirt
Shirt “Social workers are essential”
Balumbu-Bennett says T-shirts or mugs with encouraging messages about social workers would be another great gift idea. This one from bANCHORED on Etsy reminds the recipient how essential it is.
This fun wine glass
‘Because Social Work’ Wine Glass
Even if they like what they are doing, they may need to relax (orwine) with a glass of wine after a long day. Lucky you got them the perfect wine glass.
This classic tote bag
This roomy leather tote can hold a laptop, planner, notebook, wallet, lip balm, and all the other things they need to get through the day. It’s made of durable leather, comes with a detachable shoulder strap, and is ideal for life on the go.
These useful power banks
If their job involves making a lot of house calls or running between different job sites, they need something to keep their devices charged when they’re not near an outlet.
This cheerful travel mug
“Be Your Own Sunshine” Travel Mug
Help them start each morning off right with this beautifully designed travel mug by artist Oris Eddu.
This all-in-one meal prep
Instant Pot Pro
They could probably use something that makes dinner (and/or meal prep) easier. The Instant Pot is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, and rice cooker, and that’s just the beginning. There are tons of preset programs to make cooking easier than ever, and there’s no shortage of Instant Pot Recipes the low.
Fitbit Inspire 2
If they spend most of the day on their feet (or like to work out after they’re gone), they’ll definitely appreciate a fitness tracker. The Fitbit Inspire 2 tracks their activity level, heart rate, and sleep. Moreover, it is also waterproof.
This luxurious moisturizer
Kiehl’s Ultra Face Cream
Skincare can be self-care, right? This cult hydrating face cream gets all the rave reviews. It’s lightweight, non-greasy, and leaves skin feeling super soft and glowing.
This under-eye brightening concealer
Bright Fix Brightening Eye Concealer
Even when they don’t get a good night’s sleep, they can fake it with a good concealer under their eyes. No one will ever know.
These stylish blue light blocking glasses
Blue light blocking glasses
If they spend much of their day staring at a computer screen, a pair of blue light blocking glasses to protect their eyes will come in handy.
A sturdy water bottle
Bottle of water
If they’re running between job sites, a good water bottle helps them stay hydrated while on the go.
This getaway gift card
Airbnb Gift Card
Help them get away and relax with an Airbnb gift card. Whether they opt for a cozy cabin in the woods or a cottage by the sea is up to them.
This best-selling nail polish set
Essie Nail Polish Best Sellers
Everyone loves a good manicure. If doing their nails brings them a sense of calm, then they’ll love this set with four of Essie’s best-selling shades.
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