Full Guide: How to Easily & Meaningfully Express Appreciation in a Virtual World

an illume's heartfelt note from Ali

People you love and care for are your people. They may be family, chosen family, a close friend, or anyone who makes your life better—like a teacher or coworker.

But, a lot of times we struggle with how to meaningfully appreciate someone.

Well, here are 15 time-tested methods that are the same ones that have transformed our own relationships.


TIP #1: Write down a favorite saying or catchphrase someone has, then get it memorialized.

A frame from MintyPrintsCo. List of highly-rated merchants below.

A frame from MintyPrintsCo. List of highly-rated merchants below.

Keep a note of those little catch phrases someone says that makes them unique. Then, set a reminder on your phone or email to memorialize that quote.

The reminder should go off two weeks before the individual’s birthday or special occasion.

If you use Gmail, Google’s “Schedule Send” feature is a solid reminder tool where you can input the individual’s quote and a URL to the shop you want to use to frame the quote.

Just have the email scheduled to be sent to yourself.

Google’s “Schedule Send” Feature

Google’s “Schedule Send” Feature

Once you get that reminder email, get the phrase memorialized by a small shop on Etsy.

Use this as a sentimental gift that not only shows your care, but celebrates the recipient’s personality or beliefs.

Three highly-rated small businesses that can beautifully memorialize that quote:

TIP #2: When someone crosses your mind, use the “M&M” method.

The “M&M” method is an illume framework that helps us, internally, write meaningful and mini messages that move the hearts of others.

These are messages to friends/family that you may have not been in touch with for some time.

You gotta be authentic and sincere. Moreover, the messages need an “insider” joke, song, or memory that you have with the recipient.

Here’s the format:

  • Beginning: The salutation i.e. “Hi [recipient’s name]!”

  • Middle: “I was/I saw/I found [X] and thought of you because [Y]”

  • Closing: “Sending you warm regards,” “Please stay safe,” “Sending you a virtual hug!”

Here’s an example of a “M&M” text message:

“Hey Jostten! I was just listening to “Call on Me” by Starley and thought of our 2016 trip to Europe. Remember when we got lost in Billund?? lol good old days. Hopefully, more of them soon...sending you a virtual hug!”

In the above message, the song, “Call on Me” by Starley is the “insider” song as it was a song we played a lot during that trip.

A simple yet meaningful message to show your care for those who you may be shy to reach out to, especially if its been some time.

TIP #3: Use small shops to send special (and inexpensive) gifts, just because.

The internet has some pretty amazing and outrageous options of small gifts you can send at a low cost.

Here are a few fan favorites:

Anonymous Potato

Anonymous Potato

Custom Face Socks - Simple and Comedic

Custom Face Socks - Simple and Comedic

Sending you Sunshine

Sending you Sunshine

TIP #4: Use Instacart to restock their pantry or refrigerator staples.

What’s missing in a friend or loved one’s refrigerator? Everyone needs food, especially when most are working from home and struggling to find time to leave the house.

Some grocery items:

  • Basics: bread, milk, eggs, etc.

  • Fruits: avocado, berries, oranges, etc.

  • Simple Pleasures: ice cream, dark chocolate, cookies, etc.

Instacart, Costco delivery, Amazon grocery, and other online ordering services give us the option to send pantry or refrigerator staples to those we care for.

This is a rare act and thus stands out.

TIP #5: Fill their cup—literally.


Make those around you a coffee in the morning, or a smoothie, or tea.

If you can’t be there to fill their cup yourself, support a small business and—your loved ones—by sending them coffee beans or tea bags.

It’s something nearly everyone consumes and can be a part of a recipient’s daily “pick me up.”

Some tried and true small shops to order from:

  • Andytown Coffee Roasters. Order online using code WFH20 for 20% off and free shipping. You can also purchase coffee and pastries to be delivered to healthcare professionals working at hospitals and senior care facilities in San Francisco.

  • Cafe Virtuoso. This San Diego-based organic coffee roastery is female-owned. They're offering free shipping on all whole bean coffees ordered online with code: CVFREESHIPPING.

  • Coffee Project New York. Creative teas and international coffee. Any purchase over $55 will get free domestic shipping, and can include coffee beans, brewing gear, and even a pay-what-you-wish artist-designed mug whose proceeds go directly towards furloughed baristas.

  • Camp 4 Coffee. This Crested Butte based shop roasts their coffee by hand in small batches by human beings. In fact, only two human beings know the top-secret recipe for creating the delicious Camp 4 beans.

  • Ippodo. This place is a family-run Japanese tea company founded in 1717 in the heart of Kyoto and is finally available in the US with the opening of their NYC storefront. They are the most discerning Japanese tea connoisseurs with the highest quality green tea since 1717, garnering popularity worldwide for their unparalleled excellence and flavor.

TIP #6: Drop off extra food or ship clothing.


Get rid of your extra food, t-shirts, or any items you simply don’t need and use it as an opportunity to give.

According to Marie Kondo, by having less we appreciate more. It’s a win-win opportunity. Be sure to make sure it’s something they would want.

Don’t use this as a chance to declutter your space by cluttering someone else's.

TIP #7: Order a sweet delivery for your loved one.

One of the most unique ways to appreciate someone is sending cookies and/or ice cream to the recipient’s abode.

It’s powerful because it isn’t too hard to do—if you already use Postmates, DoorDash, or Uber Eats—and yet it is an act of appreciation that recipients normally don’t experience.

You could literally Postmates their favorite 7/11 candy for cheap. If you want to go further, here are some much-loves options:

TIP #8: Leave a note to be found later.


Leave a note to be found on their:

  • Desk

  • Bathroom mirror

  • Bag

  • Car

  • Notebook

  • Inside the refrigerator

  • On their windshield

  • Inside the box of one of their favorite snacks/under the lid of the box

The note has to be in a place that the person would simply not expect it.

A simple “I love you! Have a good day” or “I appreciate you” or “thank you for all you do” are perfect.

Extra points for a longer note. If you can’t be there in person to leave a note, you could…

TIP #9: Email your loved ones after they are done with work so they see it first thing in the morning.

Most people don’t have their email notifications turned on at night. (If you do, turn them off. Get some rest and quality time with those around you.)

Once the recipient is done working, send them an email to say you love, appreciate, or admire them. And why.

Send it so it’ll be one of the first things they read in the morning. It will help get their day started off a bit brighter.

Here’s an easy example:


TIP #10: Add a loved one to a day of chores.

Need to run to Costco? Clean out your closet? Do some yard work? Ask a loved one to come along or partake in the things you need to get done.

If they can’t be there physically, use your airpods to have them on a call so you can catch up while you cross things off your to-do list.

It’s an easy way to spend quality time together and make not-so-exciting but necessary tasks memorable.

TIP #11: Choose a day of the week to hang out with your loved ones either on zoom or in person.

video call

Dedicate one evening a week to spending time with the special people in your life. Add them to your weekly routine.

Watch an episode that comes out weekly together, either on facetime or in the same room.

Schedule a day a week where you go for a walk or make dinner or have time set aside for a long phone call. Make a weekly zoom night for your friends or family to all get together, no matter the distance. You could make this a trivia night, a book discussion, or simply time set aside to catch up.

TIP #12: Use Find My Friends to stay connected with people you’re close to.

list of friends

One of the greatest inventions on the iPhone is Find My Friends. Add your friends and family so you can be able to know their whereabouts without asking, and vise versa.

If it’s Thursday night and you see they’re just hanging out at home, call them up. Facetime them when you see you’re both laying low.

If you notice your loved one is at a new restaurant or on a run, text them to see how it went.

TIP #13: Mail someone a book you finished.

Write “Re-loved Book Club” on the top page. Put who it was sent to and sign your name. Maybe, add a special note.

Urge them to pass it along once they complete it.

This creates a community where your expressing acknowledgement and appreciation for someone while sharing something you enjoy.


TIP #14: Create a shared playlist on spotify.


Be in touch with your people without having to say a word. Instead, use music as a way to stay connected.

Spotify allows you to make collaborative playlists with as many people as you want. You’ll even get some great new music out of it! What a reason to dance.

TIP #15: Send a group card.

Illume is here to help by being the best option out there to send cards virtually.

For example, maybe your family is spread out across different time zones but wants to come together with a group gift for Mother’s Day.

Get a group of people together to send love for any occasion with personalized and private messages.

Illume is here to help by being the best option out there to send cards virtually. Get a group of people together to send love for any occasion with personalized and private messages.


It’s free, because love is priceless. Call this shameless self-promotion, we’ll take it.


Giving love is an opportunity to leave an impact or memory that transcends time.

As the wise poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Let’s all try to leave a legacy of love.

If you have questions or thoughts, please reach out to email@illumenotes.com. A human being will respond—we’re here to help!