It will make you feel good, too.

By Stacey Ballis
Updated August 14, 2020
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I don’t know about you, but for the past five months, delivery people and mailpersons have been my lifeline. From grocery deliveries to takeout deliveries, to shipments of everything from bread flour to books, to much-needed prescriptions and upcoming mail-in election ballots. For us, the front-line workers who are bringing things to our door are literally keeping us alive. Back in March when I realized my days of heading out to the stores were going to be paused for a good while, I did something that has been a really important part of how I am getting through this, and I know I will keep doing it on the other side:

I have a thank-you snack box set up on my porch for delivery people and mail carriers.

The Thank-You Snack Box, Explained

I am currently using a large heavy-duty cardboard produce box that a Costco delivery came in, which I covered in a black garbage bag in case of unexpected weather, but this durable plastic bread tray is my planned-for upgrade now that I know it is going to be a permanent addition. I made a small sign that says thank you and encourages the people who bring us things to help themselves. And I keep it filled with packaged snacks of all sorts: bags of chips, Rice Krispie treats, beef jerky, veggie snacks, boxes of animal crackers, pretty much whatever I find on sale at Costco or ALDI in bulk. I always try to have at least one sweet option, one gluten-free option, and one slightly healthier option in the box.

How a Little Gesture Makes a Big Difference

I cannot tell you how good it makes me feel when the delivery people send thank-you texts to me through my delivery apps, or when the FedEx and UPS folks yell their thanks from the truck, or when my mail carrier says we are the favorite house on the route. I’ve had an Instacart delivery person tell me they grabbed my order because they remembered the snacks. I’ve had a FedEx driver tell me he had forgotten his lunch, and I saved him having to go buy something.

Credit: agrobacter/Getty Images

agrobacter/Getty Images

It Doesn’t Cost a Lot to Do a Lot

I know that whatever I am spending on these small offerings is just a fraction of what I likely would have been spending in impulse purchases if I were going into grocery stores. But more importantly, for the people who are doing these hard jobs with little thanks, it just makes me feel good to acknowledge how much I genuinely appreciate them. I stick to store-bought, prepackaged, and individually wrapped items for safety's sake, to ensure everyone feels comfortable accepting the offerings. Much as I would love to be baking things from scratch for them, it just isn’t practical. I make sure everything is shelf stable and weather appropriate; I set out nothing that could melt in the current summer heat, for example.

Most Popular Thank-You Snack Box Items (So Far!)

Here’s what my local delivery folks are loving, so maybe this will help guide your first snack box shopping trip: Pringles snack packs, Rice Krispie treats, little bags of cookies, gummy candies, and Cheetos. Least popular? Pirate’s Booty. Flavored chips disappear faster than plain. And while Sun Chips are popular, only in original or cheddar flavor, the Garden Salsa variety were not beloved. Your mileage may vary!

Tips for Keeping Things Safe

I have a porch that’s not super visible from the street, so I consider it an easily secure place to leave my box. We bring it in every evening after the last delivery, and put it back out in the morning. If you live in a condo or apartment building where things are brought inside, think about going in on a snack box with fellow tenants that could be left in the lobby. If you don’t have a porch, you could hang a tote bag on your front door handle with a little sign. A little creativity (and trust in your fellow human beings) might go a long way!