If you are anything like me from time to time you let things sneak up on you.  Maybe it’s an anniversary which can simply be solved by a trip to the jeweler purchasing something with a price inversely proportional to the days remaining before the anniversary. Perhaps it is a birthday. Didn’t you just have one of those last year? Or maybe some other event. Who knows.

But did you know that National Employee Appreciation Day is Friday, March 2, 2012? I bet someone will in your office. And once one person knows, they all know. Even worse, they may all expect something from you in appreciation of their dedication.

So what do you do if you completely forgot about National Employee Appreciation Day?  Here are a few tips that will help you save the day.

1.  Free Food.  It is often said the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.  The same principle applies for work.  Start the day off by bringing in a tray of doughnuts or other delectable treats for the office.  Follow it up with lunch.  Order in or have the same quickly catered.  And don’t forget the mid-afternoon Starbucks break wherein everyone gets their favorite beverage from the iconic company.   A nice little jolt of caffeine in the afternoon is always appreciated.

2.  Happy Hour.  If your office is more social, consider forwarding around a quick e-mail in the morning inviting everyone to a Happy Hour at the company’s expense.  For an extra kicker, shut down the office an hour or so early as a surprise and send everyone to the bar.

 3.  Half-Day With Pay. Let’s assume you want to make it easy on yourself and don’t mind the office losing a little productivity on a Friday.  One quick e-mail saying you are closing after a half day in appreciation of your employee’s efforts will go a long way.  Then close it down after noon and let them decide how they want to enjoy their day.

 4.  In-Office Services.  Get on the phone and call your local nail salon.  Depending upon the size of your organization, see if they can send someone, or a team of people, over for in-office manicures.  Before you think that this just applies to the gals, you’re wrong.  Guys can get clear polish and manicures are great.  If you have never had one, you should.  But don’t stop there, many companies now offer in-office massage services and other personal touch matters.  Just make sure that if purchased employees voluntarily participate in the same as some may not like the laying-on-of-hands approach in an office environment.

5.  Gift Cards.  Although screaming “I forgot about National Employee Appreciation Day so I quickly ran to the local drug store and got this gift card for you” gift cards are, actually, a nice and appreciated gift.  They are an easy way of quickly saying thanks and, as aforementioned, can be picked up at almost any drug store or grocery store nearby.  Depending upon the number of employees you have and their respective tastes you can try to get specialty cards to restaurants, stores, etc. or just go with the classic VISA or American Express Card in a denomination appropriate for your office and budget.

6.  Flowers.  Okay, for this one it is probably more for your female employees.  But do not underestimate the power of flowers.  For centuries flowers have been used to convey emotions such as love, sympathy, but also gratitude.  Adorning your employees’ workspaces with a lovely bouquet goes a long way.

7.  Personal Note.  Lastly, I keep personal stationary in my desk and like to write a note to people now and again when I think they either need encouragement, understanding, or simply to let them know they are doing a great job.  E-mail and texting are great as the work horses of today’s fast-paced, need-to-communicate now society.  But a good old note to someone who is really appreciated can often be a better way of truly expressing your heartfelt thanks and appreciation to someone who has dedicated themselves to making your company better.