11 Thoughtful, Budget-Friendly Ways to Express Gratitude
Want to know what makes a warm plate of roasted turkey even more satisfying? You know, besides your grandmother’s infamous mac-and-cheese and aunt’s sweet-potato casserole.
Heaping sides of gratitude, that’s what!
Not only is practicing gratitude a humbling habit for stimulating personal happiness, but it also has a powerful positive effect on others. And if there’s one thing I learned throughout the years of being a broke college student — read: current broke college grad — it’s that despite popular belief, expressing gratitude doesn’t have to deplete your bank account. With Thanksgiving, only a couple days ahead, below are 11 thoughtful, unique ways to shower your loved ones with appreciation while keeping your holiday budget intact.
- Bake up a special recipe: There’s no better way to express thanks like a tasty, sweet treat. Whether it’s baking a beloved family recipe or inviting friends over once you’ve whipped up a thank-you feast, time spent in the kitchen together is always guaranteed to spark an abundance of smiles.
- Create a keepsake box: Stuff a small box full of sentimental notes and mementos that remind you of that someone special. Then when you gift it, you both can go through it together and reminisce on all the good times shared.
- Write a handwritten note: In an era when most people simply send off texts and emails, nothing will pull at one’s heartstrings more than a handwritten piece of snail mail.
- Put your phone away and give someone your full attention: When was the last time you shared a meal or cup of coffee with someone without your phone on the table beside you? (Don’t worry; we’re all guilty of it.) While it’s not the easiest thing to do, putting your phone away and giving someone your full attention is undeniably a meaningful act and one that will be much appreciated.
- Create a gratitude jar: Have old jars laying around? Put them to good use by filling them with messages of thanks. This way, your loved one can randomly pull out these heartfelt notes all throughout the year.
- Run an errand for someone else: Because the holiday seasons can be quite chaotic, asking the friend who’s drowning in to-do lists if there’s anything you can help with — even if it’s simply running to the grocery store — is one act that will go a long way.
- Deliver a bouquet: Put together an assortment of your loved one’s favorite flowers, and they’ll be able to savor the fresh scents for days.
- Give an appreciation journal: Lover of writing? If so, fill a journal with monumental moments shared with that someone special and give it to them. I’d also suggest bringing some Kleenex, as this sentimental gift usually brings forth happy tears.
- Teach someone something new: There’s no denying knowledge is power. And because we all have our own unique talents, taking the time to share some of your useful skills with others can be extremely beneficial, not to mention appreciative. Whether it’s something simple like finally teaching your mom how to master social media, or showing a friend the basics of knitting, it’ll be time well spent.
- Knit your way into someone’s heart: Speaking of knitting, sewn gifts are the perfect gifts because they allow the recipient to feel your thoughtfulness, literally. If you need some pattern ideas, tips, or inspiration, Craft Bits is a great place to start. And let’s say you don’t know diddly-squat about knitting, crocheting, or sewing. That’s okay — any kind of personalized gift is sure to make one feel warm and fuzzy.
- Don’t forget the power of a smile: Remember, good vibes are contagious so by simply spreading a wide grin, you’ll not only uplift your mood but also those around you.
Overall, no matter which acts you decide to implement — even if it’s something as simple as actively saying “thank you” — the most important thing is that you follow through with professing your thoughts. Because as the wise writer William Arthur Ward once wrote, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like a wrapping a present and not giving it.” And the more you practice it, the happier your world, and all the people in it will become.
Now, who’s ready for some pumpkin pie?
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Kathryn McLamb is a writer and photographer on a mission to inspire others to celebrate the everyday. She runs her blog Pineapple Street, and when she’s not plotting her next travel adventure, you can find her wandering the colorful city streets of San Francisco.