Practicing Gratitude: Not Just the 4th Thursday in November

Practicing gratitude: why we should create a habit of thankfulness all year long, and actionable steps on how to do so.

The countdown to Christmas is on.  I know we just put the spiderwebs, candy corn and Halloween costumes away. But, let’s face it-stores have had holiday gear out for months already.  We’re less than 8 weeks away from Santa showing up! Pretty crazy right?

Geesh. Before we go there, can we just pause for a minute?  It’s November – and we have a MAJOR holiday to celebrate. A time to be thankful during the upcoming season..and beyond.

Thanksgiving

A time to think about practicing gratitude..but for how long?

Thanksgiving just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I’d like to package up more of the gratitude and thankful spirit that comes with Thanksgiving that seems to get quickly pushed aside with the hecticness of the Christmas season.  Don’t get me wrong-I LOVE the Christmas season.  I just want to give Thanksgiving a bit more of my time and energy-you know what I’m saying?

You already know that I’m a big fan of calendar adventures, and avoid most Christmas shopping. Our kids don’t get gifts from us at Christmas. Instead, they receive a calendar full of monthly adventures for the year ahead instead.  And they LOVE it.  We get great quality time, spread out the “gift” giving throughout the year – and accumulate less “stuff” in the process.

If this sounds appealing to you at all, I have a free download to get you thinking about what that might look like for your kids, grandkids or heck – even your spouse, along with a worksheet to budget for it as well. I’ve got you covered!

But, I’m not here to talk to you about my love of Calendar Adventures today. I have a little something else that’s on my mind, and my heart, and I feel like it’s something we can all benefit from.

I want to capture that grateful spirit of Thanksgiving longer, and give actionable tips on how we can practice gratitude.

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy a good countdown.  I’m a big fan of the advent calendars.  So are my kids-especially if they have candy behind the little squares each day.

What if, in order to better prepare for Christmas this year, we had an Advent Calendar for giving back?  For practicing gratitude more regularly – maybe even throughout the year?

I’m often asked about how to help kids learn better money management.  There are a few practical steps to take, yes – but first, let’s teach them that this world is much bigger than they are.  There are people in our very own communities that need support.  Kids have big hearts, and helping to open their minds to have a healthy respect for giving back now will do wonders to develop their gratitude muscle as they get older. Nope, it’s never too early to show them the importance of practicing gratitude-for themselves, and everyone around them.

Practicing gratitude breeds contentment.

Gratitude breeds contentment, and contentment keeps life in perspective.

Below is a list of 25 items that you could complete as part of your ‘advent calendar’ as we head into Christmas.  

You can do these solo, with your kids, or as a family.

You could do one per day December 1-24 following the more popular advent calendars.

Perhaps you want to do a couple per week for the next several weeks leading toward Christmas.

Or two per month in 2022?

You get the idea here. You pick the cadence, but the most important part is to get into action. Action helps create new habits. These small tasks will help us all with practicing gratitude more often, and keep Thanksgiving alive and well far past the 4th Thursday in November.

1. Bake a treat for someone.

Fresh loaf of pumpkin bread?  A dozen holiday cookies? Make a little extra and share it! 

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Practicing gratitude: why we should create a habit of thankfulness all year long, and actionable steps on how to do so.

2. Run an errand for someone.

Yardwork?  Groceries?  Drop off a package?  Once again, I bet you know someone that could use a bit of assistance.  You’re headed out anyway – run that errand.

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3. Add socks to your Amazon order.

We will all likely order something from Amazon this season, so add a package of socks to your order.  Plan to donate them to a local shelter, or hand them out to people in need.  This is a #1 need that we often take for granted-fresh, clean socks!

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4. Share a kind note.

Grab a sheet of paper and just spread some holiday cheer.  Leave it on someone’s windshield or doorway.  Heck, write out 5, and blitz the parking lot!

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5. Donate to a wishing tree.

You can find them at a local church or business.  Pull something off of the tree that fits your budget and enjoy shopping for a good cause.

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6. Donate gently used items to an organization that helps support local families.

Take some time to clean out the drawers, the kitchen cupboard and the hall closet and donate to an organization that supports families in your neighborhood.

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7. Give a stranger a compliment.

See a gal that looks great in her sweater?  How about a pregnant Momma?  Or, any Mom that might be at her wit’s end, but is holding it together for a hot minute.  Share a compliment.

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8. Take a meal to someone that recently had a loss, surgery, etc.

Double that batch of lasagna, or soup, or….meatloaf.  You probably already know someone that could use some lovin’.  If not – reach out on social media to see who may appreciate an extra meal in your community.

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9. Write a list of things you’re grateful for.

People, experiences, things – you name it, there are so many things to be grateful for.  Get your family involved and fill up an entire sheet of paper full of gratitude.

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10. Support a local small business.

Being a small business owner is tough amongst big box stores, discount delivery services or apps that replace humans these days. Buy gifts from someone local. Order a gift certificate. Support the mom and pop restaurant!

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11. Write a note to someone you’ve been out of touch with.

It could be handwritten or electronic, it just needs to be genuine with no expectation in return.  Maybe it’s someone that isn’t on social media and doesn’t get your regular updates.

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12. Ask someone how they’re doing.  Be there to listen (actually listen).

How long has it been since you made the time to be present?  This life is a busy one.  Make some time to ask – for real.  And then listen – for real.  No advice giving necessary…just listen.

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Practicing gratitude: why we should create a habit of thankfulness all year long, and actionable steps on how to do so.

13. Buy a meal for someone in need.

Maybe it’s the guy on the corner with a sign.  Or perhaps it’s a gift card to your go-to fast food joint that you hand to your gas attendant.

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14. Be on your best behavior in traffic.

Let someone go first.  Wave them in.  Give away the closer parking spot.  Plan extra time so that you’re not rushed.  Do the two finger hello wave from your steering wheel to everyone in your neighborhood. No yelling. Don’t drive distracted. Yep, you get the picture!

15. Take a rose to someone in an elderly facility.

Or buy a dozen and pass them out to several folks!  Flowers (especially the unexpected variety) will bring a smile to unsuspecting faces.

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16. Give your kids your undivided attention for 2 hours.

Undivided.  That means no phones, no tasks, no agenda.  Ask what they want to do with you.  Play legos? Watch Frozen II? Go to the park.  Build a fort? Paint fingernails?  Do a makeover? Listen to the sad girl that’s on the radio all of the time now?

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17. Leave a snack for the mailman.

Mailman, delivery person – or maybe both. Hard to fit those vehicles through a drive thru!  Leave a packaged snack to nourish them…I bet your packages will always be handled with care!

18. Tell someone how they impacted you when you were young.

Think of your growing up years and the positive people that come to mind – I bet you have a handful.  Put into words now (what you probably couldn’t then) about how impactful they were in your life and send it to them.

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19. Bring donuts to a local hospital or clinic.

You and I both know that they’ve been working their tails off!  Store bought goods are often accepted when they can be shared.  Pick up a box of donuts and say thank you.

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20. Research volunteer opportunities in your community.

Perhaps you’re ready to donate some of your time to a worthy cause.  Research different ways to use your time or talents to give back in the new year.

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21. Donate toys.

Have your kids pick a few items that they no longer play with and donate to children in need.  This helps make more room for Santa’s delivery and practice sharing is caring (just another way your kids can see us practicing gratitude!)

Practicing gratitude: why we should create a habit of thankfulness all year long, and actionable steps on how to do so.

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22. Call someone to just say Hi.

On the phone. With your voice (not a text). Tell them you were thinking of them, and catch up.

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23. Pay off someone’s bill.

Call your local library and pay off someone’s balance, or the utility company, or pay for the groceries for the person in front of you.  You pick.  Maybe it’s calling a local big box store like Wal-Mart and paying off someone’s layaway just in time for Christmas.

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24. Buy coffee for the person behind you.

Have you switched from pumpkin spice latte to peppermint mocha?  Get in line and also pay for the order for the person behind you.  Spread some holiday coffee cheer!

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25. Reflect on the past year.

What did you do well? Write it down. Take a minute to give gratitude to yourself. What do you want to work toward next year, or next month, or next quarter? Write it down. Make a date with yourself to make a plan for tackling those goals.

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Time & Money Key: 

$Budget for $5-$20
$$Budget for $25+
ClockPlan for 15-45 minutes
Clock x 2Plan for 90+ minutes

If you’d like a one page ‘Advent Calendar’ version, I have you covered. It also includes approximate cost needed, if any (so that you can budget appropriately for December) and also time commitment guesstimate. Yep, we have a budget for that too! *wink*

Financial chat today-not so much.  But this is still very much a part of my journey. I hope this encourages you to begin practicing gratitude more this season, and all year long.

Thank you for joining me on my my journey to influence.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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