4 Thoughtful Ways to Inspire Gratitude This Season

POPSUGAR Photography | Andy & Tegan

When we think of fostering and nurturing relationships, romantic ones often take priority. But showing appreciation for your friends deserves just as much love and attention. You may not get to see and talk to them every day like you do a partner, but they're always there for you when you need them, and their importance in your life should be cherished and celebrated. This season, I wanted to throw my closest friends a gratitude dinner with the help of merci® Chocolates to express how much they mean to me and how they've positively impacted my life.

Aside from just saying a big thank you to my friends, there are a few ways I inspired gratitude in my guests. Ahead, I'm sharing everything I did to show appreciation to the special ladies in my life, from small details like place cards to big moments like guiding meaningful conversations. If you're feeling inspired to host your own gratitude dinner, take it from me: these thoughtful gestures will help you earn that "hostess with the mostest" title and ensure your friends feel the love.


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Add a Personal Element to the Place Cards
POPSUGAR Photography | Andy & Tegan

Add a Personal Element to the Place Cards

Table place cards often get overshadowed by other elements that take up more surface real estate, like a floral centerpiece or table setting, but in my experience, they're the one place you can add a really personal touch. A handwritten note, a photograph, or a small party favor all work, but why stop at one when you can combine all three? I decided to forgo traditional place cards in favor of personalized boxes of merci® Chocolates for each of my friends that included a photo of all of us together along with a small note as a token of my appreciation. This way, they could take the chocolate with them when they left to enjoy later. And, when they do, they'll be reminded of the fun evening we shared together.

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Put Thought Into Your Seating Arrangement
POPSUGAR Photography | Andy & Tegan

Put Thought Into Your Seating Arrangement

Who you're seated next to at a dinner party can make or break your experience. As the host, I'm close with each of my own guests, but not all of them may be close with one another. With this in mind, I wanted to make sure I created a balanced grouping that played up each of my friends' strengths. To help facilitate conversation and ensure no one felt left out or awkward, I based the seating chart on my guests' interests, life stages, and personality types. For example, I positioned friends who have kids together and friends who are in the same line of work together, and I also sat a friend who's a good listener next to a friend who loves to chat.

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Guide Meaningful Conversations
POPSUGAR Photography | Andy & Tegan

Guide Meaningful Conversations

With the theme of the night being gratitude, it was important to me that we approached our conversations though this appreciative, mindful lens. After we all had time to catch up, I guided the conversation toward gratitude and asked my guests to share their stories and anecdotes of appreciation. While you can opt to keep these more organic and free-flowing, I wanted more structure, so I broke up the conversation into three parts with specific thought-starters: gratitude in the past (what's something someone else has done that you were grateful for?), gratitude in the present (what's something you noticed or appreciated today?), and gratitude in the future (what are you looking forward to down the line?).

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Pay It Forward
POPSUGAR Photography | Andy & Tegan

Pay It Forward

While the dinner was very much about gratitude for all my friends in the room, I definitely didn't want it to stop there. I wanted each of them to feel inspired to pay it forward and pass on the sentiment to their own loved ones, whether it's a partner, sibling, coworker, or even teacher or babysitter. That's where the DIY craft station came in. Here, my friends could create their own gratitude box for someone in their life as a before- or after-dinner activity. I had merci® Chocolates and bottles of wine on hand, as well as flowers for them to create their own bouquets to put in their boxes, but you could also make cards, succulents, anything!