14 Ways to Express Gratitude Every Day This Holiday Season

Saying "thank you" is just good manners. It's one of the first pieces of etiquette that children learn and a phrase that most people use every day. Still, mumbling a quick "thanks" every time someone holds the door for you hardly means you're embodying gratitude.

This holiday season, challenge yourself to do more than just say "thank you" — instead, use these thoughtful tips to really show your friends and family how much you care. To kick off the season of thankfulness, we asked POPSUGAR staffers — plus a few influencers — to share their favorite ways to express gratitude. From sending heartfelt notes to faraway friends to surprising a coworker with her favorite latte, these women's tips might just inspire you to find your own way to practice gratitude each and every day.

Write Heartfelt Notes

"I show gratitude for others by sending handwritten cards to my loved ones spontaneously throughout the year. I love decorative cards, and I have fun picking out specific ones that I think my friends and family will love. It may be for a birthday, a significant event like a graduation, a holiday like Valentine's Day, or even just because. I always include a (usually lengthy) handwritten note as well, which is key. I think it's important to remind the people you care about that they're loved and that you're there for them — especially when they least expect it. Plus, who doesn't love getting snail mail nowadays? It's simple and inexpensive, but the gesture goes a long way." — Kathleen Harper, associate fashion editor, Native

Surprise Someone With a Treat

Photographer: Sheila Gim
POPSUGAR Photography | Sheila Gim

"If I'm picking up coffee in the morning before work, sometimes I like to grab my coworkers' favorite order and leave it on their desk. It's a really simple way to show my appreciation for all they do!" — Meg Konigsburg, visual designer, Native

Spend Quality Time With Loved Ones

"It may seem simple, but my favorite way of expressing gratitude is with my time. I think the older you get, the more value you place in companionship and time together with your loved ones, especially those who you don't see often. I make a point to join them in doing something they enjoy to show my love and appreciation, whether it's playing board games with my cousins or looking through old photos with my grandparents. A little quality time goes a long way!" — Stephanie Nguyen, Native editor, POPSUGAR Shop

Send Small Gifts

"Aside from friends and family, there are so many other people who make my year better, like my vet, my hairstylist, and my writing mentor, who promptly responds to many random emails every single time. I love to express my gratitude during the holiday season with homemade treats, a bottle of wine, or something universally loved like a fancy journal and pen. They're never expecting it, and it feels so good to let them know they're appreciated." — Joanna Douglas, senior editorial director, Native

Try Out a Gratitude Calendar

Photographer: Sheila Gim
POPSUGAR Photography | Sheila Gim

"When I want to slow down and really cultivate thankfulness, I like to challenge myself to try a different way to practice gratitude every day. I've even used gratitude calendars before — merci® Chocolates has one that challenges you to thank a different person every day for two weeks. Getting into the habit of practicing gratitude every day really helps it become a part of my routine." — Annalise Mantz, associate living editor, Native

Be a Good Listener

"I was once asked to share my words to live by, and among my responses were 'always say thank you.' From big deeds to small favors to just taking the time to have an honest conversation, I really believe in the simple power of expressing gratitude to anyone who impacts your day, life, career — the list goes on. But in addition to a verbal thank you, I express gratitude through my actions. I've always prided myself on being thoughtful and a good listener, so I tailor my approach to the person. It might be gifting an item I know they've been eyeing, scoring a reservation at a restaurant they've been talking about, or going the homemade route with a crafty DIY. There are no limits, and the payoff is always fulfilling." — Carrie Carrollo, assistant beauty editor, Native

Prioritize Your Family

"I live far away from my whole family, and when I get the chance to visit them, I prioritize spending time with them over visiting friends to express to them how grateful I am. Sometimes that means cooking for my mom, going for hikes with my dad, or even just running errands with them because I can." — Rebecca Joy, designer

Offer Your Babysitting Services

Ilana Wiles

"So many of the reasons I am thankful for certain friends and family members has to do with our kids — whether it's an impromptu play date, a bag of really quality hand-me-downs, or babysitting in a pinch. My sister especially is wonderful with my girls, and most of our quality time together is spent as families watching our children develop a close relationship as cousins. My favorite way to say thank you is by offering my babysitting services so she and her husband can go out on their own, or arranging a dinner for just the adults so that we all get a night off together to focus on our relationship without the kids!" — Ilana Wiles, Mommy Shorts

Play Santa

"Each year, my family and I participate in the US Postal Service's Operation Santa. We scan through letters kids (and their parents) write to Santa and then pick one or two that really speak to our family. We go to the store to buy a few things on their wish lists, as well as fun, age-appropriate things they may have forgotten to put on their lists and some practical things like coats, scarves, and gloves. We then sit as a family and wrap the gifts, sign them from Santa, and mail them at the post office here in NYC. The entire exercise helps my kids see how nice it is to help other families, while helping them learn to be a bit more grateful for what they have at home." — Rebecca Gruber, vice president, Native Content

Plan a Big Night Out

"When I was a toddler, my mom used to spend any extra money she had on tickets for us to see the ballet. She used to patiently explain to me what was happening, tell me about the music and the composers, and all about the tutus. She even recorded performances on VHS so I could watch them over and over again. A couple of years ago, when she moved to NYC to be closer to me, I got a two-seat subscription to the New York City Ballet and started taking her to performances every couple of months. It feels so great to be able to repay her efforts to teach me about dance and art by taking her to see one of the best companies in the world. Every couple of months, we have a nice dinner and head to the ballet, where we sip Champagne or wine during intermissions and discuss the music and choreography just like we did when I was younger. These few hours spent together at the theater are super special for us and my way of saying thank you to her for always making an effort to indulge my love for dance! This year, I also started volunteering there, so I can support a ballet company that inspired me and my mom through the years." — Alessandra Foresto, director, Voices

Throw a Friend-Centric Brunch

Leilani B'Smith Photography

"Friends are the family we're lucky enough to choose for ourselves. But life is busy and so often we forget to stop and show our appreciation for them. That's why it's so important to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect together. Take the time to invest in these special relationships by going out of your way to make them feel loved by bringing all of your girlfriends together to host a special brunch or lunch. I like to leave a little note at their seat to let them know how thankful I am for them and remind them why they are so important to me! I love seeing their faces light up when they get a surprise message from me, and I know our bond grows deeper as a result." — Erica Eckman, Everything Erica

Donate to a Good Cause

"I practice gratitude by donating to causes I care about. Whether it's donating to the Hispanic Federation — a nonprofit organization that's working to restore Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria — or helping a friend raise money to move and find a new home, I like to donate money, clothes, or items to help make a difference. It doesn't matter how big or small the contribution is as long as I'm lending a helping hand." — Chelsea Candelario, intern, Native

Take Your Coworkers Out to Coffee

"I like to take my POPSUGAR coworkers who impress me out to coffee to learn more about them. Just listening to people and treating them to something nice can really make a big difference." — Ray Schechter, project manager

Take Care of Yourself

Trista Sutter

"As a stay-at-home-and-work mom, I put my heart and soul into doing things for my family. Whether it's playing the role of chef or chauffeur or accountant or travel agent or nurse or whatever else, I do so much to keep everyone happy that there are many days when I feel lost in the shuffle. It's not that my husband, Ryan, and our kiddos, Max and Blakesley, aren't grateful or don't make me feel loved, but I know I give a lot behind the scenes — as so many moms do. That's why it's so important for me to fill my own bucket and give back to myself. By doing so, it gives me the time to pause and reflect on all I am grateful for in my life. My favorite ways to do that can be as simple as a manicure, and when I'm feeling particularly needy of some self-love, I upgrade to a trip to the spa, or a quiet moment in a field of flowers." — Trista Sutter, original Bachelorette and author of Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart