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Gratitude and Joy - 15 Ways to Show in the Holidays

As a mental health therapist, I understand the importance of showing holiday gratitude and joy. This can be even more impactful at this time of the year. It serves as an antidote to the often hectic and commercial aspects of this time of the year. Don’t let the holiday rush bring out feeling of anxiety for you.

Some of the ways are for you only, and some are for you to share with others. Spreading joy sounds like a simple idea, let’s embrace it for ourselves and others.

Spreading Gratitude and Joy for You

Taking the time to find gratitude in things you do can have a positive impact on you and your attitude. It doesn’t have to be something that completely takes you away from what you are doing. They can be moments in time you stop and reflect on what you are doing. You can also add them into your schedule and ensure you have the time for “you” that is so needed.

Some you can consider are:

Start A Gratitude Jar

Write two or three things a day you are grateful for. It doesn’t need to be huge, momentous things. They can be the simplest of actions and identifying them can shift your focus from stress to appreciation. Put them in a jar to read later.

Do Random Acts of Kindness in Gratitude

It can be something as small (to you) as helping a neighbor finishing up outdoor decorations. Or it might be shopping for an older person who needs help. Their perception of the act can be so much different than yours, it can mean the world to them.

Say “thank you” to others you encounter. If a service provider does something you appreciate, let them know!

Reflect On the Last Year

While it may seem like “nothing” went right, stop and think about things that occurred without putting the negative spin on it.

Find the things that could be considered “baby steps” that can propel you forward into a more positive 2024.

Find the small successes you’ve experienced. Maybe it was meeting a great new friend who is adding to your life. It might be the connection you made that could lead to a better opportunity.

Practice Self-Care & Childlike Joy

You deserve some gratitude towards yourself. Treat yourself to something you truly want, and don’t think it’s being selfish.

It might be a gift only you know you want, or it can be the gift of solitude and reflection. When your gratitude level is depleted,it can be hard to show it. Not only does self-care help, when you allow yourself to show childlike joy, your mood is elevated. This can leave you refreshed and full of joy instead of stress.

Embrace Simplicity

Remember, bigger doesn’t mean better. Expensive is NOT a substitute for thoughtfulness in gift selection. Your “worth” to the person receiving a gift is not based on the cost of the gift, you should be valued for caring.

That holds true for time you spend with those you care about. It doesn’t need to be the most exclusive or expensive place you meet for a holiday get together. What matters is being about to enjoy the time with others. A walk through a beautiful neighborhood to see the holiday decorations can be a great way to reconnect with someone. And, think of the love that is put into the cup of hot chocolate you bought to sip on as you enjoy the displays.

Support Local Businesses

Instead of going to the big chain stores, seek out the local stores, farmers markets or craft fairs during the holiday season.

It’s a win/win for you. You can avoid the crowds and the craziness you might find in the malls and walk around to check out the smaller stores or craft vendors at the markets and fairs. Who knows, you. might find some great food there too!

Ask the owner or the sales clerk about would be special as a gift for someone. Find out why the piece was created and if there is a reason behind it. If there is a wonderful story, share the reason with the person who receives the gift.

Not only does this show you thought about the gift, it also gives them a special story about the gift.

Disconnect from Technology & Appreciate Nature

Take some breaks from digital devices. Connect more deeply with yourself and those around you. Spend time outdoors. Nature has a calming effect and can help you feel grounded and grateful.

Practice Mindfulness in Gratitude and Joy

It’s important to take time to slow down during the holiday season. Stop and think about a small, wonderful occurrence and the positive impact it had on you. Using Mindfulness skills allows you to focus on what you are feeling and seeing right now. Appreciate the moment and reduce stress in your life.

Plan a Day of Reflection

Put time for YOURSELF onto your busy calendar. Don’t wait until you are completely exhausted before you allow yourself to have a break.

On that day, write out your thoughts. Maybe take yourself on a date to a restaurant you wanted to go to. Enjoy the solitude of being with yourself. Use this time to recharge your “holiday battery” so you are ready to appreciate them even more!

Spread Gratitude and Joy with Others

There are things you can do with those around you. This also keeps you connected and grateful.

When you bring others into the process, you are able to share the positive impact with them.

Host a Gratitude Potluck Dinner

Host a dinner with friends. Have each friend bring a dish, maybe one that has a special meaning for them in the holiday season. Make sure your friends know this is more about the company than it is about the food – this is a time of joy, not stress about finding the most unique food to share.

Ask each guest to share something they are grateful for. It can be about the holidays or just something in their life, in general.

And, remember you can always have the food delivery app available to order pizza if everyone brings desserts!

Write Thank You Notes of Gratitude

If you have someone you should thank, do it now. If you are using a card, remember to add in a handwritten message. I received a card the other day, and it had nothing to do with the holidays. It was a thank you my friend wanted to send to me. It lifted my spirit that day. I let her know and we both had a wonderful moment of gratitude.

Bake & Share or Make Homemade Gifts

Take the time to bake, if you love the time in the kitchen! If you are a creative person, make a gift to give to someone. For you, it might be a much needed “down time” doing something you enjoy. Then you are able to share it with others too!

If there is a reason you enjoy what you baked, add a little message about it to the gift (like, I remembered times with my sister baking cookies and making fudge, it was pure joy!) If you make a gift and you use a favorite color, for example, let them know.

Plan To Volunteer With Friends and Show Gratitude

Find a local non-profit that could benefit from your help. Ask your friends to make it a few hours of giving together. Share your time and talents, along with your friends. It may be only a few hours for each of you, but it could bring untold joy to others.

Teach Children About Gratitude

If there are children in your life, involve them. It might be the children of friends, and you can offer lessons in gratitude and give their parent(s) some time. You can teach and show them ways to express gratitude. If might be volunteering with you, such as creating gift boxes for children less fortunate. Maybe they can pick out a gift to donate for a child.

They can also go through things they no longer want or need and donate the “good ones” to other children. Let them know the items can be a treasure to another child.

Share stories of gratitude with them and listen to the ones they share with you.

Host a Movie Night or Book Swap

Have a night of uplifting movies, snacks and popcorn with friends! Depending on where you live, you might be able to even add in making ‘smores outside over a fire pit.

Ask friends to each select a favorite holiday movie and then decide which one(s) to watch. Be open to laughing, crying and all around the enjoying the movie and why it was chosen.

If others have books they want to exchange or loan, ask them to bring them too. Find out what the book had meaning and why it’s a good one to share.


Sharing a smile and a positive greeting with others can be positive energy into your day. Take moments in your busy schedule to embrace brief moments of gratitude and joy.

This will bring you internal joy and it will show to others around you!

Pathways Counseling Services is the top-rated therapy and counseling service in Scottsdale, Arizona, year after year. We can help you live a happier and healthier life through effective mental health care. Remember, no matter the time of year, there is help and support available to you. We are hear for you. You can reach us by phone at 480-235-1682or send us a message.

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