Oprah Winfrey began her gratitude journal practice over 20 years ago. She is a strong advocate for the benefits of noting gratitude throughout daily life. Oprah claims, “If you pull the lever of gratitude every day, you’ll be amazed at the results.” We all have things to be thankful for and while a personal gratitude practice is beneficial, it can be even more powerful to express that thanks to those deserving of it. Gratitude is simply a word, but with practice and intentionality, it can become a way of life.
I have 23 fantastic ideas for you to say thank you. From a classic option like a thank you note or a token of appreciation to more modern ways to say thanks, like leaving a positive review online, or simply sending a silly text, I’ve got you covered here. So express that gratitude and let’s get going with a party of positivity and paying it forward. We really have a lot to be thankful for and plenty of ways to say thank you.
1. Write a Note
A handwritten note is a classic way to express thanks. It’s classic for a reason. You don’t need to be an English professor to write a concise and kind memo. A simple, handwritten thank you note allows you to express what exactly you appreciate, maybe how the gesture or gift meant a lot to you, and even allows for multiple notes or signatures (if it’s a thank you card from a whole team for instance). I get giddy when I check the mailbox and find snail mail from a loved one inside. So, yes, just like your mama taught you, it’s polite to write a thank you note. But I guarantee the recipient will be just as grateful to receive it.
For a twist on a traditional thank you note, consider Kudoboard. The variety of templates and designs will allow you (and friends, family, and coworkers!) to share messages of gratitude in a fun, interactive way. Shake up the standard pen and paper and surprise them with an appreciation-filled Kudoboard.
It’s a thoughtful and heartfelt way to show a loved one how much they’re cared about and appreciated! Learn more
2. Help out
Pitching in is a wonderful way to express gratitude and thanks. Saying thank you is important, absolutely, but showing your appreciation by helping out? That just adds to this symphony of gratitude.
Allow for an example. My son’s school hosts an annual “work day” where people come to help clean, plant, and tidy the building for the new year ahead. Yes we love and appreciate his teachers and school staff. We say thank you, we buy the clorox wipes, we deliver pictures and notes our son has made. But you know what just screams, “thank you?” Working alongside those we appreciate to help lighten their load just a bit.
Going the extra mile to thank someone or even seeking out community volunteer opportunities, is a powerful action to give appreciation for the efforts of another while also appreciating our many blessings at the same time.
3. Share a Sweet Treat
I don’t know about where you are located, but here in the suburbs of Salt Lake City where I reside, dessert shops abound. Are you after freshly baked (and delivered!) cinnamon rolls? Check. How about a moist slice of honey pear vanilla cake? Down the street. Or what about massive glazed donuts that you can customize? Coming right up. Or, my personal favorite, how does a gooey warm chocolate chip cookie sound? Done. You catch my drift.
A little (or big) sweet treat is an excellent way to express gratitude that I guarantee will be well received. A friend of mine popped by my classroom one morning recently with a giant peanut butter cookie with a note attached, “Have a sweet day.” Well, thanks to that piece of deliciousness, I did just that. The beauty of a sweet treat as a token of gratitude is that you can go simple with a cupcake for a neighbor, or larger with some boxes of donuts for the office. Truly a sweet gesture.
4. Let the Boss Know
I have to admit this is my very favorite idea for how to give thanks on this whole list. Why? We are a culture of whiners. Sorry, I said it. If something is not up to snuff, thoughts will be expressed (I have made it my personal goal to stay away from the comments section on news articles). Don’t get me wrong, I love a solid Yelp or Google review. Rarely do a visit somewhere new without a brief perusal of “the reviews.” But here’s the thing: How often do we ask to “speak to the manager” or go out of our way to write a well crafted review for something amazing?
It’s human nature to want to be recognized for a job well done. Whether you’re the customer at a local coffee shop, or a parent watching your kiddo in swim lessons, if you see or hear amazing stuff going down, express that thanks and tell someone! Going the extra mile deserves thanks in the moment, but try taking it further and making a call to management about an outstanding employee. Or, consider writing a positive review, particularly for a local business as a different way to give thanks. Let’s shout that kind word from the rooftops!
5. A Text or Photo
Picture this: Crazy morning, orange juice spill, gas tank on E, forgot mascara, carefully packed lunch still on the counter, full inbox the second you sit down. Chaos, right? But then….you check your phone and a text comes in from a friend with an inside joke, maybe a Gif, and you burst out laughing and turn that frown upside down. A formal situation is not required when expressing appreciation.
Don’t underestimate the power of a small, speedy gesture like a text or a photo to express gratitude. Now, I don’t think a text would suffice as a proper thank you for say, an elaborate Christmas gift or to a coworker moving to a new position. But for a “Hey babe thanks for making the bed this morning” message? Perfection. Giving thanks need not involve you jumping out of a giant cake (Has anyone ever actually witnessed this or is it just a sitcom thing?), but it can be as simple as expressing appreciation for something mundane or every day.
In regard to Oprah’s gratitude journal practice mentioned earlier, each day may not hold elaborate opportunities to shower others in appreciation. But just saying thank you, even in text form, can be meaningful for any person.
6. Thoughtful Gift
Y'all know I love a gift guide. A thoughtful, creative gift is an excellent way to express gratitude. The key here is that the thank you gift is thoughtful, personalized, and curated especially for the individual. Have a coworker who always goes to get a smoothie at lunch time? Buy a gift card to their favorite spot. What about a coach who was amazing with your child? How about a framed photo of them with the team? When we purchased our home, the realtor gave us a big clock with a note on the back about how she enjoyed spending time with us and how we will enjoy our time in our new home. I was so touched by that thoughtful gesture! Here are some additional ideas:
- Personalized Stationery
- A collection of their favorite snacks (pay attention to get good ideas!)
- A candle in a scent you know they’d enjoy
- Anything monogrammed. I recently gave this canvas monogrammed bag as a gift.
Simply listening to what others like and would enjoy is a great jumping off point for a thoughtful gift to give to express thanks.
7. Be Specific-What Are You Grateful For?
Umm, Leslie, it’s not November, and this is not my in-laws dining table with a roast turkey leg on my plate, why are you asking me the quintessential Thanksgiving question now? There’s a method to my madness. If you are still struggling to say thank you in a meaningful way, perhaps you’re not tuning in to what is there to be grateful for in the first place.
Expressing thanks is necessary, polite, and frankly, it’s a habit we were taught as kids when we were told to sit down and thank Aunt Sally for that unicorn sweater (just me?). Which is all GREAT, but your thank yous will be more powerful, more meaningful, more well received if they come from a place of genuine specificity.
A few years ago, I received an email from a student’s parent (I teach elementary school) expressing thanks for teaching their child that year. But the message went beyond just, “Thank you,” but included specific things they appreciated about my class. It was well crafted, kind, and I was blown away by the level of detail. I felt seen and appreciated for exactly who I am as a teacher. I printed it and filed it in my “read me when you have a bad day'' folder (Yes, it’s real, yes you should make one too).
The point is, take some time to reflect (no turkey necessary) on what makes your life so rocking. Who makes you smile? Who is a lifesaver? Who helped you transform a chore into a joy? Discover that then go forth and express that gratitude and appreciation all over the place.
8. Rephrase It
Check out all the different ways to say “thank you” without actually saying those specific words. Especially when writing a thank you note, it can improve your message if you mix up your phrasing to make a more clear point about how grateful you are. I’ve got quite the collection for you, 15 in fact!
- I appreciate you.
- That was so kind.
- Thanks a bunch!
- You are wonderful.
- I owe you one.
- You are so thoughtful.
- I am so grateful.
- You have my utmost gratitude.
- You are a lifesaver.
- Your kindness does not go unnoticed.
- Thank you for everything.
- You are a super friend.
- You make me smile.
- You are the greatest.
- Thank you for going above and beyond.
Thank YOU for reading along on these ways to say thank you with gratitude, heartfelt sincerity, and appreciation.