30 Ways to Express


Finding the “silver lining” is something I have a gift for. It’s helped me find the lesson in hard times and the good in even the worst of situations. What I’ve come to know is that if you look for fault and negativity, it’s easy to find. If you focus on the good in people and the upside to a bad situation, it’s almost always present as well. Studies show that adopting an attitude of gratitude has far reaching health benefits. Not only does the recipient feel appreciated, but it leads to a healthier, happier state of mind for you.

As we approach the holiday season, most of us tend to be more thoughtful, forgiving and generous. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could use the holiday season to train for the marathon of being grateful and making a difference in small ways all year long?

Here are 30 thoughts to spark your own ideas for showing thanks and appreciation while cultivating your personal attitude of gratitude:

In your community
(You can do these things on your own or enlist your family and others to help.)

1. Donate holiday bouquets or flowers from weddings to a nearby nursing home. If you’re short on time, simply leave them at the desk. If you can stay a little longer and involve your team or family, separate flowers and deliver them individually to residents who look like they could use a smile. There’s so much life left in those blooms!

2. Send care packages to our soldiers who won’t be home for Christmas. If you know military families in the neighborhood, invite them to join you in making and shipping them. They may even have ideas about what little memories of home to include in the packages.

3. As a team or family tradition, decorate a special tree, landmark or public space for holidays throughout the year. Make sure it’s public and that you get the appropriate permission if necessary. It may be a tree in the center of a park or along a well-traveled road leading to your office. It could be a bus stop that you keep fresh and free of graffiti. Use your imagination to make a non-descript place special.

4. When it gets cold or icy this winter, make phone calls to your senior patients and make sure they’re OK.

5. Open a door for someone. Offer to help someone who’s struggling with luggage at the airport. Just lend a hand.

6. Donate blood. Sadly, this is especially important when people are traveling for the holidays, and often overlooked when we get wrapped up in our own plans.

7. Deliver a thank you package to your neighborhood first responders. They work hard, especially with the wildfires, hurricanes and other disasters across the country this year. If you were exempt, count your blessings. And let them know that you appreciate them being ready if you ever need them.

8. Gather coats from team members, neighboring businesses and patients and donate them to a local shelter like the Salvation Army.

9. Buy a few extra small toys or books and donate them to your local foster care association. CASAforchildren.org is a great option. Without the kindness of others, many children have little to look forward to during the holidays.

10. Over tip someone. Be appreciative of great service. If they impress you and make your experience special in some way, return the favor.

11. Choose someone who looks like they could use a smile and pay for their meal next time you’re eating out

12. Make arrangements with a local bookstore or library to read to kids once a week for a month. I know someone who does this every December and it’s always well attended. Kids even come in their pajamas at 7:30 PM, sit in the floor and even bring mats to lie in the floor and listen to a bedtime story. Extra bonus is that they’re ready for bed early and mom and dad get a break, too!

For your team

1. Call in the local food trucks during lunch! Most are surprisingly affordable and the food is great! Do this in honor of your team, but invite others on the block to join you, too. It’s a great networking opportunity!

2. Do you have two tickets to a holiday gala or fundraiser? Give them to a trusted team member and his/her spouse. It shows that you trust them to represent the practice and gives them an unexpected “date night”.

3. Make up “you matter” cards or coins. Make sure everyone has some and recognizes one another when someone goes above and beyond.

4. Volunteer to do a job that you know someone else hates to do; just for a day. Do it with a smile or maybe even anonymously.

5. Running errands after work? Ask if anyone else needs dry cleaning picked up while you’re there for instance.

6. While you’re recording that video for social media, record a thank you message for your team. Have it playing when they walk in first thing in the morning.

7. Give the gift of knowledge. Personal growth and professional development are always important to high performers! Pay for a course (work related or a personal outside interest) for members of your team. Buy everyone copies of a great book or audiobook that everyone can read independently and then come together to discuss. Subscribe to a great podcast, publication, online resource or register for an event that will build on their talents.

8. Remember that self-care isn’t selfish. Give one week passes to that new spin class, yoga or Pilates studio and help them discover new ways to stay fit.

9. Go out on a cold day and scrape icy windshields for your team as they go home for the evening. If it’s just rainy, keep a large umbrella around and escort team members to their car. It’s the little gestures that we all remember.

For patients, parents, business associates, vendors, lab partners, the UPS guy…

1. Have an “Appreciation Station” in your office to welcome guests. Include warm cider and cocoa in the winter, lemonade and infused water in the summer, whatever works for you. Of course, there’s a “charge”. They must drop a note in a jar or vase on the table to thank someone in the practice or a parent for investing in their treatment. Then share a note each day at random.

For a good cause

1. We all shop on Amazon. It takes 20 seconds to enroll in Amazon Smile to select a charity, and Amazon donates a portion of anything you buy to your selected benefactor. (My personal choice is Oral Cancer Cause.)

2. Volunteer your time during the holidays. It could be a soup kitchen, animal shelter or even visiting people in the hospital.

For anyone, anytime

1. Handwritten notes never go out of style. As fewer and fewer people send them, they become even more special when received.

2. Social media is a Pandora’s Box. Cats are cute and babies are adorable but social media has a dark side that can erode confidence and instill hostility. Refuse to share the negative rants and political agendas. If you’re putting your name on something, make sure it’s positive.

3. Send flowers or an edible bouquet for no reason; just to say thanks, I appreciate you.

4. Leave a well-written 5 star review for a business you frequent.

5. It gets dark earlier this time of year. Stop and appreciate a stunning sunset; wherever you happen to be. You’ll be surprised how often others will stop along side you to do the same. It’s a great ways to slow down time for just a few minutes and be grateful.

6. SMILE. At anyone, everyone and for no reason. It costs you nothing but pays big rewards.

Bonnie Hixson

Bonnie Hixson is the founder of The Progressive Dentist. She has worked closely with dentists and teams for more than 20 years to help establish or expand their ideal networks of resources that result in realized goals. For questions about joining the ProDentist Community or if you need help to develop your own network of experts who can help you achieve your practice goals, email [email protected].