Gratitude is good for you. There are so many things to be thankful for that this list is only the beginning!
From seasonal lattes to colorful leaves, there’s nothing quite like fall. Although we may miss the warmer weather, this season of harvest and plenty reminds us that there are so many things to be grateful for! An attitude of gratitude is a powerful mental tool to practice positivity and increase our feelings of well being, even with the daylight waning. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to remember things to be grateful for every day.
Whether those things are big or small—and whether they involve family or just a simple seasonal pleasure—they can give you a much-needed boost. Start with our suggestions and then think about your own blessings to create a personalized gratitude list.
During the holidays, spending time with family can be a lot of extra work and stress. But this is also the perfect time to remember just how much of a blessing your relatives are. So even when they’re annoying, try to focus on all the things you love about your beautiful, wacky, funny, a-little-bit-crazy-but-always-loving clan.
Thanks to bread, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams and pie, Thanksgiving is basically the High Carb Holiday. Carbs get a bad rap sometimes, but they certainly have a place in your diet, and Thanksgiving is the day to enjoy them—guilt free.
3. A sense of humor
“Thank goodness we have a holiday set aside for being grateful—we’d sure hate to have to do that every day!” Jim Gaffigan’s take on Thanksgiving will have you rolling, and there’s more where that came from in YouTube’s massive holiday-comedy library.
4. Crunchy, colorful, fragrant piles of leaves
Is there anything that says “fall” more than changing foliage? The vibrant colors, satisfying crunch underfoot and woodsy smell combine to delight all the senses.
Whether it’s the soulful eyes of your pup (begging for turkey) or the tiny pink nose of your kitty (also begging for turkey, but in a much more sophisticated way), Thanksgiving is the perfect time to shower a little extra love on the critters that love you the most.
6. Crisp apples
Apples may be available in stores all year long, but there’s something special about fall apples, with their fresh, crisp bite and tangy-sweet juice—especially if you got them while apple picking. No wonder so many favorite Thanksgiving recipes rely on apples!
7. That holiday helping spirit
The “holiday spirit” is a real thing, and we promise you, nothing will make you more grateful for what you have than sharing some of it with someone who has less.
8. New pumpkin recipes
Pumpkins are a remarkably versatile fruit, adding rich autumnal flavor to sweet treats, savory soups and everything in between. This is the best time to experiment with pumpkin recipes, whipping up all your orange-hued favorites. Or just buy premade pumpkin treats—9. Mums
Mums are a perennial (get it?) Thanksgiving favorite. Buy a pot for yourself, or bring one as a gift.
10. Pumpkin patches
Admit it: Whoever decided that walking through a muddy field to pick an oddly shaped squash would be fun (and something people would pay money to do) was kind of a genius. And it is fun!
This classic Thanksgiving totem and food doesn’t get a lot of love the rest of the year, but the humble turkey is a tasty source of filling protein—not to mention high levels of tryptophan, the chemical known for making you feel relaxed and sleepy after the big meal.
12. Tiny hand turkeys
These sweet paper cutouts will remind you how little and innocent children are. They might even conjure memories of the days when your own world was full of magic: Santa was real, and your little hands could create birds.
13. Your best friends
Friends are like family. And sometimes they’re even better than family, especially when they’re saving the day by bringing over a non-burned turkey or smuggling you a much-needed drink. Make sure to tell your friends how grateful you are for their friendship and how much better your life is because you have them.
14. Candy corn
The vegetable corn is great and all, but controversial opinion: Candy corn is way tastier. Mix it with peanuts for a salty-sweet Thanksgiving table decoration that everyone can pick at while waiting for the bird to be done.
15. Delicious warm drinks
Fall means cooler temps, which of course means steamy mugs of deliciousness. See you later, smoothies! It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, hot toddies, spiced ciders, mulled wines .
16. Children’s gratitude lists
Ask an adult what they’re thankful for and they’ll say something sensible like “a warm house” or “family.” Ask a kid, and you never know what answer you’ll get!
17. Marching bands
Band geeks (aka musical geniuses) have been training for the big Thanksgiving parade all year. Appreciate the pomp and artistry of a full band by watching a parade on TV or lining up to cheer for your local high school kids.
18. Early evenings
Summer nights, with their barbecues and night games, may get all the glory, but fall nights can be just as fun. Pop some popcorn, pull out a puzzle, turn on a favorite movie and enjoy the feeling of snuggling up together.
Thanksgiving is prime time for football. Whether you’re watching a game on TV or playing a little touch football at the park with friends, you can come together over a sport that’s as much America as Thanksgiving itself.
20. A cozy kitchen
For many people, spending a day puttering around the kitchen, chatting with family and making favorite recipes is a wonderful way to enjoy Thanksgiving.
21. Scarves and mittens
With dropping temps, you need to bundle up. But nothing says you can’t do it in style! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to debut your sleek gloves, warm scarves, cute hats, tall boots and smart coats—and to be grateful for warm fingers and toes.
22. The first snow
For much of the country, the first dusting of snow comes around Thanksgiving, reminding you that winter is right around the corner. That first chill and snowfall hints at sledding, snowmen, hot chocolate .
23. Holiday songs
Listening to Christmas songs before Thanksgiving is a contentious topic. But once Thanksgiving hits, feel free to play all your favorite holiday tunes.
24. Peace and safety
The world can be a tumultuous place. But if you’re reading this, you’re likely in a place of relative safety and peace. Be grateful, and do your part to help make the world a better place in the coming year.
Pumpkin pie is really only the beginning when it comes to delicious Thanksgiving pies. Apple rhubarb, Dutch apple, French silk, coconut cream, and caramel pies are all excellent variations on the seasonal dessert.
26. Electricity and plumbing
Remembering what our ancestors had to endure just to stay alive is apt to make anyone grateful for modern conveniences. Just try to imagine what life would be like without tap water, indoor toilets, electric lights and the internet.
Nothing caps off a wonderful Thanksgiving meal like falling into a deep sleep under a fluffy, warm comforter in a soft bed. Add a nice throw blanket on top for extra coziness.
28. Your health
If ever there was a time to be grateful for your health, it is now. And if you’ve been able to avoid contracting COVID-19, you’ve been lucky.
29. Advice columns
Thanksgiving can be a depressing time, especially if your life isn’t going quite the way you’d hoped. Reading about other people’s problems in an advice column just might make you more grateful for your own situation.
30. Baby giggles
Thanksgiving is a time for families, and while having so many different personalities in one place can be challenging, there’s always an upside: the laughter of babies and toddlers. It’s genuine, it comes straight from the gut and it happens at the best times (like when Grandpa accidentally burps).
31. Smiles from strangers
A smile from a stranger is a small thing, but it can change the trajectory of your entire day. Someone noticed you. Someone liked you enough to smile at you. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
Many restaurants are packed on Thanksgiving. Let’s all take a moment to be grateful for the servers, hosts, managers, cooks, chefs, bussers and other workers who make it all possible.
Whether your mother is in the next room, the next town, the next country or the next life, Thanksgiving traditions can be powerful reminders of the good times you shared together and how very much she loves you, no matter how far away.
Don’t forget your papa! From organizing the neighborhood football game to re-raking the leaf pile so you can jump in over and over again, dads hold a special place on Thanksgiving.
35. Corn mazes
Get in your exercise before the big meal by walking (and getting lost) in one of these clever life-size mazes.
Are there any leftovers better than Thanksgiving leftovers? No, no there are not.
Bring the spicy, earthy smell of fall indoors with an easy stovetop potpourri recipe: Put orange peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, vanilla and nutmeg in a small pot. Cover with water and heat on low, adding water as necessary. You’ll enjoy the fragrance all day.
What better way to spend those sleepy post-feast hours than curled up in your favorite chair with a gripping mystery o featuring pie. (Yes, that’s a thing!) Or make it a family affair with children’s books about Thanksgiving.
Napping is as much a Thanksgiving tradition as football and turkey. And indulging in this custom is just as good for you as it feels.
40. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
This year will be the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, making it a holiday tradition that stretches back for generations. If you can’t attend live, you can still watch it from the comfort of your home on TV or online—no crowds required.
41. Pumpkin spice everything
Pumpkin spice lattes are just the beginning of the fun you can have with this blend of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Pumpkin spice is everywhere—from lattes, doughnuts and ravioli to body wash, hand soap, candles and air freshener.
42. Nature walks in the forest
Nature is quite the artist, and there’s no better way to admire her handiwork than by watching the colors change on the trees. A walk or drive to see changing leaves is the perfect complement to Thanksgiving dinner.
43. Black Friday
If shopping were a sport, it might overtake football as the premier Thanksgiving event, thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The craziest shopping day of the year isn’t for everyone, though, so feel free to enjoy the sales from the comfort of your computer screen.
44. FaceTime, Skype and Zoom
Technology brings us so many gifts, but perhaps none are as meaningful as the ability to see our loved ones even when they can’t physically be with us. Thankfully, we have FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and other apps to bring in far-off grandparents, cousins, children and friends.
45. The roof over your head
This is one of the best things to be grateful for. Shelter is one of humankind’s primary needs, but it’s so basic that unless you don’t have it, you may take it for granted. This year, look up and be grateful for the roof that offers you warmth and protection. And support organizations that help the unhoused find roofs of their own.
46. Lip balm
Cold, dry weather means dry, cracked lips and skin. Lip balm and lotion can be lifesavers this time of year. A small thing to be grateful for, perhaps, but an important one.
47. Streaming television
Whether you’re in the kitchen, on the couch or doing chores around the house, Thanksgiving is the perfect day to binge-watch a favorite show or get caught up on shows you might have missed.
48. Emergency service personnel
You know who never gets a day off, even on Thanksgiving? Firefighters, first responders, EMTs, doctors, nurses and many other emergency service workers. Show them your gratitude for their service 365 days a year by dropping off a little treat or making a donation to their local cause.
Thanksgiving tears are often of the poignant variety—saying goodbye to loved ones and remembering past holidays. And those tears serve an important purpose: We only cry when something is important to us, so those tears are a reminder of how much we love and are loved.
50. Slipper socks
Slipper socks will keep your toes toasty through the holiday festivities. They come in all kinds of styles, fun patterns and soft fabrics. Plus, they’re the perfect cover-up for imperfect toenails.
51. Cell phones
Ponder for just a second what a miracle it is to have a TV, radio, camera and computer all rolled into a single device that fits in your pocket. How else would we capture all those precious Thanksgiving moments?
52. Freedom of speech One of the benefits of being American: freedom of speech.
53. Fresh air to breathe
Between the coronavirus pandemic, wildfires, storms and air pollution, we can’t take clean air for granted. Every breath in—particularly when you can see blue skies—is something to be thankful for.
54. Whipped cream
This classic pie topping is a must-have at Thanksgiving. Whoever figured out how to whip cream long enough for it to be fluffy (but not so long that it turns into butter) was brilliant. As was the person who decided to dump sugar into the mix.
55. Frosted windows
As the days get colder, you will see some of nature’s most beautiful artwork decorating your windows. Snowflakes and ice glitter more brightly than any diamond.
56. Pizza and pad thai
Not everyone likes turkey and potatoes. Thankfully, these days you have plenty of options for your feast. Get creative, go gourmet or just simplify.
57. Black olives
What’s a Thanksgiving meal without a bowl of olives for kids (and adults!) to put on their fingers? Fingertip olives make a fun and tasty, albeit less than sanitary, appetizer.
Counting your blessings requires you to also look at all the challenges you’ve faced lately—and how the two are connected. There is no triumph without defeat, no joy without pain.
59. Vaccines and the scientists who invented them
Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, the flu vaccine and the newest RSV vaccine, many people continue to be able to enjoy a holiday meal with their loved ones. But don’t forget all the other vaccines that keep us safe and healthy.
60. Streaming playlists
Classical background music during dinner? Bon Jovi while playing football? Any type of music you could ever want is available at a touch. And better yet, the chances are high that someone has already made you the perfect playlist. That includes these Thanksgiving songs that help create the perfect ambiance.
61. Old pictures
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to break out the old photo albums and stroll down memory lane with loved ones. How great is it that treasured moments of our lives are captured forever?
Everyone changes. Let’s be grateful that we’ve had the time to reflect on who we are and the ability to grow into the people we want to be.
One perk of cooler weather is that you can rock your favorite sweaters. Who doesn’t love looking cute and feeling cozy?
64. Holiday gifts
There’s nothing like giving and receiving gifts this time of year.
Being able to enjoy what you do while providing for yourself and your family is a blessing.
Is there anything more to be said? From the smallest of chips to the largest of bars, milk or dark or even white, always be grateful that we have chocolate.
67. Sparkling apple juice
This kids-table favorite is always a hit with adults too. Whether you want a nonalcoholic option at Thanksgiving or just like sweet drinks, nothing says fall festivities like a crisp glass of sparkling apple juice.
We don’t mean the kind on the red carpet, although you can be grateful for those too! With daylight fading and nights getting longer, it’s comforting to see bright stars or a full moon in the darkness. How many constellations can you name? If none come to mind, try going outside after your meal to see some—if the turkey hasn’t put you to sleep already!
Our food doesn’t come from nowhere! When you’re looking at your delicious Thanksgiving spread and trying to think about what to eat first, take a moment to remember and be thankful for all the agricultural workers who made your green bean casserole possible. Then stuff as much of it in your mouth as possible. Thanks, farmers!
That’s right: We just told you to be thankful for being thankful. Practicing gratitude can ward off depression, lower blood pressure, ameliorate anxiety and even increase your life span. You’re welcome!