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We’re well into the fall weather and that crisp breeze in the air has me thinking about the upcoming holidays! I’m a minimalist at heart and love to keep things simple, so this time of year always has a unique set of challenges. It’s easy to get caught up in gift shopping and the party season, glossing over the finer details like gratitude and serving others. Thanksgiving is just around the corner on November 24, so here are few ideas on how you can stay grateful and give back in your community this season.

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Give Thanks

“When one has a grateful heart, life is so beautiful.”― Roy T. Bennettcheap throw pillow covers, The Light in the Heart

Thanksgiving is more than a day to eat all the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie you want. It’s a time to be grateful for the good things in your life, big and small. In general, I’ve seen the holiday season become more and more commercialized in recent years, with “Black Friday” sales starting even before the Thanksgiving holiday.

It can be a challenge to stay focused and avoid getting caught up in the shopping frenzy, but it seems strange to me that people get up at 4AM to go buy a bunch of stuff the day after they express how thankful they are for what they have in their life.

I’m all about finding that perfect gift for someone, but this year, I’d like to keep things small and mindful. If you’d like to simplify your holiday season as well, here are some simple things we can be grateful for:

–; A place to live–; Healthy food to eat–; Friends and family–; A beloved pet–; A favorite family recipe–; Progress toward achieving our goals

I’m also thankful for a supportive, loving husband and a job that allows me to help people live a healthier organic lifestyle!

Give Back

When I was in college, it was always easy and convenient to serve others through the various volunteer organizations and events on campus. These days, I have to put a little more elbow grease into finding an opportunity to give back. Donating time, money, or goods to organizations and people in need helps keep me connected to that spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving. You can even get your partner or family on board to volunteer or donate with you!

This year, consider giving back in the following ways, instead of (or before) your Black Friday festivities:

–; Sign up for a charity 5K or Fun Run on Thanksgiving morning (it keeps you fit and helps a good cause)–; Go out to eat at a charity pancake breakfast on Thanksgiving–; Have your kids round up their unused toys or clothes to donate to a local foster home or advocacy organization–; Spend a few hours serving food at a neighborhood kitchen–; Walk dogs at your local animal shelter–; Make a financial donation to a cause that’s important to you–; Leave a big tip for a server who is working through the holidays–; Bake an extra pie or cookies for your next door neighbors–; Donate a holiday gift for an “Angel Tree” or check local churches who can arrange an anonymous donation to a family in need

Start a New Tradition

What do you think? Are you ready to start a new tradition this holiday season? Tell us how you plan to give back this year in the comments.

As the 'big' day draws ever closer now is the time to give the last minute touches to your bedrooms whether you have guests staying or not. If you're the type of person who has a 'set day' to do your chores you won't want to be doing washing or ironing on Christmas day or Boxing Day, or over the New Year so get these chores out of the way now!

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