The gratitude challenge is quite popular every November.
As summer fades to fall, there’s no better time to slow down and reflect on people and experiences you’re thankful for in your life.
This month, consider an alternative version to the typical gratitude challenge, which is normally where you pause to daily reflect on all that you appreciate.
Instead, direct your gratitude toward your favorite service member.
You can use this gratitude challenge as a way to kick-off a new sense of appreciation for your service member or military members in general.
Below, we’ve compiled ideas for a 30-day gratitude challenge that’s all about giving back to those who serve.
30 Days of Gratitude Challenge 2019 Ideas
Day 1: Make their favorite meal
If you know your service member will be working late, consider making their favorite meal. They’ll love that you took the initiative to cook and thought of their preferences first.
Day 2: Catch up
Since service members are always on the go, take time to slow down and really enjoy each other’s company. Put your phones down. Turn off the TV. Be in the moment and talk to each other.
Day 3: Dry clean their uniforms
Uniforms can be a pain to clean. Find the best professional dry cleaner in your area. Hint: There’s usually one on base. Treat your loved one to a super clean uniform they’ll be proud to wear.
Day 4: Write a handwritten card
When out shopping, stop by the card section and pick out a card that makes you think of your service number. Mail it to them if they’re deployed, or consider just giving it to them in-person next time you see them.
Day 5: Take them out to dinner
If you’re not a cook, consider taking your service number out to dinner next time you’re together. If you’re visiting, ask them where they like to go. If you live with them, take them to their favorite local restaurant.
Day 6: Wake up early with them
Service life includes a lot of early mornings. Even if you’re not a morning person, consider getting up with your significant other. Make coffee, watch the news together, or just sit and enjoy each other’s company.
Day 7: Plan a surprise vacation
If your service member has been talking about taking a staycation, surprise them. Find out when they’ll be off next. Pack their bags for them and then surprise them by whisking them away.
Day 8: List all the reasons you appreciate them
Write a list of why you’re grateful for them. Even if you’re not much of a writer, they’ll appreciate the effort and thought you put into it.
Day 9: Hug them
Whenever they’re around, give them a hug. If they ask why, tell them it’s “just because.”
Day 10: Tell them you’re proud of them
Remind your service member that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. They may have signed up for this career, but it doesn’t always mean it’s easy. Remind them often: In-person, over the phone, or via text.
Day 11: Send them a care package
If your loved one is deployed, send them a care package. There’s nothing better than getting a cheerful reminder from home that someone loves and appreciates them.
Day 12: Create a special photo book
Select your favorite photos of you and your service member to create a photo book full of memories. Use a service like Shutterfly to quickly create photo books to mail or give them in person. Have a ton of boot camp letters? You can also turn your Sandboxx letters into a book, too.
Day 13: Make plans together
Take the time to create exciting plans with your service member. These plans can be as simple as what you’re doing once they get home from work or even a trip home for the holidays.
Day 14: Send a random text
Text your service member and let them know one thing you love and appreciate most about them.
Day 15: Create a gratitude jar
Will it be a while until you see your service member again? Start a jar at the beginning of November and fill it will little notes of why you appreciate them. Gift it to them next time you see them. Or, save it and fill it up until it’s their birthday or holiday before presenting it to them.
Day 16: Write an encouraging letter
If you’re going through a deployment period (or even basic training), write positive, uplifting letters to your service member. It will let them know you’re thinking of them and boost their spirits. Learn how to write positive letters here.
Day 17: Compliment them
Compliment your service member whenever you get the chance. Give them praise for anything that comes to mind that you respect, admire, and appreciate about their personality.
Day 18: Say thanks
The words “thank you” can go a long way. If they’ve helped you with a recent project, a household issue, or are just being awesome, let them know you appreciate it.
Day 19: Use their love language
We don’t all have the same communication methods or styles. Check out the book The 5 Love Languages Military Edition and read it together, if you haven’t. Then, use your spouse’s love language as often as possible.
Day 20: Meal prep their food
Help your service member eat healthy all through the month of November. Meal prep their lunches (and dinners) for those long work days. Don’t forget to add snacks, too, so they can stay energized throughout the day. It will be one less thing they have to worry about! Don’t live nearby? Set them up on a meal delivery service or send a gift card so they can schedule meal delivery when it’s convenient.
Day 21: Send an email
If your service member has access to email at work, type up a message and let them know five reasons you appreciate them today. It’ll be a nice inbox message that breaks up the monotony of work.
Day 22: Check on them
If you live far from your service member, give them a call and see how they’re doing. They’ll love that you’re thinking of them.
Day 23: Watch over their home
If you have a friend or family member who’s active duty, their mind can rest easy while they’re deployed if you keep an eye on their place. Offer to stop in to check mail, water plants, inspect for any home damages, etc.
Day 24: Send cleaning services
Service members move A LOT. Even if they have a moving team packing up their house, there’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to cleaning. They may need help cleaning their apartment to get their security deposit back. Or they may have to get their house market-ready. Send a cleaning service (yourself or pros) to come help.
Day 25: Give them an inspiring book
Give a service member an inspirational self-help book. It could be the one you think they’d enjoy, a recent best-seller, or even a book they’ve been wanting to purchase for some time. Surprise them with a note inside to let them know you were thinking of them.
Day 26: Take care of their pet while they’re deployed
Deploying is stressful enough without having to worry about leaving a pet behind. If you know a service member who needs someone to watch their pets, consider volunteering.
Day 27: Ask them what you can do to help
Sometimes people are too proud to ask for help. Instead, offer it. You may be surprised at how you can help a service member.
Day 28: Workout with them
Working out is more fun with a buddy. If you enjoy early morning runs or weightlifting sessions, plan a daily meeting to go together. It will keep you accountable to show up and get in shape while also inspiring your workout partner.
Day 29: Donate to a nonprofit like Operation Gratitude
If you don’t know of a service member personally, you can always donate to organizations that do support our military. Operation Gratitude in particular sends care packages to deployed military members, veterans, wounded warriors, and caregivers during the holidays.
Day 30: Provide childcare
Know of a military couple that hasn’t been on a date in forever? Offer to watch their kiddos for a night while they go out. They’ll appreciate it more than they could ever express since it’s hard to find quality childcare.
Bonus challenge: If you know of a single service member or a young military couple far from home, invite them over for a Thanksgiving meal to celebrate the holiday with your family.
Gratitude Challenge 2019 And Beyond
The best part of a gratitude challenge is that it’s personal.
As you think about the service member(s) you want to honor this month, don’t forget the young, single folks, too.
Not every active duty service member has a loving family to show them support. Consider connecting and reaching out to them throughout November to let them know they’re appreciated.
You can always join in on local events or even volunteer through groups like the VFW or American Legion to show love to military communities, too.
However you decide to create your 30 day gratitude challenge in 2019, do it with a grateful heart. You may find that you’ll want to extend it through the holidays and even into 2020.
Have an idea for the gratitude challenge? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!