Thanksgiving is such a sweet time of year filled with family, friends and food. It's also a time when families are intentionally grateful, and for a great reason.
Katie Hurley, LCSW, says, "Families often get caught up in the baking, buying and celebrating that accompanies the holiday season, but all of that celebrating can shift our focus from gratitude and appreciation to stuff. People who feel grateful report increased optimism and greater overall happiness. That's a lesson worth learning during the business of the holiday season."
Traditionally, families do gather around Thanksgiving tables and share what they're grateful for. While this way is tried and true, we've gathered some creative — and truly lovely — ways that some families are making thankful the true meaning of their Thanksgiving game.
^ Jessie Voiers is the blogger behind Then I Laughed and the creator of the uber thoughtful Thankful Bags.
Jessie says, "We have six children and one of our favorite thankful activities is making thankful bags. We do this in November and the kids give them to one another on Thanksgiving Day. Here's what we do. I give each of the kids a brown bag and they can decorate it any way that they want. Most frequently they make turkeys out of them. Then a couple of times a week, each week in November, I help each of the kids write down something that they are thankful for about each of their siblings. Things like: 'I'm thankful you share your toys with me.' 'I'm thankful you help me get dressed for school.' 'I'm thankful you are so silly and make me laugh.' I make different colored leaves that they write their thankful comments on. Then, on Thanksgiving, they open their bag and they have a ton of really kind comments from their siblings and Dad and me. It helps remind us all to be thankful for one another."
^ Marty Walden blogs at Marty's Musings, a DIY and home blog.
Marty's family does Thanksgiving gratitude via their long-standing Blessings Jar. Marty explains, "Our blessing jar is a simple Mason jar that sits on our kitchen table throughout the year. We teach our kids to write their blessings on little slips of paper, and then on Thanksgiving evening we pour out the slips and each take turns reading them aloud. This is a cherished family tradition, made more meaningful by the fact that our oldest daughter is married and oldest son is in college so when they are home this is even more special."
^ Tricia Price is the creator of Reflect Who I Am T-shirts that are designed to encourage girls to celebrate who they are and to celebrate self-esteem.
Tricia's family has two thankful traditions.
About her Table of Gratitude, Tricia says, "Buy an inexpensive white tablecloth that looks beautiful during the meal. When the meal is over, pass out magic markers for everyone to write on it. Everyone writes what he or she is thankful for around the entire table. (Please note, depending on the type of marker used, you may have to put something under the tablecloth so it doesn't bleed through onto your table!) It's wonderful to bring out the tablecloth the following year."
And about her Guess Who game, Tricia says, "In this activity, have some small pieces of paper that are uniform in size prepared ahead of time. After dinner, while you're still at the table, ask each guest to write what they're thankful for on a piece of paper. Encourage creativity. This won't work if everyone is thankful for "getting together" or if the responses are generic such as, "I'm thankful for family." Fold all of the responses and put them into a bowl. One person draws the first slip and reads it aloud. Everyone guesses whom the gratitude belongs to. Whoever guesses correctly, reads the next one. In our household this becomes really crazy and fun."
^ Mariah Leeson is the author and owner of Giggles Galore, a blog where she shares entertaining ideas and crafts to help turn the ordinary into extraordinary one creative project at a time.
Mariah takes gratitude to a sweet, and uber creative, new level by hosting a Whoo's Thankful Party. Mariah says, "Gratitude is a characteristic we talk about year-round with our children, but Thanksgiving is an opportunity to really emphasize this and get creative with how we show our children to live it. Last year I hosted a "Whoo's Thankful Party" to celebrate our friends and all the things we are thankful for. The kids wrote down things they were thankful for and took turns sharing them with each other as we hung them on our "thankful tree."
^ Robert Nickell is a father of seven and the founder of Daddy Scrubs, a site featuring parenting advice from a dad's perspective and delivery room duds, gifts and apparel for dads.
To make gratitude a Thanksgiving standout, Robert suggests going big. Robert says, "Have a dry-erase board on prominent display where people can write what they are thankful for."
^Roxanne Stellmacher is an allParenting writer, lifestyle blogger and interior design fanatic who enjoys rearranging furniture and painting walls far too much.
Roxanne's "I'm Thankful For" idea focuses on keeping the conversation at the Thanksgiving table rich, lovely and, of course, grateful. Roxanne says, "On small strips of paper I wrote conversation starters. They all began with the phrase, "a time you were thankful for…" followed by a different prompt such as, "home, Mom, Dad, being a sister, bad weather, etc." I filled a vase with the prompts and placed them on the dinner table. While we had a meal we each chose one. A simple act but one that made us remember just how fortunate we are — and how much gratitude resides in our home."
^ Amy Vowles is an allParenting writer and mother of one who loves all things domestic and spends her free time cooking, baking, gardening and crafting.
Amy created a beautiful Thankful Tree. Amy says, "The best crafts are the ones that can bring busy families together. It's even better when the craft is meaningful and helps bring about the spirit of the holidays. Help your family remember all that they are grateful for with this beautiful thankful tree."
^ Virginia Woodruff is the editor of the website Great Moments in Parenting.
Virginia's family makes a fun family game out of their "I'm Thankful For" tradition. Virginia explains, "In my family of five, we like to each write down something that we are thankful for on a slip of paper and then drop them into a hat or bowl. As we pass the bowl around the table, each family member pulls out a slip of paper and reads what it says. It's priceless when I hear my son reading that he is thankful for local craft beer, or when my husband reads that he's thankful he wasn't eaten by zombies in Minecraft or when I read my daughter's appreciation for pajama day at school!"