Activities to Help Put the ‘Thanks’ Back in Thanksgiving
When family and friends get together on Thanksgiving, it’s not just about the turkey and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have and sharing that gratitude with our family and friends.
On Turkey Day, many people take turns going around the table saying what they are thankful for, but there are other, more creative ways to put the “thanks” in Thanksgiving. When you and your loved ones get together this year, here are some activities that may help you get more out of this special holiday.
Write Letters of Thanks
While everyone probably wishes the whole family could be together every holiday, the truth is, many families are not. Maybe your aunt lives in California, your son lives in Texas and your parents are in Florida. With limited time off of work and the cost of travel, getting everyone together every year may not always be possible. When this is the case, Better Homes and Gardens suggests writing letters to those who can’t make it, telling them why you’re grateful they’re in your life.
Journal the Day Together
Another idea from Better Homes and Gardens is to create a Thanksgiving journal in which everyone at your celebration writes down their favorite Thanksgiving memories and what they are grateful for that year. This activity can begin a tradition, you can look back and see what people wrote on prior Thanksgivings. Down the road, you’ll have special documentation of memories from special times with the people you love most.
Integrate Thanks Into Your Decorations
You may already decorate your home with fall colors, but this Thanksgiving, why not take it a step further and add decorations showing what you are thankful for? The Family Education Network suggests some craft ideas you can do with your kids so you can incorporate thanks into items such as:
- Tablecloths: Have everyone in the family write what he or she is thankful for on a white tablecloth. Then, as you enjoy dinner, have everyone reflect on all of the gifts your family shares.
- Place cards: Print out Thanksgiving-themed place cards for all guests and have the kids write a special note on each one saying why they are thankful that person is in their lives.
- Napkin rings: Cut out rectangular pieces of paper to wrap around the napkins and write personalized messages on every one stating why you are grateful for each person at your gathering.
These are not only fun activities you can share with your kids before your guests arrive, but by making them think about what they have and what they are thankful for, they may learn Thanksgiving is about so much more than eating turkey.
Thank a Soldier for His or Her Service
Sending a care package to someone serving our country is a wonderful gesture, especially at Thanksgiving. Soldiers overseas may not be able to spend the holidays with their families, and receiving a thank-you package might help lift their spirits. Some organizations, such as Soldiers’ Angels, collect items for care packages and allow you to donate to deployed service members and veterans through their websites.
Give More Than Just Thanks
Sharing thanks on Thanksgiving is a great practice, but what if you could incorporate the “giving,” too? The Family Education Network encourages people to look around their homes and see if they have any unwanted toys or clothes they can donate to charity. On a day that celebrates being grateful for what you have, sharing some of those things with others might make it a little more special.
Take the Sharing to the Next Level
At the end of the day, going around the table and sharing what you are grateful for may be a tradition you will have forever. But instead of just sharing what you’re thankful for and moving on, Parents Magazine notes families can take it a step further. If you or your kids are thankful for the food on the table, share that gratitude with someone else by giving a meal to someone who may not have one. If you say you are grateful for a roof over your head, perhaps you can volunteer with your family to help an organization like Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that helps build and place families in affordable housing.
Thanksgiving is more than just a delicious meal. If you want the holiday to have more meaning for your family, consider these thankful activities and see if you can make a difference this year.