I love turkey, board games and football as much as the next person, but the heart of Thanksgiving is being thankful.
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to make time for that in the midst of all the prep and tryptophan naps, so feel free to use these 15 ideas to refocus the thankful season.
1. Show gratitude to your neighbors by bringing them Thanksgiving treats.
2. Decorate your home with a “thankful” tree.
Cut freezer paper or a roll of white project paper into strips. Draw with a Sharpie to make each strip look like a tree trunk. Cut paper leaves.
When friends, family, and neighbors come to visit, they can write what they’re thankful for on a leaf and add it to the tree.
3. Help your kids assemble a thankful turkey.
4. Leave a small gift in a public place to brighten a stranger’s day.
5. Bake messages of gratitude into your Thanksgiving dinner rolls.
Using crescent rolls purchased from the store or dough made from scratch, place a single folded note in the center of the raw dough. Carefully roll up your dough making sure to not crush the note. Bake your rolls as instructed.
When your Thanksgiving dinner guest pulls apart their roll, they’ll discover a special note!
6. Decorate a pumpkin by writing thankful messages on it.
7. Give your Thanksgiving dinner guests a walnut with a special thankful message inside.
Carefully crack open a walnut and clear out the inside. Using hot glue, attach a string. Place a note for each guest inside and seal the shell again using a dab of hot glue.
8. Use note cards to make a thankful book with your dinner guests.
Have each guest write what they’re thankful for on a note card. Snap a photo of them to add later to the card. Assemble the cards into a book and add to it each year.
9. Make a thankful garland.
10. Make a count-your-blessings tree.
Get a printable from somewhatsimple.com or draw your own tree. Use scissors or a 1″ circle punch to cut colorful scrapbook paper. On your own or as a family, write down on the circles, the things you count as blessings.
Once they’re glued in place, display your tree for your whole family to be reminded of those things all month long.
11. Create thankful paper pumpkins with your kids.
12. Help your kids make Thanksgiving postcards.
13. Have a “things I’m thankful for” scavenger hunt.
Help your kids create a list of things they’re thankful for. Supply them with a sandwich bag for each item on the list. Then, send them on a scavenger hunt to find each item!
When they’ve collected all the things on the list, make a flip book out of the bags, securing them with staples and a folded piece of paper.
For items too large or impossible to collect in a bag (for example, the dog), have your kids draw them.
14. Make a paper chain by writing down things you’re thankful for every day.
15. Countdown to Thanksgiving with a thankful countdown calendar.
Inspired by an advent calendar, this thankful countdown calendar is made by cutting the tops off small manila envelopes. Label them with a number, one for each day leading up to Thanksgiving, including Thanksgiving day.
Hang the envelopes on a string using clothespins or colorful clips.
Every day, have your family write down one thing they’re thankful for and slip it into the envelope.