12+ Clever Ways to Give Thanks This Thanksgiving Day
November 22, 2019

12+ Clever Ways to Give Thanks This Thanksgiving Day

The holiday season is a time to reflect upon all the many things we have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving began as a simple harvest celebration, but has since expanded to a holiday that honors all the elements in our lives for which we are grateful: family, friends, health and homes just to name a few.

In between carving the bird and passing the gravy, we should all take a moment to share with our loved ones all that we are thankful for. After all, expressing gratitude has been shown to reduce mental stress, strengthen empathy for others, and improve both psychological and physical health.

While saying grace is the most common way to give thanks around the Thanksgiving table, there are many other fun and creative ways to get the whole family involved.

Thankful Rolls

Photo courtesy The Girl Who Ate Everything

Similar to a fortune cookie, thankful rolls are a creative way to give thanks. Have each guest write down one thing they are thankful for on a strip of paper. Roll it up, wrap in foil and tuck it in between homemade or store-bought dinner rolls before baking. At the dinner table, each guest can read aloud the message in their roll. You can make it even more fun by trying to guess who wrote what!

Thankful Basket

This idea from One Good Thing is similar to the thankful rolls, but instead of hiding thanks in your food, you make a game of it. Ask each guest to write down (anonymously) one thing they are thankful for (the more specific, the better), fold the paper in half and put it in a basket. Then, everyone selects one piece of paper to read aloud to the group. Each person must try to figure out who wrote each “thanks.”

Gratitude Jar

Photo courtesy Somewhat Simple

Showing gratitude is important throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving. This gratitude jar from Somewhat Simple (complete with free printables!) encourages you to write down one thing you’re thankful for each day leading up to the holiday. Then, on Thanksgiving, you can go open the jar and read aloud all the things that you were thankful for throughout the year. Another idea is to form the strips of paper into rings and form a Thanksgiving countdown chain, where you tear one ring off each day and share it with the family.

Thankful Treasure Hunt

This idea from a Girl and a Glue Gun is designed to keep the little ones occupied while waiting for dinner. Have each child write down the things they are thankful for. Most likely, children will name specific items, such as pets and toys. Then, send them out to find each thing on their lists (or swap lists with another child for an added challenge). Alternately, you can fill out the treasure hunt list for them, and include tangible items such “something that makes you giggle” or “something that’s your favorite color.”

Thankful Balloon

Photo courtesy Studio DIY

How cute is this idea from Studio DIY? Paint “I am thankful for …” on a bright balloon, and have guests add their thoughts once they arrive. Then, display the thankful balloon during your Thanksgiving celebration to bring a little cheer to the holiday!

Thankful Table Game

At the Thanksgiving table, have each person share with the group what they are most thankful for. Encourage guests to get creative! The catch is, each player must repeat what those before them said. It’s a fun way to share ideas and reflect on things you may not have thought of.

Thankful Turkeys

Photo courtesy Happiness is Homemade

This project for the little ones comes from Happiness is Homemade. Cut turkey “feathers” out of construction paper and ask the kiddos to write down what they are most thankful for (or write it for them). Glue the feathers to a painted paper plate and empty toilet paper roll, add some silly googly eyes, and you have a cute table decoration that also opens up a conversation about gratitude.

Grateful Lemonade Stand

This unique idea is from Momtastic. Set up a lemonade stand (or hot cider stand!) and instead of collecting money, collect thanks! Ask each patron to write down one thing they are thankful for and put it in a jar, and let them have their beverage for FREE! It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, and reading the responses will get you thinking about things you may not have considered.

Thankful Tree

Photo courtesy Make Life Lovely

Even the littlest members of the family can join in this crafty idea courtesy of Make Life Lovely. Use construction paper to cut out a tree shape, and have every member of the family write down one thing they’re thankful for on a construction paper “leaf.” The finished product is a delightful work of art for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Spread the Love

Also from Momtastic, another idea is to go around the Thanksgiving table and say what you appreciate most about the person to your right. Even if you don’t know someone well, it’s a great opportunity to give a compliment and spread the holiday cheer!

Thanksgiving Wall (or Tablecloth)

Photo courtesy Somewhat Simple

Attach an oversized piece of butcher paper or canvas to the wall (or use it as a table cover) and give everyone a felt-tip marker. Ask them to write down all the things they are thankful for, and then read them all aloud to the group. The paper serves as a keepsake year after year!

Writing Prompts

Photo courtesy I Heart Crafty Things

To get the ideas flowing, encourage your family to reflect on what they’re thankful for during the days leading up to the holiday. One way to do this is through a thankful writing prompt activity, courtesy of I Heart Crafty Things. Use a dry erase board and have each member of the family write their thoughts using the prompt, “Today I’m most thankful for…”. Then share all of the thoughts at the Thanksgiving table.

A similar activity courtesy of One Good Thing involves holiday guests. Ask guests what they are thankful for via writing prompts that dig a little deeper. Such prompts could include things like, “share an even in your live when you were grateful for your health” or “describe a situation when you were grateful for your best friend.” Put each piece of paper in a bowl and let each guest choose one. It’s a great way to get the conversation flowing and to learn a little more about your guests.

Say Thank You

It may seem simple, but sometimes simply saying “thank you” to those who matter is one of the best way to express gratitude. Send a card to your child’s teacher, tell a grandparent how much you love them, or let a neighbor know how much you care. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that have the greatest impact.


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Elizabeth Penney

Elizabeth Penney is a content writer for Lyon Real Estate and the Lyon Local blog. A Sacramento native with a marketing background, she shares her insider knowledge on restaurants, attractions and outdoor activities throughout the greater Sacramento area and beyond.