by Shelley Hitz, author of “A Life of Gratitude“
Thanksgiving season is soon approaching and this year, I encourage you to take the opportunity to celebrate gratitude. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, take a moment (or two) to celebrate gratitude.
Here are 21 ideas for you to celebrate gratitude during Thanksgiving
- Create a “Blessing Basket” and have everyone write down something they are thankful for on a piece of paper. Read them out loud during your Thanksgiving celebration.
- Send a holiday care package to a soldier. If you don’t know someone personally, you can send something through http://www.anysoldier.com
- Write down one thing you admire in those coming to your Thanksgiving dinner on a placemat and decorate it. You can use vinyl placemats or make your own with construction paper. One idea is to put the paper between two pieces of wax paper and iron it to give it a nice finish.
- Deliver a Thanksgiving meal to a neighbor that is house bound. You can ask your church, a local nursing home or home health agency for suggestions if you don’t personally know of someone.
- Feed families by donating money to your local mission, homeless shelter or city mission. Or if money is tight, help by giving your time and serve Thanksgiving to those in need in your city.
- Create a Thanksgiving paper chain by writing down what you are thankful for between Thanksgiving and Christmas on strips of construction paper. Use a variety of colors to make it fun and create a paper chain with them by stapling or gluing each strip of paper to the previous one. Watch and see how long this chain gets!
- Run a turkey trot (or walk). And while you participate, give thanks for the physical ability to do so! RunnersWorld.com has a “Races and Places” page on their website where you can search for races in your local area using their race finder.
- Create a journal of thanks. Buy a blank journal and pass it around the table for each family member to write something they are thankful for. Include the year and consider making it a tradition. You can use the same journal each year and even look back on years past and be reminded of your blessings.
- Mail a hand-written thank you note to someone that you appreciate. Or invite them to lunch or for coffee to personally deliver your thank you note and tell them in person how much they mean to you.
- Do a chore, provide a service or run an errand for a neighbor. One idea this time of the year is to offer to rake leaves in your neighbor’s yard. If you can’t think of anything else, bake some cookies and deliver them in person to your closest neighbors.
- Say your ABC’s this year…the ABC’s of Thanksgiving, that is. Say something that begins with each letter of the alphabet that you are thankful for on Thanksgiving. You can go around the table or have people share spontaneously as they get ideas.
- Send a letter of appreciation to an author that has impacted you through their books. You can find a way to contact most authors through their website. If you can’t find an address to mail a letter, then send your thanks via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
- Decorate your table with thanks. Create a Thanksgiving table cloth by writing down three things you are thankful for this year. Make sure you purchase a table cloth that you don’t mind writing on and have markers available. You can use a white roll of paper and if you prefer, you can use a clear vinyl table cloth over it for easier cleanup. Or purchase a fun “Doodle by Stitch” tablecloth if you have kids at home.
Here are some options I found for the white paper roll:
*White paper roll on Amazon (12 inches x 100 feet)
*White paper roll on Webstaurant Store (40 inches x 300 feet).
Here is a tip I received from a reader: printing companies have what they call “end rolls” of paper and many of them will give you several rolls if you go by and ask. Ask for the heavier weight rolls (they are around 2-4 ft wide and may still have hundreds of ft left on the roll).
- Create place cards for each person that will be attending your Thanksgiving dinner with one thing you are thankful for about them or one quality you admire in them. Write these out ahead of time with their name and decorate them with a Thanksgiving theme.
- Thank someone at work for doing their job well. If you are still in school or college, thank one of our teachers that has made an impact in your life.
- Sing a song of thanks together or play one of your favorites. If you need a few ideas here is a list of 40 worship songs that give thanks: http://www.praisecharts.com/top-40-thanksgiving-worship-songs
- Be tree-mendously thankful this holiday season. Create a large paper tree and cut out ornaments to write out what you are thankful for on each one. Then tape these ornaments on the tree as a reminder throughout the holiday season.
- Organize a scripture round robin for your Thanksgiving meal. Choose scriptures ahead of time and write them out on pieces of paper. Then, have each family member quote one at your meal. Click here for a list of Thanksgiving scriptures.
- Visit a children’s hospital and bring a gift for those that are in the hospital over the holiday. A simple gift you could bring is a stuffed animal. You can call the hospital ahead of time to get their permission or visit someone you know.
- Donate old books, toys and clothes that are in great condition to a good cause. Most cities have a Salvation Army or Goodwill where you can donate used items.
- Celebrate gratitude during your Thanksgiving dinner. Cut out leaves and write on one side something that each family member will do (i.e. read a prayer, share a story, say something they are grateful for, read a scripture, etc.). Then, go around the table and have each family member participate.
Need More Ideas?
If you want to take gratitude to a new level in your life this year, here are a few suggestions:
- Take the 21 days of gratitude challenge to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. You can do this by yourself or as a family.
- Read a prayer of gratitude for 21 days to focus your heart on God and all He has given us.
- Gain inspiration from reading 21 stories of gratitude and the power of living life with a grateful heart.
Enjoy the holidays and I encourage you to allow God to work in and through your life with His spirit of gratitude! “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
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