"Set for Thanksgiving" by Dave Dugdale at flickr.com (scaled and text added)

These Are the Thanks We Give
8 Activities to Encourage Gratitude in Your Home and Neighborhood

What are you thankful for? This is something that I want to focus on as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is easy to get wrapped up in life and forget to appreciate what we have, especially for little ones.

"Set for Thanksgiving" by Dave Dugdale at flickr.com (scaled and text added)

Image courtesy of Dave Dugdale at flickr.com (scaled and text added)

Teaching gratitude should be done all year but this November I am going to zero in on it and take my family along for the ride. So I have compiled a list of fun and interactive activities to help kids (and adults) recognize what they have to be thankful for. My hope is that we will become closer as a family unit and appreciate what we have more. We will call our journey “These Are the Thanks We Give.”

1. The first activity on our journey is to write a note to five people that we are thankful to have in our lives. We will each choose five different people and mail or deliver a card to them to let them know how much it means to have them in our lives. I suspect that narrowing it down to five will be the most difficult part of this task. We may end up sending more cards then we originally planned.

2. The next is a Chain of Thanks. We will begin the chain by creating four links, one for each member of our immediate family. Each chain will name something we are thankful for within our neighborhood. We will then hang the chain on a tree in our yard and encourage the neighbors to add to it as they happen by. We will also post all of the thankful comments that are left on our neighborhood page. I am very excited to see what the results will be.

3. Thankful Table Cloth. This is another one I am just giddy about. We will begin with a simple white table cloth, add a chain of our hand print and write something we are thankful for in our hand print. This is something we will add to each year. I am just so very excited to begin this tradition and watch it grow.

4. Using a Thankful Advent Calendar is another way to keep your kids in the spirit of showing thanks. We have one and will talk about ours at dinner each night. We will each write down one thing that happened that day that we are thankful for and place it in the pocket of our calendar. At the end of the month we will reflect on all of the wonderful things that took place in our lives that month.

5. Performing random acts of kindness is another way to show thanks. We will be performing one for every year of our children’s lives so twenty-eight altogether for us. I am not sure exactly what ours will be but I am excited to see my kids in action.

6. With the holiday season comes many new toys in our house. To prepare for this we will purge what we have and donate to a charity of their choosing. We will provide a list and explain what each charity does and our kids will decide where they want to see their donations go.

7. For the month of November we will have a Thankful Seat at our dinner table. Each night a different member of the family will sit in it and the remaining members will take turns saying why they are thankful for them. Families often forget to appreciate one another. This is a great way to show thanks for each member of your family.

8. The last on our list is we will Thank Our Neighbors. This is a ding-dong-ditch activity that involves leaving a thankful basket for three different neighbors with a note that says “You’ve Been Thanked” and why we are grateful that they are our neighbors. The hope is that they will thank three more neighbors.

What are you most thankful for this year? What things have you done as a family to encourage gratitude?

"Thanksgiving Table" by Dwight Sipler at flickr.com (scaled, cropped and text added)

Image courtesy of Dwight Sipler at flickr.com (scaled and text added)

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49 Comments on "These Are the Thanks We Give
8 Activities to Encourage Gratitude in Your Home and Neighborhood"

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#2 and #7 are my favorites. Wonderful ideas. We are looking to take my son to a soup kitchen this year to volunteer. It is important that we show the kids how to give thanks and have gratitude!

Sarah M

I love #8 – we just recently moved and want to do something for our neighbors for Thanksgiving/Christmas. It’s hard to show appreciate for those you haven’t truly met yet, so I think this is a great idea!


These are excellent ideas! I ESPECIALLY love the thankful table cloth! I’m currently working on our 30 day acts of kindness as well. I think it’s so important to tell each other why we’re are thankful for them in our lives. Great post!

Krystal Miller

These are great. I really need to do more with teaching gratitude. I think my older kids feel a little too entitled sometimes!


I really like all your ideas, but my absolute favorite is the chain of thankfulness. What a wonderful way to spread gratitude throughout your neighborhood.