7 Ways to be Thankful at Thanksgiving – Teaching Children To Be Thoughtful, Helpful, Grateful

Nurture

Being thankful at Thanksgiving by taking time to celebrate moments big and small teaches children the importance of gratitude. November is the perfect time to make a point to celebrate individual and family blessings. It’s amazing when you focus on gratitude as a family because attitudes and positivity improve for everyone.

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Studies have shown that practicing gratitude and expressing thankfulness strengthens relationships, as well as keeps individuals happier and healthier, according to Harvard Health Publishing. In a world where children and teens and even adults often come across as entitled or ungrateful, it is important to teach our families and ourselves to be thankful at Thanksgiving. Start at home this November, and focus on being thankful at Thanksgiving by helping others and enjoying activities and crafts at home.

Be Thankful at Thanksgiving by Giving Back to Others

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What better way to show that you are thankful at Thanksgiving than by sharing your blessings with others? Participating in donation drives and community service is a way to be thankful for what you have and share a bit of extra with those who may need help. This can become a wonderful November family tradition as you and your family work together to help others.

Read More: 6 Surprising Facts About The Origin Of Thanksgiving You Didn’t Learn In School

Thanksgiving Baskets: You can participate in a local Thanksgiving Basket Brigade or Harvest Box Collection. You and your family can pack a Thanksgiving dinner in a basket or box for a family in need. Your children can help plan what needs to go in the basket, as well as go grocery shopping, too. Your kiddos will not let you forget the importance of adding dessert to the basket. Your children can make cards, draw artwork or decorate the basket or box.

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Volunteer to Serve: Another way to give back to others is to volunteer to serve a meal at a soup kitchen, or with Meals on Wheels or your local Council on Aging. Children often can hand out desserts, and wipe tables. And, of course, visit with those you are serving. It’s such a joy to share the gift of your time with others.

Read More: Thanksgiving Blessings for Everyone to Enjoy

Clothing and/or Toy Drive: Participating in a clothing or toy drive encourages families to share some of their belongings with others. Encourage your children from preschool to high school to choose clothing and toys that they believe someone else will enjoy. It’s an opportunity to discuss being thankful that you have enough to share. Of course, new clothing and toys are greatly appreciated, too. Children enjoy shopping for children their own age picking out toys they would like themselves.

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Helping Neighbors, Friends, and Family: Helping and sharing throughout November or any time of year does not always have to be with a particular organization. Look to your neighbors, friends, and extended family members. You know them best. You might have friends who work two jobs to make ends meet while volunteering at church or school. Surprise them with a gift card to a restaurant or provide childcare once a week. Help an elderly neighbor with yardwork, cleaning the gutters, or bringing in groceries.

Giving to others and helping others is a great way to realize how much you have to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time. It teaches children appreciation. It teaches them it is better to give than receive.

Crafts, Activities to Celebrate Being Thankful at Thanksgiving

Make a Centerpiece – Creating a centerpiece for Thanksgiving Day is the perfect way to celebrate being thankful at Thanksgiving. You can make a Thankful Autumn Bouquet or a Thankful Pumpkin. To make a Thankful Autumn Bouquet sit with your family and have everyone write something they are thankful for on Colorful Fall Leaf Cutouts. Glue or tape the leaves to Bamboo Skewers and place them in a vase. You can do the entire bouquet in one day or you can each do one thankful leaf a day leading up to Thanksgiving.

Thankful Pumpkin

A Gratitude Pumpkin centerpiece is even easier to make than the Thankful Autumn Bouquet. You need a large pumpkin and a Sharpie. Nicole from Coffee and Carpool shares tips for creating a Gratitude Pumpkin.

Each day in November, each family member can write something they are thankful for directly on the pumpkin. The pumpkin quickly fills with words like family, Grandma, health, and more. To fit the most thankful words on the pumpkin, have the family member with the best handwriting write the words in a circular pattern around the pumpkin. But, it’s a fun Thanksgiving Day tradition to have all the guests write in a variety of colors what they are thankful at Thanksgiving for — it becomes a work of art.

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Write Thank You Cards and Letters – Choose an evening or a week to write thank you notes filled with Thanksgiving wishes and messages to those who make a difference in your life. You can write to teachers, firefighters, police officers, grandparents, Scout leaders, coaches, pastors, friends, active duty military, and more. A just-because thank you note means so much to the recipient.

Read More: 7 New Traditions to make Thanksgiving Memorable

Taking the time to write a card or letter expressing your words of Thanksgiving and gratitude can mean a lot to the recipient. Listing what you are thankful for about that person is a great tradition to start so your family can be thankful at Thanksgiving. It’s a simple gesture that can make a difference in the life of the recipients. Sit with your family and make a list of everyone in your circle from your Pilates instructor to the barista at the coffee shop, as well as classroom teachers, pastors, and aunts/uncles. Discuss what you are thankful for about everyone and choose who to write

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Family Gratitude Journal: A Family Gratitude Journal is a great way to spend quality time together and be thankful at Thanksgiving. For the month of November, spend 10 to 15 minutes each day as a family working on the Family Gratitude Journal, which will become like a diary or scrapbook. You can purchase a journal or create one. A great way to get started is to print a family photo. Have one child glue or tape the photo in the journal. Another child can write a title for the photo.

Discuss memories of the day, and what, who, and why you are thankful and grateful for from the day and the people in the photo. You can do this with photos of extended family members, friends, and more. Take turns writing notes and phrases about what everyone is thankful for. Practicing gratitude brings a family together, makes people happier, and builds self-esteem. Thanksgiving time is a great time to focus on gratitude and thankfulness.


Being thankful at Thanksgiving is a way to live in the moment, stopping to appreciate the little things from pumpkin spice lattes to beautiful fall leaves. Be sure to give thanks for the big things like family, good health, and job security, too. Practicing gratitude for yourself and with your family improves attitudes and sparks joy as you come together for the holidays. Taking time to make crafts, write thank you notes, keep a gratitude journal and help others brings family and friends together as you celebrate being thankful at Thanksgiving.

Sources: Harvard Health Publishing, Coffee and Carpool.

Photo Credits: Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay.

WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Daily Mom’s article 25 Adorable Thanksgiving Crafts For Kids for advice, tips, and tricks to enjoying the holidays.

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