Creative Child

Family Gratitude Practices for Thanksgiving and Beyond

by Rebecca Eanes

It’s that time of year again. Thankfulness is at the forefront of our thoughts and conversations as we express how #thankful and #blessed we are to others. It’s a good practice to be in, but too often we let gratitude fall away again by the end of Black Friday. However, this year can be different! This year can be the beginning of lifelong gratitude practices that your children will benefit from for a lifetime. Start by sharing in these simple practices together. 

1. Count your blessings at dinner. I know dinner around the table each night is a difficult goal to achieve, but you don’t have to be at the table to start this tradition. Get in the habit of stating three things you are grateful for before you eat your meal, whether you’re eating on the go or at home. Ask your children to do the same. This simple practice helps kids shift their perspectives and begins to train their brains to see the blessings.

2. Start a Gratitude Tablecloth this year. Purchase a plain white tablecloth and permanent markers. Bring out this tablecloth every Thanksgiving and have everyone in the family write something they are grateful for each year with their name and date. This will become a cherished family heirloom that your kids will look forward to adding to every year.

3. Create an Appreciation Board in your home. Using a simple white board, create a family ritual of having each member write something that they appreciate about someone else on the board each day. For example, “Dad made a great dinner” or “Brother helped me with my homework.” At the end of the day or week (whatever works for your family), read the appreciations aloud before you erase it for a new day or week. This is a great way to build family bonds and teach children to show appreciation to their family members. 

4. Start a Day of Appreciation Tradition for each family member and put it on the calendar. On each person’s designated day, everyone tells that person three things that they love and appreciate about them, and then the family has a small celebration of that individual. What a beautiful way to make each member of your family feel loved and valued.

5. Make a Blessing Tree from construction paper and hang it on your wall. On Thanksgiving Day, everyone writes what they are grateful for on construction paper leaves and tapes them on the tree. You can make it even more special by using your children’s handprints as the branches, and save it to bring back out annually every year to add more leaves to.

6. Keep a gratitude journal. You can do this individually or keep a family journal. Open the journal at the beginning of the day, maybe before you get out of bed or at breakfast, and jot down 2 to 3 things that you are thankful for that day. Getting your kids in the habit of beginning their days with gratitude will help them a happier and more positive outlook. This can even easily be done though an app on the phone. Maybe your kids will stick to it better that way!

7. Practice a monthly Day of Giving. Teach your children that it’s not only important to be grateful for what they have in their own lives but it’s also important to give others something to be grateful for. In that spirit, set aside at least one day per month to practice a Day of Giving where your whole family volunteers or does something kind for someone else. Consider taking a meal to a busy friend, baking goods for a lonely neighbor, gathering food and toys to take to the animal shelter, or gathering gently used items for donation.

Practicing gratitude is a proven key to happiness and a great way to battle entitlement. However, it’s not all about us. By adding in daily and monthly rituals of showing appreciation and giving to others, you help give your kids a bigger picture of gratitude as a whole, not only to count their own blessings but to also be a blessing to others.

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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