As summer in the South slowly fades into fall, I find myself trying to slow down and not rush by these moments of transition. Not only is God preparing His creation for a change of season but I think He is also preparing our hearts for a season of transition and transformation. An attitude of gratitude is something I try to cultivate in our home and in my own heart throughout the entire year. However, there is something so special about this time of the year. It encourages us to really be intentional and mindful about the abundant blessings that surround us. It’s truly a time to celebrate God’s faithfulness in every season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a foodie at heart. No one loves scrumptious turkey with all the fixings and the delectable desserts more than I do! But, each year I am challenged to find new ways to make Thanksgiving more meaningful for my family and others.
Five Ways to Make Thanksgiving More Meaningful This Year
Create a Gratitude Tree:
This is the perfect meaningful Thanksgiving centerpiece! You can enjoy throughout the entire month of November. This is a tradition that our children love because it’s something they create with their own hands. We started incorporating it into our Thanksgiving about 4 years ago. It is something we look forward to it each year.
We live in a very wooded area so it’s the perfect stomping ground to find unique décor straight from God’s creation. The kids will gather up branches, leaves, acorns and pine cones to adorn our table with. Sometimes they leave the branches natural, other times their creative spirits desire paint (and absurd amounts of glitter!) After we arrange the branches in a vase, we cut out small cards (or leaves) to hang from the branches of our gratitude tree.
These simple cards hold the sentiments of our hearts; what we are most grateful for. Every member of our family participates throughout the entire month, calling to mind daily something that they are thankful for and then it gets placed on our tree.
This activity is simple, yet profound and meaningful. Check out Blissful Kids for a great how-to tutorial and other great ideas to creative juices flowing. Your gratitude tree should be as unique as your family.
Create a DIY Gratitude Table Cloth:
The gratitude table cloth is another great way to involve the entire family in the Thanksgiving celebration and it can also serve as a wonderful family memory from year to year.
All you need is an inexpensive canvas painters’ drop cloth, which can be found at your local home improvement store. Then, grab yourself some colorful sharpie markers. Consider swapping your turkey table covering for your own personal gratitude table cloth. This table cloth can be washed and used from year to year. Each Thanksgiving you can add to it. Invite everyone at the table to write a word, a memory, a name or draw a picture that represents something or someone they are grateful for. You can include the date and the person’s name (or even handprint). This table cloth can follow your family throughout the years and each year you can be reminded of God’s faithfulness and your family’s growth throughout the years.
Another option to the painters drop cloth is good ‘old butcher block paper. Get out the markers and crayons and make it a family affair. Be sure to capture your thanksgiving sentiments with a photo so you can preserve the memory and carry them with you from year to year.
Write Gratitude Letters:
There is no gift more meaningful to give in my book than a handwritten, heartfelt sentiment. Thanksgiving is a perfect time of the year to slow down and call to mind the special people in your life and express your gratitude for the way they have been a blessing to you. The letters don’t have to anything formal or fancy. Just commit to incorporating this practice into your annual Thanksgiving tradition. These letters of gratitude will become treasured blessings for years to come.
Make Scripture Cards:
One way to keep your family’s focus on the ONE from whom all blessings flow is to incorporate scripture cards into your Thanksgiving décor. This is a perfect project for kiddos to participate with. They can even put their own creative spin on them. Consider cutting out leaves from decorative scrapbook paper you have lying around the house or get some inexpensive colorful card stock. Then, choose your favorite Scripture verses as a family that focus on gratitude, blessings and thanksgiving. If your children are able to write, have them add the verses. Make one for each Thanksgiving guest. Before the meal, have each person read their verse aloud. This is a great lead in to the blessing of the meal.
Check in with Rachel Wojo, over at Encouraging Fresh Faith. She has some great ideas to help you get started with your own personal Thanksgiving scripture cards.
Gratitude Conversation Starters:
One way to keep conversation going around the Thanksgiving dinner table is to incorporate conversation starter cards. This fun activity will encourage engagement and participation (even from those moody teenagers who act “too cool” for life). These conversation starter cards can be created “DIY” as a fun family activity or if you want to keep it simple check out OHMY! Creative. There is an adorable FREE Thanksgiving conversation card printable that you can get and save yourself the time in making them.
The Possibilities are Endless
These are just a few meaningful ideas that you may consider adding to your Thanksgiving tradition this year. My prayer for you this holiday season is that you will be intentional about creating more meaningful moments with the people that you love. Be creative. But, don’t overcomplicate it! Choose something and creatively incorporate it into your day.
I would love to hear what Thanksgiving traditions your family looks forward every year that helps bring more meaning and gratitude to the day!