This Thanksgiving season I want to gather around the thanksgiving table with my family members and remember the good things. These gratitude activities for Thanksgiving are a great way to start new thanksgiving traditions with your family members.
We all need to practice an attitude of gratitude in our everyday lives. But a holiday season is all the better reason to share thankfulness with your whole family. Whether it's at the dinner table or in one of these other creative ways I've put together.
Gratitude like any good habit is something that needs to be encouraged and put into action. The spirit of thanksgiving is one of the most important things to include in family traditions. And is even more important than pumpkin pie on turkey day if you ask me.
13 Thanksgiving Activities to Encourage Gratitude
It's easy to get overwhelmed during the holiday season. We have so much to fill our plates as it is, then you add on shopping lists, and activities we're obliged to attend, and the calendar just starts to fill up.
But let's not let it pass us by, I've got a few great ideas to help you bring lasting meaning in fun ways you may not have considered before. Keep it simple and pick one fun idea to run with, or do a countdown of activities to the big day.
01 Gratitude Jar
Take this opportunity to do this fun activity with your family this year. Try to recall from the past year all the fun things, the truly important things like good health, and the small things every day that fade into the background.
A gratitude jar is one of the simple ways the practice gratitude daily. Just have a bunch of blank slips of paper next to a jar and take a moment to write something down every day.
02 Thankful Tree (Gratitude Tree)
This is one of those gratitude activities for Thanksgiving that you can do with your kids, or elevate it and do it with guests of all ages. While I whipped up a simple version for you to download for free, I chose to use an actual tree for my version.
How to Print a Thankful Tree Poster
I use 80 lb cardstock for all of my printables simply because it makes them heartier and more resistant to tearing. You can print it out as an 8.5" x 11" or print it as a poster using the directions below.
- Open the file in Adobe Acrobat.
- Set it to "Poster" and 180%.
- This will create 4 separate pieces you will tape together.
How to Make a Thankful Tree with Your kids
You can go and download the free printable grateful tree or you can use some construction paper to create paper leaves.
I like the Daniel Tiger version of a Thankful Tree. They each wrote a note to someone they wanted to thank and hung it up on their thankful tree (actual tree outside). Then they each took turns delivering and reading their notes aloud.
This is one of those thankful crafts that can truly impact the lives of your loved ones and let people you love know you appreciate them! Take full advantage of the time we have.
03 Gratitude Journal
This is one of those thanksgiving gratitude activities that can make a difference in our own minds. It doesn't have to take much time out of your day, just a few minutes. And before you know it each small change in your mind will start a big shift.
It's important for us to express gratitude. But to make it more interesting you may try these Thanksgiving Writing Prompts and take the time each day to use a different prompt. You may find yourself creating a good book that will become a family heirloom for your kids and grandkids down the line.
04 Thankful Turkey Craft
Another fun simple craft that could be perfect for little hands or big hands. For every craft I do I try my best to not only make it easy, but also use minimal supplies, and make it beautiful as well.
The simple gist is you have a turkey and you put feathers on it. And on these thankful feathers, you write things you're thankful for. I had this great idea to make one out of wood and drill holes in the tale for the feathers. I even considered using real turkey feathers.
Use your imagination and let me know what you come up with, but don't forget to check out my post, Thanksgiving Thankful Turkey Craft.
05 Thanksgiving Games
I can't think of a better way to spend Thanksgiving afternoon than spending time with my family playing a simple game or two. Board games are a great way to have a good time doing a fun activity together.
Fun is the best way to promote togetherness and foster a thankful heart. Some of our favorite games to play are typically card games like Uno, Phase 10, Oregon Trail, and Trash Pandas. But if you're tired of tradition and don't want a classic game, here are 10 Thanksgiving-themed board games to look into:
- New England
- Turkey Day
- The Great Macy's Day Parade
- Happy Turkey Day!
- New World: A Carcassonne Game
- Thanksgiving Charades
3 Thanksgiving Grateful Games for the Whole Family
- Gratitude Pick up Sticks Game
- How to Teach Children Gratitude: Gratitude Game
- I am Thankful Skittles Gratitude Game
And if you're done with board games and want to go outside, try some great thanksgiving outdoor activities like this Thanksgiving Toss Game. Or this amazingly original idea of Pin the Tail Feather on the Turkey!
06 Thankful Rolls
Now, this is a fun one! If you love fortune cookies you're going to love these thankful rolls! It's basically the same concept, except you're not putting fortunes inside the rolls.
You write down prompts, conversation starters, or things you're thankful for onto a piece of paper and bake them inside the roll. Just make sure to let your guests know there's paper in the rolls!
Check out this Thankful Rolls Recipe and gather a few great ideas while you're at it for what you'll write on each paper. Maybe a scripture of blessing for each person who reads it?
07 Thankful Basket
You really can't get any more simple than this small way of expressing thanks. As part of your Thanksgiving tablescape include a small basket and have each guest write something they're thankful for and drop it in.
Before you break your bread take turns passing the basket and let everyone read a piece of paper out loud.
08 Thanksgiving Free Printables
I have several younger children and occasionally the food takes longer than planned. Sometimes it's just good planning to take the easy way of having a few activities as a backup plan!
Or if you're a fan of fun learning you could go ahead and do a really fun unit study all about Thanksgiving. We are homeschoolers so it's a pretty natural segue for the season to dive right into Pilgrims, American Indians, the Mayflower, and all of that good stuff.
I actually love creating fun stuff to entertain my kids. Making sure children have plenty to occupy them leads to much more fun for everyone, including adults!
I'll probably also include some kind of outdoor activity like a fall scavenger hunt. Hand them a paper bag, a magnifying glass, and a list of nature items to find outside with the promise of a goody bag for the winners. (They'll probably all be winners, honestly).
09 Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
Take the month of November, the first 25 days at least, and count down with your kids in this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt for Adults and Kids. Or take it as a challenge and write your own down every day, something tangible you're grateful for. This Thanksgiving printable scavenger hunt for kids is so clever and such a fun way to remind us all, but especially children, to remember the little things we forget to be thankful for like "running water, washing machines, etc".
10 Volunteer Work as a Family
A great way to give a sense of thankfulness for all the blessings we have is to help serve those in need. There are so many great opportunities if you reach out to your local communities.
- Volunteering at a Homeless Shelter
- Putting together Thanksgiving Meal Baskets
- Creating Thanksgiving Care Packages together for the military, elderly, etc.
- Serving Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen nearby
- Inviting strangers without family to share Thanksgiving meal with you
11 Be Thanksgiving Hosts
Beyond your immediate family, extended family, and friends, try reaching out to your community this year. It's the perfect time of year to open your arms wide.
One of the most memorable Thanksgiving holiday dinners I have from childhood was the year my family hosted 28 Marines. My father invited 28 marines who were away from home for the first time from their families to join us for Thanksgiving dinner.
I can't remember a more momentous occasion than that. My parents were always hospitable to families or individuals in need, they have a heart for ministering. But this felt like a thanksgiving celebration to top all the rest.
12 Thanksgiving Tablecloth (Reusable)
Another favorite memory from childhood is the idea of having a reusable Thanksgiving tablecloth. You put fabric markers on the table and let your guests sign it like a guest book and write glad tidings.
This is a great opportunity to share those glad tidings every year when you pull it out to use it.
13 Thanksgiving Place Cards + Notes
This is a beautiful time of year. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas because how they both tend to bring people closer together. The rest of the whole year is about real life and you get busy, and barely have any free time.
But then November rolls around and suddenly the world changes. Generosity grows and people take the time to smile and say simple things like thank you to each other. This Thanksgiving I want to go the extra mile with personalized place cards on the table.
14 Create a Thankfulness Centerpiece
Creating a Thanksgiving Thankfulness Centerpiece really is just another way to sneak in things to be thankful for. Here are a few ideas I came up with
- Photos of your family in photo holders as a part of place settings with a note of thanks to each.
- Create a simple table runner where you can write your thanks on it with a gold sharpie or paint pen.
- Use photo holders at different heights to include handwritten thank you notes to each guest at the dinner table.
15 Create a Thanksgiving Family Photo Collage
If you have a big family this would be even more enjoyable. But I would be tempted to make this collage able to fit inside a binder so you can add onto it every year. So grab a few pieces of 8.5"x11" cardstock, gluesticks, and scissors (optional), and ask every family member to bring a photo they'd like to include in the collage.
This would be a great thing to add to a Thanksgiving Scrapbook (see below).
16 Write a Gratitude Poem
One great way to create a family gratitude poem is to have each member make one line of the poem. It doesn't have to rhyme, if you want it to it might take longer, but it would be a really sweet treasured keepsake.
This would also be a great idea to add to a Thanksgiving Scrapbook (see below).
18 Create Gratitude Rocks with Friends or Family
This is a craft that might be fun no matter if you have grown adult family and friends coming over, or a table full of kids. In fact, this might be a great craft to let the kids do outside (weather permitting) as a part of the Thanksgiving ceremony!
I'm always looking for ways to occupy my kids while the food is cooking, or while the rest of us are lounging recovering from the food we just ate. Grab a bag of smooth rocks from Dollar Tree, a few paintbrushes, and some acrylic paint. Or save yourself the mess and use paint pens!
It would be a great idea to have a few prompts written up to help them think of things they could paint. Also, you could paint the date on the bottom so it's a fun memory of that year.
19 Play the "Secret Saint" Challenge
When you make it a point to serve another person it tends to take your brain off of worrying about yourself and your own problems. This game is sure to help you focus on others this Thanksgiving.
- Write each of your family members' names on a strip of paper.
- Then Fold the pieces in half so that the names are hidden.
- Then each family member will draw a name, being careful not to let anyone see it. (If a person selects their own name, have them put it back and draw again.)
- The name you pick is the person that you will secretly serve for the day, as their “saint.”
For one day, you will do secret acts of kindness for the person whose name you drew, be sneaky, and don't get caught! The acts can be simple and small such as,
- Making their bed
- Putting a Treat or Surprise in their lunch bag
- Doing their Chore (anything to lighten their load)
If you have children, you can encourage them to get creative and have fun coming up with ways to commit secret acts of kindness. At the end of the day, sit down and have everyone try to guess who their “secret saint” was.
20 Write Thank You Notes
There are few things more delightful than opening your mailbox to receive a genuine handwritten note addressed to you. They're so rare and most people think the idea is old-fashioned, but I think it is charming.
It's also an especially thoughtful way to train your children how to properly thank others for things they're grateful for about them. An act of kindness is never too little.
21 Have Fun With a Gratitude Quiz
Online quizzes are borderline addictive in the same way as fortune cookies. We all know they probably aren't the most accurate, or really not accurate at all, but they're a fun way to pass the time.
This Gratitude Quiz is a fun way to assess your level of gratitude. It will tell you how often and how much you integrate thankfulness into your life and will undoubtedly also give you a few extra ideas on how to incorporate it more. You can have each family member do the quiz and then reflect on it.
22 Make a Gratitude Garland
You may be asking yourself, what is a gratitude garland? It's a string of things you're grateful for that you hang in your dining room for everyone to see! In fact, you can add to it the whole month of November and then read them around the table on Thanksgiving.
One idea to make a gratitude garland is to use a string of twine and tie it around two points to string it. Then use clothes pins to hold notes where you write things you're thankful for. If you do it for the whole month of November you'll have no less than 24 notes (or many more for each family member).
23 Say Grace with Thanks
Saying grace was a family tradition for every meal in my household growing up, but I feel like on Thanksgiving you give it a little bit extra. This year instead of one person offering thanks for the whole table, take turns having each person thank God for things they're thankful for.
If you want to let people prepare ahead of time there are great lists of Things to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving that may be helpful.
24 Thanksgiving show and tell
Since I was homeschooled I never did get to experience the joy of show and tell, so this year is my chance! Have each member or guest bring a small "representation" of things they are grateful for this year. Then each person takes a moment to explain the item and what it means to the rest.
25 Read a Story About Thanksgiving
You could simply choose to read some Thanksgiving Fun Facts together, which is also fun, or you could go to your local library and borrow a few books about Thanksgiving like:
- The Pilgrims
- Wampanoag Indian Tribe
- The Mayflower
- The Plymouth Colony
- Governor William Bradford
- The First Thanksgiving
I am always trying to add to my list of books on the subject and I try to bring them out each Thanksgiving to read together with my kids. Here are a few of my favorites
- The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
- The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving by Charles Schultz, and two that are harder to find but still favorites
- Pilgrim Thanksgiving and Christmas on the Mayflower by Wilma Pitchford Hays
26 Play a Thanksgiving Memory Game
Playing a thanksgiving memory game is a great fun way to not only share things you're grateful for together but also to work on your brain. Here is how it would work.
You start with a person that says what they're grateful for, then the next person repeats it and adds theirs to the list. Each person subsequently will try to remember what the previous people were grateful for while adding to the list.
How many people will be able to remember what each of you was grateful for?
27 Make a Thanksgiving Scrapbook
When my first two kids were really little I tried my hand at scrapbooking. And I admit it was somewhat addictive, though expensive. However, over time I realized the space they took up was more than I was willing to invest especially when I intended to have more children.
I love the idea, however, of creating an heirloom thanksgiving scrapbook where you do a single page each year. Here are a few things that may be fun to include:
- Yearly family photo
- Recipe Card of the favorite dish served
- Dried leaves or flowers from that year
- Handprints of children
- Handwritten notes from each person
- A Grateful Journal Entry from the family
- A list of things you're grateful for
28 Reminisce About Years Passed
One of my absolute favorite things that seem to happen almost naturally at all family gathering events is when you sit down together and reminisce. The funny family stories that have everyone rolling and tearing up from laughter are a joy to share.
This is also a great way to remember those who have already passed on during these times and pass on their memory to the next generation.
29 Trace Hand turkeys & Other Kid's Activities
- Thankful Heart Thanksgiving Activity for Kids
- Thanksgiving Kids’ Table
- Thankfulness Chain: Thanksgiving Activity
- Things I am Thankful for Story Window
- Thanksgiving Yoga
- I Am Thankful for Thanksgiving Placemats To Color
- Thankful Turkey Printable Thanksgiving Gratitude Activity
- Printable Gratitude Journal Prompts
- Thankful Tree Printable
- Gratitude Activity for Kids: Thanksgiving Cootie Catcher
- Count Your Blessings Tree (Printable)
- Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Thanksgiving Coloring Pages Printable
- Be Thankful: Book-Inspired Family Thanksgiving Activity with Free Printable
- Free Printable Gratitude Garland
- Printable Family Gratitude Devotions for November
- I Am Grateful – Gratitude Printable Template
30 Thanksgiving Gratitude Wreath
I'm a huge fan of making your own wreaths for each season. If I had thought enough about it, I would have dried more flowers during the summer to use during the winter months. However, don't overlook the beautiful grasses that grow naturally all over!
There are so many great ways to create your own Thanksgiving Gratitude Wreath.
- A Wreath Craft with Construction paper Leaves
- Thanksgiving Paper Wreath
Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope I have given you inspiration for great gratitude activities for Thanksgiving this year and years to come.
Hi, I'm Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→