Inspiring Gratitude in Your Kids this Thanksgiving

Inspiring gratitude

When you think about Thanksgiving, do you immediately think about thankfulness? Or do you start thinking about other things? Like cooking? Or eating? Turkey, potatoes, and pie, oh my! But is that really what Thanksgiving is all about? Is that what you want your children to think it’s all about? Of course not. Thanksgiving is about being grateful and appreciating the many good things in our lives. And that is what I want my family to focus on during this upcoming holiday of thanks. If that sounds good to you, check out these ideas for inspiring gratitude in your kids this Thanksgiving. 

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Inspiring Gratitude in Your Kids this Thanksgiving

1. Play Gratitude Games

Thanksgiving is a great time to play games as a family. Between the first round of food, the desserts, and then the leftovers, there is usually time to kill and not always enough energy to push yourself away from the table. So, make your time together about gratitude AND fun with the Gratitude Games Pack from 31Flavorsofdesign. There are several different games in the pack including Thanksgiving Scattegories, The Gratitude Game, and my personal favorite, Thanksgiving-themed Mad Libs. It’s fun for the whole family and inspiring too!

2. Create a Tree of Thanks

You’ve probably seen some version of this if you spend much time on Pinterest this month. If not, here is a great example. The basic idea is to have everyone in your family, adults, and kids, write down something they are thankful for on a paper leaf, or a tag, or a sticky note, or anything that works for you. Then you attach these to a tree you’ve created. Either a paper tree you’ve hung on your wall or a wooden one you’ve crafted, if that’s your thing. Anyway, you stick them someplace.

You can have your kids do this every day in November, creating a tree full of gratitude by the time the holiday rolls around. Or you can have your Thanksgiving guests fill out leaves for the tree on the day of your gathering. Encourage your guests to check out the tree and see what others are grateful for. And spend some time with your kids showing them everything that’s been added to your tree of thanks.

3. Throw the Ball Around

If making a tree sounds daunting or like too much work when you’re already making a big dinner, consider something less craft-oriented for inspiring gratitude in your kids this Thanksgiving. This game of thanks is similar to an old favorite, Hot Potato. Toss a ball around the room (a soft one that won’t break anything- either that or go outside) and whoever catches the ball will say something they are grateful for.

You can add a little competition by playing music and stopping it at intervals or setting a timer. Whoever ends up with the ball when the time is up is out until next round. Or they have to say something nice about another player. Or they have to do the dishes. Whatever will work with your group to make it fun.

I love this one for kids because it’s simple and active. My kids will probably appreciate the opportunity to move around after sitting at the table for what will probably feel like to them to be a long time.

4. Make a Gratitude Jar

If a tree of thanks will take up more time or space than you have to spare, how about a gratitude jar? You can help your kiddos fill it with little notes of things they are thankful for throughout the month. Or you can have your guests write a note or two of things they are grateful for. Feel free to read from the jar during your Thanksgiving gathering to celebrate the many things the assembled guests are feeling thankful for.

5. Write a Thank You Note

Writing thank you notes is a thoughtful way to teach kids about gratitude throughout the year. And an important life skill. This Thanksgiving ask your kids to write a thank you note, not for a gift, but for a special person. A thank you note or letter to a friend or beloved family member expressing gratitude for their place in your child’s life will inspire gratitude in your kids this Thanksgiving and be a wonderful surprise for the recipient.

6. Read a Book About Gratitude

Reading with your kids is a great way to learn about almost any topic. And there are so many wonderful children’s books you can use for inspiring gratitude in your kids this Thanksgiving. Some great options include Thankful, I’m Thankful Each Day and The Thankful Book.

7. Thankful Place Cards

Teach your kids about gratitude this Thanksgiving by making it part of the table set up. You can create place cards for your guests with your kids. Take turns writing, or with younger kids drawing, things you are thankful for about each particular guest.

Or if assigned seats aren’t your style, make placemats with your kids where you write or draw pictures of things you’re thankful for and use the mats to decorate your holiday table. It will make a fun conversation piece and maybe inspire others to add their own contributions to the placemats during your gathering.

How Will You Be Inspiring Gratitude in Your Kids this Thanksgiving? Please share your fun ideas in the comments!


  1. Marysa
    November 8, 2017

    I love these ideas. I think I might make the gratitude jars with my Girl Scout troop this week. I like projects that get the kids thinking about being appreciative and doing things for others.

    1. Elizabeth
      November 9, 2017

      What a great idea to make gratitude jars with your Girl Scout Troop! I can see it working well with a group:)
      Elizabeth recently posted…Inspiring Gratitude in Your Kids this ThanksgivingMy Profile

  2. Amanda
    November 8, 2017

    These are all really great tips! I definitely want to do a thankful tree. But I have a two-year-old, so I don’t know what he can understand

    1. Elizabeth
      November 9, 2017

      I have a two-year-old also. For her, I anticipate she will get the most out of sharing books with her about gratitude. And she might have fun drawing pictures of things she can be thankful for with some help:)
      Elizabeth recently posted…Inspiring Gratitude in Your Kids this ThanksgivingMy Profile

  3. Nicole Dortch
    November 10, 2017

    This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I think it is the only holiday that truly is about one thing. All these are such great ideas! love them 🙂

  4. Angie
    November 10, 2017

    These are all such great ideas to teach our kids about gratitude during this season. My daughter is still a baby but I want to make sure she grows up being thankful for everything she has.

  5. Barbara Alfeo
    November 10, 2017

    We do a gratitude paper chain. Every year, we each add 2 links. It’s fun to see it get longer and longer and to see the responses from previous years.

  6. Laurie
    November 12, 2017

    These are all great ideas and a reminder that Thanksgiving is about much more than food. I started a Joy jar on New Years Day, I write down on a piece of paper every day something that brought me joy that day. On New Year’s Eve I plan to read them and remember the joyful moments of the pst year ( very similar to your gratitude jar idea). I like all the ideas and it is such a good idea to teach gratitude to children and adults alike ?


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