‘Tis the season to be grateful! This time of year, it’s easier and maybe even expected that we would count our blessings and express gratitude for good health, good friends, good fortune and more.
Practicing gratitude can even enhance all of these things. Multiple studies show that thankful people experience more positive emotions, sleep better, express more compassion and have stronger immune systems. Simply being grateful can improve mental health, strengthen relationships with others and over time enhances ability to see the good in the world.
Thanksgiving is a great time to pause and reflect on all the reasons—big and small—to be grateful. Plus this can set the tone for family and friends to incorporate the reason for the season.
To be intentional about your gratitude, make these activities a part of this year’s gatherings with family and friends!
Say Grace With a Thankful Heart
If you bless your Thanksgiving meal, you can take that tradition a step further by involving the others around the table. As you pass the food, ask each person to share something they are grateful for that happened in the past year.
Play a Memory Game
As everyone shares the reasons they are thankful around the dinner table, play this game to make sure they’re paying attention. Each person must repeat the list of blessings that have been previously mentioned before adding his or her own.
Express Gratitude for Each Other
Invite close friends and family to share why they are thankful for the person sitting next to them. You can choose the person to the right, left or even both sides. Note, this activity may not be appropriate if your gathering includes guests meeting each other for the first time.
Pass the Gratitude
This twist on sharing blessings around the table could make a great before- or after-dinner activity. Ask each one to write down something for which they are thankful, and place it in a basket. As each person’s paper is read, let everyone else try to guess who wrote it.
Holiday Show and Tell
Get visuals involved with a Thanksgiving show and tell. Request that everyone bring something that demonstrates their gratitude from the past year, and share their story with the group. This could be an item, photo, song, etc. that brings their thankfulness to life.
Create a Family Photo Collage
Put those smartphones to good use by asking everyone to spend an hour snapping pictures of things that they appreciate, especially the small things. Compile the photos in a collage as a reminder to everyone to be thankful for all blessings, big and small!
Make a Thanksgiving Scrapbook
Capture all the special moments of your holiday gathering, and start building a scrapbook. Take photos of family and friends, guests and food served. Then add notes about special memories, recipes and even a list of what everyone is thankful for that year.
Revisit Thanksgivings Past
When you add to your Thanksgiving scrapbook in the future, take some time to reminisce. Your family scrapbook will become a treasure that allows you to revisit previous years too.
Share Blessings with Others
Challenge each member of your family to spread kindness. Commit to five intentional acts, such as holding a door open for a stranger, paying for someone’s coffee and the like, to be done in one day. Share what you did and how you feel. Studies show that spreading kindness decreases stress and contributes to better mental health!
Start a Family Service Project
If you feel especially inspired, start a family service project as a new holiday tradition. Collect donations to support a favorite charity, or give of your time by volunteering at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, soup kitchen or nursing home. Any of these organizations would be grateful for your help.
Share Overlooked Blessings
Set a goal to appreciate all the things that can be so easily taken for granted for one whole day. These can be blessings such as waking up, having running water, warm blankets, food to eat, etc. Remind yourself that someone somewhere may not be as fortunate. Share your list among your family.
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