By Jennifer Halter
November is known for being the month of giving thanks, and as we begin the holiday season this month, many of us are looking for ways to give back to show gratitude for all that we have within our communities. Here are a few things you can do with your family this month and beyond.
At mealtime throughout the month, go around the table and ask each person to share one thing that they
are thankful for that happened that day. This could be something that happened at school, on the job or at
home. To make this more fun, you can put each family member’s name in a jar. Each person will pick one name and share something they are thankful for related to the one they chose. Examples could include, “I’m thankful for Mom/Dad for cooking dinner” or “I’m thankful for Brother/Sister for helping me clean up our toys.”
Another fun activity for those of all ages would be to start a gratitude journal. Each day, take a few moments to write out all the things you are grateful for. For younger children, you may want to keep it simple by having them finish the sentence, “Today, I am thankful for…” Review the journal any time you are having a challenging day to remind yourself of the good around you.
This activity will be a hit, but it’s recommended that you don’t do it on a school night due to the sugar rush that may follow! Grab a bag of colored, candy-coated chocolates and pour into a bowl. Each color will
represent what you are thankful for. Here’s a sample guide of how you can assign your candies:
- Red: a person
- Orange: a place
- Green: a memory or experience
- Blue: a skill or something about yourself
- Yellow: a thingBrown: something that starts with the first letter of your name
Each family member will select a candy, (You can do this with eyes closed to add to the fun.) and share what they are thankful for based on the color they choose.
At Daycare or School
Our teachers and caregivers have special days throughout the year when they are celebrated, but you
don’t need a special occasion to show them how much they are appreciated. Have children make special cards (There are lots of cute ideas on Pinterest!). Don’t forget about support staff, such as those in the office, cafeteria and bus drivers.
You can always send in a gift card for coffee (They will surely be thankful for the energy boost!) or for a local
restaurant so they can take a night off from cooking. You may also want to inquire to see if they have a wish
list of things for the classroom you can purchase from and donate.
If you have spare time and the school allows it, offer to volunteer to help teachers by making copies or
preparing other items they will use in class.
In the Community
Our first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, work hard to protect and serve our
communities. Some even volunteer their time to do this. A fun way to give thanks as a family or even with other people in your neighborhood, is to deliver goodies to the stations. Baked goods, donuts or even pizzas are big hits and are always much appreciated. Call ahead to your local station to be sure there are no restrictions on this and to arrange the best time to drop items by.
For those serving in the military, you and your family can send care packages to troops who are currently
deployed. You can even send photos and letters expressing your gratitude for their service to our country with your package. For more information, go to supportourtroops.org/care-packages.
Our healthcare workers have really been stretched thin for quite some time. To give thanks, offer to drop by a meal or a gift card for dinner, ask if you can pick up anything from the store for them while you’re out, or even surprise them by raking their leaves or placing a festive flower arrangement or wreath at their door.
These are just a few ideas to make showing gratitude fun, but always know that simply saying “thank you” is
enough, especially for those who may not hear those words often. Sometimes the smallest acts of gratitude
can have the biggest impact on a person’s day.
Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas, free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round