Raising Thankful Hearts: 5 Thanksgiving Traditions to Encourage Gratitude

You’ve probably scoured Pinterest for new recipes or pulled out Grandma’s handwritten recipe for her famous pumpkin pie. Maybe you’ve made grocery lists, clipped coupons, and are beginning to prepare for house guests. You might be getting travel plans set.  Or maybe you’ve mapped out and created a spreadsheet (Yes, this really happens and high-five to all of you out there!) to be sure you score on the year’s biggest deals this Black Friday.

thanksgiving traditions to encourage gratitude

I sort of love the hustle and bustle of preparing for Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays. For me, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, brings friends and family together.  It’s a day when comfort food is calorie-free and, most importantly, reminds me to count my blessings and be thankful for all that I have been given.

Of course, carving just one day out of the year to be thankful is not enough to learn to live life with a grateful heart. However, sometimes it can be difficult to focus on or define what you are thankful for when going through a rough season in life. This year, more than ever, I feel like Thanksgiving has come at a perfect time for our community to come together to give thanks and respond with love pouring from our hearts.

thanksgiving traditions to encourage gratitude

In our home, we use many opportunities to talk with our children about living life with a thankful heart and Thanksgiving is a time when we try to ramp up our lessons in being thankful. I’ve rounded up five Thanksgiving traditions to encourage gratitude:

1. Ticket to Eat

Everyone coming to our table has to come prepared with their “Ticket to Eat.” The “Ticket to Eat” is a list of things that you’re thankful for. Each year the number of things changes based on the date that Thanksgiving falls on. For example, everyone must have a total of 24 blessings listed or you’ll be missing out a on the delicious spread! The kids normally decorate their list and work on it the week of Thanksgiving and even up until the turkey is coming out of the oven. Before we eat, we pray and share a few of our favorites from our list. Some elaborate more than others.  Then, we hang them up so everyone can read them as the day goes on. Throughout the years of listening to my children’s lists, I’ve been moved to tears, I’ve been proud, enlightened, surprised, and encouraged. When our older girls got a bit older, we started to encourage them to really dig deep about what they’re thankful for – moving away from things like junk food, Internet, and no homework.

thanksgiving traditions to encourage gratitude

2. Book of Thanks

This tradition is great for keeping all your Thanksgiving memories together in one place. The idea is dedicating a page to each year with a photograph of who attended Thanksgiving dinner. Around the photo, your children and guests can write what they’re thankful for. You can find more information here.

3. Thankful Rolls

I love this idea! Surprise your kids, friends, and family by sticking a question about things they’re thankful for right in their dinner roll! For instructions on how to pull this off and ideas for what to include, visit The Idea Room. My family would go crazy for this!

thanksgiving traditions to encourage gratitude

4. The Thankful Tablecloth

My kids would flip if we started this tradition from Tabler Party of Two! Pick up a cheap table cloth and some markers. Then, let your guests decorate it with notes of thanks. Be sure to have them sign their name and write the year. How fun would it be to pull these out each year? Also, score cool mom points for letting your little turkeys write on the tablecloth! 

5. Thanksgiving Tree

I think the Thanksgiving Tree activity is a really good option if you have older children. Have the kids help you gather the branches and assemble the leaves needed for this project! This also makes for a beautiful center piece and conversation starter!

thanksgiving traditions to encourage gratitude

These are simple, yet powerful, activities to kick off the holiday season by reflecting on what we are grateful for and letting our loved ones know why we are thankful for them. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with love, gratitude, and family. Be sure to share your family’s traditions or which tradition you’ll be adding this year with us!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Where to Celebrate National Donut Day in Cedar Rapids

Celebrating National Donut Day in Cedar Rapids is such a treat! Our local bakeries whip up the most delicious donuts, from classic glazed to creative, gourmet flavors. Honestly, it's so much fun that we...

Summer Bucket List | In & Around Cedar Rapids

Embark on an unforgettable summer adventure in Cedar Rapids! From vibrant festivals to serene nature trails, Cedar Rapids offers a plethora of activities that promise to make this season one to remember. Join us...

2024 Summer Reading Programs | In & Around Cedar Rapids

Discover the joy of summer reading in and around Cedar Rapids! Dive into a world of adventure, imagination, and learning with Summer Reading Programs. From captivating stories to exciting activities, there's something for everyone....

Splash Pads | In & Around Cedar Rapids

Discover the joy of outdoor water fun for all ages with splash pads in and around the Cedar Rapids area! From vibrant water features to interactive play areas, these refreshing spots offer a perfect...

Summer Movies | In & Around Cedar Rapids

Welcome to a summer filled with fun for kids and families in and around Cedar Rapids! Get ready for exciting indoor and outdoor movie screenings, perfect for enjoying the warm weather and creating lasting...
Join our community.
Be the first to know about new resources, can't-miss happenings, and new blog articles! 
Yay, we're so glad you're here! Keep an eye on your inbox