It’s November first, and that means it’s basically Christmas, right?! We often joke that Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick this time of year, and it’s not far from the truth. We get so excited to celebrate Christmas as soon as November hits that it can be really easy to slide right on by Thanksgiving without too much thought. Last year, I decided I wanted to do something about that, so we implemented some simple gratitude activities into our routine throughout the month of November.

Of course, we kept right on looking forward to and celebrating Christmas as early as possible. Don’t get me wrong. We just tried to focus on Thanksgiving and being grateful as well.

So, today, I’m sharing a few of our simple tips for how to keep your kids (and yourself) focused on being thankful this year with these 10 gratitude activities that you can add to your day. They won’t take much time, but I promise they’ll make a difference!

10 Easy Family Gratitude Activities

a carved wooden tree on a table with text overlay - 10 gratitude activities to try this thanksgiving

1. Start a Photo Challenge

This works best if everyone in your family has access to a camera, but you can let the littles borrow your phone to snap photos, too! For the month of November, challenge each member of your family to take a photo every day of something that they’re grateful for. It can be a toy, a place, a person, or a moment.

You can talk about the photos every evening around the dinner table and have the family share what they took a photo of that day. Bonus? At the end of the month, you can create a photo book with all of your images!

2. Take on a Family Service Project

One of the best ways to feel grateful and practice gratefulness is to do something for others. Instilling a sense of service in your kids is huge, and something that needs to be done intentionally. Look for service opportunities in your community, and sign the whole family up to participate one day. There are dozens of places in every community that are looking for volunteers, and your family can take turns each year choosing where to go, or you can pick one place and create a tradition of serving there annually!

3. Create a Gratitude Bucket List

Gather the whole family early in the month and sit down to write a list of ways you can show gratitude. You can even take some things from this list! As a family, come up with 10-15 ideas and write them on a piece of paper, then hang it on the fridge. Then, throughout the month of November you can work together to cross things off the list.

What might you include on a gratitude bucket list? Things like doing something kind for someone else, writing a letter to tell someone “thank you”, doing a chore without being asked, or expressing your gratitude to people you don’t often talk to! The items on the list can be big or small, but the idea is to focus on gratitude, service, and kindness.

4. Start a “Thankful” Chalkboard

chalkboard with items you are thankful for

One great way to have the whole family work together to share what they’re grateful for is to create a visual display! Grab an old piece of art from the thrift store and use chalkboard paint to create a chalkboard. See the tutorial for how to do it right here!

Once you’ve created your chalkboard, simply hang it up and have your family spend the month writing the things they’re grateful for! Be sure to snap a photo at the end of the season before you erase it!

5. Create a “Good Deeds” Goal

When I was a teacher, my classroom spent one November doing this and it was a blast for everyone. We set a goal of completing 100 “good deeds” in the month of November. Each morning, we’d chat about what good deeds the members in our class had done for other people. It could be something big like completing a service project or running an errand for someone, or it could be small like holding the door for a stranger or helping mom with the dishes.

The goal with this is to think about how you can intentionally choose kindness every day, which naturally breeds gratitude! As a family, choose a number you’d like to work towards and each night at the dinner table you can discuss how you’ve served others and tally up your results!

6. Make a Grateful Family Photo Album

Another great activity to do as a family is to create a photo album of things you’re thankful for. This would be a really great activity for families with little kids. This is similar to idea #1, but instead of having family members go out and take photos every day, you’d work together to take and gather photos of things and people that mean a lot to you.

You can work to create a scrapbook, or you can just have the photos printed and put them in an album. You can add to it each year, and I bet it will quickly become a family heirloom!

7. Write Letters of Gratitude

As a family, sit down and take an evening to write letters of gratitude to people you are thankful for. You can chat with your kids ahead of time about what this might look like, but challenge them to think outside the box and write letters to people that may not know how much they mean to you!

After coming up with your people, help your kids write letters to express their gratitude for the people they’ve chosen. Then, for bonus points, mail the letters instead of just handing them off. There’s something so special about receiving a handwritten note. The recipients are sure to be thrilled!

8. Create a Thankful Tree

A thankful tree sitting on a dining room table

Our family’s favorite way to practice gratitude in November is with a thankful tree! We started this tradition last year, and my kids were so excited to pull it back out this year. I created a really beautiful carved tree for this, but you can use anything. I even linked a ton of pre-made ideas in this blog post!

To use a gratitude tree, you simply need to write down something you’re thankful for every day and hang it on the tree. Last year, we talked about it as a family and came up with just one idea every day, but I think this year we might really fill it up and have everyone right one every day!

9. See Someone Who Is Typically Unseen

One of the best ways to practice gratitude is by spreading kindness. And one of the best ways to spread kindness is to focus on spreading some love to people who don’t often get appreciated.

Spend some time as a family thinking about the people in your lives who might not get seen very often. It could be the custodian at your children’s school, the one fast food worker that always goes above and beyond, or your garbage man who always slows down and honks for your kids. Choose one or two people in your life who you think could use a little extra love, and come up with a way to celebrate them.

You can write a note for them, give a small gift, or just pull them aside and say thank you. Whatever you do, it’s a great way to remind your kids to see everyone and to spread thankfulness wherever they go.

10. Paint Gratitude Rocks

Gratitude rocks became a really big thing in our neighborhood in 2020 when we were all stuck at home. They’ve kind of fallen out of popularity around here a bit, but I think that Thanksgiving is a great time to bring them back! Creating gratitude rocks is simple. Start by gathering some smooth rocks from around your home. Then, paint them with kind and encouraging messages. You can paint them with things you’re thankful for, a sweet message, or anything else!

You can choose if you want to keep your rocks or spread them around. But, it brings a lot of joy to people to see them tucked around the neighborhood!

And there you have it – 10 really simple ways you can practice gratitude this year! I hope this little list inspires you to try something new with your family. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

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