How to Help Families Grow in Gratitude at Thanksgiving (and Beyond!)


It’s beginning to look a lot like (Canadian) Thanksgiving where I live. The color of the leaves is changing, there’s frost on the ground most mornings, and the local market is stocked with freshly picked apples. In the midst of the pandemic, where each day seems to blend into the next, I’m grateful for these visual reminders that along with the changing seasons, the whole world is in God’s hands. 

“As Christ-followers, we don’t just practice gratitude because it’s good for our health (although it is!), or only when things go smoothly. Our gratitude flows from an awareness that, regardless of our circumstance, God loves us and is with us.” (5 Ways to Grow Grateful Kids

This Thanksgiving, our church buildings won’t be filled with people and our family gatherings may still be small, if they happen at all. That’s hard. But we can still give thanks. And we can help families grow gratitude by providing them with a fun, simple tool to use at home (inspired this Thankful Jar idea). Find out how below. 

Download, print, package and give each family the free resources you'll find at the bottom of this post: 

  • 5 Ways to Grow Grateful Kids

  • A set of I AM GRATEFUL colored paper strips 

  • An encouraging message explaining what to do. Here’s mine:

Dear Family, 

While our church and family Thanksgiving celebrations may look different this year, one thing remains the same: God is with us. And for that we are grateful. 

The paper slips you’ll find inside this envelope provide you with a simple way to practice gratitude this month (and beyond!). Some ideas for how you might do that:

  • Place the slips in a clear jar or on a special dish along with a writing tool and put them in a prominent place in your household. Set aside a time each day to write down that for which you are grateful. Read through the slips as part of your celebration on Thanksgiving.  

  • Use the long strips to form a paper chain garland. Hang it up as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.    

  • If you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with family or friends, place a slip at each person’s place setting and invite them to fill it in. Share with each other what you are grateful for and why. (If meeting virtually, invite each person to print what they’re grateful for on a piece of paper to be held up and shared.) You could pray your list popcorn style, pausing during the prayer for each person to ‘pop’ in by reading what they wrote on their slip. 

  • Print more slips and continue the practice well past this season. 

We hope you find this practice helpful. And we also hope you know that you are on our gratitude list!

Love, God’s Big Family, Your Church

Providing families with ideas is important; providing them with the actual resources they can use to implement those ideas is even better. Doing so is one more way to demonstrate that you’re there to support them as they dwell in faith at home. 

PS: This idea isn’t limited to families with children. To provide a set for every household, simply omit the 5 Ways to Grow Grateful Kids resource for those homes without children. For even more fabulous resources on practicing gratitude, visit the Faith Practices Project.  

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