When You Don't Know What to Do for Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving can easily get lost in the flurry of family, food and football. Here are some ideas for infusing thanks into your Thanksgiving festivities.

1. Thankful Kernels

  1. Just before you eat, write five things you are thankful to God for on special place cards.
  2. Place five kernels of corn on each plate as a reminder of the daily rations during the first difficult winters in America.
  3. Pass a basket around the table and have each person place one kernel at a time into the basket and share one thing he or she is thankful for. Send the basket around the table five times.

Barbara Rainey, the co-founder of FamilyLife, says, “I’m saving all of these place cards as reminders of how God has worked in our lives. Here, for example, are some of the things our children wrote one Thanksgiving:

  • ‘I’m thankful for being able to have a family.’
  • ‘I’m thankful Ashley got to come home from college for Thanksgiving.’
  • ‘I’m thankful for God in my life.’
  • ‘I’m thankful for my ministry at my high school.’
  • ‘I’m thankful for my sisters and all they’ve taught me about relationships.’
  • ‘I’m thankful for a great brother.’

“Dennis and I were thrilled to hear the kids actually thank God for each other! After so many years of arguing and fighting with each other, they were finally beginning to show each other the affection we hope will continue through their lives.”

2. Feathers of Thanks

  1. Using colored construction paper, create a paper turkey to place on an appropriate wall.
  2. Cut out several feathers for the turkey.
  3. Give a feather to each person and have everyone either write or draw something they are thankful to God for on the feather.
  4. When they’re finished, have them tape the feathers onto the turkey.

3. Thanksgiving Notebook

  1. Purchase or create a nice notebook or journal.
  2. During Thanksgiving dinner, have each person tell about something they’re thankful to God for.
  3. Have one person write these things down in the notebook.
  4. Then, next year, do the same thing. As time goes by, the notebook will become a precious record of God’s provision to your family and friends over the years.

4. Thanksgiving Placemats

  1. Cut a hole the size of a printed photo out of a large piece of paper.
  2. Have everyone write something that they’re thankful for around the cutout.
  3. After Thanksgiving, place a picture from that day over the cutout.
  4. Laminate the placemat.
  5. Use the placemat to start a collection of Thanksgiving placemats that you can use in future years.

When FamilyLife staff member Jennifer Loftin lived in Japan, she celebrated two Thanksgivings with a local couple who opened their home to Americans to celebrate the holiday. The couple would prepare these placemats so everyone could read what others had been thankful for in years past.

5. Blessings Jar

  1. Put out a decorative jar in your home.
  2. Throughout the year, have family members fill it with notes and reminders of blessings.
  3. On Thanksgiving, read the notes aloud.
  4. Start again for the next year.

FamilyLife staff members Ricky and Ginger Roberts do this all year long and appreciate how it helps make sure even little things are remembered.

6. Hardtack

  • Prepare hardtack, an unleavened bread that lasts for months without spoiling.
  • As you eat the bread, remind the others at the table of the hardships people endured to come to America.
  • Discuss how the Israelites also needed bread for the long journey when God brought them out of Egypt.

Bob Lepine, the co-host of FamilyLife Today, and his family follow this tradition of making hardtack and then eating it during their Thanksgiving meal.

As they eat the bread, Bob reminds his family of the hardships people endured to come to America. He also asks, “Who else can you think of that needed bread to sustain them on a long trip?” The answer: the Israelites, who ate the daily manna that God provided after He brought them out of Egypt.

This context provides the family with an opportunity to remember how God also sustains them and provides for all their needs.

© 2018 FamilyLife. All rights reserved. Adapted with permission from FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru. www.familylife.com

©1994-2020 Cru. All Rights Reserved.