We have the tendency to start listening to Christmas music and decorate our house with candy canes and snowmen earlier and earlier each year. This is not a crime. You are free to do that if you please. There seems to be a small theme of gratitude during the month of November all leading up to our Thanksgiving meal and then quickly making a Christmas list before the night of Thanksgiving comes to an end. Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting your Christmas tree to be enjoyed a little longer, but this year we want to encourage you to be intentional with your family around Thanksgiving!
This blog post is short and sweet and is a fun list of things to choose from that you and your family can do to highlight gratitude! This is a great way to reach your unchurched friends and neighbors. These are simple and practical ideas from friends who have tried this and loved it! The goal is to foster a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. The Absolom family has found that these simple acts create a pathway into the presence of God, including family and friends. Let us know what you choose. We can’t wait to hear how your family makes this your own.
Fun Thanksgiving Ideas
- Send notes of gratitude to friends, neighbors, teachers, colleagues, and those who need encouragement. Ask God for a word from Him to put in each card, but don’t write “This is from God for you!” Just write it in a normal way, such as, “I’m grateful for you, and in particular XYZ,” or, “This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for XYZ that I see in spades in you!”
- Thankful chalking. On your driveway or sidewalk, write “I am grateful for…” and then start a list underneath. You can write things like, “this neighborhood, my family, sunshine” etc. Leave chalks there so that others can add what they’re thankful for, too.
- Give neighbors or a specific pool of workers (firefighters / delivery people / teachers) a plate of cookies, gift card, etc., along with a hand-written note saying, “I’m grateful for you” and explain why.
- Make up baskets of goodies and share with someone who is struggling currently. We all have someone in our lives that could use a little encouragement.
- “Love in Action” days to love neighbors going through a tough time. Challenge your people to look on your block for an act of love you can do to bless a specific neighbor, e.g. raking leaves or simple home repairs.
- Perform random acts of kindness – pay for someone else’s meal, surprise someone with a plant or gift, or find other ways to be kind to those around you.
- Give out Thanksgiving meals or gift cards to local needy families. If you’re not sure where to look, the counselors at your local school will be able to help.
- Host a friendsgiving, potluck, or progressive dinner party. Everyone brings a favorite food item to share. Include a time when everyone shares what they’re thankful for from the past year.
- Reach out to those who are alone for Thanksgiving. Let them join in for some part of your Thanksgiving Day, e.g. brunch, the main meal, or dessert in the evening.
- Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving have a leftovers meal with neighbors. Say what you’re grateful for.
- Organize some sort of games event – board games in your home, games on the front lawn, games in the local park, or watching the game on TV.
- Host a Thanksgiving trivia night – ask guests to bring a gift, toiletry item, coat, or loose change for someone in need.
Reflect and Act
- Read through this list again and ask the Holy Spirit which of these ideas you can do over the next few weeks
- Ask Him how to tweak these ideas to make them fit for your context
- Who is going to help you, and who are you going to invite?
- Cover it all in prayer
Written by: Taran Nelson. Taran is the Executive Director of Fathom Family Foundation and serves in ministry with her husband, Rev. Kyle, and their three children in Jacksonville, FL.