For many of us in America, our Thanksgiving celebration is rich with traditions we enjoy with family and friends.
We gather together and dine on must-have recipes that get gobbled up (pun not intended) way too quickly. What if we’re missing some of the best and most important parts of celebrating Thanksgiving out of hurried habits that get repeated year after year.
What if just a few small adjustments in our Thanksgiving Day gatherings could help us enjoy our days more as we experience a deeper sense of gratitude for the blessings God has given us.
Especially this year, when so much has felt unusual and unsettling . . . I want to make our holiday celebrations special. So, I did a little digging to find ways to make our day more memorable and meaningful.
Simple Things You Can Do that will
Make Thanksgiving Special
1. START THE MEAL WITH A SCRIPTURE VERSE AND PRAYER.
Write a Thanksgiving verse on cards and place one at each place setting.
Some possibilities are:
- Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
- Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm, 106:1
- Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20
- We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:3
- Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
- “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelations 7:12
- Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. 1 Chronicles 16:23
- Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4
- Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
- I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done. Psalm 9:1
Make Thanksgiving Special – A Prayer to Share with Your Family
Thank You for the food we ate. Please help us remember those who are hungry.
Thank You for the gift of health. Please heal those who are suffering with illness.
Thank You our family and friends. Please be with and comfort those who are lonely.
Thank You for the blessing of freedom. Please deliver those who are held captive.
Thank you for Jesus and for the forgiveness we have through Him. Please help us to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Help us to love as we have been loved.
Help us to serve others as we follow in the footsteps of our Savior.
Help us use every blessing You give in ways that will help and bless those around us. Amen.
2. INVITE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO LEAVE THEIR DIFFERENCES AT THE DOOR.
For this one day, wouldn’t it be lovely if we all left the past in the past … if everyone remembered that no matter how it looks everyone struggles with something?
Tell everyone the following in advance:
I would love to make this a day we all focus on the blessings we enjoy. So, let’s be ready to go around the table and share “one thing I appreciate about” each person there.
e.g. I appreciate your sense of humor. I like the ways you are helpful. I love your hugs. I like the way you sing. Your laugh makes me smile. No snarkiness allowed!
3. MAKE A GRATITUDE BANNER
Set a basket and scraps of paper out with pens, pencils, and stickers and invite your family and friends to write one or two things for which they are especially thankful this year.
You can even set up an arts and crafts table where each person can decorate their “blessings” . . . connect them all with a cord and hang them for everyone to enjoy.
4. INVITE SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T HAVE A PLACE TO GO.
You might be surprised to know how many people spend Thanksgiving alone. Many families who are involved in church work are unable to travel and be away from their church responsibilities, so they celebrate on their own while their loved ones are gathered elsewhere. You can bless them like crazy by making them part of your family for the day.
And a bonus, I’ve had a friend tell me she invites a non-family member to holiday gatherings because it always puts her family on their best behavior!
5. SET UP AN AREA WITH A JIGSAW PUZZLE OR BOARD GAMES.
Erma Bombeck once said,“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence.”
It doesn’t have to be the rule for the day, but it may be fun to at least offer an area where the conversation continues without technology or electronic entertainment.
6. KEEP CHILDREN BUSY WITH GRATITUDE ART PROJECTS
You can find a helpful list of ideas at Bren Did – 15 EASY THANKSGIVING CRAFTS THAT TEACH KIDS GRATITUDE, FROM PRESCHOOL TO TEENS
The legend goes as follows:
The first winter the Pilgrims spent in their new home was very cold and bitter. Food was in short supply. Some days they only had enough for each person to have five kernels of corn for the day. When spring came they planted seeds and they grew and grew. The harvest was good the following year and they celebrated Thanksgiving with their Indian friends.
From then on when they celebrated Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims laid out five kernels of corn on each plate to remind themselves of their blessings.
♥ The 1st kernel reminds us that God loves us.
♥ The 2nd kernel reminds us that God provides for our needs.
♥ The 3rd kernel reminds us of the family and friends God has given who love us.
♥ The 4th kernel reminds us that God hears and answers our prayers.
♥ The 5th kernel reminds us of the blessed freedom we enjoy.
This helps everyone remember the history of the day and why it’s about so much more than an abundance of food.
Make Thanksgiving Special!
FINALLY – 20 CONVERSATION STARTERS FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING TABLE
- What challenging experience changed your life for the better?
- What is something you use every day that makes you thankful?
- Who is the funniest person at the table and why?
- What act of kindness made the biggest difference in your life?
- If you had a million dollars, what is the first thing you would do?
- What is your favorite food?
- What is the hardest thing about being a kid?
- What is the hardest thing about being an adult?
- What event from the past year makes you thankful?
- What was your favorite book or movie from this year?
- What is something you are thankful you have learned?
- What famous person would want to be your friend?
- If you could spend Thanksgiving with anyone who would you choose?
- What is the most important thing you’ve learned so far?
- What is your favorite family tradition?
- What three words would you use to describe yourself?
- What was the happiest day of your life so far?
- If you could have any animal for a pet, which would you choose?
- My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is..?
- I’m most thankful for..?
For a printable version of these questions click – here.
May your Thanksgiving celebration be blessed and may you remember that thanksgiving is so much more than family and friends gathering together on the fourth Thursday in November to eat! May you make Thanksgiving special with fun new traditions and beautiful memories.
Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.Colossians 3:15
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