5 Ways to Teach Your Family Gratitude This Holiday Season

family gratitude holiday

RachelKiser_200TallRachel Kiser
Blogger | Mom of Two


As November sweeps in, bringing with it cooler temperatures and shorter days, we turn our attention away from summer and toward the upcoming holiday season. Many of us will be privileged to spend it with family and friends, filling our tables with good food and better company. This in and of itself is cause for reflection and gratitude, isn’t it?

Although we at Mom’s Choice are intentional proponents of exercising an attitude of thankfulness every day of the year, having a physical holiday to focus on, especially for younger children, can help us zero in on the central theme of the Thanksgiving holiday. Because children learn best by doing, we’ve compiled a list of 5 ways that you can help teach your children to flex their gratitude muscles this holiday season.

Keep a Gratitude Journal.

thanksgiving gratitude journal

Crazy Little Projects

This simple project would make a great pre-dinner activity for your family during the month of November and beyond! Family members can take turns going around the table and naming one thing they are grateful for. Writing everyone’s answers in a keepsake journal makes for a very sentimental and encouraging memento to open up throughout the years, as well.

Make a Gratitude Tree.

thanksgiving gratitude tree

Kids Activities Blog

This craft is something simple that makes it easy for the whole family to engage in, regardless of age. For little ones who can’t write yet, parents can write for them, or have them draw on a leaf instead of writing.

We like the idea of having something physical, like a Gratitude tree, in our homes, as a tangible reminder of what we have in our lives to be grateful for. Not only that, it can help teach our children that even the small things are worthy of thanks. This tree is sure to be a great conversation starter as guests visit your home!

Be aware of the needs of others.

This could mean collectively volunteering at a local charity, dropping food off at the doorstep of a family in your community who otherwise may not be able to afford a feast, inviting your child’s college roommate over if their own family lives far away, or remembering your neighbor down the street who just lost her spouse. Whatever it looks like for you, be on the lookout for those in need. The holiday season is often the hardest time of the year for those who are struggling. Inviting others into your gratitude may just give others something to be thankful for. One of the beautiful things about thankfulness is that it so easily translates into blessing others.

Sit family members in an Appreciation Chair.

We love this unique idea! Set aside time every weekend (or more often, depending on the size of your family) this month to sit a family member in a designated Appreciation Chair, then, take turns lifting that person up. Share something unique about that person that you are grateful for, or some way that they inspire you. Having the ability to look someone in the eye and tell them why they’re special to you is a unique opportunity for both parties involved. It’s sure to leave everyone appreciative.

Model it. 

While these activities and crafts are excellent, the most important thing that we can do as parents to teach our children gratitude is to be their first and best model. Make it a part of your daily language to express thanks to your spouse, your children, and those around you for the ways that they enrich your life. Show contentment in your surroundings. Speak positively. Bite your tongue when you’re tempted to complain. Focusing on what you have, rather than what you lack, makes you very rich, indeed. So make it a point to dwell on these things while encouraging your children to, as well.



RachelKiser_200TallAbout Rachel Kiser

Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.

View all posts by Rachel Kiser here.


28 Comments on “5 Ways to Teach Your Family Gratitude This Holiday Season”

  1. The most important thing is that we as parents set the example for our children! We can’t expect them to be grateful if we ourselves are not!

  2. I love the idea of the tree, it is a cute idea. Teaching children to appreciate and helping others in a way of Gratitude. Appreciation and gratitude are good way to get the positive thoughts.

  3. This is a great way to show my kids the meaning of gratitude with a hands on approach! Thanks for the ideas we are a crafty family and we love our memories books (scrapbooks) so this maybe our next project!

  4. These are great ideas to teach our children to show gratitude especially during the Holidays. I think I am going to get the stuff together for Thanksgiving Day and have my grandchildren make a Gratitude Tree so I will have something for them to see and remind them of all year round. Thank you for these great family ideas.

    1. Glad you like these, Alicia! We really like the idea of doing a gratitude tree.

  5. I really love all these ideas to do with the family. Exspecially around Christmas time when you see all these kids wanting everything and not understanding how it’s so much more valuable to give than get. Yes we all like receiving things but being thankful for what we receive is what I think a lot of people in gernerl lack. So when I come across post or blogs like this and see comments that melt your heart. It gives me hope! I try to teach gratitude and being greatful to my son and I hope when he’s older he does the same with his children if he chooses to have some. Thanks!

  6. I really love this idea. We are going through a major issue that unfortunately will be going on through the holidays. Rather than focusing on the negative of that, it would be great to focus on our gratitude for other things.

  7. These ideas are great. My husband and I work very hard on showing our son how to be grateful and giving. I think the gratitude charting would work for us. The tree would be destroyed by one of our kitties I’m afraid ?

    1. Amy, that is so encouraging to hear how you work hard to teach your son these lessons. Keep going, you’re raising a wonderful human!

  8. We do the family gratitude journal as an ongoing thing, for years now, and it is awesome to look back an see how the kids perspectives have changed and how they have grown over the years. I am going to try your gratitude tree as a wreath on thanksgiving for the extended family and see how that goes. thanks!

    1. Jean, what a wonderful keepsake and reminder of everything you have to be grateful for. That will be such a lovely thing to reflect on as the years continue to roll on!

  9. Living in a single parent home I definitely could use the Gratitude Tree. That is one of the best ideas that I’ve heard in a long time!! Very nice article!!

  10. I think this is a wonderful article & its so important to teach your children how to be grateful, what to be grateful for, etc. Great article!

  11. I love the Gratitude Tree idea and will do this with my kids not just for November but all year! This is a beautiful idea! Thank you for sharing!

  12. I really like the idea of the gratitude tree! The appreciation chair is also a wonderful idea. We are grateful for so many things but sometime we takes think for granted. These tip are helpful in reminding us that need to express our gratitude.

    1. Thanks, Carole! We thought the Appreciation Chair idea was original, too. I hope you and your family have an encouraging Thanksgiving together!

  13. These are all great ideas ! I especially loved the idea of doing a Grattitude Tree. It’s something you can do year around that reminds everyone to stop and appreciate our many blessings. I loved this article ! Thank you very much !

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this,what a wonderful way for everyone to be part of something so special !

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