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Easy Ideas to Make a Special Day Even Better

Do This to Make Your Thanksgiving More Fun, Connected

We've updated a Thanksgiving tradition--and made it better.

2 months ago

Family standing with Thanksgiving banner

2 months ago

Want to try something this Thanksgiving that will leave you smiling, make you feel more grateful and more connected to your family?


I can hear you racing through the possibilities now...

If you came up with something that is safe to do during this pandemic, go for it!  

If you're in need of an idea, consider trying this fun update to the Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks. It will leave you and your family feeling more grateful and more connected, which after all, is what the holiday is about (that, and the food).


A Modern Take on Gratitude: Show and Tell

Sitting down to dinner and having everyone say a sentence or two that starts with I'm thankful for..." is soooo last year.

Instead, consider this modern alternative:

When your family gathers around the Thanksgiving dinner table, ask each person to show a photo on their cellphone and tell what they’re grateful for.

Someone sharing a favorite photo taken on a family vacation might say, “I’m grateful for my family."


The college student returning home from campus might share a picture of some buddies in front of a dorm. He might tell the table that he's grateful he's made new friends.


Remember, the particulars of the photo aren’t nearly as important as the sharing it enables.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Sharing pictures fits well with this year’s more intimate gatherings and can:

  • Stimulate conversation about where and when the photos were taken
  • Provide greater insight into what’s meaningful to each person
  • Help us associate existing photos with gratitude

If the thought of cellphones out at the dinner table gives you hives, think of it as means to an end and be sure to tell your kids it’s an exception because of the holiday.


Help Your Family Find the Bright Spots in Challenging Times

Much as Thanksgiving dinners nourishes our bodies, practicing gratitude can nourish our hearts and minds. Helping your family find the goodness amidst the many challenges can make their day happier and enhance their mental health.


Tips for Show and Tell Gratitude this Thanksgiving

1. Have Fun with an Updated Tradition

This is the rare chance to intentionally start a family tradition of your own.  It doesn't matter how your family has always expressed gratitude, or how your in-laws have celebrated for generations. 

Embrace whatever suits your family best.

Who knows? Maybe someday your kids will tell their kids, "We started doing this the year the global pandemic hit because we couldn't go to Grandma's house..."

2. Communicate the Gratitude Plan Ahead of Time 

Set expectations by letting everyone know in advance. Some broods will appreciate advance notification of a few days, while others can handle being told 20 minutes before dinner is served.

I'm planning to send a text out to my family the day before that reads:

Hi Everyone.
We’re going to try something new this Thanksgiving.
Bring your cellphone to the table and plan to share a photo of
something you’re grateful for.
Yes, I will ask you WHY it was chosen.
Love, Mom


Here's another variation:

We usually say what we’re grateful for before Thanksgiving dinner.
This year, we’re trying something new—Show + Tell.
Bring your (charged!) cellphone to the table and be ready to share a photo of something you’re grateful for.


3. Remind Everyone to Be Prepared to Share the Picture on Their Phone 

Sitting there while people scroll through dozens of pictures will get old fast and no one wants to wait for a charger to be found for a dying cellphone. (If this makes me sound impatient, I'm just thinking of how I'll be ready to eat!)


 4. Decide Ahead of Time When You'll Do the Show and Tell Gratitude

Make the decision in advance so you can focus on getting the food on the table.  Sharing when everyone sits down for dinner allows you to give thanks prior to the meal.  Sharing after dinner allows more time for lingering over the photos and discussions.  You could even add an element of anticipation by having people share their photos before dinner…and reveal what they’re grateful for afterwards!


5. Make Your Gratitude an Extended Activity for a Memorable Thanksgiving

As the pandemic has caused many people to search for activities the entire family can do indoors, consider making gratitude an extended activity.

Instead of asking people to share one photo, ask them to be prepared to share photos in the following categories:

  • Place You’re Grateful For
  • Person You’re Grateful For
  • Thing You’re Grateful For

You could take it a step further by having everyone guess what the person will share.


6. Transform the Shared Gratitude into Something to Enjoy Again

After those sweet moments of gratitude are shared, you may want to bottle up all that goodness and save it for a rainy day.  

Some ideas to prolong the gratitude:

  • Ask everyone to put their photo on a shared drive and write a comment as to why they're grateful for the image
  • Make a collage out of the photos and hang it up on the frig (or another popular spot) as a reminder to all 
  • Share on social media, "The Smith Family is grateful for..." and add all the photos and the commentary.
  • Put it on the front of your Christmas card like a family motto.  (One year, our Christmas card read, "Peace, Love and Cookies" which I still think is a great rallying cry.)


7. Fun Thanksgiving Zoom call activities and Turkey Day FaceTimes 

If you've ever scheduled a Zoom call or FaceTime with family and friends, only to find that no one really has much to say, this gratitude exercise can be a great icebreaker. 


8.  Take a Thanksgiving Selfie to Remember

This year has taught us how precious it is to be in good health and how much it means to be connected to family. Preserve that moment by taking a family photo. Bonus points if you include a banner in the picture so you easily remember the occasion you were celebrating!

This year is the perfect time to try something new!  By updating the practice of giving thanks, you're adding a fun new element to a most traditional holiday and proving that even in a pandemic good things can grow.