Putting Thanks (and Giving) in Thanksgiving

Today, sofas across America will be filled with grandpas, aunts, moms, and dads fast asleep in tryptophan-induced comas. American Thanksgiving is almost gleefully a time of consumption. We travel an average of 214 miles to eat an average of 3000 calories before shopping our hearts out at an average pace of $335.

Rather than gratefully taking inventory of our good fortunes, we have a tendency to chase more things that will surely bring us happiness. Food. Shopping. Entertainment. Amidst all the indulgence, it can be easy to forget what Thanksgiving is all about: gratitude.

This year, rather than celebrating Takegiving, consider nudging your family into two novel concepts: thanks and giving. Here are a few ideas to make it happen.

Giving Thanks 

Gratitude Placemats

Showing appreciation for the people in our lives is one of those tasks that has enormous impact to those who hear our words, yet actually happens far too rarely. Use your family gathering to “shower the people you love with love,” as James Taylor would say. Using Kraft paper or simple paper placemats, write each family member’s name on a mat. Then pass the placemats around and give each person a chance to quickly write something they appreciate about that person on their mat. When the mats have circled the table, their owners will have a page full of encouragement. The mat will last a meal, but the words could last a lifetime!

Dinner Table Show & Tell

When inviting your company to the big feast, ask them to bring an item that reminds them of something they’re grateful for. Then throughout the dinner, have “show and tell” where each guest tells the story of their treasured item and memory.

Thanksgiving Toasts

Prefer to keep things simple? Give your guests the opportunity to offer a simple toast of gratitude. Pro tip: facilitating the toasts “popcorn style” will give your less extroverted guests an out.

Get Giving

Even in a wealthy country like the United States, there is no shortage of need around us. And as such, there’s no shortage of ways to give back. Consider spending part of your Thanksgiving weekend giving back to the less fortunate. Here are just a few ways to serve: 

Angel Tree

Companies, shopping centers, and nonprofits host “Angel Trees” on an annual basis. Organized by the Salvation Army, families in need can submit kids’ requests for toys, clothes, and other needs on a paper ornament for community members to take and fulfill. Find a location here.

Toys for Tots

Organized by the United States Marines, Toys for Tots is a toy drive that collected new and unwrapped toys to distribute to families in need. Find a local toy drive here.

Sock Drive

Want to throw your own giving campaign? Studies have shown the #1 request of people experiencing homelessness is new socks. The Joy of Sox is a turnkey sock drive system that empowers families, churches, and communities to collect socks to donate to local shelters.

Impact That Lasts

Practically, the impact of a gift donated or an encouragement spoken might be small. But the shift of mindset from a “season of taking” to a “season of giving” can be a major one for our families. This Thanksgiving, make a small change. Take a baby step. And see where it takes you.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Biz Kid$.