Many of us enjoy special traditions with family and friends at Thanksgiving along with feasts and food. If you want to create new memories for this special day, consider asking guests at your table to share in expressions of gratitude. The effort can add extra meaning to your holiday and capture the spirit of the celebration. Plus, they can be a lot of fun!

Start A Journal: Pass around notebook paper and ask each guest to record milestones of their year. No item is too small. The list can include finding a great consignment shop, landing a new job, finishing a thesis, moving to a new city, or reconnecting with old friends. Then collect the papers for a Thanksgiving journal. Each passing year gives you the opportunity to remember highlights: learning to play a musical instrument, scoring tickets to the season’s hottest show, starting a new business. Bringing out the journal to sift through its pages reminds you of the heart of Thanksgiving.


A Bounty of Bread: Are you an avid baker who gets up early on Thanksgiving morning to turn out rolls or muffins? Slip a small piece of paper with a silly fortune into each roll, and then ask guests to read their fortune aloud at the dinner table. The funnier the fortune, the easier it is to break the ice when you have new and unfamiliar guests over.

Build a Tree of Thanks: Cut out tree trunk and branches from brown construction paper and tape your tree to the wall. Trim leaves from yellow, red, and orange paper and pass them out to guests with a request that they write down something for which they are grateful. Tape the leaves to the tree, and you have created a display of gratitude that doubles as graphic art. If you want to preserve the moment, take a picture with your smart phone. If you save each year’s tree, you’ll have great wall art for your Thanksgivings.

Tablecloth of Gratitude: Select a light-colored tablecloth for your Thanksgiving table. Hand out fabric pens to guests and family members and ask each one to write on the cloth at least one thankful thought.
Provide finger paints or non-toxic tempera to the children, and ask them to make a hand print on the cloth. Bring out the table cloth every year, and you’ve got a record of how little ones have grown.

Read through the memories and notes of gratitude as you dine.