We often think about gratitude in November as we prepare for Thanksgiving, but let it fall to the wayside after the holidays. Practicing gratitude is something that you can weave into your family routine throughout the entire year. 

Here are a few ways you to start practicing gratitude as a family:

Start a Gratitude Jar

Give each family member a jar with their name on it and place them all in a prominent location in your home.  Next to the jars, have a bowl filled with pre-cut two-inch wide paper strips and some pens.  Each family writes down on a paper strip one thing they are thankful for every day, folds the strip in half, and adds it to their jar.  Periodically throughout the year, gather the family and take a strip or two out of each jar to read aloud.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly this will lift your spirits, and watching the jars fill up with paper is a great visual that we all have so many things to be thankful for each day.

Have a Gratitude Dinner

Pick one day of the week to designate as your family’s “gratitude dinner.”  Assign a family member to each week, and on their gratitude dinner day, they will share three things they are grateful for.  After they have shared, all the other family members will share three things they’re thankful for about that person.  This is a great way for kids to learn how to give and receive gratitude—and it just warms the hearts of all!

Serve Others

One of the best ways to promote gratitude as a family is to serve others.  Look for volunteer opportunities (even virtually) around your community and sit down as a family to discuss which project you would like to do together—and why.  Once you decide on a project (or maybe several projects!), you can have your kids help gather materials or supplies as you prepare to participate. Once your service project is over, come back together as a family to discuss what you learned, how you felt, and when you would like to do this again.

Read Books about Gratitude

Books are a powerful way to teach kids about gratitude.  In addition to them seeing characters practicing gratitude, books also open their eyes—and hearts—to different people’s experiences and feelings.  Click here for some great gratitude books you might want to add to your list.

Keep a Family Gratitude Journal

While keeping a personal gratitude journal is great, not all family members may want to participate.  Instead, consider purchasing just one journal or notebook for the entire family—carving out time regularly (daily, weekly, etc.) where you gather as a family and write down what you are grateful for in that moment.  This is a great way to get even the youngest members of the family involved in the journaling.

Write Thank You Notes

Get kids in the habit of writing thank you notes after birthdays, to teachers, or any time they have been on the receiving end of getting something from someone else.  Also, consider sending thank you notes “just because” to friends and family members that mean a lot to you.  Perhaps make it a monthly event where each family member writes a thank you note to someone to let them know they are appreciated and loved.

Have fun practicing gratitude with your family year-round and enjoy the wonderful memories and feelings it will create.

by Patti Minglin

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