Man holding sign that reads GRATEFULThe Thanksgiving holiday certainly doesn’t look the same for all who celebrate it. A traditional version might involve dozens of family members participating in lively conversations, and enjoying a feast of turkey, stuffing and plentiful sides. For others, it might mean gathering at home with a small group of friends, going out to dinner at a local restaurant, spending time alone, or simply watching football or other sports all day long.

No matter the setting or structure, I hope that your holiday will also involve a big serving of intentional gratitude. Of course I would like to think that being thankful and expressing gratitude is a part of your daily routine (at home and at work), but this Thursday, I hope it’ll play a starring role. 

Here are some of my favorite ideas for making gratitude a part of your special day, and I’m also including additional resources that are especially meaningful for professionals and families. Let me know what you think, and happy Thanksgiving! 

One word blessings. This is one of my favorite things to do at any special gathering, and it’s also quite simple. Once you’re seated at the table and before you dig in, go around the room and have everyone share one word that comes to mind related to the moment, how they’re feeling or what they’re thankful for. 

Floating candles. Prepare a large bowl of water and set it at the middle of the table. Hand out votive candles to each guest, and take turns sharing thoughts of gratitude, lighting each candle and adding them to the bowl. By the end, you’ll have a beautiful centerpiece filled with light and love. 

Quality time alone. Whether by choice or circumstances, spending any holiday alone can feel isolating, re-energizing, or everything in between. Regardless of circumstances, alone time can present opportunities to be thoughtful and reflective, and cultivate appreciation and gratitude. Some ideas suggested by this Alone on Thanksgiving article include journaling, getting outdoors, or connecting with others online. 

Pass the turkey. A friend of mine told me about this fun family tradition, where everyone gathers in a room to pass around “The Family Turkey,” which is actually a stuffed animal. Whoever holds it “gets the floor,” and shares what they have been the most grateful for over the past year, and then passes it on to the next person. This could work with any item, such as a gratitude rock, family heirloom or other meaningful object. 


Other Resources

Especially for leaders. During this time of year, leaders often find creative and meaningful ways to express appreciation for their teams, like parties, gift certificates or mailed goodies. But all the gifts and special deliveries in the world can’t take the place of a leader personally delivering words of appreciation – spoken out loud –  that recognize individuals and teams. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to verbalize words of thanks to employees. In this blog, you can find out exactly what that looks like

Fun for the whole family. If you’re looking for fun ideas to get kids involved, check out 13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises & Activities, which includes things like how to create a Gratitude Tree or take a journey in a Gratitude Garden.  

The impact of gratitude. Practicing gratitude isn’t just good for the soul – it’s also good for the body. In fact, there are countless reasons why incorporating a regular practice of gratitude into your life is effective. In How Practicing Gratitude Impacts Everything, I share how it can affect everything from career success to emotional, physical and social well-being. 

Gratitude at work. Scientific studies have concluded that a grateful disposition shifts our focus away from material possessions. In addition, it lowers the risk of burnout and decreases symptoms of depression. Showing gratitude at work is particularly effective, but what are ways to go about it? Take a look at my blog, How to Practice Gratitude at Work (and in life).  

New traditions for gratitude. If you’re looking to start new holiday traditions that instill gratitude, this Town & Country article offers up some great ideas. “So whether you’re a true traditionalist or you’re starting a new holiday history, these new Thanksgiving traditions are certain to change your holiday for the better.” 


How Do You Express Gratitude?

I love hearing about new ways to express appreciation and gratitude, especially when they’re incorporated into special celebrations. What will being thankful look like to you this holiday? Please share your own traditions or other creative ideas for making Thanksgiving intentional and meaningful this week.


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