How My Family Turned a Tissue Box into a Thanksgiving Tradition

Five years ago, when we least expected it, our Thankful Box was born.

The supplies were already out, so I emptied a big tissue box and started covering the box with construction paper. I asked the boys to help me decorate it. Then I cut strips of paper and told them that we were going to think of things we were thankful for in our lives — no matter how little or big — and we could put them in the box.

The twins were too little to write much, so I took dictation. The things all three of them came up with were so sweet. When we finished, I left the box out on our dining room table with a pen and the strips of paper, so that any of us could record our gratitude any day before Thanksgiving.

That Thanksgiving, when our guests arrived, we invited them to add their thanks to the box, and after dinner, we went around the table and read each note.

After five years, our Thankful Box has gotten tons of use and is looking worn, but I can’t bear to make a new one! If you’re looking for ideas to help your family count their blessings this Thanksgiving, try the Thankful Box, or any one of these four creative ideas:

  1. Thanksgiving Tablecloth

  2. This tradition from The Holy Mess requires a new, light-colored tablecloth and colored fabric markers. Ask your family to write down what they’re grateful for each Thanksgiving, complete with their name and the year.

    If the kids are too little to write, just have them draw a picture, or write for them.

    It’ll be so sweet to look back on the years before when you unroll this treasure every Thanksgiving!

  3. Tree of Thanks

  4. I loved this idea on HGTV of a Thanksgiving tradition that also serves as a centerpiece.

    First, arrange branches in a decorative vase. Next, either cut out leaves from construction paper using a free printable stencil like this one. Punch a hole through the top of each leaf, and cut up some strands of twine. On Thanksgiving, encourage your family and guests to write what they’re thankful for on the leaves, and then tie them to the “tree” with the twine.

    You’ve got yourself a (thanks) Giving Tree!

  5. Gratitude Journal

  6. I love the idea of keeping a journal, and I have managed to start (but not finish) quite a few over the years. This idea from Keeper of the Home involves designating a journal just for you and your family to record the things they’re grateful for.

    Get the journal out every first of November, and write about the things you’re thankful for. Read the journal aloud, especially if it’s just your immediate family in attendance, at the dinner table on Thanksgiving or take the time to peruse the journal individually all throughout Thanksgiving Day.

  7. Thankfulness Chain

  8. I really like the deeper examination of gratitude that goes into this tradition from The Joys of Boys.

    In this craft, Mom and Dad decide what the family is thankful for, doing their best to throw in some things like iPads, toys and video games, but also naming people in the family, and bigger ideas like health, freedom, food and shelter. They write the topics down on thin strips of construction paper, and each night the family members say a couple things about why they’re each appreciative for that topic.

    Afterwards, staple the paper into the shape of a circle and keep adding loops to the chain every night, all the way until Thanksgiving. Use it as garland in the dining room!

There are many other ways your family can celebrate what they’re thankful for, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but all year long. Every night, around our dinner table, each person in my family tells about one good thing that happened to them that day. It’s a great reminder that no matter how bad a given day has seemed, there’s always something to appreciate.

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