5 Creative Ways to Give Thanks

5 Creative Ways to Give Thanks

Get in the true spirit of Thanksgiving with these 5 family-friendly ideas.

By: Elizabeth Jenkins

In the same way the focus of the winter holidays has shifted to cyber sales, candy and greedy children, Thanksgiving has become more about food than gratitude.

As parents, we can change that one household at a time. By sitting down with our kids ahead of Thanksgiving and talking about its roots, we can help instill in them a feeling of gratitude. To make that even easier, we asked three party planners (who are also moms) to share their tips for creatively expressing gratitude.

Invite Friends and Neighbors as Well
For Liz Seccuro, founder of Dolce Parties in New York, the best Thanksgivings are large gatherings.

“We always invite friends, family and neighbors a good month ahead of time so that there aren't three people sharing a turkey down the road,” she says.

Opening your doors with an everyone-is-welcome, the-more-the-merrier attitude, shows your friends and neighbors that you are thankful for them, too. And the food? Seccuro believes it’s actually easier to cook for 30 people than for six.

Volunteer Your Time
Event planner Heather Lowenthal of Florida-based Posh Parties says, “Although giving thanks and giving back are ongoing themes in my home, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reiterate the importance of giving thanks.”

The week leading up to the holiday, Lowenthal’s family volunteers at a local food bank making and packaging meals that are delivered to the less fortunate on Thanksgiving day.

“Seeing the smaller portions really makes you thankful and appreciative of those second helpings at your own Thanksgiving dinner,” she says.

MORE: The Best Thanksgiving Dinner


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Bring in Some Active Fun
Seccuro believes that good health is something for which we should all be grateful and that is part of the reason her family gathers every year to cheer on her father as he runs a Turkey Trot.

“Most cities have a Turkey Trot, and it's a healthy way to start the day off as a family,” Seccuro says. Depending on the city, the race might be five kilometers or 10, and some even have a shorter event designed specifically for kids. In Dana Point, California, for example, the “Gobble Wobble” is a 1-mile race for children that follows the annual costume contest.

Get Everyone to Unplug
Another tradition in the Seccuro household is outlawing electronics. “We do not allow smartphones at dinner,” she says. “In fact, we have a bowl in the entry with a sign that reads, ‘Talk to the People You Came to See,’" which is meant to encourage all guests — from tweens to seniors — to drop their phones in the bowl as they arrive.

“People love it!” she says.

RELATED: The Best Thanksgiving Dinner

Display Your Thanks
Chicago planner Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event sets out a vase of flowers for each guest to take home.

“We set out small, hole-punched cards and a pen at each place [before dinner] and encourage everyone to write down what they are most thankful for this season,” she says.

The cards are tied individually to each vase with twine and placed on the table, and guests can then walk from chair to chair to see for what their relatives are most grateful.

RELATED: Create a Thanksgiving Banner of Gratitude

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