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November is the perfect month to focus on developing the attitude of gratitude in both yourself and your children. Having a month of gratitude will – hopefully – teach your children and yourself more about living a less entitled, less-materialistic, and more grateful life.
Why Gratitude Matters
Gratitude, especially for young children, may begin with a focus on material things, such as food, clothing, a bed to sleep in, toys, games, and electronics. But once the top layer is scratched, the focus should quickly turn to more meaningful blessings, like family, the ability to read, the Bible, friends, and church.
Having a dedicated month of gratitude may present you and your children with a bit of a challenge. You may find that you, like your kids, quickly exhaust the near-circle blessings (home, family, church, teachers), and you may start scratching your heads.
This is great! This is exactly what should happen!! It forces you to recognize the blessings you have that you take for granted so much that you aren’t even aware of them.
Things like indoor plumbing, well-stocked grocery stores, and freedom to worship freely. Or special hobbies, the ability to travel, or a career you love. Or maybe you have a job you hate, but you make plenty to pay the bills and set some aside. Find something to be thankful for in every nook and cranny of your life.
The more you notice your blessings and express your gratitude for them – to God, your family, and others – the more content you’ll become. You’ll have a freedom of spirit that nothing else can create. Don’t you want your kids to grow up knowing that magic of gratitude? If so, have a month of gratitude every year – or two or three times a year!
How to Have a Month of Gratitude
Several practical ideas are listed below. But first, you’ll want to do some preplanning. Decide with your husband that the entire family will participate in the month of gratitude. The two of you need to agree on what that looks like. See the ideas below to help you get started talking.
Then have a family meeting explaining the “rules.” Which are pretty simple:
- Choose something every day to express thanks for
- Record that expression of thanks somewhere, somehow.
- No repeats!
Finally, gather whatever supplies you might need before the beginning of your month of gratitude. The supplies will vary depending on how you’ll be recording and sharing your thankfulness.
12 Ideas for Your Month of Gratitude
These 12 ideas are just to get you started. Don’t limit yourself to these. Be creative. Add variety. There’s no need to do the same thing every day for a month. Except to express gratitude!!
NOTE: some of these ideas are suited more to November when, in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving. But all of them can be adapted to any month.
- Post something you’re thankful for every day on social media. Use whatever SM site is your favorite and don’t skip a day. If you’re doing this in November (a typical month), don’t stop with Thanksgiving. Keep going until the end of the month.
- Create a construction paper tree and tape construction paper leaves to it. Each leaf should have one item you or the family is thankful for that day. One each day from each member of the family (if your family is small enough) or one from the entire family every day. When you’re done, you’ll have a wonderful record of thankfulness. You could collect the leaves from year to year, to see how gratitude grows and changes with age.
- Drag a large branch into the house and hang construction paper leaves or other shapes with thankful lists on them. Or put up your Christmas tree on November 1st, and decorate it with labeled autumn shapes (leaves, pumpkins, apples, corn sheaf, hay bale, and so on).
- Post thankfulness quotes and verses around the house for everyone to read and contemplate. Choose one every day to post to your SM profile or hang on your gratitude tree.
- Buy some thank you cards (I love these!) and write one out every day in November, expressing thankfulness to and for all the important people in your life: parents, grandparents, pastors, friends, parents of your children’s friends, teachers, coaches, and anyone else for whom you’re grateful (Dental hygienist? Midwife? Daycare staff? Be creative).
- Do a study on thankfulness during the month. While you’re at it memorize four thankfulness verses – one for each week.
- Begin keeping a gratitude journal – recording one thing every day for which you are thankful before going to bed that day. Finish the month of gratitude and challenge yourself to keep going every month. Make is a regular habit just like brushing your teeth.
- Share “Three Blessings” at Thanksgiving dinner. Each person receives three small items (seeds, acorns, pennies, or paper clips). For each item, each person shares one thing for which they are thankful from the previous year. With a large group, you could give each person only one or two items.
- Start a blessings book. Keep a journal that is completed with your “Three Blessings” shared at Thanksgiving dinner for everyone in attendance. Keep the same journal from year to year and you will create a family treasure.
- Purchase a white or cream-colored tablecloth, hand out fabric markers, and have each person at Thanksgiving dinner write one item for which they are grateful. Use the same tablecloth year after year, dating all entries. When full, start with a new tablecloth but be sure to keep the old one and drag it out each year for memory’s sake.
- Start a variation on the Thanksgiving tablecloth for other special events. For example, use a light blue tablecloth every year for your son’s birthday party. Have everyone write something about him on it – something special they notice or something they’re grateful for. When the next birthday rolls around, practice gratitude by thanking God for all those who have been part of your son’s life – whether they still are or not.
- Some families celebrate gratitude by gift-giving at Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. The idea is to keep the focus on Jesus at Christmas and teach gratitude for gifts by tying the gift to the tradition of thanks.
- Investigate picture books with themes of thanksgiving or gratitude. Read one each day, every other day, or only on Thursdays ending with Thanksgiving Day, throughout the month of November. Be sure to carry on the tradition with a picture book a day about Christmas during December.
If you’re reading this in April or June, don’t wait until November to have a month of gratitude. Just choose a month and do it! There’s never a wrong time for being grateful.