Picture this. A family comes together around a big table. You smell grandma’s homemade, sweet cranberry sauce, great grandad’s creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, warm and fluffy rolls, and the oven roasted turkey that mom spent all morning making sure was cooked perfectly with that brown sugar glaze that melts in your mouth.
This, for some people, is Thanksgiving. A family gathering, with some really good food. Yet, Thanksgiving can be so much more than that. Isn’t it supposed to be about giving thanks, and appreciating what and who you have in your life? It can be so easy to get caught up in preparing that turkey just right for your family’s annual Thanksgiving dinner, or planning for Thanksgiving activities and potlucks at your church.
Activities and games can be a great way for your family, ministry, and church team to put the focus back on giving thanks this holiday season!
What Are You Thankful For?
This activity can be done around a family dinner table or in a small church group. One at a time, have everyone say two or three things they are thankful for. This can give others a chance to show appreciation and encouragement to those around them in a church team, family, or congregation by telling someone they are thankful for them. This gives everyone a time and place to share, and to show gratitude for the simple things in life that we don’t always think about.
Gratitude Game: Pick Up Sticks
This is a great game for kid’s ministries, youth groups, and small groups of all ages. You begin by having several colored sticks and a cup, or box, or anything that makes it to where no one can see the sticks. You will need a piece of paper with a key list on it with thankfulness categories that correspond with the colors of the sticks. For example, if someone pulls out a green stick, you look at the paper and next to the green circle it says “Name a person in your life you’re thankful for.” Everyone takes turns picking out a stick, and saying what they are thankful for by going according to the color key on the paper. You can have as many colors as you want, and you can do this with a small or large group. The game ends when all the sticks have been picked, so feel free and have as many sticks as you want. The more the merrier!
Another way to get your whole ministry involved in this activity is to have them write down what they’re thankful for on a piece of paper, and pin it to a Thankfulness Board. When people walk by, and read what others have said, it can remind them of all there is to be thankful for. This also encourages prayer for those in your ministry, and praying for thankfulness in others.
A Sticky-Note Thanksgiving
This game is aimed primarily toward youth ministries, but it’s encouraged to use it however you see fit! You will need a pad of sticky notes (or half a pad of sticky notes) and a pen per person. Explain to the group, they will have 10 or 15 minutes (you are free to choose the time limit) to try to use up every sticky note they have by writing what they are thankful for on as many sticky notes as they can. This encourages them to consider all the things they have to be thankful for in their lives. You can provide a prize for the person who uses up the most sticky note within the time!
Encouraging your children in your kid’s ministry to be thankful can be easy and fun! A way to do this is by providing each kid with a picture of a tree without the leaves. Give them a bowl of pre-cut out leaves. Every time they write something they’re thankful for on a leaf, they can glue it to their thanksgiving tree. This is a fun and creative way to get the kids to think about what they’re thankful for, and a way for them to later share thankfulness with their parents!
No matter what ministry you lead, there are fun and creative ways to get others to see what all there is in their lives they have to be thankful for. Whether it’s everyone sharing what they’re thankful for in a group, picking sticks out of a bowl, pinning what they’re thankful for to a board, or having kids make a thankfulness tree. And yes, even around a dinner table, surrounded by your loved ones and great food, there is always a time and place to share what you’re thankful for.