Creative Child

Make this Thanksgiving Meaningful

by Sarah Lyons


Take a break

Have each family member take a break from a luxury they enjoy. Ideas may include dessert, manicures, coffee, soda, or a favorite video game or TV show. This exercise reminds us to be grateful for the luxuries that are otherwise taken for granted.

Family service project

Set aside time to do a service project as a family. Ideas may include cleaning up trash in a local park, raking a neighbor’s leaves, working at a food pantry, purchasing items for a Thanksgiving meal and delivering them to a family in need, organizing a book drive for a local children’s hospital, or adopting a family for the holidays. When you volunteer as a family, kids see you helping others and are more likely to continue serving as an adult. Serving in an area that your children are already interested in helps create excitement for the project. If your child loves singing, go caroling at a senior center. If your child loves to play at the park, plant flowers or pick up litter to help maintain it’s beauty. If they love crafts, make blankets for a homeless shelter. There are many possibilities for children of any age and skill level.

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Gather together

Encourage the kids to think of friends and neighbors who may not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving and invite them to come over for dinner. Discuss the importance of hospitality and welcoming others into your home. If you are not hosting Thanksgiving, consider hosting a brunch the following day and opening your home to friends and family.

Little helpers

Thanksgiving dinner preparation is a lot of work. Having the kids help prepare dinner and clean up for company will teach them how much work really goes into preparing a large meal like Thanksgiving dinner. This will teach them appreciation for the work that goes into a holiday meal and also encourages a good work ethic at a young age.

This Thanksgiving take time to remember what Thanksgiving really means. It’s not about Black Friday deals or endless football. It’s about giving thanks for what we have, sharing with and serving others, and celebrating with those we love.

Opportunities to serve with your kids

  • Organize a collection drive - ideas include coats, hats and gloves, blankets, toys, or clothing to donate to those in need
  • Fill the food pantry - Take the kids shopping for favorite non-perishable food items and/or go door to door in your neighborhood to collect items to donate to a local food pantry
  • Offer to rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor or friend
  • Operation Christmas Child - fill shoeboxes to send to children overseas. Check for more information and collection dates and locations
  • Bake cookies for friends, neighbors, or take them to the local police or fire station
  • Send care packages, cards, and letters to soldiers overseas
  • Draw pictures for seniors and deliver to an assisted living center
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Plant flowers or trees
  • Clean up the school grounds or a local park
  • Have a lemonade stand or garage sale and donate proceeds to your favorite charity


Sarah Lyons is a stay at home wife and mother of six children, including 18 month old triplets. Using creative consequences with her kids has improved their behavior and encourages healthy relationships with each other.

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