This holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we have plenty of occasion to get together and celebrate with loved ones. This time of year presents a wonderful opportunity to teach gratitude and create meaningful moments with our girls. I’m perpetually concerned about girls’ self-esteem, and this is a case where gratitude builds happiness builds self-esteem – so let’s do it!

The busyness of our daily routines, compounded by screen time, can easily steal from the everyday opportunities we have to reflect on our blessings. Showing kids how they can build gratitude into their lives doesn’t just help them in the “now,” it gives them a lifelong toolkit to build happiness.

Here are six ways to bring gratitude to your holiday table, and to work it into our lives year-round:

  1. Hand write thank-you cards.It’s fast and easy to hit send on an email or punch out a quick text, but sending a hand-written card, in person or through the mail, shows extra care and thoughtfulness. The act of writing the letter alone creates happiness. In addition, a physical letter can be treasured for years. It’s a wonderful gift to give someone.
  2. Create a gratitude poster board. All this takes is a poster board and whatever markers and crafting tools you have on hand. Decorate a poster board with your kids to display near your dinner table. As guests arrive for the holiday, ask them to writesomething they are thankful for. At dinner, everyone can take turns reading what they wrote and describing why it’s meaningful to them.
  3. Start the dinner by literally giving thanks. Whether your family says grace or not, before you pass the rolls, pause for a moment to ask everyone at the table to share one thing they are grateful for. It can be something that happened during the day, or anytime throughout the year. If kids need prompting, ask them what they learned, or to think about an act of kindness they witnessed.
  4. Make placemats or placecards. This is a great craft to keep kids occupied while feast preparations are underway. Ask them to decorate small-sized poster boards or index cards with words of thanks, that can then be used to set the table. Here are some easy printable placematsto start with.
  5. Declutter and donate.  Nothing makes you realize how much you have more than seeing how much you have to give away. Set aside time with your girls to go through drawers and closets to find things that they aren’t using anymore, and then take a ride together to donate the items to a local charity. Here’s a reference list of placesthat may take donations in your area. This activity presents a great opportunity to talk about how other families don’t have the same opportunity to buy all the things that we have. This is also great activity to do before the holidays, to make room for new gifts in our homes.
  6. Volunteer.  One of the most memorable holidays I spent with my mom was serving dinner at a home for adults with disabilities. It took just a couple of hours, and was a relatively simple task, but it was a great bonding moment and helped us reflect on how blessed we are with our health and ability. In addition, seeing the smiles of the faces of the men and women in the home helped us realize how small gestures can make a big impact.

At On Raising Daughters, we’d also like to take a moment to say thank-you to you, our readers – we are thrilled that you’ve joined us in this community of raising empowered daughters. Together, we are stronger.

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau


About Shelley Groh

Shelley Groh is mom to two girls, a precocious 2-year-old and a new baby (personality yet to be discovered). As director of communications for a Fortune 100 company, she develops strategic communications plans to build consumer brands and coaches executives to live into their personal brands. Shelley earned a master’s degree in Communications Management from Syracuse University and bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Winona State University. In her free time, when she’s not writing content for websites, Shelley enjoys running, boating, and brunching. She also believes in supporting organizations that provide opportunities to underserved youth; her favorites include Junior Achievement, Step Up, and Florence Crittenton.

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