Easy and Creative Ways to Give Thanks at Thanksgiving

colorful turkey-themed Thanksgiving cards designed by Laura Palmer
Photo: Carson Downing

This Thanksgiving, enjoy these simple crafts and ideas for encouraging friends and family to give thanks. A special bonus: Some ideas help keep kids occupied while the adults are busy.

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Notes of Appreciation

sweet and sentimental Thanksgiving cards designed by Joya Rose
Carson Downing

For those who can't be at your Thanksgiving table, set pen to paper to tell them they've made a difference in your life this year. Print these Thanksgiving designs on plain white cardstock to make lovely foldable cards for your thank-you notes.

02 of 21

Gratitude Tree

finished gratitude tree in vase with hanging paper leaves thanksgiving
Courtesy of Alice and Lois

This DIY gratitude tree display doubles as a fun Thanksgiving craft for kids. To make it, grab a bare branch from outdoors and place it in a vase. Then, cut leaf shapes from colorful cardstock ($5, Target) and have each family member write something they're thankful for on a leaf.

03 of 21

Thankful Centerpiece

thanksgiving centerpiece pears leaves berries
King Au

Make decorating the table a group effort. For the centerpiece, fill a serving platter with unshelled nuts, arrange colorful fruit on top, and insert artificial berry sprigs. Then ask guests to add to the arrangement by writing what they are thankful for on paper leaves and tucking them into the centerpiece.

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Family Gratitude Jar

family thankful jar with colorful cards
Courtesy of Alice and Lois

Don't limit your thanks-giving to just one day of the year! This DIY family gratitude jar will help you celebrate all month long. Use our free printables to write down one thing you're thankful for each day and have everyone drop their card in a large jar. Then take turns reading the cards aloud at Thanksgiving dinner.

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'Thanks' Garland

Child holding "Thanks" sign
Andy Lyons

Talk about the meaning of gratitude while you make this festive Thanksgiving decoration with the whole family. Our free printable will help you get the letters just right, and you can use markers and colorful paper to customize the leaves however you like.

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Personalized Notes

colorful turkey-themed Thanksgiving cards designed by Laura Palmer
Carson Downing

Express your gratitude for individual guests with a quick note of thanks. Write a heartfelt note to the individual inside the card and use it as a place card for the table. You don't have to write much, even a quick note about how much you appreciate them will make a big impact on Thanksgiving day.

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Card Game

thanksgiving gratitude cards embellished
Ann Stratton

To facilitate the thankful spirit, create gratitude cards using scrapbooking paper and supplies. Cut out cards from scrapbooking papers using decorative-edge scissors ($4, Walmart) and embellish with stamps, stickers, etc. Give the cards to guests before dinner and ask them to write what they are thankful for. As the meal begins to wind down, ask people to share their thoughts.

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Thanksgiving Pie Boxes

thanksgiving paper takeout boxes labels
Adam Albright

Express your gratitude for a shared family meal by sending guests home with plenty of leftovers in paper takeout boxes ($4, Party City) labeled with theses sweet tags. Once you've boxed up the turkey, stuffing, and pie, label each one and send them home with friends and family to enjoy.

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Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Activity sheets and crayons
Adam Albright

Get everyone involved in the Thanksgiving dinner prep this year! While the grown ups are in the kitchen preparing the meal, set the kids up at the counter or kitchen table and have them fill in these sweet activity cards with markers ($2, Target) or crayons that will help them practice gratitude.

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Drink Tags

leaf-shaped autumn wine glass drink tags
Kate Sears

Print out our free leaf-shape pattern onto fall-color papers, cut out, and punch a hole at the base of each leaf. Ask guests to pick a leaf and write a word or short phrase describing something they're thankful for, such as "family" or "good health." Attach leaves to the wineglass stems using lengths of gold cord or raffia.

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Thanksgiving Menu

thanksgiving menu place setting cutlery
Adam Albright

Of all things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, having friends and family gathered around the table is sure to be at the top of your list. To celebrate the meal you're sharing, use our printable menu templates to write or print a personalized menu card to let everyone know what's for dinner.

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Conversation Piece

thanksgiving small cards thank you envelopes
Kim Cornelison

Spark a discussion about gratitude with these small cards. Print inspirational quotes onto brown cardstock ($7, Michaels) and cut into rectangles. Place the cards in sleeve-like envelopes (available with cardmaking supplies at crafts stores). Add a card to each place setting and have each guest read aloud at the Thanksgiving feast.

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Gratitude Placemat

printable thanksgiving gratitude placemat
Carson Downing

This activity placemat isn't just for kids! When you're setting the Thanksgiving table, add one of our printable placemats to each setting and be sure to set out a few pens too. Before you eat, have each person write down five things they're thankful for and share with the group.

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Family Tree

potted thanksgiving family tree pictures
Shaun Sullivan

Gather favorite snapshots of family and friends to decorate a small potted tree for Thanksgiving. Use binder clips ($3, Target) and pieces of twine to hang the photos on the tree as shown.

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Personalized Place Cards

printable personalized thanksgiving place cards
Carson Downing

These printable placecards add a sweet touch to any Thanksgiving table setting. These printable cards say 'thank you for being you,' and you can add each guest's name just above the quote.

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Wall Art

thanksgiving poem framed holiday decor
Quentin Bacon

Share poetic sentiments as artwork for the Thanksgiving season. Print meaningful poems or sayings (typed in an elegant font) onto cardstock. Place in frames and hang on the wall as a reminder of the season's meaning.

Editor's Tip: Adapt this idea for Christmas by printing the lyrics from favorite Christmas songs or lines from favorite Christmas stories. Display the new printouts in the same frames used for Thanksgiving.

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On Display

diy salt pepper shaker photo holders
Tria Giovan

Use mismatched salt and pepper shakers to create memory-focused Thanksgiving decorations. Start with heavy craft wire ($2, Target) and coil one end to hold a photo. Insert the coiled wires into the shakers and secure photos to the coiled ends. Arrange on your Thanksgiving table or another prominent place where guests can admire the photos and reminisce.

Editor's Tip: Insert the wires into the shakers at an angle, which will keep them stable.

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Days Gone By

place setting vintage photo mount sprig
Kim Cornelison

Mount pictures of guests as children onto squares of paper and use as place cards. Guests will have to search for their youthful face to find their seat at the table.

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Thankful Leaves

boy holding thanksgiving leaf project
Kathleen Gamble

If you're hosting little ones this Thanksgiving, keep them entertained with Thanksgiving-theme art projects. Ask kids to write what they are thankful for on paper leaves. Provide crayons, markers, and stickers to use for decorating the leaves. Keep the leaves to stir conversations about Thanksgivings past.

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Paper Place Mats

construction paper thanksgiving fall placemat
Shaun Sullivan

Simple pieces of construction paper become expressions of thankfulness with the addition of a few crayons ($3, Target). Ask kids to write the things they are thankful for on the pieces of paper, which they can use as place mats for the Thanksgiving meal.

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Gracious Giving

basket clothes scarves hats purse
Quentin Bacon

Extend the generous spirit beyond your gathering of friends and family. In the weeks before Thanksgiving, pick a charity to contribute to, such as a food pantry or homeless shelter. Ask guests to bring items to donate. (Be sure to give advance notice about the project so it's not a last-minute surprise.) Place a large basket for collecting donations near the front door or close to the main Thanksgiving festivities.

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