Tips for Connecting with Family on Thanksgiving

Ten Tips for Connecting the Family on Thanksgiving

These ideas come from Parent Further, a Search Institute resource for families.

1. Discuss likes and dislikes
As a family, talk about what you like and dislike about Thanksgiving. Your kids may surprise you: some really enjoy annual traditions while others get bored with them. Get ideas for starting fun family traditions here.

2. Importance of Traditions
Discuss with your kids the importance of traditions and why certain customs are important to pass down through the generations. The trick, however, is to balance meaningful traditions and new activities.

[Related: Read blogger Marie Williams’ take on the importance of family traditions here.]

3. Choose a game or activity
Ask your children what they would enjoy doing with the adults after the meal. Some enjoy playing card or board games. Some like to do puzzles or art projects. Some want to get outside and play. A 15-minute game of catch or tag can invigorate a Thanksgiving get-together. Get more family activity ideas here.

4. Name your thanksgivings
Plan an activity where each person present names something he or she is thankful for in the past year. It could be the birth of a new family member, moving to a new house, starting school, or getting well after being sick.

5. Model gratitude
Show and teach your child how to be thankful for what others have done. Even if your kids think Thanksgiving is dumb, point out all the hard work someone put into cooking and creating traditions.

[Related: Wish You Weren’t Here: Dealing with Extended Family During the Holidays]

6. Bring your sense of humor
Some kids and teens are more willing to participate in family events if they sense fun and humor. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask everyone at the table what the worst Thanksgiving was and why. As long as you’re not bringing up old wounds, it can be interesting and fun to hear individuals reveal their most embarrassing moments.

7. Invite children to showcase talents
If your child plays an instrument well, is an artist, or enjoys writing, consider having her perform a musical selection, show others his or her art, or write letters to family members who cannot attend.

8. Volunteer and serve
Consider spending part of your Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving weekend) helping others by doing a family service project. Get ideas here.

9. Capture it on film
Consider taking annual photos of the people who attend your Thanksgiving. Create and album and share it with family at your next gathering. Or consider videotaping an interview with the oldest person there.

10. Download the family meals toolkit
Spending Thanksgiving at home this year? Make the most of your family mealtime with our downloadable Table Time! family meals toolkit. Download it here.

Parent Further is a Search Institute resource for families.

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