Cozy sweaters, the crisp crunchiness of leaves under foot and pumpkin spice lattes (because apparently that’s still a thing) all have a way of warming the soul during everyone’s favorite season. But the real best thing about fall? Our collective expression of gratitude.
So #blessed, right? But being thankful doesn’t just feel good; science says it actually improves our mental and physical health. So why not cultivate gratitude — and reap the benefits — all year long?
Now is the perfect time to start. Make it even sweeter by sharing in the thanks together with these simple but impactful gratitude practices for families.
Start a gratitude jar
This practice is for the family who appreciates a good visual.
Give each family member a Mason jar with their name on it, pre-cut two-inch wide paper strips and put them in a separate Mason jar along with some pens. Then, put all of the jars in a common area.
Every day, each family member can write down on a fresh paper strip one thing that they’re thankful for, fold the strip in half and add it to their jar. Watching the jars fill up is a great reminder of all the things we have to be grateful for!
At the end of the year, on Thanksgiving, a birthday or any other fitting occasion, each family member can pull a few from their jar to read aloud to one another. Then, keep the rest to pull out throughout the year any time the family needs a pick-me-up.
Host a family day of gratitude
This is an uplifting weekly practice in both giving and receiving gratitude that offers special recognition to one family member at a time, boosting self-esteem and fostering family closeness.
Designate a day each week in which a meal will be shared or time will be spent together as a family (for example: Wednesday night dinner) and name it “Johnson’s Day of Gratitude”or whatever resonates with your family.
Next choose a logical order to assign a family member to each “Day of Gratitude” for the year. Alphabetically or by birthday work well. Keep track using a calendar.
On the designated day, whomever’s “Day of Gratitude” it is says three things that they feel grateful for.
But, here’s the best part: Each remaining family member shares three things they’re thankful for about that person. Think: “I’m thankful for Dad cooking healthy dinners for us, for helping me with my math homework this week and for making me feel special when he took me to ice cream after basketball practice.”
Keep a gratitude journal
For families who’d rather keep their reflections private, this practice gives the opportunity to dig a little bit deeper.
Let each family member buy a special journal or decorate a notebook to use as their personal “Gratitude Journal.” Each family member can take a few moments at the beginning or end of each day to write down some things they’re grateful for.
It can be a short-and-sweet log-style list, or work as a daily writing prompt that leads to more conscientious contemplation. Pro tip: Add this practice to your family’s chore chart or habit tracker.
Remember gratitude at bedtime
The easiest of the gratitude practices on this list, this one works best for families with young children who still get “tucked in.”
Incorporate gratitude into your family’s nightly bedtime routine (before or after story or prayer time perhaps) by simply sharing three good things that happened that day.
Taking a moment to recap and give thanks allows for a more peaceful rest and a fresh start in the morning.