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Family Gratitude Jars — A Simple Way to Practice Thankfulness This Holiday Season

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Family Gratitude Jars — A Simple Way to Practice Thankfulness This Holiday Season

When you practice gratitude, you experience mental, physical, and relational benefits (and your kids do too!). According to Psychology Today, expressing gratitude on a regular basis is scientifically proven to improve mental and physical health, sleep, relationships, self-esteem, and more.

There are many ways to do this, but today we’re going to discuss how to keep a family gratitude jar. It’s a very simple practice but will make all the difference in helping you and your family to recognize all the good things in your lives. Bonus: it’s a fun homeschool activity during the holiday season!

family gratitude jars

The Gratitude Jar — A Quick Overview 

There are many ways to express gratitude. It’s a practice most often thought about in November and December though, truthfully, every one of us could stand to put a focus on thankfulness all year long.

Keeping a gratitude jar is a straightforward activity you can do with your whole family at any time of the year. And it’s simple to do. A gratitude jar is essentially a jar filled with small slips of paper detailing the things you and your family are thankful for. Easy as (pumpkin!) pie.

Items You’ll Need to Make Your Own Gratitude Jar

The gratitude jar is such a simple concept, and it requires zero special materials. In fact, you probably have everything you need already. Want a list? Here goes!

  • a jar (or any decently-sized container — try a cup or a bowl too!)
  • scissors 
  • paper 
  • pens/pencils/markers
  • an envelope or small basket

Yep, that’s it. You can get fancy and decorate the jar if you’d like. Or make “I’m thankful for…” slips to print out. Or buy pens in all the pretty colors. Or stickers to decorate the slips of paper or the jar. But really, the supplies needed are minimal and most households already have items on hand that will work for this activity.

How the Gratitude Jar Works

Like the supplies needed, the “rules” for the gratitude jar are simple. The gist of it is that you and your family members each take slips of paper, write down what you’re thankful for, and stick them in the jar. Then, on Thanksgiving (or any other day of your choosing!), you open up the jar and read the slips of paper to one another.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial of how your family can use this activity all November long to instill a spirit of gratitude in your home. 

  1. Pick your container. We like to use a large mason jar, but almost any container will work.
  2. Pick out your paper. We use plain white computer paper. Colored construction paper and scrapbook paper are both fun options too.
  3. Take your scissors and cut your paper into strips.
  4. Store your paper strips in an envelope or small basket near your jar.
  5. Each night from November 1st through Thanksgiving Day, have your family take a strip of paper and write down one thing they’re grateful for, fold it up, and stick it in the jar. (If you’re starting later than November 1, no worries!)
  6. During your Thanksgiving celebration, break out the jar and have family members take turns reading what everyone is thankful for. 

Of course, you can make adjustments to fit your family.

  • Maybe you and your family write down what you’re thankful for once per week on Sundays.
  • Or you keep the gratitude jar going all year and read what’s in it on a monthly basis.
  • Or you keep it going through the holiday season and read your thankful slips on New Year’s Eve to ring in the new year.
  • I know a mom whose young daughter wrote down things about her (the mom) that the daughter was thankful for. She decorated the jar and gave it to her mom for Christmas. The mom said her daughter is grown up now, but she still has that jar with all those sweet things her daughter said about her tucked inside! You could do the same thing for a dad, grandparent, etc.

The method is less important than the lesson behind the gratitude jar. Fostering a spirit of thankfulness is the key here. The gratitude jar is simply a tool.

The Takeaway

Gratitude is a principle that when practiced is shown to improve your life and relationships. The holidays are the perfect time to work on expressing thankfulness, but don’t let the habit fade away with the new year. Keep encouraging your kids (and yourself!) to recognize the good things happening every day. 

What’s your favorite way to practice gratitude during the holiday season? Share it in the comments below!


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Amy Thetford is a freelance writer and blogger who homeschools her tribe of tiny humans while pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a published author. She is fueled by coffee and the desire to do ALL. THE. THINGS. She has the attention span of a squirrel, though she somehow manages to make it through each day with everyone fed and happy (well, mostly happy! Ha!) while striving to make every tomorrow better than the last.

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