Crafting the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

by Stephanie Goins on November 19, 2012

True thankfulness. A good harvest. Friends, and family. The real meanings of Thanksgiving are often obscured by an abundance of cute and iconic representations of what the holiday has become. Take some time this year to bring a reverence for all that we have been given to your home by doing some meaningful Thanksgiving crafts with your children.

Dinner Table Decoration
Kids can learn about the importance of a good harvest by making their own centerpiece for the dinner or buffet table. Take a cornucopia basket, line with moss or excelsior, and add a gourd and small pumpkin or two. Then let the children show what they are thankful for by including their own favorite foods such as bananas, apples, or wrapped homemade treats. For added depth, tear strips of paper and curl to look like 'crolls. Keep them in a small basket or drawer near the table, and use them to write things they are thankful for in everyday life – including their favorite foods, activities, health, and friends. Place these scrolls in the cornucopia for the family to read at mealtimes

Thanksgiving Tree
The baring of tree branches at this time of year is a dramatic and unmistakable sign of change. It is something that no one can miss, with mountains of leaves piling up on yards and curbs. This can provide a striking metaphor to reflect on the abundance of blessings in our lives. One great idea is to make a Thanksgiving Tree with your children as a way of counting your blessings by adding gratitude leaves onto bare branches.

 First, fill a clay pot or large mason jar with pebbles or glass nuggets and set a branch into it so it stands like a tree. Cut colorful leaf shapes out of paper, and use a hole punch to make a hole for string or ribbon, about 8” long. Write something you are thankful for with a marker or colored pen and gently tie the leaf onto the tree.

Handmade Cards
The art of a handwritten letter or card is a beautiful way to express thoughts and feelings, and to teach the value of verbalizing our gratitude to friends and family. All age groups can participate making their special card on some festively colored cardstock and seasonal embellishments. And remember, the words are the most important thing; have fun as you help your child understand that the beauty is in the message.

Thanksgiving Table Cloth
Create a family tradition of expressing gratitude with a Thanksgiving Table Cloth. Simply purchase a plain white tablecloth and a variety of fabric markers. Use it on your holiday table, and encourage family and guests to write down the blessings of the year. Be sure to sign and date the inscriptions and let it become a fun family record of the special things and moment that have tied you together over the years.

Crafting for Charity
Raising children who understand the value of giving back is ultimately one of the most important quests as a parent. Thanksgiving provides an excellent platform for providing the gift of artfulness to those who do not have access to craft supplies. Take your child shopping for a 'goody bag' of supplies for making a holiday decoration. Make sure to include all necessary items (including scissors, glue, etc.). Include a treat for the child and the parent (perhaps some teabags, and a hot chocolate for the child), and print out and enclose the instructions. You can use a local church, shelter, or halfway house as a starting point for finding families that may enjoy receiving this little token of holiday cheer.