Today on the blog, Celine Bell, mom of two young sons, shares some of her favorite traditions for making Thanksgiving a special day for the family.

GUEST BLOG: Thanksgiving –
Family-Friendly Ideas for Giving Thanks, Sharing Time and Enjoying a Meal Together

Every Thanksgiving, we open the jar that sits on the worktop in the kitchen. It’s a big jar (and a bit dusty!), and by the time Thanksgiving comes around, it’s full. Every weekend, we put something in the jar that sums up our time together as a family. A rainy January weekend was cinema tickets. Sunny days at the beach are lollypop sticks and a cracked crab shell. There’s a pinecone from Grandma’s garden, and a golden autumnal leaf from a couple of weeks ago in the park. There are some less Instagram friendly items too – we once had a dead beetle in there – but it represents our year, and our weekends together when there is no school bus to catch, no work meetings to worry about, and lots of cuddles and noise.

We spill the jar onto the kitchen table and go through its contents. ‘I remember the day at the beach! We had a picnic!’  My picky eater remembers getting sand in his sandwiches and hiding his grapes under the blanket. ‘We went there with uncle Mike,’ comes from the ticket stub for the fairground. When we are ready to pack the contents of the jar away, leaving it empty for the year ahead, we’ve shared lots of memories, and made some plans for the year ahead. It’s great to do this with kids and introduce them to the idea of giving thanks for what they have. From family that loves them, to a home that keeps them warm, we want simple and fun ways for them to realize that they are fortunate.

Why not start your own jar to collate your adventures? At the end of the year, it’s a fun family activity to remember the best bits of previous months. You can make a gratitude collage with what’s left over. Here’s some other ideas you could use to share gratitude:

1. Daily Highlights Share your favorite parts of the day as you sit down to supper. It doesn’t have to be explicitly about gratitude, more what you’ve enjoyed most about the day. It’s a great way to get kids sharing, especially if you kick off with some good examples first. Mine usually involves food!

2. Gratitude Cards My shy son would rather write down his gratitude list, so he draws or writes on a small colored card. We’ve kept them in a box and he often looks through them – it’s wonderful to see him thinking in this way with no pressure from us.

3. Toy Donation Before Christmas, when you’ll be inundated with new toys, work with your kids on choosing some toys they no longer play with to give to Goodwill.

4. Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin is high in nutrients, so a low-sugar pumpkin pie is a great dessert for the whole family.

5. Healthy Standbys Thanksgiving lunch/dinner comes with a lot of pressure – don’t sweat it though. Don’t battle with your kids to eat something they don’t want, instead have some healthy foods you know they will eat on standby. Apple slices with peanut butter works for keeping mine out of the kitchen when I’m basting a hot turkey, and I keep a batch of Ollie’s Hidden Veggie Pasta in the fridge that I can heat up quickly should they not want a traditional lunch. I’m all for getting kids to try new foods as you know, but I also want this meal, like every other, to be an adventure, and I won’t get that from a battle over food.


Thanks for these lovely tips, Celine! Read more of her insightful parenting tips on her blog, Bell From Bow, and check her out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy your day!

Messy fun! Sheena xx