When it comes to hosting holiday gatherings, it can be difficult making sure everyone feels involved and occupied. That’s why I’ve put together a few ways to entertain your guests—both children and adults—during your time together. Even better? These activities are more than just entertainment; they’re the perfect way to show gratitude for one another as the year comes to an end. Enjoy!
The Gratitude Basket
Many gatherings begin with everyone around the table being asked to share something for which they are thankful. For the introverted and those who are struggling, that can be intimidating. This year, give everyone a chance to write down what they are grateful for, then pass the basket around the table and let everyone select a note to read for the group. The meaning is there, but it takes the pressure off those that don't feel comfortable speaking or sharing in public.
An alternative to the gratitude basket is the gratitude prompt. Try writing a few prompts on slips of paper, then place them in a box or basket and pass it around. The idea is for each person to pull out one slip and respond. Be creative! Phrases like “I am grateful for these three things I see on the way to work” or “I am grateful I heard...” are a great place to start. For a longer list of prompts, check out some of these Gratitude Exercises. This might also be a good way to keep the conversation on track and avoid anyone veering off into a diatribe about, politics, religion, Covid, vaccination, you know, all those things.
You can purchase a set of conversation prompts, or create your own. For multigenerational gatherings, this is a great way to help older relatives share stories and memories with the younger generation. Questions like "I want to travel to..." or "if I played an instrument it would be ..." let even the youngest have a voice. And, once again, it can help keep the conversation moving in the right direction. And if all else fails, you can fall back on the best conversation prompts "knock knock" and dad jokes.
Create a Gratitude Tree
Find a branch from outside and place it in a vase filled with rocks. Provide cut-out leaves and markers, then invite guests to write down the things they are most grateful for on the leaves. Punch a hole in the leaf, thread it with a string, hang it on the branches, and voila! Your gratitude tree is born. Everyone can participate, and the number of leaves is limited only by the size of your branch!
Take a Gratitude Walk
Turn your post-dinner walk into a gratitude walk. Walk mindfully. Really look at the world around you, hear the sounds, and feel the breeze on your face. Don’t spend this quality time thinking about the next thing to do, or the mess to clean, or what you’re going to do with all those leftovers. For a few minutes, just walk and breathe. And be grateful.
Send Your Guests Home With More Than Turkey
Speaking of leftovers, if you’re sending your guests home with extra food, why not include a gratitude worksheet to keep the good feelings going? A gratitude worksheet offers specific prompts to help people think creatively about what they are grateful for. You can find an example here! Or, if you're feeling really inspired and a little crafty, you could create Gratitude Jars. Decorate simple glass jars and fill them with blank note paper and a small pencil. Send them home with your guests and invite to write down two or three things each day that they are grateful for. Put those thoughts in the jar. Reading those can be a great pick me up - especially on days when it's a struggle to find something to write down (and trust me, we all have those days).
Write a Thank You Note
Whether you’re thanking your host, or someone who made your day a little easier (you know the one), or your partner for putting up with your relatives, a thank-you note is an amazing way to end the day. Not only is it a chance for you to voice your appreciation, but the recipient will feel the glow once they receive your letter of gratitude. And yes, you may choose to email your thank-you, but there’s really nothing better than an old-fashioned handwritten note.