Have you heard of it? It’s the non-revenue holiday hidden between the big money-makers, Halloween and Christmas.

Marketing companies and toy manufacturers have made Oct. 31st and Dec. 25th every kid’s dream. Those are the days you get stuff.

And I’m not above it. It was my own child that answered the question: “What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving?”

Answer: “Pulling out the Christmas decorations.”

But Thanksgiving isn’t about stuff. It’s not about hype or candy or gifts. It’s not even about pie. (Although….)

It is a day worthy of being celebrated. It’s a day to be generous. It’s a day to be gracious. It’s more than a day.

Thankfulness cures my children’s complaints. It stops grumbling in it’s tracks. Bickering doesn’t stand a chance with thankfulness in the room.

During this season, I’m giving thanksgiving a place of honor in my home with a Give Thanks Countdown Calendar. I think this can be a fun family project, the making and the doing.

Object: Every day remove the paper from the corresponding date and write down one thing each family member is thankful about.

You can order an adorable countdown calendar here on Etsy. But I decided to make my own with everyday materials. Feel free to be creative with what you have on hand or can find easily.


Fall placemat

Scrapbook stickers, leaf-shaped cutouts (mine have a sticky dot on the back)

Small brown paper sacks-enough for how many days you are going to count down-the whole month, 3 weeks, 1 week, etc. (I found mine in the gift bag section at Target)


1 Dowel

Glue gun

Chipboard letter or stickers for the “Give Thanks”

I numbered the scrapbook leaves with dates:

I cut the brown paper bags and placed them on the placemat (It took me several tries to fit them all on there, so there’s no right or wrong way).

I hot glued everything into place:

I glued three ribbon loops to hold the dowel rod:

I printed and cut slips of paper to put into each envelope (see below to print “I am thankful” template:

I’ve also written a Parent’s Activity Guide for Celebrating Thanksgiving!


Below is a printable jpeg for “I am thankful for” inserts and guide to Thanksgiving activities (scroll down to view them):


More countdown calendar inspiration here and here

by Kristen Welch

  • Kristen – Moms Sharpening Moms

    You are brilliant! I LOVE this idea. And you are so right…bickering has no room at the table when thankfulness is being served!
    Can’t beat a craft that is practical, cute, and helps mold character to boot! Really love this!

  • eLisa

    This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • Laura

    Sounds like the best idea yet! :) about 3 weeks to go… oh yes, we’ll be working on this today! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Debbie

    This is an awesome idea! I love it. I definitely want to make Thanksgiving it’s own special day for my college kids who are more than happy to be home…they will be grateful just to be with our family…they are already talking about it!

  • Kate

    This is awesome and beautiful :)
    What a wonderful way to bring a spirit of thankfulness into your home! I’m loving it and just my try one myself :)
    Thanks a lot!
    Kate :)

  • Katie Carnahan

    I love this idea. Last year we did a Thankful paper chain. I read the idea somewhere but can’t remember where now. Anyway I cut red and green strips out and each night at supper we would write down a few things we were Thankful for on the strips. Then on Thanksgiving you read them aloud and then turn them into a paper chain for your Christmas Tree. My kiddos are still very young and they can’t do any writing but Landon still loved it. It carried out through the year as he would ask us what we were thankful for often.

  • Trista

    We have “good/bad” times at dinner time. We go around the table and each person says something bad that happened to them that day, followed by something good. I was trying to come up with something to focus on Thanksgiving and this is perfect. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful ideas.
    I am thankful for YOU!

  • Jennifer Chandler

    Wonderful idea, Kristen. It is easy to lose Thanksgiving between the Halloween hub-bub and the Christmas rush. Thank you for the inspiration to slow down and give thanks.

  • mary beth

    Thank you for sharing this great idea Kristen! It is so easy to get caught up in the Christmas rush and not give enough thought to Thanksgiving…we need to remember all the things we have to be thankful for and this is such a great way to get the kids involved!

  • Amanda from Faith, Food and Family

    I love this soooo much! So this is just one regular sized placemat? It looks big in the picture so i just want to get an accurate size that I need to be shooting for. Thanks for the great idea!
    God bless,

  • Bekki

    I as SO going do this! I was just thinking about it last night (while ordering supplies for an advent calendar) that we really should relcaim Thanksgiving for its real purpose and not the “Turkey Day” holiday. Our culture is so good at taking the meanings out of things and just leaving the fluff! This will be perfect and the children an I can make it together, and then read them all together during dinner Thanksgiving Day.

  • bridget {bake at 350}

    Really neat idea, Kristen! I’m thankful for a great neighbor!

  • kspin

    What a great project and also a good reminder of what is really important. Thanks!

  • Heidi

    Love it! Great project idea! Thanks!

  • Paula Jean

    Thank you for sharing this idea! I’m a huge fan of daily gratitudes (I have a circle of girlfriends that email each other every day to share what we’re thankful for.)
    This is such an easily accessible project that is fun for families to put together and then to share throughout the month.

  • LMS

    Kristen Welch’s idea for the Thankful Calendar is great!!! We have done a Thankful jar for several years but her calendar makes it a more visible thing!! And I’m sure can be easily adapted for Christmastime or any other time to keep it going!!!
    And a wonderful way to remind everyone in the family to be THANKFUL!!!

  • jeri

    Love, love, love this idea. I am thankful retails haven’t figured out a way to make Thanksgiving more commercialized! (yet.)

  • Heather

    Great idea! I used a pocket chart and calender squares from my old classroom to make this with my 3-year-old.

  • Olivia

    Cute project! We definitely need to be reminded to talk about being thankful!

  • Erica

    Thanks for sharing, Kristen! At our dinner table every night we do “Sad Mad Glad,” where we each share what made us feel those emotions that day. I think this month we’ll add “Thankful” to the mix…who cares if it doesn’t rhyme? :)

  • Susie

    Loved this and made it today! We could use the reminder to be thankful around here :)

  • Lisa

    Oh!! This is an awesome and exciting post! What an amazingly good idea!! Thank you so much for sharing. You bring up some truly good points too! Love this post. <3

  • Pamela

    Wonderful post! Great inspiration for homeschool too. We are planning to great a version of this tomorrow! Thanks!

  • Claire

    Oh that’s so cool! Being a Brit, I think Thanksgiving is just the most wonderful holiday!

  • Kiva, Farmstead Lady

    What a cute idea. We do a Thanksgiving Tree and use real branches from our yard and cut-out leaves and we write what we are thankful for on the leaves and hang them from the tree. Lots to be thankful for….

  • Joelle

    That is genius, Kristen! Thanks for the idea. I don’t have kids (yet) but I’m going to file this idea away. :) Thanksgiving is our big fall holiday since we skip Halloween. I can’t get over this project. It is very cute! Love it.

  • Audra

    This is awesome. It’s sort of like an advent calendar for Thanksgiving (I love me an advent calendar!). I can’t wait until my little man is big enough to really understand – although hubby and I might do this ourselves anyway!

  • Linda L.

    We have been doing a Thankful Tree during the month of November for five years now. My daughter’s love it and are asking when am I going to put it up. I make a tree from the brown wrapping paper and every day we write things on leaves that we are thankful for.
    But, I am going to steal your idea and use it for an Advent calendar. Using it with a gift theme and writing on the papers “my gift from God, my gift to God”.
    Thank you for sharing…Blessings to you and your family.

  • PS~Erin

    I am going to go do this RIGHT NOW! Love it! Thank you!!!

  • jenica

    perfect! we’re totally doing this. our family twist: add one act of random kindness per person per day. i am always more grateful for my one life when i’m helping someone else.

  • hip chick

    What a lovely idea. I wish my children were a little younger. I only have two at home now. One is 18 and one is 16 and I’m not sure that they would go for this idea.
    I may try it anyway but toned down just a bit. It would be fun to read aloud what every one wrote around the Thanksgiving table.

  • amy miller

    just made our version of this with the paper bags, but taped them to our sliding glass door more like a calendar- so cute and absolutley useful! thanks for getting us in the spirit!!!

  • Heidi

    Love it! I made one too. We do it every night and it has been such a great way to reflect on the day and all the good things each day holds!
    Here is ours:

  • Heidi

    Thanks for the idea! I’m crafty but not creative, so I just copied this with a few tweeks due to supplies I had on hand. Love it! Thank you very much. Plus, it’s been great to do with my young family every night at dinner.

  • Pingback: Today… | Memoria Arts()

  • bdsm

    Very good post. I realized that I was totally wrong on this issue. I think you learn something new every day. Mrs. Right learned its lesson! Nice, informative site by road.