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Fun and Frugal Thanksgiving Traditions


Thursday is Turkey Day, a time of feasting and family. Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday, but it is not surrounded with as many traditions and rituals as Christmas. To be sure, turkey, stuffing, and pie are traditions that carry over year after year, but beyond that, it is often hard to create other Thanksgiving traditions.

I’d like to share one frugal and fun tradition that my family has enjoyed for many years. The purpose of Thanksgiving, as is implied in the name, is to take a day to give thanks for all the blessings and good things in your life. This purpose often gets lost under the groaning spread of Thanksgiving edibles.

Therefore, to bring the focus back to gratitude, my family created the “Thankful Box.” Here’s how to incorporate the Thankful Box at your family gathering:


1. Get an empty shoebox and decorate it. My sister created ours when she was a kid and covered all the sides with construction paper and harvest themed construction paper cut outs. Be creative. When you are finished decorating, cut a slot into the box top. Here is the one we use, endearingly worn from many years of enjoyment:

2. The day before Thanksgiving, or on Thanksgiving morning, set out the box and place a post-it note pad and pen next to it.

3. Invite family and friends to write down things they are thankful for on the post-it notes, fold the note up, and place it in the box. They can jot down things both serious and funny (when we had a pet, someone would always insert a note ostensibly from the pet. For example: “I am grateful for my litter box.” For some reason, this never got old). Keep the notes anonymous.

4. During the Thanksgiving meal, and after people have chowed down for awhile, open the box and begin to pass it around the table. Each person draws a note from the box, reads it, and then passes it to the next person. Part of the fun is guessing who wrote which note.

This is always a highlight of the meal and can be both heart warming and laugh inducing. Most importantly, it takes a moment to focus on gratitude.

Remember, frugality involves more than just counting your pennies; it is about living a life in which you are grateful for what you have.

What are some frugal and fun Thanksgiving traditions that you and your family enjoy? Add to the conversation! Drop a line in the comment box.