For several years now, I’ve started Thanksgiving dinner by asking each person to share something he or she is thankful for. I’m met by groans (from the kids) or eye-rolling (from the uncomfortable adults). Rarely do more than a couple of people say anything.

Then I heard about the Gratitude Bowl.  This is a great way to ease your family and guests into talking about gratitude and sharing what each is thankful for.

Here’s how to serve up some gratitude—without getting attitude—at your Thanksgiving table. This recipe can be adjusted for groups of any size and adapted to include all ages. All you’ll need is some colorful construction paper, a festive bowl and a little quiet time.

First, you’ll have to do a little research.  Using the Internet or reference books of quotations, find several quotes about gratitude. You can use the words of famous people from the past or present, poems, song lyrics or traditional sayings.  You may already have some family favorites of your own. (My mother: “Just be grateful that you have your health.”)  Keep in mind the mix of ages and reading levels in your group. Check our Resources (below) for suggestions.

Print the quotations on construction paper cut in the shape of autumn leaves, and put the leaves in a holiday bowl.

For younger children, who are pre- or early readers, find (or take with your digital camera) pictures of people, places and things that have special meaning for the children—a grandparent, favorite place, pet, new baby or an image of the child with her mom or dad. Attach these pictures to leaves of a different color (to distinguish from the ones that require reading) and mix them into the bowl.

Pass the Bowl

As the bowl is passed, during dinner or before, each guest selects and reads his “leaf.”

Say Thanks
As your friends and family help each other understand what the quotations really mean, they will bring up examples from their own lives.  And you’ll have gratitude in abundance — without the groans.

On the Web
Daily Celebrations
The Quotations Page
Wisdom Quotes

Bartlett’s Quotations
At the Library
Bartlett‘s Familiar Quotations
The Oxford Book of Quotations
The Book of Positive Quotations by John Cook
Random House Webster’s Quotationary