Several years ago, my sister Chelsea introduced a new holiday tradition: the Thanksgiving Jar. It’s a visible way of counting our blessings, and now it appears every November first. Basically it’s a jar with a pencil and strips of orange and yellow construction paper—but it’s what inside that’s important.
From November first until thanksgiving, everyone in the family writes down whatever they’re grateful for, signs their name, and puts them in the jar. The blessings can be serious or silly or by famous people or childhood imaginary friends. (Dolly Parton may or may not have thanked plastic surgeons last year. I may or may not have written that one.) Then at the big family Thanksgiving dinner, we each take turns pulling a paper out and reading it out loud. Around here, we believe that anything can be a blessing, even a belly laugh at a joke in the Thanksgiving jar—no fuddy-duds allowed!
Only one rule: you can’t read one that you wrote! So If I pull out one of my own, I have to put it back. Besides, it’s more fun to hear someone else read “Courtney is thankful for hunky TV cowboys.”
In this post, I’ll walk you through how to make your own Thanksgiving Jar, and I’ve included a free printable of the label that I made for mine! Plus, I’ll tell some of my favorite blessings from previous years.
The Thanksgiving Jar
A mason jar. Pint size will work, but a quart is better if you have room for it. We use a plastic jar because it’s safer around little ones.
Simple decorations. A ribbon around the top is good. I made a label for mine, and I made a printable with 4 different labels you can cut out and affix using double stick tape. Download it HERE. (Please use for your own personal use only.)
Paper cut into slips. Orange and yellow are good fall colors, but whatever.
Directions are practically unnecessary, but here they are: Pretty up the jar with simple decorations. (In the picture above, I made a simple printable label and attached it with double stick tape. You can use sticker paper if you have it. The ribbon is a scrap of canvas drop cloth.)
Place the jar, paper, and pencil in an easily accessible location (near the food is always a good choice) and encourage everyone to participate. Grandparents, moody teenagers, little ones, and even visitors should be told about the Thanksgiving Jar.
Speaking of little ones, they may not be able to write their own blessings, so always be available to write it for them or help them with their spelling.
This is what the printable looks like, but it’s too small to print. Download the full-size one here.
We also never throw them away after Thanksgiving. Every piece of paper goes into a ziplock baggie with the date written on the bag. Maybe 20 years from now we’ll reread them again and laugh and cry and remember.
I’ll get you started by sharing a few of our past blessings:
Reruns of 80’s tv shows–Courtney
Fried food—Halle Jo
McDonalds happy hour—Chelsea
Rubber gloves—Ben the garbage man
Cookies and cream candy bars—Jaxie
Thanksgiving dinner—Halle Jo
Paper parasols and potpourri—Courtney (I did not write that btw. I believe it was Chelsea’s handwriting.)
Milk and Pepsi—Leo
Thanksgiving—The Pilgrims (this was actually written by Halle Jo)
And my personal favorite from last year….
Life, love, and the pursuit of bearded men—Courtney