6 Holiday Activities That Help Your Child Express Gratitude

As the winter coats come out of hibernation and we enjoy the holiday season, this is the time of year when we often turn our minds towards gratitude. What are some of the major things that have happened for you and your family this year? What do you feel grateful for? Even when a year has presented many challenges, learning to feel and express gratitude is an important skill for a growing kid to learn as they become their most compassionate, empathetic, vibrant self. 

We made a list of our favorite ways to talk about gratitude with the children in our lives. Whether you’re celebrating what you’re thankful for or making space for harder conversations, we hope these activities bring you and your child closer together this holiday season.

1: Perform Random Acts of Kindness

This one’s easy to do without any prep. While you’re out running errands, have your child help you keep an eye out for small, kind things the two of you can do for someone else. Ask an elder if they need help getting their groceries to their car! Return the wallet that fell out of that stranger’s pocket! Pay for the coffee of the mom with two wiggly kids behind you in line! 

Random acts of kindness don’t have to be big gestures, and the recipient doesn’t even need to know it was you who was behind it. The point is to do something kind and generous that, even if just for a moment, brings everyone together.

2: Create A Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

With a piece of paper and a pen, sit down with your kid and write a list of things the two of you will look for while you take a walk outside together. For example, look for something in nature that:

  • Makes you smile
  • Is your favorite color
  • Makes a pretty sound
  • Feels soft to touch
  • You could use to make a heart shape
  • Is the perfect resting spot

Take your checklist with you on your walk and share your answers with one another as you find them!

3: Celebrate Family Traditions – And Make Some New Ones, Too

What are some of the ways your own parents, grandparents, and family members celebrated the holiday season with you that you loved when you were growing up? Maybe someone taught you how to make a beloved family recipe. Maybe your mom used to put on the same music at this time of year. Maybe you always took a walk as a family to look at the Christmas lights in your neighborhood. Perhaps there are cultural or heritage-related activities you and your family did together that you’re now excited to pass on to your own children. 

Bringing traditions forward from generation to generation is a beautiful way to come together each year. In addition, you can make your own traditions, too! Ask the child in your life what they love about this time of year, and find a way to integrate that into your celebrations as the weather turns colder. 

4: Explore The Beauty Of Another Culture Together

Celebrating your family’s heritage and traditions are definitely important – but another fun way to come together with your kiddo and feel grateful for each other’s presence is to learn something new! Check out the events calendar at your local YMCA and see if there are any cultural dance classes coming up that the two of you could try. Pick a recipe from a culture you know little about and visit a local grocery store to find all the ingredients. Pick out a movie together that talks about identities different from the ones you live with. Learning something new together can bring you together, fast – especially when you make mistakes while doing it!

5: Honor The Memories Of Those You Love

The holiday season isn’t always an uplifting time for everybody. Loved ones pass on or move or leave our lives, and experiencing times of celebration and reflection without them can feel painful. This holiday season, find ways to honor those who, for whatever reason, are no longer with you. Create an altar that celebrates who they were and keeps their spirit alive in your home. Make two cups of tea – one for you, one for your child – and sit down together to share memories of loved ones. Bake a treat they loved together. 

Remembering the losses you’ve experienced will feel painful, but on the other side of that pain is getting a chance to express gratitude for what they taught you, the love you shared, and how they live on in your lives. You’ll also show your kiddo that feeling sad is okay, and that grief is just the other side of joy.

6: Read A Book On Gratitude Together

We may be a little biased, but here at ColorPop Books, we think there’s no better way to come together than through the power of diverse storytelling. This is the perfect time of year to cuddle up with a warm blanket and a book about gratitude that your child will love. 

If you’re looking for recommendations, we love We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, a book featured in our Indigenous Stories Book Bundle that draws inspiration from the Cherokee word for gratitude to illustrate modern Cherokee life. Written by an enrolled member of the Cherokee nation, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is a beautifully illustrated book that will teach your child about all the ways in which we can express and feel gratitude.