12 Days of Thanksgiving


Ready for a New Holiday Tradition

Are you on a quest this year to instill characteristics and qualities in your children of compassion, kindness, respect, and hope? Are you ready for a new family tradition of giving? Here is a fun Thanksgiving gift activity for your family.  You may be most familiar with Christmas-giving based off “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” However, choose a holiday of your liking. Whatever holidays you may celebrate, you can adjust it to fit for your family whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic or Buddhist. Drop off gifts at the doorstep of another family’s home over the course of 12 days. It can be a lot of fun for kids!


How to Play

There are many ways to play this game, but here is what our family has chosen.

  1. Choose a Family. You will need to choose one family you will want to give to for a holiday. It could be a family from church struggling with a child with a life-threatening illness, a family being deported to their homeland, a friend who recently had a death in the family, an acquaintance who has lost a job or just a neighbor.
  2. Shop. Then the shopping begins. Purchase 12 days of special small gifts. Allow your children to participate in picking out the gifts. They could be from the dollar store and don’t need to be expensive. Practical gifts are always a plus!
  3. Set an intention. With each gift write a note to set an intention to give, connect, be satisfied, find beauty, provide for others, or find joy.
  4. Deliver the Gifts. Begin delivering the gifts 12 days before a holiday and drop off the last gift on the holiday. The most important thing is you and your children feel safe at whatever doorstep you arrive. In secret is the most fun, but if you don’t feel comfortable going to someone’s doorsteps when it is dark like I do, there is nothing wrong with going during the day! You and your family can dress up as an elf for Christmas, a bunny for Easter, a turkey for Thanksgiving, you get the idea.


Example of Twelve Days of Giving

The Thanksgiving turkey’s little helpers will be traveling to a member of our community to give 12 gifts as reminders of gratitude this year and here is what the family will be receiving:

Day 1- A stuffed animal turkey with colorful plumage… to remember the meaning of Thanksgiving

Day 2– Matching white turkey salt and pepper shakers… to have connection with others.

Day 3– Three scented hand sanitizers… to be cleansed and renewed.

Day 4– Four fall scented candles… to enjoy the beauty of scent.

Day 5– Five fall themed cloth napkins …  to give and provide for others.

Day 6– Six owls on a hand towel… to find beauty in nature.

Day 7– Seven stick on leaves… to be creative and decorate.

Day 8– Eight packages of travel Kleenex… to always be prepared.

Day 9– Nine owls on a glass container… to enjoy the pleasure of food.

Day-10– Ten Placemats with notes of gratitude… to always remember gratitude and thanks.

Day 11– Eleven Turkeys on a hand towel… to remember the abundance of food to offer.

Day 12– Twelve packs of hot chocolate… to find warmth and comfort.


On the 12th day, the last day’s note might look like this:

On the twelfth day of Thanksgiving, the Thanksgiving Turkey’s Helpers gave to me…

Twelve packets of hot chocolate (to find warmth and comfort)

Eleven Turkeys on a hand towel

Ten Thanksgiving placemats

Nine owls on a glass bowl

Eight travel Kleenex

Seven stick on leaves

Six owls on a hand towel

Five fall napkins

Four fall scented candles

Three hand sanitizers

Two matching turkey salt and pepper shakers and…

A stuffed turkey just for me.


A True Story of a Miracle: The 13th Gift

I first heard of the 12 days of Giving about 4 years ago when I received a book from a friend called the “A True Story of a Christmas Miracle: The 13th Gift” by Joanne Huist Smith. After the author’s husband died unexpectedly, she had no idea how she would keep her and her three children in the holiday spirit, especially with the holidays approaching. But 13 days before Christmas a poinsettia appeared on the author’s doorstep. The gifts began to work like magic on her and her family. This story is a reminder of the everyday miracles that can occur and that even the most broken hearts can be healed. If you decide to take on this new family tradition, you may find that by giving you will receive so much happiness especially when the entire family is involved!