family celebrating at thanksgiving
family celebrating thanksgiving

8 Ways To Make This Thanksgiving Even More Meaningful

Posted on November 19, 2021 by Henry Ford Health Staff

We always have much to be grateful for, but this Thanksgiving we’re especially grateful for the COVID-19 vaccines, which are allowing more of us to gather safely with family. (A friendly PSA: If you haven’t done so yet and you are eligible, be sure to get your COVID-19 booster shot before the holidays.) Then, make this Thanksgiving one to remember by starting a few new traditions, especially if you are hosting:

  1. Pass the chef hat. As host, you can provide the centerpiece of your family’s feast—i.e., the turkey. But take some of the pressure off yourself and let guests participate by having them bring the rest. Assign specific side dishes or desserts—or live on the wild side and let each guest surprise you.
  2. Give up your phone. Make your home a phone-free zone. “We spend enough time throughout the year following friends and family on social media, so on Thanksgiving, spend the day following each other in real life,” says Andrew New, M.D., a psychiatrist with Henry Ford Allegiance Health. “Ask that guests leave their phones near the door and focus on connecting with each other.”
  3. Dine and donate. Have your guests bring a can of food that will be donated to restock the shelves of your local food pantry or homeless shelter. (Mittens or socks are other donation ideas!)
  4. Virtually connect with out-of-town family members. Arrange a time for friends or family who can’t gather at your table to join virtually. (A carryover tradition from last year!) Seeing familiar faces and hearing the voices of those you love can make you feel closer. “Holidays like Thanksgiving can be a source of joy, but they can also cause a sense of isolation for those who can’t be with family or who are grieving the loss of a loved one,” says Dr. New. “Being intentional about helping everyone feel included goes a long way toward maintaining those important connections.”
  5. Create memorabilia. Set your dining table with a tablecloth in a light, solid color. Let guests use colorful fabric pens to autograph the cloth anywhere they choose. (Be sure to put something under the cloth to protect the surface of your table.) This one-of-a-kind creation can be used every year, with signatures of new guests added each time.
  6. Open a gratitude jar. Have guests jot down words of thanks on small slips of paper and drop them into a large jar. Each Thanksgiving, open the jar and share the words of gratitude with everyone. Afterward, pass out the pencils and paper to start again.
  7. Get on your feet post-feast. There’s nothing like an after-dinner walk to stretch and feel refreshed. Use this outdoor time to make more memories in the crisp, cool air.
  8. Put praise in writing. Place a thank you card and blank envelope at each seat. Ask guests to write a note to someone who made a difference in their lives within the past year. The host can collect the notes and mail them the next day--and what a delight it will be for them to read! 
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To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit or call 1-800-436-7936.

Andrew New, M.D., is a psychiatrist who sees patients at Henry Ford Allegiance Outpatient Behavioral Health in Jackson.


Categories : FeelWell

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