Thanksgiving Traditions: How to Make a “Thankful” Poster

Chirped by Tina and Cass

Every year at Thanksgiving, my husband’s family gets together under one roof to celebrate the holiday. This group is big on traditions, and for the past eleven years, without fail, we’ve created a special Thanksgiving “Thankful” poster. Each person decorates part of a long banner with something(s) they’re grateful for from the past twelve months. It’s a great way to reflect, give thanks and add a little extra fun to the holiday activities and decor. Maybe you’d like to start a similar tradition at your big feast this year? Here’s how to create your very own “Thankful” poster…

Supplies You Will Need:

    • a roll of white easel paper
    • 8.5 x 11″ white printer paper (at least 2 pieces per family member)
    • masking tape
    • colored pencils or markers
    • a large table or a couple of card tables set up in an out of the way location

The Set Up…

Thanksgiving traditions: How to make a Thankful poster

  • Roll out the easel paper to the length of the table (or beyond, for a big family).
  • Lay out the printer paper in a grid across the roll, two stacked pieces per guest or family member. These serve as placeholders for the lists or drawings to come. (The double layer will hide everyone’s handiwork until the “Big Reveal”). The number of guests determines the length of the paper roll. If you have an odd number, you can use the extra space for family pets or for the turkey itself. We always reserve a double spot in the middle of the roll for “Big Bird” to write what he is thankful for…
  • Place a small piece of masking tape at the top of each stack to hold the cover papers in place.
  • Arrange markers or colored pencils, regular pencils with erasers, and more masking tape on the table for everyone to access.

Pro Tip#1: You may want to use a double layer of easel paper to protect the table from marker bleed-through.

The Process…

Thanksgiving morning, start sending people, one at a time, to the basement (or wherever you’ve set up), to work on their section of the poster. Everyone chooses a spot, lifts the double paper cover, and draws out or lists something(s) they are thankful for from the past year. The rule is that you’re not supposed to repeat things from previous years, but there are ways around that… (“My kids” morphs to “Two little short people”, “My two favorite cub scouts”, “People I share DNA with”, etc… lol (-; )

Pro-Tip #2: Folks can use one of the cover sheets to sketch out their ideas first (if they’re afraid of commitment), but remind them to do their final version on the long poster. Over the years, someone inevitably forgets and does it on one of the smaller sheets. That’s ok, this is supposed to be fun! Just tape it down securely with scotch tape.

Thanksgiving traditions: How to make a Thankful posterOnce they finish their area, ask everyone to cover it back up, lightly tape down the bottom, and sign their name on the top paper. It’s ok if the artwork spills out a little around the edges. Then they should tag someone else to go take their turn. Younger kids may need a little help from their grownup of choice. No one else gets to see what others have drawn until after the big feast. During the course of the morning and afternoon before Thanksgiving dinner, everyone excuses themselves for a bit to create their thankful picture. Once everyone is done, the roll of paper can be moved carefully to the dining room and hung near the table until the unveiling.

Let’s Talk, Turkey!

If you decide to have a spot on your poster for the turkey, you can take turns, draw names, or ask for volunteers from year to year to decide who the “translator” will be. Or, you can have an officially designated Turkey Spokesperson. I’ve held that lofty position for the last ten years, but I think one of my nieces is just about ready to take over…? (At least, I hope she is, I’m starting to run out of ideas!) My turkeys have been thankful for things like Easter Hams, Fasting, Vegetarians, Camouflage, Christmas Roast Beast, and more recently, Tofurkey! Yes, that is actually a thing – as is Thanksgiving Cabbage…

The Big Reveal

We usually do the “Big Reveal” after we clear the dishes from the feast and before dessert. It’s a fun activity to do while your stomachs are settling. You can go around the table in order, or take volunteers as the spirit moves them. “Big Bird’s” spokesperson always goes first at our gathering. Each person gingerly removes the taped papers from their drawing and tells the story behind the picture or list that they made. This is typically accompanied by much oohing, ahhing, applause and side stories about particular elements that other family members may have had a part in. Cass made this Thankful drawing just for this post – about her trip to Arizona for her son’s graduation!

Yearly Tradition

Thanksgiving traditions: How to make a Thankful posterAs the Thankful poster is now an annual event for us, my in-laws have saved all the past years’ posters to deck the halls prior to Thanksgiving Day. This gives us a chance to stroll down Memory Lane, and remind ourselves of what was going on and important to us at different points in our lives. It’s also a way to fondly remember family members who are no longer with us, through these “snapshots” in their own handwriting from years gone by. I’ve heard of other families doing something similar with fabric markers and a well-loved tablecloth that everyone writes on at dinner. Pictured here is our very first go at this awesome tradition, before we thought to use easel paper. The kids decorated outlines of their hands with feathers and googly eyes and then everyone got a turkey to “stuff” with what they were thankful for. My favorite is my nephew’s, who was thankful for “Blue” at the time… he was two.

Hope this “How-To” inspires you to start or enhance your own family Thanksgiving traditions! How do you put the thanks into the giving season? Give us a Peep below! Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

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2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Traditions: How to Make a “Thankful” Poster

  1. That is so awesome. Since my family is not as wonderfully traditional like ours, Jillian and I will be at a hotel with an indoor pool and John will be at the office. In January, we will get together with my siblings. Maybe we will have to make thankful snowmen.

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