Thanks and Giving – Paying Blessings Forward

22 Comments
posted on November 8, 2012 by  |  posted under Thanksgiving

Paying Blessings Forward
Paying Blessings Forward

Have you ever noticed that there are two active components to the word “Thanksgiving”?  One calls on us to be thankful and express our gratitude, and the other calls on us to be giving.  On one hand, the Thanksgiving season is a time for counting our blessings.  On the other, it’s a time to consider ways in which we can pay our blessings forward.  The free printable chart below allows you to begin tracking both.

Paying Blessings Forward

Place the printout into a clear plastic sleeve (the three ring binder type with the rings cut off).  This allows it to be reused and written on with a dry erase marker.  Other ways to make the printout reusable are to laminate, or frame it and write on the glass or plastic.  Consider printing one for each member of the family, and then run a contest – who has the longest list of things they are thankful for?  Who comes up with the most ideas for being giving, or ways they have shown an act of kindness in the past?  Keep a writing implement close by with this little “cornucopia” holder:

Paying Blessings Forward

Roll a piece of cardstock into a cone shape and tape it, then punch holes in opposite sides with a paper punch for tying a ribbon through so the cone can hang next to the chart.  Craft stores also sell cone shapes that are a bit sturdier (and cuter I’m sure!) but this one does the job.  Now click on the chart below to print yours!

Paying Blessings Forward

Once lists are completed, start a discussion!   Did anyone have similar ideas for ways to be more kind, giving, or helpful to others?  Are there ways in which the family can actively implement these ideas?  Life presents many opportunities for giving.  Driving around in the car with my kids last year inspired ways to help the homeless.  Questions like, “Why is that man sleeping on the ground” or “what is that person doing standing on the side of the street?” led to brainstorming ways we might be able to help.  So I went in search of an idea a little more meaningful than leaving some spare change in a canister and came across the idea for “Blessings Bags” on the internet.  It was a project we decided we wanted to do as a family.  Here’s what we included in the bags:

Paying Blessings Forward

Items:  1. Wet Wipes  2. Mint gum  3.  lemonade flavor packets  4. band-aids  5 . cough drops  6. raisins  7. bottles of water  8. plastic spoons (for the fruit cups)  9. kleenex packets 10. mini snickers bars  11. mandarin oranges or other fruit cups  12. applesauce  13. peanut butter sandwich crackers  14.  fruit snacks  15. granola bars  16. potato chips  17. combs  and, gallon ziploc bags to pack everything in.  Here they are, completed:

Paying Blessings Forward There were leftover items so I incorporated them into some smaller blessings bags that you see on the far left.  Pack them in a box like so:

Paying Blessings Forward And have them in the car with you at all times, ready to go.  Here’s an “up close” detail  of an individual package below.  It’s like handing someone a present and feels so good to give.  In a pinch, having these bags inside the car has been a blessing to my own family.  On outings that have turned unexpectedly long, leaving my kids cranky and hungry, I’ve had an emergency stash of goodies to choose from that contain enough variety to please everyone.

Paying Blessings Forward

For a final “Pay it Forward” idea, give the movie by the same name to someone at Thanksgiving with a challenge for them to pass it on (and on, and on) to as many others as possible prior to Christmas.  The movie instructs, “When someone does you a favor, don’t pay it back, pay it forward.”  It has a PG-13 rating however, and is not intended for children.  Send it along with some snacks to enjoy with the movie and see what happens!

Paying Blessings Forward

I’d love to know what traditions you have during the holiday season that are along the lines of “Gratitude, Giving, & Paying Blessings Forward”.  Please share in the comments below so that we may all benefit from a benevolent collection of ideas!

Paying Blessings Forward

 

 

22 Comments
COMMENTS
  1. November 8th, 2012 at 10:06 am
    Traci B says:
    Love the Thanks and Giving idea - thank you!
    • November 8th, 2012 at 10:50 am
      Stephanie says:
      You're welcome. I'm glad you like it!
  2. November 13th, 2012 at 5:58 pm
    Nadine Osborne says:
    What wonderful ideas. We don't have homeless in our small, rural town; but this Blessings Bags would still work for those who need extra food for their children. Could even add a small toy. Thank you for sharing.
    I know my family has much to be thankful for, we do go around the table taking turns saying out loud what we're thankful for. It's always nice to be reminded of what we enjoy every day & often take for granted.

    Nadine
    • November 14th, 2012 at 11:36 am
      Stephanie says:
      I love the idea of adding a small toy, Nadine! Thanks so much for posting it. It sure would be a nice way to give to families in the community.
  3. November 13th, 2012 at 10:32 pm
    Jana Rasmussen says:
    Great ideas!! I for sure want to do the blessing bags with my girls. We have also gone to retirement homes and read "Thankful" books and told stories.
    • November 14th, 2012 at 10:00 pm
      Stephanie says:
      That's awesome, Jana! I'll bet the residents of the retirement homes were delighted to have your girls there to brighten their day!
  4. November 14th, 2012 at 8:58 am
    Crystal says:
    I just started following your blog and absolutely love it!! We have so many homeless around Houston and these bags will be great to keep in the car especially since I don't carry cash and like to give food rather than money. Great idea!! Thanks!!
    • November 14th, 2012 at 11:41 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you, Crystal! It's exciting for me to know you'll be able to implement this idea in Houston. My husband and I have found it really gratifying to be able to hand these out while looking each recipient in the eye with warm smile and kind words to let them know you care. There is something about a face to face encounter that gives so much humanity and dignity to a person as well as the supplies. Warms my heart to think others will be paying this idea forward!
  5. November 14th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
    Missy says:
    This is fantastic! Not just be thankful, but DO something to bless other people's lives. Great ideas Stephanie - thanks!
    • November 14th, 2012 at 5:41 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Thanks so much, Missy! I'm grateful to have the chance to share these ideas. :-)
  6. November 15th, 2012 at 9:28 am
    Heather - Chickabug says:
    These are such a wonderful ideas, Stephanie! I shared the Thanks and Giving board on my blog today:

    http://www.chickabug.com/blog/2012/11/ways-to-share-your-thanks.html

    I really applaud you for the care bags for the homeless, too. That's something that will make an immediate difference in people's lives (wet wipes, combs, and band aids? SO SMART!) and make a huge impact on your kids as well. That sort of giving is a lesson they'll never forget!
    • November 15th, 2012 at 10:19 am
      Stephanie says:
      Wow! Thanks for including the post on your blog - I would love to see the "Thanks" & "Giving" sign - redone chickabug style! Feel free if the spirit moves you :-)... The bags make a difference in so many ways. Though I'll never know the impact or usefulness they have to the recipient, the exchange and interaction we are able to have with another human being is priceless for us. My kids get to see and participate in compassion in action and that's important for me as a mom to show them tha they can "be the change" for good in the world. My husband keeps some of the bags in his car too and reported that he was surprised the first time he gave someone a bag - how rewarding it was. It's a good feeling!
  7. October 14th, 2013 at 7:58 pm
    tiffany monroe says:
    We have done this before but we added things like ChapStick, little lotion bottles and winter gloves and socks you get from the dollar store. Also the last time we included a little notepad and pen as well.
    • October 15th, 2013 at 3:36 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Those cold weather items are such great things to add to bags where the winters are especially harsh and the notepad and pen is a great idea I hadn't thought of. Thanks, Tiffany!
  8. October 19th, 2013 at 4:41 pm
    Seri says:
    Thank you so much for the Blessing Bags idea. We volunteer weekly at a shelter in Fort Worth, but I have been trying to think of ways to help those I meet while driving as I usually don't have cash. I am thinking with Sam's Club bulk packages and looking for coupons and sales for other things that you could make lots of bags for not a ton of money. Thank you so much for this post!
    • October 19th, 2013 at 10:23 pm
      Stephanie says:
      You're welcome Seri, and thank you so much for taking the ideas and turning them into action. You will, without a doubt, have some very happy beneficiaries of your kindness!
  9. November 5th, 2013 at 3:11 pm
    Marcie Pomeroy says:
    I would like to include a link to your Thanks Giving Board on my new blog, but I also wanted to download the printable. When I click on the photo, it is just opening the webpage in another window, but not the printable. Can you email me the printable? or let me know what I'm doing wrong:) Can I recreate the idea on my own computer with a link? Please let me know what works best. Thank you!
    • November 6th, 2013 at 8:33 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Hi Marcie-

      Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention. The link has been fixed so you should have success in printing it now!
  10. November 5th, 2013 at 5:14 pm
    Diane says:
    I think this is a great idea but wanted to make a suggestion for what goes in the bag... many of the homeless I have worked with had dental issues and were unable to eat hard foods that required biting or lots of chewing (apples, beef jerky, nuts, etc) Soft foods like the mandarin oranges and fruit gummies you have pictured are perfect.
    • November 6th, 2013 at 9:33 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you so much Diane, the information you provided is very helpful! We definitely want to include items that are useful and easy to consume. Great tip!
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