Show Your Thanks

by Melanie Farkas

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Saying "Thanks"

Most people I know don't expect a gift in the fall. That's what makes a Thanksgiving gift so much fun. I don't have to get anything expensive. I don't have to search for the "perfect" gift. I simply have fun putting together a hostess gift or fall holiday gift basket. It's a way I like to say thank you to my friends and family and celebrate the coming cold weather; we've got to celebrate it or else we'll mourn it!

With all the other holiday expenses on the way, I don't want to spend more than ten or twenty dollars on a Thanksgiving gift idea. Better yet, I like free gifts I can make or put together myself. These are all my favorites:

If you are invited to dinner, bring a quick and easy gift for the cook or the other guests:

  • jar of gourmet cranberry relish or apple butter

  • pumpkin spice bread mix

  • seasonal cookbook

  • an apron (There are pretty aprons, funny aprons, white chef aprons. Take your pick.)

  • ceramic pumpkin dish (with lid) or Fall-themed tin filled with dried cranberries

  • nutcracker and bag of nuts

  • couple dozen fresh or mail ordered tamales or other prepared ethnic food for a day after Thanksgiving feast

Plan ahead for an activity Thanksgiving gift idea to draw family and friends together and create your own traditions:

  • Fall scene puzzle to work on after dinner

  • board game for those uninterested in sports (like me!)

  • supplies for a letterbox hunt including stamp, ink pad, notepad and directions for a local hunt (Find out more about letterboxing at . My children love this treasure hunt activity. I love the exercise we get while doing it.)

  • a scavenger hunt list with a prize for the winning team or person

  • Have a small booklet or scrapbook titled "Things I Love About My Family" and pass it around for everyone to write in.

  • Bring a light, solid-colored table cloth and fabric markers. Have family and friends write on the tablecloth what they are thankful for, along with a signature and date. Make it a yearly tradition to add a "thank-you" to the tablecloth.

Use these personal Thanksgiving gift ideas for friends and co-workers who need to know that you are thankful to be a part of their lives:

  • Give a framed Fall-themed photo of you or your family. Years ago, my mom and dad got all seven of my siblings and me to dress in jeans and flannel shirts and took us to the Oklahoma Ouchita mountains for a photo shoot. The photographer was my future husband! He took some really nice pictures. You might also use a photo from a past Thanksgiving gathering.

  • Make a Holiday Organizer Notebook. You can buy one or put it together yourself with an ordinary spiral notebook, scrapbook or wrapping paper, stickers and headings like: Winter Calendar, Work/School Gift List, Family Gift List, Friends Gift List, Holiday Meal Planning, Events/Parties

  • wreath for door or table center piece

  • Buy new party music or create a custom mixture tape or CD at home.

  • Thanksgiving Cactus that blooms in November, not to be confused with the Christmas Cactus that blooms in December

  • Make a Memory Jar. Cut colored paper into small pieces. Using just a few words, write on each one a memory of an experience you had with the recipient that you are thankful for. Keep your memories short so you have time to think of dozens.

  • sample of one of your favorite holiday dishes plus a hand written copy of the recipe (When I give a recipe as a gift, I like to include a little story or memory about that recipe.)

  • new ornament, lights, or other holiday decoration plus a commitment that you will come help decorate for an hour or two

  • book that tells the story of the Pilgrims, such as Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford or Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World edited by Connie and Peter Roop

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Melanie Farkas is a writer from Kalamazoo, Michigan. You can see all of her great gift ideas at her website at

Take the Next Step

  • Get more frugal ideas to make your Thanksgiving extra special.
  • Create a Thanksgiving Tree or table cloth for your family and guests!
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