My kids say a “gratitude” before lunch at their Montessori school. It’s an inclusive, nondenominational grace or mealtime prayer they use to express gratitude for the food and fellowship.
We decided it would be nice for our family to say a gratitude before meals at home, too. So we made our own set of cards to keep on the kitchen table. We take turns choosing and reading a gratitude before each family meal. It’s the perfect way to spend just a minute or two reflecting on how lucky we are to have a good meal (and each other), connecting to each other and appreciating the moment.
Feel like inspiring a little “attitude of gratitude” in your family this holiday season, and all year long? Here’s my step-by-step guide for making your own family gratitude cards:
1. Choose the perfect container.
We had a small wooden box with our family’s name carved in it, which seemed like the perfect thing to keep at the center of our table and house our gratitude cards. Maybe you have something similar. Otherwise, you can find a pretty tea tin, recipe box or other container that would look nice in a prominent place on the kitchen or dining table. Whatever you choose, measure the inside dimensions of the container so you know what size to make your cards.
2. Find meaningful quotes, prayers or graces.
Depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs, you might already have an idea of what you want to print on your gratitude cards. Our family is Unitarian Universalist, so I searched for mealtime graces or prayers on the Unitarian Universalist Association website. I found a lot of good ones on this Favorite UU Table Graces PDF. I also liked some of these Graces from Many Traditions, including some Native American, Buddhist, Islamic and Pagan blessings.
Here are other sources of mealtime blessings and graces you might want to check out:
- Christian Grace and Mealtime Blessings (from Guideposts)
- Mealtime Prayers (from JesuitResource.org)
- Mealtime Blessings Around the World (from Spirituality & Health)
- Grace After Meals (from Chabad.org)
- Prayers During Meals (from About.com’s Islam Expert)
- Mealtime Blessings (from Hinduism Today)
- The Five Contemplations/Meal Gathas (from Buddhist Global Relief)
3. Print your gratitudes.
You should have your measurements of the insides of your container by now, so make sure you use those to create the right card sizes. I copied and pasted the text of my favorite gratitudes that I found online into a Microsoft Word document. Then I adjusted the font, font size and margins so each quote would fit within those dimensions.
Print them on whatever paper you like. I just used regular printer paper. If you don’t plan to laminate them, you might want to opt for a thicker card stock.
4. Cut the cards.
You can use scissors or a paper cutter (if you have one, you’ll get straighter edges this way) to cut the printed gratitudes into cards. I would suggest cutting a few cards and testing them to fit in your chosen container. If they don’t fit, you’ll either have to trim the edges or adjust the fonts/quote size and reprint.
One other note: If you’re going to laminate your gratitude cards, which I do recommend to make them last and stay nice, leave a little extra room for laminated edges. Initially, I didn’t allow for that and my finished cards didn’t quite fit in our box.
5. Get the kids to help decorate. (Optional)
You might want to involve the kids in your gratitude card project by asking them to help decorate the container and/or the printed cards. Since we already had our engraved wooden box, I didn’t want the kids painting it or adding anything to it. But if you start with a plain container, you could have them customize it with paint, marker, stick-on gems, etc.
Kids can also help color, illustrate or add stickers to the printed cards. That’s up to you.
6. Laminate your gratitude cards. (Optional)
As I said, I strongly encourage you to laminate your cards. You want these to be part of your family meals for years to come, right? And we all know that with food and drinks around, as well as less-than-careful hands and fingers, they’re bound to get messed up if the cards aren’t protected by a plastic outer layer.
I placed my cards into the laminating pouch, leaving space around each card. Once laminated, I let the pages cool for a bit and then trimmed around the cards, leaving about 1/4 inch of plastic edge around each one.
I’m making this step optional because I realize not everyone has a laminating machine, and you might not want to buy one just for this project.
7. Fill your box with gratitude!
It’s very satisfying when you put all those finished cards into your container and realize what it means. Your family will make a habit of showing appreciation and thankfulness for the meals you share. It’s one small moment in your busy day when you can all be grateful together.