A Christmas present that will last all year


Patrice Koerper  Speaker Wishful Thinking Works Christmas Gift 2My wonderful friend Melissa was inspired by the concept of gratitude writing and gratitude letters and developed this wonderful holiday idea. I loved it and asked her to share it with all of you. Melissa and I met when she joined our Wishful Thinking Women Meetup in Cape Coral, Florida in May of 2012.

For the first time since I moved to Florida on my own in 2010, my children – all five of them, their families and a few friends will be spending the holiday at my home in Florida. Knowing there will be at least 9 to 12 people present, I started thinking of how to make this a special and stress free holiday.

Anyone reading Wishful Thinking Works is familiar with the concept of gratitude writing and letters. With that thought in mind, I came up with a twist that I thought would be fun, and will encourage my family to share the Christmas spirit and express their gratitude for one another.

Before they arrive, I will have a craft table set up with an assortment of small boxes – large enough to hold 3×5 index cards, along with a variety of materials for decorating them so everyone can create their own “Gratitude Box”. (Sort-of like decorating Valentine’s Day boxes as kids.) I’ll have colored paper, pens and pencils, markers, crayons, paints, glue, glitter, holiday stickers, ribbon, lace, etc.  Throughout Christmas Eve day each person will choose a box to decorate any way they like – it can be plain and simple, whimsical, or a total work of art! (Depending on your budget and family size, you can buy fancy pre-decorated boxes or simple envelopes or bags to decorate. I like the idea of decorating the boxes, because it extends the time we spend together and puts everyone into a festive mood.)

Preprinted cards will available, too. Each person will fill in a set of cards to share with one another. The set of three cards will include:

  • What I love about you…
  • Thank you for…
  • My holiday wish for you …

Since I want this to be from the heart, and not a stressful situation thrown at them without notice, I also wrote a set of cards for each person, and sent the cards to them after Thanksgiving. I asked that they reflect ahead of time what they would like to write on the cards to their brothers and sisters at Christmas. (I’m keeping the crafting of the boxes a surprise – well until now, but if you use the idea, keep this part a secret until they arrive.)

Just as with a gratitude letter, the most important aspect of sharing their thoughts, will be to read aloud the cards to the person they are presenting them to.  It can be a private moment, or if they want to share with everyone that is fine, too.  Again… whatever is comfortable – no stress! To get everyone started, I will share my cards with them.

I really do think this will be a meaningful holiday experience for us, and that we will continue sending gratitudes to each other throughout the year. And, hopefully our personalized Gratitude Boxes will remind each of us throughout the year how much we are loved and appreciated.


  • Boxes for decorating – paper, wood, gift sacks, or envelopes –  from $0.99 to under $5.00 at larger craft stores
  • Paints, stickers, ribbons, etc. – easy to find, and if you shop the pre/post holiday sales you will be able to get some super bargains. I bought a ton of stuff 50% off!
  • Click Melissa’s template printed or use 3 x 5 cards. (The sheet can be sent to everyone ahead of time. (Get creative – design your own in MS WORD or Publisher.)

Melissa and I would love to know what you think of her idea. You still have plenty of time to make it work for your family this Christmas; gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving and may turn out to be one of the best Christmas presents you share with your family. Let us know how it goes, and any ideas you have for adapting it to your holiday gatherings.

Have fun!

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