Here's what I'm pulling together at the last minute for my family Thanksgiving party. Everyone will go home with a bag of tiny notes (some signed, some anonymous) telling them why the rest of us are grateful for them.
I'm going to arrange all 28 (!) bags on a side table so people can access them throughout the day. As funny as my family is, I'm sure some new inside jokes will be generated today and find their way into the thankful thoughts bags.
Don't have time to run to the craft store today? Try a similar idea using whatever you have lying around the house. Use envelopes or jars instead of bags. Use sticky notes instead of the index cards. Write directly on the envelopes or jars instead of using labels. Don't invite 28 people to Thanksgiving dinner (wink). There are lots of ways to make this even easier!
Small paper sacks (I bought mine at Michael's, size 3.5 in x 2 in. x 6.75 in)
Half-size index cards
A jar of pens
UPDATE: This was a giant hit at our Thanksgiving this year!
Sure, several of the men good-naturedly grumbled about being assigned "homework" when they just wanted to eat turkey, but I heard from their wives later on, and those same men pored over each and every note they received after getting home that night, trying to guess who had written the anonymous ones.
I emphasized that the activity was optional, but peer pressure convinced almost everyone to slip little notes of thanks into everyone else's bags. The bags were just sitting on a side table, available throughout the day, so people worked on the notes at their leisure. And the tiny size of the cards helped, too. A single sentence was enough! (I did make one rule: no airing of grievances. This isn't Festivus, after all.)
Note: We reserved a church for the day, in case you're wondering whose house is decorated with chalkboards and classroom tables.
I got a heart-melting text from my Dad the next day that said, "Thank you for the wonderful planning of our family Thanksgiving. I thought it was perfect. Your thoughtful activities* made it even more special. Your rolls were like my mom's. You are my creative one!" Worth every second of preparation.
*Activities, you ask? We also had an Instax photo booth available, which was a blast. Recollections photo prop kit purchased for 50% off at Michael's.