Thanksgaming | Dr. Ginger Garner

I want to encourage everyone at Thanksgiving, which can be a tough time for some of us. And during this pandemic, it’s a tough time for all of us.

I want to share a game (no computer needed!) that has brought me and my family such joy and connection through the years.

I started playing it when I was in my 20’s at Thanksgiving, so this year will mark nearly 30 years of playing it. And for those of you who don’t like games (like me), don’t worry, it’s not that kind of game.

This game is an easy way to get your family members to open up and share. Even in the toughest of non-sharers, this game ALWAYS works. It’s called Thanksgaming. 

Thanksgaming Setup

  1. Set the dinner table. Each person needs a place setting even if you have to bust out an old card table.
  2. Compile the list of guests who will attend Thanksgiving dinner.
  3. On individual slips of paper or small cards, write one name on each slip of paper until every person has a card with their name on it.
  4. Randomly place the card under each place setting. Don’t peek!
Thanksgaming | Dr. Ginger Garner

Practicing big gratitude with my first son, almost 15 years ago now. Grandfather Mountain, NC


  1. When everyone has taken their place at the table, tell them to look under their dinner plate and find a person’s name on the card. It’s very important that they NOT LET ANYONE ELSE SEE THEIR CARD! Do not share the identity on the card with anyone else.
  2. During dinner, they are to think of 3 things they appreciate or are thankful for about the person on their card. (Okay, if 3 is too hard or you have a gazillion guests, then just have them think of 1 thing.)
  3. At a time you designate as special, maybe at the close of the meal or during dessert or coffee time, everyone gets to share the 3 ways they are thankful for the person on their card.
  4. Extra tip: You may want to set out an extra box of tissues. 
  5. That’s it! 

The years I have played the Thanksgaming on Thanksgiving have by far been the most memorable and meaningful. Try it, you just may find yourself (more than pleasantly) surprised, not to mention encouraged and loved.

This post was first written in 2009, and I update it every year I play the game. Enjoy!