With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching soon, this time of year is particularly meaningful to create handmade items to give honor and appreciation to what we are thankful for. This week I am introducing some of my groups to making a gratitude garland as a way to explore this theme.
I am keeping the garland construction simple: I’ve cut strips from 12 x 12 patterned scrapbook paper (different colors, designs), hole punched the ends to tie together with twine (rather than just stapling or using double sided tape- which is OK too!) to begin the making of a paper chain. Before tying the ends of the twine together, I wrote a list of what I am thankful for this year on the one side (which will become the inside) of the paper chain link.
Each chain link can also include an attached tag as a way to label with a significant word, quote or individual’s name. Letter stamping and using other rubber stamps to simply embellish can come in handy!
For a group offering, garlands can be made together formed by individuals contributing their own paper chain link(s) to the collective piece or individuals can work on their own garlands in the same group space. I also think adding an exchange of gratitude strips among group members would also be fun and add to a group’s supportive intention.
The benefits to engaging in a gratitude practice are many. Of course there is the wonderful byproduct of increased joy and compassion, but to also purposefully recognize what we hold appreciation for can help strengthen adaptive coping and empower a here and now awareness that we do have control over in our attitude, behavior, and actions with ourselves, others, & our experiences.
This article, Gratitude in the Midst of Trauma: Why Thankfulness Matters, especially describes the role gratitude can have in trauma recovery.
And…if you are looking for more garland inspired ideas, check out these artful ideas: