On November 1st, the Halloween decorations come down and in their place pop up fall and Thanksgiving decor. One of my family’s favorite decorations is a thankful tree that takes up a good portion of the wall in our family room. It’s giant. I have to use a stool to reach the highest branches. It takes a little bit of time to put together. But we are going on our third year doing it and every year I love it even more. My kids get excited when I tell them the thankful tree is going up and it warms my heart to see them so happy to share the things they are thankful for each day. It’s become one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions and today I want to share with you how to make your own.
To make your own thankful tree, you’ll need the following supplies:
- 3-4 large brown paper bags
- masking tape
- scotch tape
- construction paper
- basket or box (to store leaves in)
Open up the paper bags, starting at the bottom and then up one side so that you have one big (semi) flat piece of brown paper. Make the trunk first. I usually fold one bag in half and then cut it so I have two equally wide pieces of paper. Crumple up the paper, unfold it, and crumple again if it needs it. This just adds a little bit of texture. Tear off a piece of masking tape, roll it up and stick it to the back of the paper. I start at the bottom two corners and secure it to the wall and then add 2-3 more pieces of tape on the back to make sure it stays stuck to the wall. It’s completely up to you how tall you make the trunk, but keep in mind that you’ll be adding larger “branches” to the tree that will add to the height. (Mine ended up being a little taller than I meant, but it was too late to change it unless I wanted to untape and move all the branches lower.)
From here, use your creativity to make 3-4 larger branches of varying length, then add medium and small branches to each of the large ones. Remember to crumple each branch before taping it to the wall. There’s not a real science to it, just keep cutting and taping until it looks somewhat like a tree with no leaves.
Next, you’ll want to grab your construction paper to make some leaves. We use yellow, orange, red and green for ours. On each sheet of paper, draw a basic leaf shape–an oval with pointed ends. (I can fit 9 on each page.) Then cut out each leaf. I use the shapes as a template, mostly for spacing. I like to cut out bigger leaves than what I draw so I’m not wasting paper, then I just turn them over so you can’t see the pen marks. I recommend cutting out at least three sheets of each color to start with, but you’ll definitely end up cutting more out over the month. My daughter, who is in kindergarten this year, has been working on her cutting skills so I gave her a few sheets of leaves to cut out and she did pretty good! Plus, I think she really liked being involved in the process. (You could also use a cutting machine like a Silhouette to cut the leaves for you.)
Store your leaves in a basket or box with a pen and tape inside and leave it out near the tree if possible.
Encourage your family to write down at least one thing they are thankful for each day, any time they happen to think of something. My kids ask me to write down things they are thankful for multiple times a day. I remind them to try and think of different things so they aren’t writing “family” or “car” every day. It’s really helped them to remember all of the many things and people and acts of service they are grateful for. (If you have younger kids who are learning to write, you can use this as a time to help them practice their skills. *wink*)
Speaking of traditions, we have two other fun ones that we do in the month of November. The first is a new one we started just this year called Deeds of Gratitude. You can check out the full post here with ideas on how to introduce it to your family and implement it. The second one is called a Book of Thanks. It is basically a binder with some paper and pens in it that I take to Thanksgiving dinner each year and have everyone write down what they are thankful for, with a picture of the group, the menu and any crafts or coloring done that year. You can read more about how to make your own Book of Thanks here!
As much as I think we try to enjoy and celebrate Thanksgiving, it can be hard with Christmas right around the corner and all the stores and sales and kids making lists. But I truly believe that if you work on establishing some simple, but meaningful, traditions in your family around this time of year, you’ll enjoy the entire holiday season more fully.
What are your Thanksgiving traditions?