Thanksgiving tree

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion for ushering in the holiday season; it’s a time for stories, projects, cooking and sharing. That’s exactly what this post is about. I’ve linked up with five other bloggers, each sharing a piece of what the season has to offer. We have humor, thought, family projects and food. Mine is the family project…

What will you give thanks for this holiday? Among other things, I will be thankful that my tween and teen no longer clamor for glitter and construction paper; the days of craft projects are generally behind us. No more making turkeys out of their little handprints; no more paper pilgrim hats or feathered headdresses. I’m a little sad about that…wait. I’m over it.

But the crafts haven’t totally left the building. I host Thanksgiving dinner every other year, and this simple project is a wonderful way to add meaning to your holiday while beautifying your table or mantle.

thanksgiving tree


  • Leaf template (There are plenty of free ones online; I used this website and choose the oak leaf template 2)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Sharpie
  • Colored paper – red, orange, yellow, green
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Dead tree branches, trimmed to the size you’d like
  • Clear vase or similar glass container
  • Cranberries (a 12 ounce bag was enough to fill my vase)


1. Using the leaf template, cut out leaves in various colors of paper. To save time, I stacked the template on top of the colored paper and cut without tracing. It’s a craft, not a masterpiece.

2. Write “I’m thankful for…” on each leaf, leaving room for the rest of the sentence. I used eight leaves; use as many as you need for your family or Thanksgiving guests.

3. Punch a hole near the stem of each leaf, and thread ribbon or twine through. Tie off so that you have a loop to hang on the branch.

thanksgiving tree leaves

4. Arrange the branches in the glass vase. While holding the branches in place, pour the cranberries in the vase to serve as an anchor for the branches. This is easier with two pairs of hands. My kids run for the hills when I mention the word “craft,” so I did manage to do it alone. But it’s easier with help.

thanksgiving tree prep

5. Hang the leaves on the branches, and you are done!

That’s the crafty part. The meaningful part is writing what you are thankful for on the leaves. Some ideas:

If you are doing the project as a family, have each family member complete their leaf as you create the tree.


Leave the tree as is until Thanksgiving day. While your guests are milling around while you frantically try to baste the turkey, give them each a leaf to complete and hang on the tree.


Put a leaf and a pen on each plate when setting your Thanksgiving table. The leaves can serve as place cards or simply add color to your table. Guests can complete their leaf as they sit down for dinner, and then hang it on the centerpiece tree.

thanksgiving tree leaf on plate


Display your tree on an end table or mantle during the entire holiday season.
thanksgiving tree on mantel

Because every day – not just Thanksgiving – is a day to be thankful for.

I hope you’ll visit my fellow bloggers too – click on the blog names below to see what we’ve all put together for you.

164 - Thanksgiving Group Post

Home on Deranged
has a family post about the first and last Thanksgiving spent with mom.

The Rowdy Baker has posted a recipe for an Iced Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling.

Writer B is Me will share a humorous story about what happens when someone is asked to make the mashed potatoes one too many times.

PinkWhen shares a project you can display for Thanksgiving dinner and guests.

And Baking In A Tornado will share a recipe for that leftover turkey.


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  1. says

    Love this idea! And it’s simple enough that even I can do it without screwing it up!

    And how I LONG for the days when arts & crafts are no more. My four year old is ALL about cutting, coloring, and pasting right now. We have PILES of her artwork that rival the mountains of laundry. At least they cover up the dusty floors & furniture!

    • says

      Ha! I used to take pictures of my kids’ artwork and then toss it. Not all of it, but enough to get the piles out of the way. Now the piles are textbooks and dirty socks. Fabulous.

  2. says

    Totally just pinned this, because I love it and so want to try now. I have the PINcentive Blog Hop on my blog today, if you haven’t linked up already, please do, because this craft is truly awesome!! Thanks so much Dana :)

  3. says

    I am totally in that zone of construction paper and glitter glue!! Will it ever end? And yes, I know it will.
    This is really awesome and like Janine said, I hope you link it up!

    • says

      Putting in on the plate is my favorite too. My dishes are white, so the colored leaves really pop and give people something to do while I’m scrambling to get all the food to the table.

  4. says

    I can do this! I actually love this idea, BIG, Dana. I really like the idea of putting the leaves on the plates with a pen for the guests to fill out. Cool! And it’s so pretty! And even though I know for a fact my 6yo is going to write, “my penis” on his, I don’t even care cuz no one will be able to read his writing, and both boys will enjoy picking the branch and cutting the leaves out. Love it.

    • says

      Lol – hopefully it will look like he’s thankful for pens. Although my guess is most guys are thankful for their penis – they just won’t write it down. Let me know how it turns out if you do it!

  5. says

    I made something similar for my daughter’s first birthday. We had a wish tree in lieu of a guest book. Everybody had fun hanging their well wishes for my daughter. We kept all the notes which we shall give to her on her 18th birthday. I sure hope to God I’m still alive that time! LOL

  6. says

    Wow. I think I can manage this craft that doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. But wait, can I be thankful that Abby realizes I am completely not craftworthy and never makes me do that glitter stuff?

  7. says

    What a great idea! I had something similar for Christmas, but my dog ate it. I’ve been looking for something to take its place and this might just do it!

  8. says

    I hate projects. My kids don’t even know what construction paper is unless it’s at school. But this? THIS is something that I can actually DO and it has such a great purpose. Total bonus points for you Dana. This may be the very first craft I ever do!

  9. Lisa H. says

    Great idea. I like the cranberries in the vase. I try to use them for decoration because they are such a beautiful color. I also love the Wicked lyric on the mantel. Did you buy it or make it?

  10. says

    This is a craft even I could do! I love the spirit of it, so that no one has to feel like everyone is watching them while they write their comments. Then you can just look at the tree at your leisure, again without everyone feeling like they are being “spotlighted.”
    Glad we got to share this project! :)

    • says

      That’s a good point, Melissa. Not everyone wants to announce what they are thankful for as they sit around the dining room table. And I’m glad we got to share too!

  11. says

    What I like about this post, in addition to the clever craft, is your approach to crafts. “it’s a craft, not a masterpiece.” So very true and so often forgotten. I, too, am so glad the days of glitter (would still find it lurking around in June) and white glue are done. Elmer’s glue has gone bye bye. My children also run for the hills when I mention “craft” largely because they wish to avoid my typiKel frustration when said craft runs amok.
    Seriously though -I am so very sad our Canadian Thanksgiving is done for this year. I want to adorn the table with this craft. It’s brilliant – love, love the cranberries and the fact that I can provide my guests with distraction while I figure out how to fix the stove etc.

    • says

      I’m a perfectionist in many areas of my life, but crafting is not one of them! I prefer the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach, which works about half the time.

  12. says

    We do this too but put the leaves on the table. I love the idea of hanging them on a tree so they do not get damaged. I am a list lover too! :)

  13. says

    I will have to remember this craft for when I have kids…LOVE IT! Last year I made jars into little people with my bf at the time and we wrote things we were thankful for about each other and put them in the jar throughout the season and opened them on Xmas. It was sorta sweet :)

    • says

      Thanks, Catherine. It really is a project for any age, although you may get some grumbles from the non-sharers in the group!

  14. says

    This is a lovely “feel good” idea. And simple enough that I may be able to manage it! Plus, I could definitely get the kids involved with making this.

  15. says

    I like it. An easy DIY that even the wannabe pinterest girls like me can pull off. But aww, no more glitter and construction paper? I might be nuts but that sounds kind of awesome.

    • says

      It’s awesome for awhile, Stevie, but when you’re doing your grocery shopping with glitter in your eyebrows and construction paper stuck to your ass, it loses a bit of its luster.