Remind your guests and family of the true meaning of Thanksgiving with a DIY thankful tree. Creating and decorating a thankful tree with real natural fall leaves is a gratitude craft and Thanksgiving tradition that kids and adults can enjoy. (First published Nov. 2, 2015; this post is updated and republished to improve the content.)
Make a Thanksgiving tree to add to your festive decor that uses real autumn leaves as ornaments with this easy DIY tutorial. Use the step-by-step directions below to learn how to make a thankful tree with natural fresh fall leaves to decorate your home, workplace, or classroom this November. Or, look at this list for even more ideas–>Thankful Tree Ideas.
A thankful tree is one of the best Thanksgiving decorations because not only can it increase feelings of gratitude and happiness but the entire family (classroom or office) can enjoy making it together. They are festive DIY fall decor that looks gorgeous on the Thanksgiving table. You might also enjoy this printable Thankful Tree.
First, invite family, friends, co-workers, and students to write what they are most thankful for on preserved fall leaves. Next, use the autumn leaves with words of gratitude to decorate bare branches to make this gorgeous DIY gratitude tree. Scroll down to learn how to make and decorate a natural rustic DIY thankful tree for Thanksgiving. You might also enjoy these Thanksgiving Gratitude Crafts and Activities.
DIY Thankful Tree for Thanksgiving with Real Fresh Fallen or Preserved Autumn Leaves
There are many ways to make and decorate a Thanksgiving thankful tree. Making a Thanksgiving tree is a great way to cultivate gratitude during the holiday season. Best of all, creating this simple craft with natural elements for your home, classroom, or office is a fun Thanksgiving activity everyone can enjoy.
Thankful trees made with real leaves make a great holiday decor piece. They are festive decorations and a naturally gorgeous piece of rustic DIY fall home decor that looks as amazing as a centerpiece on the Thanksgiving dinner table. They also look lovely on a side table or a nature table.
Or, download and print this printable thankful tree craft with colorful gratitude leaves for another wonderful way to make this easy Thanksgiving craft.
Use your thankful tree as a Thanksgiving advent to countdown to Turkey Day or as an interactive Thanksgiving centerpiece that guests can decorate while waiting for Thanksgiving dinner.
Learn more about Thanksgiving thankful trees and how to make and use this gratitude activity to bring thankfulness back to your dinner table HERE–>Thankful Tree Ideas. You might also enjoy this list of Thanksgiving gratitude crafts and activities.
Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Craft Supplies
- Ceramic or crystal vase
- Sand and/or pebbles
- Bare branches (We used fallen branches from the oak tree in our backyard to make the Thanksgiving tree in the photographs.) Go on a nature hunt to find bare branches, tree limbs, and sticks three to six feet long to make a thankful tree. Or purchase natural willow or birch twig branches, lighted branches, or a small lighted tabletop maple or birch tree at a local craft store or florist.
- We used several different kinds of real preserved fall leaves. You can also use paper leaves or clay gratitude leaves.
- Autumn-colored pom-poms (We picked the warm fall colors from THIS pack)
- Glue gun with glue sticks or glue dots if kids are helping!
- Brown, fall washi tape, or wood grain washi tape.
- Extra fine-tip paint pens (You can also use paint pens to make painted rocks, color wooden beads, and decorate Easter Eggs!)
How to Make a Thankful Tree with Real Fall Leaf Ornaments: Step-by-Step DIY Tutorial
Wondering how to make a gratitude tree for Thanksgiving? Use the step-by-step instructions below to make a Thanksgiving tree for your home, classroom, or workplace. Please read through the step-by-step instructions before starting this DIY Thanksgiving project. (The photo craft tutorial to help you make this natural gratitude tree craft for Thanksgiving is posted below the project directions.)
1. Arrange bare branches.
- Use a ready-made tree or arrange bare branches in a vase to form the base of the DIY thankful tree.
2. Add sand and/or pebbles to the vase.
- Pour sand and/or pebbles into the bottom of your vase around the bare branches to add weight and ensure the vase and Thanksgiving tree remain upright.
3. Glue pom poms to the branches of the thankful tree to add a pop of autumn colors (optional).
- Use a glue gun or dots to attach pom poms onto the Thanksgiving tree branches.
- This step is optional. If you do not want to add pom poms to your gratitude tree, move on to the next step.
- Little ones love helping with this optional addition when making Easter Egg Trees and Thanksgiving thankful trees. I put glue dots onto the bare branches of the gratitude tree with a glue gun while my daughter carefully stuck pom-poms in warm autumn colors into the glue to attach them to the tree. Another safer alternative available today is glue dots.
- Supervision is required for this craft-making step if you are using a glue gun. If you choose this option, please teach children how to use it safely and use caution when working with hot glue. Glue guns are hot and dangerous tools. The glue in them is hot enough to burn little hands if safety precautions are not properly taken.
4. Place Leaf Ornaments and Decorating supplies near the Thanksgiving tree.
- Place a bowl of preserved autumn leaves, paint pens, and a roll of wood grain washi tape near the Thanksgiving gratitude tree to make it easy for friends and relatives to decorate.
- Of course, you can also use paper leaf ornaments and string to decorate your gratitude tree.
5. Write what you are grateful for on leaves and decorate the gratitude tree.
- First, invite your friends and family to use a paint pen to write what they are most thankful for onto the leaf ornaments.
- Next, attach washi tape to the base of each leaf to make it easy to attach the thankful leaf ornaments to the tree to decorate it.
- If your child is not writing yet, ask them what they feel most grateful for and write it on a leaf ornament for the Thankful tree. Then, invite them to decorate their thankful leaf with doodles, dots, and fun designs. Next, invite the kids to attach their thankful leaves to the gratitude tree’s bare branches to decorate it.
- Invite family, friends, co-workers, and students to write what they feel most thankful for on a leaf each day as a fun way to count down to Thanksgiving, or set it up to decorate with your guests before inviting them to eat their Thanksgiving feast.
- Look at these thankful tree tradition ideas for more fun ways to use your Thanksgiving tree to increase feelings of gratitude and joy.
Update: The “THANKFUL” leaf shown in the photograph able was preserved for over a year when the picture was taken. As I pulled it from our leaf box, I was surprised it was still vibrant red! Learn how we preserved this leaf–>HERE.
Thankful Tree DIY Photo Tutorial
Step-by-step directions for this Thanksgiving DIY project are written in the section above, while the photo tutorial is below. (Alternatively, you can make marbled clay gratitude leaves to decorate your Thanksgiving tree, or use this printable thankful tree craft for Thanksgiving.) Learn more about how to make and use a tree for Thanksgiving, and look at a few more gorgeous DIY thankful trees, on this list of thankful tree ideas!
Related: Top 10 Fall Nature Crafts
Rustic Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree with Preserved Leaves
Remind your guests and family of the true meaning of Thanksgiving by making a DIY thankful tree with real fall leaves this year. This natural tree also makes lovely rustic DIY fall home decor.
Making and decorating a Thanksgiving tree with autumn leaves is a gratitude craft and a Thanksgiving activity kids and adults can enjoy creating together.
Writing down what we are thankful for onto leaves and decorating a thankful tree for Thanksgiving is a fantastic opportunity to discuss the concept of gratitude with your child.
Check out THIS list for more gorgeous thankful tree ideas.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
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- Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Tradition
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- Thanksgiving Traditions and Fun Things to Do