Remind your guests and family of the true meaning of Thanksgiving by making a DIY thankful tree this year. Creating and decorating a thankful tree with real fall leaves is a gratitude craft and Thanksgiving tradition that kids and adults both enjoy.
Learn how to make a Thanksgiving thankful tree with words of gratitude written on real fall leaves for the home or classroom.
Invite students, family, and friends to write what they are most thankful for onto preserved fall leaves, and then use them to decorate bare branches to make a gratitude tree.
Scroll down for the DIY details needed to make and decorate your own natural rustic DIY thankful tree.
Our thankful tree with autumn leaves pictured with turkey lantern fall leaf luminaries.
DIY Thankful Tree with Real Fall Leaves
There are many ways to make and decorate a Thanksgiving thankful tree to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in the home. Creating one for your home, classroom, or office is a gratitude activity that everyone can enjoy.
Use your thankful tree as a Thanksgiving advent to countdown to Turkey Day, or, as an interactive Thanksgiving centerpiece that guests can decorate as they wait for dinner to be served.
Learn more about Thanksgiving thankful trees and how they are used in our top 10 thankful trees roundup!
Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Craft Supplies
- Sand and/or pebbles
- Bare branches [We used fallen branches from the oak tree in our backyard. Go on a nature hunt to find your own bare branches and sticks you can use to make a thankful tree, or purchase a small tabletop tree, birch twig branches, or lighted branches.]
- We used several different kinds of real preserved fall leaves. You can also use paper leaves, clay gratitude leaves or fabric leaves.
- Autumn colored pom-poms (We picked out some warm fall colors from this pack)
- Glue gun with glue sticks
- Brown washi tape or wood grain washi tape
- Extra fine tip paint pens (We also use these paint pens to make painted rocks, color wooden beads, and decorate Easter Eggs!)
The sweet little turkey leaf lanterns on the table beside the Thanksgiving tree are also made with real fall leaves.
How to Make a Thankful Tree with Real Fall Leaves: Step by Step Tutorial
The step by step photo tutorial for this natural thankful tree craft can be found below the written step by step directions.
Step 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.
Step 2 – Add sand and/or pebbles
Pour sand and/or pebbles into the vase around the bare branches to add weight to the vase to make sure that the Thanksgiving tree stands upright.
Step 3 – Add pom poms to the branches of the thankful tree (optional)
Use a glue gun to attach pom poms onto the thankful tree branches. This step is optional. If you do not want to add pom poms to your gratitude tree move onto the next step.
Little ones love helping with this optional addition for a Thanksgiving thankful tree. I put dots of glue 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.
Supervision is required for this craft making step. Make sure you teach your children how to safely use a glue gun, and, how to use caution when working with hot glue if you choose this option. Glue guns are hot and dangerous tools, and the glue is hot enough to burn little hands if safety precautions are not properly taken.
Step 4 – Place a bowl of preserved fall leaves near the tree
Step 5 – Write what you are grateful for on leaves to decorate the tree.
Next, use wood grain washi tape to attach each thankful fall leaf to the tree to decorate it.
If your child is not writing yet, write what they are thankful for on a leaf for them, and then allow them to decorate their thankful leaf with doodles, dots, and fun designs. Next, invite children to attach their thankful leaf to the tree.
Write what you are most thankful 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 sit down to eat on Thanksgiving day.
Alternatively, you can make marbled clay gratitude leaves to decorate your Thanksgiving tree.
Learn more about how to make and use a thankful tree, and see a few more gorgeous DIY thankful trees in our top 10 roundup!
Thankful Tree DIY Photo Tutorial
The step by step directions for this Thanksgiving DIY project is written in the section above.
Update: The “THANKFUL” leaf pictured above has been preserved for over a year. I pulled it out of last year’s leaf box and it was still vibrant red! Learn how we did it in how to preserve leaves.
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 a lovely piece of rustic DIY fall home decor.
Making and decorating a Thanksgiving tree with autumn leaves is a gratitude craft and activity that both 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.
For more gorgeous thankful tree ideas check out our Top 10 Thankful Trees roundup.
You might also enjoy 20 Thanksgiving Traditions and Fun Things to do on Thanksgiving and our Fall Bucket List.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
Click on the link to learn how to make the sweet little turkey leaf lanterns on the table.
More Thanksgiving Ideas
- 40 Thanksgiving Gratitude Activities and Crafts
- Thanksgiving Turkey Leaf Crafts
- Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Tradition
- Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
- Thanksgiving Traditions and Fun Things to Do