Give thanks this Thanksgiving, and cultivate an attitude of gratitude in the home, office, or classroom with these easy thankful tree tradition ideas. (First published October 20, 2015; this post is updated and republished to improve the content.)
A thankful tree, a Thanksgiving tree, or a gratitude tree is a wonderful way to bring gratitude and joy back to the Thanksgiving table. Use these thankful tree ideas to nurture gratitude and add gorgeous fall decor to your home, classroom, or workplace this autumn.
A gratitude tree is a creative and meaningful Thanksgiving tradition that many families, schools, and businesses adopt to express gratitude during the holiday season. Discover how the thankful tree tradition can help cultivate gratitude and nurture a thankful attitude with this list of gratitude tree ideas. You may also enjoy this list of Thanksgiving Traditions and fun things to do for Thanksgiving.
These gorgeous thankful tree ideas can help you incorporate this traditional gratitude activity into your Thanksgiving celebrations at home, in the classroom, or the workplace. Use any of the easy Thanksgiving gratitude tree craft ideas on the list below, or gather inspiration to make a DIY thankful tree all your own!
Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Tradition
The Thanksgiving thankful tree tradition creates a fun, interactive way for the entire family to give thanks for everything they are grateful for–BIG and small. Share gratitude with the people you love with these fun Thanksgiving tree ideas.
Give thanks, and cultivate an attitude of gratitude in the home, office, or classroom during the holidays with the Thanksgiving thankful tree tradition. Gratitude trees make lovely autumn DIY home decor and a meaningful centerpiece for the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Learn about thankful trees and how to design your own Thanksgiving gratitude tree with the Thanksgiving tree FAQs and fun DIY gratitude tree ideas below. You might also enjoy our printable gratitude worksheet, thankful turkey printable, and thankful turkey placemats for kids and adults.
What Is the Tree of Thankfulness?
A tree of thankfulness is a modern-day Thanksgiving tradition that involves inviting guests to write what they’re most thankful for onto an ornament, such as a clay or paper leaf, and placing it on the thankful tree as an interactive seasonal display.
What is the thankful tree for Thanksgiving?
A thankful tree is a meaningful Thanksgiving tradition that many people incorporate into their holiday celebrations to nurture an attitude of gratitude at home, in the classroom, or the workplace.
Making and decorating a gratitude tree is a fun Thanksgiving tradition for all ages. It’s not only a beautiful way to countdown to Thanksgiving but also a gorgeous interactive centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner table.
What do you put on a Thanksgiving tree?
A Thanksgiving tree is typically adorned with “leaves” and other “ornaments” on which individuals write down things they are thankful for. The idea is to write down what you’re most grateful for on the leaves or other ornaments and then hang or attach them to the tree’s branches.
As more people contribute, the tree becomes a visual symbol of collective gratitude, which can foster a positive and thankful atmosphere. The tree and its leaves serve as a centerpiece during Thanksgiving gatherings, reminding everyone of the many blessings in their lives.
Several ornaments and other decorations you can use to decorate a gratitude tree for Thanksgiving are mentioned in the thankful tree ideas below. A gratitude or thankful tree can also have other elements placed on it such as ribbons, pom-poms, other seasonal ornaments, or a string of lights to decorate it. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see several variations.
What do you write on a thankful tree?
Invite family, friends, co-workers, or students to write what they are most thankful for onto a gratitude ornament and place it on the tree to decorate it. In other words, encourage children and adults to write down whatever they most appreciate about the world.
This can include events, people, places, things, acts of kindness, etc. As the tree fills up with thankful leaves and other ornaments with words of gratitude written upon them, it becomes a beautiful representation of the collective gratitude of the group. You can see the word “Thankful” written on a preserved autumn leaf in the photograph below.
What is the purpose of the gratitude tree?
A gratitude tree is a heartwarming and interactive way to encourage positivity and connection, teach children about gratitude, remind everyone of what they hold dear, and celebrate Thanksgiving and other fall harvest festivals.
The primary purpose of a gratitude tree is to inspire reflection on life’s blessings and to create a tangible representation of the things we are thankful for, making it a valuable addition to Thanksgiving celebrations and other occasions where gratitude is emphasized.
Incorporate this gratitude activity into your Thanksgiving celebrations to nurture gratitude, encourage reflection on the positive aspects of life, and bring people closer together during the holiday season.
How to Make a Thankful Tree (or Gratitude Tree) for Thanksgiving and Fall Festivals
The thankful tree tradition is a Thanksgiving craft and gratitude activity the whole family can enjoy. For more thankful crafts and activities click the link. Here are a few supplies you need or can use to make a gratitude or thankful tree:
1. Use Bare Branches, A THANKFUL TREE KIT, or a Small Tree
First, you must decide whether to use bare branches, a small tree or wall decal, a thankful tree kit, etc. to create your gratitude tree. A few thankful tree craft kits and different gratitude tree options you can use to make a Thanksgiving tree are on the lists below. Choose one of the three options:
If you want to use bare branches, go on a nature hunt in your backyard or out in nature to find a couple of tree branches that will work to make a thankful tree. You want each bare limb or tree branch to be about three to six feet long and half to one inch thick.
The tree limbs can be trimmed with a good pair of garden sheers to the desired length. Alternatively, purchase decorative branches at a florist, local craft store, or the Amazon affiliate links below. (If you click to purchase, Rhythms of Play will earn a small commission at no cost to the consumer.)
- Willow branches
- Artificial willow branches
- Faux willow branches with lights
- Artificial Manzanita Branches
Thanksgiving Thankful or Gratitude Tree Options:
If you don’t want to make a gratitude tree with bare branches, try the easy thankful tree ideas below:
- Tabletop Tree with Lights
- Thankful Tree Photo Display
- Rustic Black Ornament Tree
- Large Black Family Tree Wall Decal
- Big Brown Tree Wall Decal
- Family Tree 3D Wall Decor with Picture Frames
- Standing Bare Branch Tree with Lights
- Woodland Bulletin Board Set – Tree with Animals
Best Thankful Tree Craft Kits for Thanksgiving:
If you don’t feel like making a thankful tree craft for Thanksgiving, purchase one of these fun and easy thankful tree kits. A few of these Thanksgiving tree ideas come complete with everything you need, while others use grateful tree ornaments you can make or purchase separately. Here are a few thankful tree craft kit options to consider:
- Thanksgiving Tree Bulletin Board Set
- Easy Thanksgiving Thankful Craft Kit
- Small Felt Thanksgiving Tree of Thanks Craft Kit
- Large Felt Thankful Tree with Detachable Leaves Craft Kit
- Standing Tree of Thanks Craft Kit
- Thanksgiving Tree Craft Kit
2. Door or Wall Space, Container with Filler, Table, or Display Stand
Depending on the size and design of your gratitude tree, you may need a door, wall space, bulletin board, a container, a vase, or a display stand to hang the tree or hold it and keep it stable.
For example, if you use bare branches, you will need a vase or another container with a filler such as sand, pebbles, or glass gems, to hold the tree limbs to create the gratitude tree and hold it in place.
But, if you use a tree decal or craft kit from the list above, you may need wall space or a bulletin board instead of a container. And if you use a premade lit or unlit tree, a table, shelf, dresser top, window sill, or display stand might be your preferred option.
3. Leaves and other Gratitude Ornaments
While paper leaves are the most common item to place on a gratitude tree, you can use several other variations of decorative leaves and ornaments. Here are a few options you can use as ornaments:
Thanksgiving Tree Ornament Ideas:
Decorate your Thanksgiving Tree with any of these easy ornament ideas! Encourage children, family, and friends to write down things they are grateful for on each leaf, gratitude note, or ornament. These can be specific people, experiences, objects, qualities, or anything that brings them joy and appreciation. Try these gratitude prompts if you need help writing words of gratitude on your leaves.
- Clay Gratitude Leaves Craft
- Preserved Fall Leaves
- DIY Paper Leaves: Trace a leaf-shaped cookie cutter, and use scissors to cut leaf shapes from colored cardstock or construction paper. Or, use a large leaf punch to cut paper leaves.
- Alternatively, purchase pre-cut paper leaves with one of the Thanksgiving tree craft kits on the list above or from a craft store or the Amazon affiliate links below.
- Wood slice ornaments
Markers or Pens
Provide markers, paint pens, gel pens, colored pencils, or other writing instruments for people to use when writing on the leaves. You can choose complementary, contrasting, or metallic colors to make the tree visually appealing.
Provide a way to attach the gratitude leaves and ornaments to the thankful tree. Tape, glue, clips, ribbon, twine, or string provide a simple way to attach or hang the leaves and other gratitude ornaments to the tree’s branches.
Other Decorations (Optional)
While gratitude leaves and other thankful ornaments are the primary items on a gratitude tree, you can use many other items to decorate them. A string of twinkle lights, ribbons, pom-poms, acorn marble ornaments, and other thankful ornaments can help your Thanksgiving tree look more visually appealing.
For example, the turkey leaf lanterns (shown in the photograph below) look great on display next to a Thanksgiving tree. Learn how to make a DIY thankful tree with the fun Thanksgiving ideas and examples on the list below.
BEST THANKSGIVING TREE IDEAS
There are several ways to design and use a thankful tree craft for Thanksgiving. Here are a few of our favorite thankful tree examples, from creative and crafty to kid-made. You can even make a Thanksgiving thankful tree with real fall leaves. Give this interactive Thanksgiving tradition a try with any of the creative Thanksgiving decor ideas on the list below.
1. Thanksgiving Tree with Clay Gratitude Leaves
Creating and decorating a Thanksgiving tree with hand-stamped marbled clay autumn leaves is a gratitude craft and activity that kids and adults can enjoy together. Get the directions for this Thanksgiving DIY HERE–> Thankful tree with gratitude leaves.
2. Thankful Trees Made with Real Fall Leaves
This Thanksgiving tree has real preserved fall leaves. Or, use paper leaves to make this tree decor. Paint pens make it easy to write what you are grateful for on each preserved leaf before attaching it to your thankful tree.
Making a thankful tree with real autumn leaves is a gratitude craft and activity that kids and adults enjoy. Please invite friends and family to write what they are most grateful for on preserved fall leaves and then place them on the tree to decorate. Look at the step-by-step instructions to make a Thanksgiving tree like the one in the photograph below HERE–> How to Make a Thankful Tree with Real Leaves.
3. Printable Thankful Tree for Kids and Adults
Here’s a cute thankful tree printable with paper gratitude leaves. This Thanksgiving craft makes it easy for kids to give thanks. You might also like this printable Thankful Turkey Coloring Page or these I am Thankful for Thanksgiving Placemats to color.
The printable Thanksgiving tree pictured below includes two printable gratitude trees for the price of one! Use the gorgeous colored paper leaves to write what you are thankful for, as shown below, or download and print our thankful tree coloring page and encourage the kids to color it. Either gratitude craft is a straightforward project the whole family or classroom will enjoy! When it’s finished, use these cute homemade magnets to hang it on the fridge, pin it to a bulletin board, or put it in an artwork frame for a thankful home decor display. Get both printables HERE–> Thankful Tree Printable.
4. Thankful Tree with Wood Slice Ornaments
We can display reminders to cultivate a thankful heart with a thankful tree. In addition, watching family and friends give thanks and counting the many ways they are blessed is a Thanksgiving activity not to be missed.
Here’s a gorgeous thankful tree craft with bare branches and wood pieces painted with chalkboard paint. Place a set of chalk markers near this thankful display to encourage family and friends to write their thankful thoughts onto the wood slice ornaments. Learn how to make this thankful tree with wooden chalkboard tags, as shown in the photograph below HERE–> Create-ful-life.
5. Thanksgiving Tree Printable Leaves
Make an interactive arrangement for your Thanksgiving centerpiece this year. Create a Thanksgiving thankful Tree with the leaves printed, trimmed, and ready for your guests to share their gratitude with this simple Thanksgiving DIY.
This gratitude tree uses willow branches painted gold and a free printable leaf pattern. You can also use this tabletop tree display to make this grateful fall home decor project. Once guests have added their sentiments, ask them to tie their leaves onto the centerpiece branches. Get the printable leaf pattern in the photograph below for this Thanksgiving tree project HERE–> Lia Griffith.
6. Thanksgiving Tree with Willow Branches and Paper Leaves
Give thanks in a new way this holiday season. Please invite friends and family to share what they’re most thankful for by creating this lovely thankful tree for Thanksgiving.
7. DIY Thankful Tree with Lights
First, put bare branches with lights in a simple vase or extra large mason jar. Or use a tabletop tree with lights to make this easy Thanksgiving tree. Next, make paper maple leaves with colorful cardstock and a large leaf paper punch, or purchase pre-cut fall leaf ornaments to decorate this gorgeous Thanksgiving Tree. Add this festive gratitude tree idea to your DIY fall decor. Get the complete instructions to make the lovely gratitude tree in the photograph below HERE–>The Happy Housewife.
8. Paper Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Craft
Spend Thanksgiving morning writing things you are thankful for on simple leaves and other fall shapes. Or turn it into a month-long tradition. Instead of listing what you are grateful for all at once–add them to our tree all month long! Learn how to make this Thanksgiving tree craft HERE–> One Creative Mommy.
9. Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree With Acorn Favors
This Thanksgiving tree has bare branches decorated with paper leaves and acorn favors. Or, make acorn marble ornaments instead! This simple thankful tree with acorns creates a lovely way to display what you’re grateful for while creating a beautiful seasonal display.
Invite family and dinner guests to write something they’re thankful for on each leaf. This is a great activity to do at a Thanksgiving gathering. Get the complete step-by-step tutorial HERE–> The House that Lars Built. Use the acorn craft suggested, or make acorn marble ornaments to decorate your DIY thankful tree!
10. Chalkboard Thankful Tree Craft
learn how to make a thankful tree on a chalkboard with gorgeous watercolor autumn leaves to display in your home or office this Thanksgiving, and use it to remind everyone of all the beautiful things they have to be thankful for. Get the step-by-step instructions for this beautiful Thanksgiving DIY HERE–> Make Life Lovely
11. November Bulletin Board Thankful Tree for Kids
Here’s a thankful tree for Thanksgiving that uses brown kraft paper for the tree and laminated construction paper for the leaves. To make this Thanksgiving tree, you can use this bulletin board set or a large tree wall decal with leaf-shaped sticky notes. If you choose the latter option, the sticky note leaves can be easily removed after Thanksgiving.
First, during November, ask your children what they are thankful for every day and write it on a leaf. Next, place the leaf on the branches at the top of the tree. At the end of the month, you’ll have a tree full of thankful thoughts! Get the full instructions for this Thanksgiving tree HERE–> Simply Rebekah.
Or, use this thankful tree craft kit on a wall or a bulletin board instead. Find it–> HERE!
12. Handprint Thankful Tree for Thanksgiving | Our Goodwin Journey
This simple DIY Thanksgiving tree for a wall or bulletin board uses construction paper to create a quick and easy gratitude tree. First, trace handprints to make gratitude leaves. Next, write what you (or your children) are grateful for onto the handprint. And finally, place each handprint gratitude leaf above the construction paper tree trunk.
You can also use this bulletin board set or this tree with animals to make your Thanksgiving tree, and then make thankful handprint leaves with construction paper to add to it. Get the instructions for this fun Thanksgiving tree idea HERE–> Our Goodwin Journey.
Give Thanks this Thanksgiving with the Thankful Tree Tradition
This year, try this new Thanksgiving tradition in your home, office, or classroom. There is so much to be grateful for, and there is something to be said about writing it down and looking at it every day that makes it that much more real, not to mention the gorgeous look it brings to your fall decor at home, in the classroom, or the workplace! Remind your family and friends about the true meaning of Thanksgiving with a thankful tree.
Creating a thankful tree to use as a Thanksgiving advent or Centerpiece for your guests to decorate is a beautiful way to bring the spirit of Thanksgiving into your home, office, or classroom. They are also an excellent addition to a fall nature table.
Use these easy Thanksgiving tree ideas or be inspired to create your thankful tree tradition. Keep your leaves from each year to look back at different years and remember what you and your family were grateful for in years gone by.
As mentioned above, you may also like this printable gratitude worksheet, this thankful turkey printable, or these thankful turkey placemats for kids and adults. For even more Thanksgiving ideas, look at this list of 20 Thanksgiving traditions and fun things to do for Thanksgiving!
How to Use a Thankful Tree as a Thanksgiving Countdown:
If you would like to use your thankful tree to countdown to Thanksgiving or use it as an advent in your home, classroom, or workplace, follow the steps below:
- Decide what Thanksgiving tree you will make or buy from the list of thankful tree ideas above.
- Put your tree up before Thanksgiving.
- After the Fall Equinox, if you live in Canada, or during November, if you live in the US, write what you are most thankful for onto one gratitude ornament per day until Thanksgiving and hang it on your thankful tree.
- Invite your family, friends, co-workers, or students to join you in this gratitude activity. If you have toddlers and preschoolers who cannot write yet, ask them what they are thankful for every day, and write the words they say onto a leaf or an ornament for each of them. Another idea for toddlers and preschoolers is to invite them to doodle their thanks on an ornament.
- Place the leaf or gratitude ornament on the branches at the top of the tree. At the end of the month, you’ll have a tree full of thankful thoughts!
How to Use a Thankful Tree As an Interactive Thanksgiving Centerpiece:
Make and decorate a thankful tree to cultivate an attitude of gratitude at the Thanksgiving dinner table. A gratitude tree is a great conversation starter and a fun way to honor the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Use it to give thanks for an abundant harvest and all of life’s blessings! Follow the steps below:
- Determine which thankful tree you will make or buy from the list of Thanksgiving tree ideas above.
- Put your thankful tree up before Thanksgiving dinner.
- Invite family and Thanksgiving dinner guests to write what they are most grateful for on thankful ornaments such as paper, preserved, or clay leaves.
- Decorate the thankful tree with their gratitude leaves as they wait for Thanksgiving dinner.
Related: Fall Books for Children
More DIY Bare Branch DIY Tree Ideas
My daughter loves to decorate trees, so we make one every season. Our family also makes a DIY Easter tree in the spring, a butterfly tree in the summer, a thankful tree in the autumn, and, of course, a Christmas tree in the Winter filled with handmade ornaments.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
More Fun Thanksgiving Ideas
- Turkey Leaf Lanterns
- Thankful for Thanksgiving Placemats to Color
- 40 Thanksgiving Gratitude Activities and Crafts
- Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
- I am Grateful Gratitude Journal Printable
- Gratitude Journal Prompts Printable
- Thanksgiving Gratitude Activities
- Turkey Craft Ideas
- Thanksgiving Traditions and Fun Things to Do
- Thankful Turkey Printable Thanksgiving Gratitude Activity