Learn how to make turkey leaf lanterns for Thanksgiving with mason jars, and real natural fall leaves with this fun Thanksgiving lantern craft tutorial.
Our family is absolutely in love with how our Thanksgiving Turkey mason jar DIY lanterns turned out–aren’t they the cutest fall leaf lanterns you have ever seen? Add this gorgeous fall leaf lantern craft for kids and adults to your mason jar crafts list this year. Or, use the DIY project instructions with a step-by-step video tutorial HERE to learn how to make simple leaf lantern crafts.
These little turkey mason jar luminaries look beautiful, both lit and unlit, make a fun centerpiece for any Thanksgiving table, and are festive decorations for your DIY Thanksgiving home decor. Gobble gobble! You might also enjoy this list of 20 Thanksgiving Traditions and fun things to do on Thanksgiving.
Related: The Best Fall Nature Crafts
Fall Leaf Luminaries Thanksgiving Lantern Craft
Making Thanksgiving turkey mason jar lanterns with children is a DIY project the whole family can enjoy together. Your children will be just as happy as our daughter to see their fall leaf luminaries adorn the Thanksgiving table. You can see ours displayed under our Thankful Tree with real leaves–> HERE.
Our daughter gets a kick from seeing the leaf lanterns she made with me coming out of the Thanksgiving box, looking just as impressive as the day she made them. She can’t help but squeal, “My leaf turkey!” whenever she sees the one she made again, and they are always one of our favorite things adorning the table for Thanksgiving dinner. You might also enjoy these cute thankful turkey printable Thanksgiving placemat crafts to make and color.
Related: Thanksgiving Turkey Leaf Crafts for kids and adults.
Fall Leaf Mason Jar Lanterns DIY Materials
This leaf turkey fall leaf luminary is made with mason jars and real fall leaves, but you can also use fabric fall leaves. And, although it is cute, the turkey is optional. If you aren’t interested in crafting a turkey, use THESE step-by-step leaf lantern DIY instructions with video tutorial as inspiration to make autumn luminaries with leaves surrounding the jar. Or look at this lantern craft tutorial that shows how to cut leaves into heart shapes to make DIY lanterns. Make some gorgeous fall leaf luminaries today!
- Real or fabric fall leaves
- Wide-mouth mason jars (we used 16-ounce canning jars)
- Mod Podge
- Foam brush
- White tissue paper
- Burgundy or brown tissue paper (or try construction paper)
- Orange and red construction paper
- Googly eyes
- Beeswax tea lights or votives, flameless tea lights, or fairy lights
Related: Fall Leaves Watercolor Art
How to make Leaf Lanterns: Step-by-Step Directions for Mason Jar Luminaries
Leaf turkey lanterns are a Thanksgiving lantern craft that kids can help make. These fall leaf luminaries make lovely Thanksgiving lantern centerpieces because they are made to look like a Thanksgiving turkey. Or, learn how to make leaf luminaries with natural fall leaves with THIS step-by-step mason jar DIY lantern tutorial with an instructional video. Below the instructions is a photo tutorial showing how to do each step.
1. Collect and select fall leaves to make Thanksgiving mason jar lanterns.
- Play with arranging the leaves on the canning jars and decide how you would like to make them into turkey crafts. We used natural fresh fallen autumn leaves, but you can also use flexible preserved leaves or fabric leaves.
2. Cut the tissue paper strips and parts for each Thanksgiving turkey craft or autumn leaf luminary you are making.
- Cut the following parts for each DIY fall leaf luminary:
- Strips of white tissue paper 1 1/2 to 2″ wide and slightly longer than the glass jar you use to make each leaf lantern.
- Trace the bottom of the canning jar onto white tissue paper and cut out the circle.
- A small triangle of orange construction paper for the turkey beak.
- An amoeba-like shape of red construction paper for the turkey wattle.
- Circles of burgundy or brown tissue or construction paper for the head and the body of the turkey craft. (We traced the top of a tapered shot glass for the body of each turkey and the bottom of the same shot glass for the head of each turkey craft.)
3. Apply Mod Podge to the glass canning or mason jar.
- First, place your hand inside the wide-mouth mason jar to hold it.
- Next, use a foam brush to apply Mod Podge or a watered-down white or PVC glue to the entire canning jar starting below the threads. Most glues will appear white when painted but will dry clear.
4. Stick the tissue paper strips onto the mason jar lantern Thanksgiving craft.
- Keeping your hand inside the glass jar, carefully stick tissue paper in the shape of a circle onto the bottom.
- Next, carefully place each tissue strip onto the mason jar one by one and wrap the strips around the bottom.
- Paint Mod Podge, or another PVC glue, all over the strips to glue the tissue paper to the sides and bottom of the mason jar. Make sure you wrap each strip of tissue paper down and stick it to the bottom of the jar, and paint glue over the top of it.
5. Paint glue over tissue paper on the mason jar luminaries.
- Carefully reapply Mod Podge or watered-down white glue to the sides and bottom of the canning jar on top of the tissue paper of each of the glass jar luminaries.
- This will seal the tissue paper and protect it if it gets wet–but don’t put it in the dishwasher! (These cute little autumn leaf luminaries should only be washed gently by hand.)
- Gently smooth out any air bubbles by gently rubbing the tissue paper from the top of the mason jar down if needed.
6. Glue a fall leaf onto each turkey luminary (or several autumn leaves) to make each leaf lantern craft.
- Paint glue onto the underside of each leaf and carefully arrange it onto the mason jar lanterns.
- Position the fall leaves so they look like the fan of feathers behind a turkey. Or, arrange them around the jar if you are not making your DIY lanterns into turkey crafts.
- We have learned through trial and error that fall leaf luminaries look much better when lit if the autumn leaves are not overlapped. (Overlapping leaves look beautiful in the daylight, but it is too dark to see the features of the leaves or the turkey when the lantern is lit with a candle. So we recommend using only one autumn leaf for each turkey leaf lantern craft.)
- Or, arrange the fall leaves around the jar (so that they do not overlap) if you are not making a turkey craft, and instead, only use colorful autumn leaves to make DIY mason jar lantern crafts.
- You can move the fall leaves around before they dry, but be careful not to disturb the tissue paper.
- Smooth out any air bubbles by gently rubbing the leaf(s) from the center out.
7. Carefully paint Mod Podge over the leaves on the mason jar leaf luminaries.
- Use a foam brush to paint Mod Podge (or watered-down white glue) onto each autumn leaf to seal, preserve, and protect each DIY lantern.
8. Glue turkey craft parts on the fall leaf to complete fall leaf luminaries (optional).
- Place your hand inside the jar to hold it.
- First, place the body circle towards the bottom of the jar.
- Then, paint Mod Podge on top of the body circle with a foam paintbrush.
- Next, place the head circle so it slightly overlaps the body circle.
- Then, paint Mod Podge on top of the head circle.
- Next, glue on the beak and wattle.
- Then, paint Mod Podge on top of the beak and wattle.
- Finally, put the googly eyes on the face of the turkey to finish the Thanksgiving turkey craft.
9. Place turkey leaf luminaries (or plain autumn leaf lanterns) upside down and allow them to dry.
- Carefully put each leaf lantern craft upside down to dry.
10. Put a candle (or fairy lights) in each leaf luminary craft.
- Once they are dry, put beeswax tealights (or votives), flameless tea lights, or a strand of fairy lights into your DIY leaf lanterns and display them as autumn home decor, or give them away as a gift. Autumn leaf luminaries as cute as these little turkeys make a great hostess gift for Thanksgiving dinner!
Related: Thanksgiving Gratitude Crafts and Activities
How to Make Turkey Leaf Lanterns: Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial
Look at the photo tutorial below to make these cute fall leaf luminaries with or without the Thanksgiving turkey. Or make a simple leaf lantern with THESE DIY project instructions with a step-by-step video tutorial, or cut leaves into heart-shapes to make gorgeous autumn luminaries!
Related: Gratitude Books for Kids that Inspire Thankfulness
Mason Jar Thanksgiving Crafts
Leaf turkey lanterns are a Thanksgiving craft idea that kids can make. And fall leaf mason jar luminaries are an excellent Thanksgiving decoration and centerpiece for any holiday table.
Happy Thanksgiving–may your harvest be bountiful inside and out!
For more fall fun, check out 20 Thanksgiving traditions and fun things to do on Thanksgiving or these Thanksgiving gratitude activities and crafts list.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
More Thanksgiving Crafts and DIY Ideas
- Best Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Tradition Ideas
- Thankful for Printable Thanksgiving Placemats
- Printable Thankful Tree with Gratitude Leaves
- How to Make Clay Gratitude Leaves
- Thankful Turkey Printable
- 40 Thanksgiving Gratitude Activities and Crafts
- Thankful Tree with Gratitude Leaves
More Fall Arts, Crafts, and Activities
- The Best Fall Art Projects for Kids
- 10 Ways to Play Outside with Fall Leaves
- Marbled Clay Fall Leaves
- Fall Bucket List (of fun fall activities!)
- Best Fall Nature Crafts
- DIY Leaf Lantern Craft
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