Learn how to make turkey leaf lanterns for Thanksgiving with mason jars and real fall leaves with this fun Thanksgiving craft tutorial.
Our family is absolutely in love with how our Thanksgiving Turkey mason jar lanterns turned out–aren’t they the cutest fall leaf lanterns that you have ever seen? These little turkey mason jar luminaries look beautiful, both lit and unlit, make a fun centerpiece for any Thanksgiving table, and are a great addition to your DIY Thanksgiving home decor. Gobble gobble! Add this gorgeous fall leaf lantern craft for kids and adults to your mason jar crafts list this year. 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 so happy 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 out of seeing the leaf lanterns that she made several years ago come out of the Thanksgiving box looking just as amazing as the day she made it. She can’t help but squeal, “My leaf turkey!” every time she sees it again. 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. You can also use the step-by-step leaf lantern instructions below to make autumn luminaries with a few leaves surrounding the jar, instead of crafting a turkey. Make some fall leaf luminaries today!
- Real or fabric fall leaves
- Wide mouth mason 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, votives, or flameless tea 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 on any table. Learn how to make luminaries with mason jars, and real fall leaves with this step-by-step mason jar lanterns DIY tutorial. Below the instructions, there is a photo tutorial showing how to do each step.
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 fresh fall leaves, but you can also use flexible preserved fall leaves or fabric leaves.
Step 2 – Cut the tissue paper strips and parts for each Thanksgiving Turkey craft
- Cut the following parts for each fall leaf luminary:
- Strips of white tissue paper 1 1/2 to 2″ wide and slightly longer than the glass jar that you will be using to make your leaf lantern.
- Trace the bottom of the canning jar onto white tissue paper and cut out the circle.
- Small triangle of orange construction paper for the turkey beak.
- Amoeba-like shape of red construction paper for the turkey wattle.
- Circles of burgundy or brown tissue, or, construction paper to make the head and the body for 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.)
Step 3 – Apply Mod Podge to the glass jar luminaries
- 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.
Step 4 – Stick the tissue paper strips onto the mason jar Thanksgiving craft
- Keeping your hand inside the glass jar, carefully stick the circle of tissue paper onto its 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.
Step 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.
- This will seal the tissue paper and protect it if it gets wet–but don’t put it in the diswasher! These cute little autumn leaf luminaries should only be washed gently by hand if at all.
- Gently smooth out any air bubbles by gently rubbing the tissue paper from the top down if needed.
Step 6 – Glue fall leaf onto each fall leaf lantern craft
- Paint glue onto the underside of each leaf and carefully arrange them onto the mason jar lanterns. Position the fall leaves so that they look like the fan of feathers behind a turkey. Or, arrange them around the jar if you will not be making the turkey craft.
- We have learned through trial and error that fall leaf luminaries look much better when they are lit if the autumn leaves do not overlap. 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. We recommend using only one autumn leaf for each leaf lantern craft. Or, arrange the fall leaves around the jar so that they do not overlap if you are not making a turky craft, and instead only using colorful autumn leaves to make this mason jar lantern craft.
- You can move the fall leaves around a bit 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.
Step 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.
Step 8 – Glue turkey craft parts Over fall leaf to complete fall leaf luminaries
- Place your hand inside the jar to hold it.
- First place body circle towards the bottom of the jar.
- Then, paint Mod Podge on top of body circle.
- Next, place head circle so it slighly overlaps the body circle.
- Then, apply Mod Podge on top of the head circle.
- Next, glue on the beak and wattle.
- Then, paint Mod Podge on top of beak and wattle.
- Finally, put the googly eyes to finish the face of the Thanksgiving turkey craft.
Step 9 – Place turkey leaf luminaries upside down and allow to dry
- Carefully put each leaf lantern craft upside down to dry.
Step 10 – Put a Candle in Each Leaf Luminary Craft
- Once they are dry, put beeswax tea lights, votives, or flameless tea 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!
How to Make Turkey Leaf Lanterns: Step by Step Photo Tutorial
Mason Jar Thanksgiving Crafts
Leaf turkey lanterns are a Thanksgiving craft idea that kids can make. And, fall leaf mason jar luminaries are a wonderful Thanksgiving decoration and centerpiece for any holiday table.
For more fall fun, be sure to check out 20 Thanksgiving traditions and fun things to do on Thanksgiving!
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