Thankful Trees are a popular Thanksgiving tradition. During November, in the run up to the Thanksgiving holiday, family members write gratitudes and blessings on paper leaves and hang them on branches.
We've participated in the thankful tree tradition in the past, but sometimes you want to switch things up! So this year we came up with a thankful tree alternative! Using the tree theme as a jumping off point, we chose to write our gratitudes on leaf shaped paper and instead of hanging them on branches, we affixed them to the wall above our dining table.
The daily ritual of writing down what you are thankful for is easier to maintain if you have a pre-made stash of leaves. You could collect some robust colorful foliage from outdoors, but we decided to craft our leaves using newspaper.
Thankful "Tree" Instructions
The instructions to make your own "tree" are very easy and you most likely already have all the materials you need.
Paint. I recommend using washable tempera paint as kids sometimes get a little overly enthusiastic with the paint brush. Useful colors are green, brown, red, orange and yellow. But feel free to use any colors you want. A wall of pink and purple thankful leaves? Go for it.
Paint brushes. Large brushes that are easy for little hands to hold are best.
Masking tape. I recommend blue painter's tape as it is very easy to remove.
Step by Step
First, lay out the newspaper on your table and secure with masking or painter's tape.
We divided the newspaper into four sections for four colors, but this is not strictly necessary, especially if you want each leaf of your thankful tree to have more than one color on it.
Paint the newspaper the desired autumnal colors.
After you've painted the newspaper, let dry. Drying time will obviously depend on how think the paint is layered on.
Next, after the paint is dry, decide whether you are going to draw leaves on the newspaper or if you are brave enough to cut the leaves out freestyle.
I cut them out freestyle, which is why our thankful leaves are wonderfully wonky.
Little ones may need help with the cutting, but allow them to experiment however they wish. Leaves do not need to be "leaf shaped," especially if your 4 year old loves cutting out shapes!
The newspaper adds a wonderful texture to the thankful leaves. (Sorry for the poor quality photo!)
Finally, place your finished leaves in a basket or box and set in a convenient location. Every day, each family member writes on a leaf something for which they are thankful and affixes it to the wall. I suggest painter's tape because it is designed not to damage the wall.
Think of it as Thanksgiving advent!
By Thanksgiving you will have a whole wall of blessings. Or, if you like, a thankful tree on a wall.
To get extra fancy, cut out the silhouette of a tree from brown paper and place on the wall. Then you can "hang" your thankful leaves on the tree. See an example of such a thankful tree at Simply Rebekah.
One final note!
After Thanksgiving, save your leaves! I have a box filled with our gratitudes from years past and I love to look though it from time to time.