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How to Make Our Family Thanksgiving Tree

Living a Better Life® (from the editor's desk)
by Michelle Jones

Looking for a simple but meaningful way to celebrate the holidays? Why not make our Family Thanksgiving Tree? It's good to start this family holiday project at least a week before Thanksgiving Day, but really... it's never too late to make one!

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Create a New Holiday Tradition for Your Family

Our family has been making Thanksgiving Trees for several years now and they make our holidays even more special. As we see our homemade tree hanging up on the wall each day throughout the holiday season (sometimes we keep ours displayed all the way through Christmas), it reminds us of how much we are blessed; with just one quick glance.

Getting stressed out during the holidays can be so easy to do, especially when money is tight, someone in the family might be out of a job, or even seriously ill. But we all really do have so much to be thankful for. Being alive to see another year with our family is just one of our many blessings. Having fresh air to breathe, water to drink, a dry roof over our heads? Once you get started writing them out, the list goes on and on!

It's amazing how a fun and easy project like this can help everyone get in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but it truly does.


First, create the form of a tree with any of the following items:

Poster Board - With a brown or black marker, draw a large tree on a poster board (forming the outline of a tree trunk and branches). Then use small pieces of scotch tape to attach the poster to a closet or pantry door. You can also use two poster boards end to end to make a larger tree, or a roll of white or brown craft paper.

Construction Paper - Tape together several sheets of brown construction paper, end to end, to form a tree trunk and branches (use sheets of paper cut in half lengthwise for the branches), then attach the tree to a closet or pantry door (same as above).

Real Tree Branch - Use a small real tree branch and place in a sturdy vase or container, or a bucket filled with sand and/or pinecones. Be creative and make your tree base however you want, just be sure it's sturdy enough to not tip over.

Next, make some leaves to write on:

Using construction paper or other similar material, cut out a stack of leaves (preferably with the fall colors of red, orange and yellow). Make enough so that each member of the family will have plenty of leaves to write out individual things they are thankful for. Maybe even a few extra for holiday visitors.

When the kids were younger, I would also attach a small envelope to the door to hold the unused blank leaves for easy access. A small decorative container to place nearby would be even more festive.

Add daily Thanksgiving leaves:

At some point during each day, have everyone take a paper leaf and write on it something (or someone) that they are thankful for. It can be just one word or name, or really anything. A black permanent marker works great, but you can use anything you have handy to write with. If your family is very large you might need to limit each person to one thanksgiving leaf per day, otherwise you can write as many as you'd like.

Then as the leaves are ready, add them to the tree with a small piece of tape on the back, or you can use a glue stick. Place them all along the branches in different directions. You can even place some 'fallen leaves' along the bottom of the tree for a more natural look.

Making a Thanksgiving Tree has become one of our family's treasured holiday traditions. No matter how we make them they are always beautiful to me. And the meanings within our leaves, of all the things we are thankful for (including each other), are the most beautiful of all.

One night when my husband came home from work, the children ran to the tree to find a leaf for him to write on. When they asked him what he was thankful for that day, he answered "I'm thankful for Michelle," and proceeded to write my name on the leaf. The kids just thought that was so cool, because earlier that night, I had also written HIS name on my leaf.

I hope you will try making this fun project with your family this year and every year. Maybe we can even make EVERY DAY a Thanksgiving day.

And, don't forget to take a photo of your finished tree before you take it down!!!

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Return to Frugal Holiday Crafts

Copyright © 2003, 2006, 2015, by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.

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