This is my favorite piece of Thanksgiving decor ever. I'm pretty sure I'm a genius for thinking of it, although someone else is bound to have already thought of it, or is going to... but whatever, I'm not googling it to find out... maybe I should get a copyright...
The Thankful Tree makes for an easy craft to entertain your kids for a few minutes, provides a fun and meaningful centerpiece on the table, and gives you a little keepsake from each year. Also, it is inexpensive to make and you don't have to store the whole thing in a box in your attic in between Thanksgivings.
To make the base, simply fill a large mason jar or a vase with rocks or pine cones, or a combination that you and your kiddos have collected. Next, find some large sticks with plenty of twigs to form the "tree." (Side note: While on a walk with the kids, I asked my neighbor if I could grab one of the branches he had cut from a tree he was trimming outside his house. He gave me the okay, but looked at me like I was crazy as I paraded down the street holding a large branch in the air.)
There are three ways we (James and I) have made the "leaves" of the tree:
Easy- Collect leaves (bonus: this gives you another outdoor activity). Have your kid(s) make the classic paper-over-leaf-rubbed-with-crayon leaf outline. (If you really don't know what I am referring to, click here- hint:step 6 is not necessary.) Then cut out around the leaf outlines.
Easier- Cut (or have your kids cut) leaf shapes out of paper (I used brown paper bags). Then let your kids paint the leaves fall-y colors.
Easiest- Last year I bought a couple sheets of Thanksgiving stationary and cut it into pieces. (In retrospect, I didn't even cut them into leaf shapes. Odd.)
Once the "leaves" are made, ask your kids what they are thankful for -this is my favorite part. You may need to give them some examples of things you are thankful for (your kids, your spouse, your home, dark chocolate...). Then write what your kids say on the back of the "leaves". I have kept the "leaves" from previous years, and plan to continue to keep them, so that each year I can remember what my kids have expressed gratitude for.
Lastly, attach the "leaves" to the "tree" with those adorable little mini-clothes pins. Done.
A great craft, some outdoor time, quality time with the little ones, and a unique centerpiece that will be the talk of the table come Thanksgiving evening. So much to be thankful for.