For those of you with lots of ideas, but who never seem to get around to doing them… you’re not alone. I took this photo of a precious little Thankful Tree I saw at a friend’s house the year her young daughter made it…in 2007! I remember snapping the photo for inspiration for a future project. Now 7 years later…I’ve finally done the project and that little girl is now in high school! Oh where does the time go?!?!
The nudge I needed to finally do this project happened when I was walking the Littlest One home from school last week. We found a limb that had a really interesting shape. And at that moment I knew just how I’d use it…to finally make our family Thankful Tree.
Thankful Tree – Materials
So if you want to make a homemade Thankful Tree for your family, it’s super easy…and it will hopefully become a treasured tradition for you and your family for years to come. All you need is…
- An interesting branch…preferably one with lots of stems or little nobbies to hang the thankful tags on
- A pot, pail or glass jar…the size of the container will depend on the size/shape of your branch
- Some small rocks, acorns, or pinecones to keep the branch in place
- Fall colored card stock
- Scissors and a hole punch
- Ribbon, paint, burlap or other embellishments (optional)
Thankful Tree – Instructions
Once you find your cool branch…
- Break off the section of branch you think will best fill your space.
- Set it in the middle of the pot and fill pebbles all around it to hold it up. I wanted to use acorns to keep with the fall theme, but found that they weren’t quite sturdy enough. So I filled my container with little rocks about 2/3 of the way up and then covered the last third with the acorns. Now the branch is not only secure, but the acorns’ charm is what you see.
- If you use a taller container with a narrow neck you probably won’t need anything else to hold the branch in place since the neck of the container can do that for you.
- If you have a taller container with a wider mouth, you can place the branch all the way to the bottom and fill around it…and not likely need anything else to hold it in place.
- If it’s a taller glass container, you could use pinecones or some other material inside for visual interest. My Resident Gardener found some wispy branches he particularly liked, so I tried those out too in a hurricane vase with some pinecones.
- Next you will cut out tags to hang on your tree to write your blessings on. There are some options here. You could cut out thin strips or small rectangles or even leaf shapes. Or you can do a combination of shapes. I used my paper cutter for the thin strips and rectangles, but just free-hand cut the leaves so they would be irregular and varied.
- Then hole punch a hole in the end of the shape and hang it on the tree.
- If you want to embellish your pot, go for it! You could paint it. You could glue a ribbon around the edge. You could wrap it with twine, glueing it down as you go. You could make a square of burlap to wrap around the pot and tie with twine. So many options to make it fit your style or decor.
How We’re Going to Use Our Thankful Tree
Once your Thankful Tree is set up, you can determine how and when your family wants to add your tags of thanks…and some of that may be determined by how big your branch is. You can always add multiple tags to a single branch too if you want to extend the activity over a longer period of time.
This could also be an activity you just do on Thanksgiving Day. Just hang empty tags on it up until Thanksgiving Day and then have everyone write what they are thankful for on all the tags throughout that day. I’ve even thought you could do individual Thankful Trees to have at each person’s place-setting using a tiny branch and a tiny pot and let each person make their own. There is no “right” way to use this tree…..do whatever works for you. It doesn’t matter so much how you do it…it just matters that you find a way to pause and give thanks!
I am so excited that I’ve finally made our Thankful Tree and that it will be a part of our Thanksgiving decor and activities this year. As you can see, I’ve had a number of ideas floating around in my head as to how we’d use it…and I think I’ve finally landed on just how:
- Each of us will write something we are thankful for on a tag and hang it on the tree starting the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
- Then we’ll each write something on a tag each day after that until Thanksgiving Day.
- In an effort to see the many daily blessings we have in our lives, I’m going to encourage everyone to write very specific things that they are thankful for that day. We are certainly thankful for those broader things that we would typically rattle off…like family, our house, friends, etc.; but I just want to go a bit deeper…a bit sweeter.
- So to capture both the big and the little things we’re thankful for…my compromise is that on the first day we’ll work together as a family to come up with all those broader things that we’re ALL thankful for and then encourage everyone to be more specific the rest of the week.
- Then on Thanksgiving Day we’ll go around and read aloud all the many blessings adorning our tree and rejoice in all that we have to be thankful for!
Now…I’d like to encourage you to let your kids come up with their own ideas and even let them write their own tags…if they can. No matter how silly or how trivial their ideas may sound…those little treasured thoughts are theirs and are very real and valuable to them. So don’t be discouraged if they are thankful for a favorite toy or something else you might find insignificant. Instead celebrate that they are having a thankful heart. It made me smile reading one of the tags in the photo I mentioned. In precious little girl’s handwriting, it said “easy to peel oranges”… yep, I have to agree….that’s something to be thankful for!
Hope this inspires you and your family to find creative ways to give thanks this November…for both the big and the little things. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!
And one last thing…can I just take this moment to add that one of the things my Resident Gardener and I are so thankful for this year is for all of you who come back week after week to read our blog and encourage us to keep doing what we feel called to do. We are thankful for each of you!
Take care and THANK YOU!