How to Make a Thankful Tree in 3 Simple Steps!

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and I love our family tradition of creating a thankful tree! In the hurry to skip straight to Christmas, I can’t help but feel that Thanksgiving is a little under-appreciated.

This is the perfect way to ensure that our family actually spends some time considering our blessings each year! Because let’s be honest; if you try the approach where you have to go around the table and say what you’re thankful for on the spot while waiting to eat your food, it’ll be a bit rushed and probably not very sincere.

This is an easy nature craft that will get you and the kiddos outside looking for the perfect pieces for your tree. It also will create some great family time when everyone focuses on what they’re grateful for. Plus, it makes for a beautiful centerpiece to your Thanksgiving table or as decor elsewhere in your home!

Here are three simple steps to creating your own thankful tree this Thanksgiving!

1. Go outside and gather some sticks.

hand holding cluster of sticks for thanksgiving craft

Head outside and gather some sticks or branches for your thankful tree. You may even have some laying around the yard or on a tree that could use some pruning. Look for sticks that have lots of branches so there are plenty of places to hang the ornaments and leaves.

I ended up trimming some off of a lilac tree in our backyard. I liked how the complex branches made the final arrangement look more tree-like as opposed to just a bundle of sticks in a vase.

If you don’t have access or time to collect sticks, these willow branches from Amazon would work nicely. They could also be repurposed for other arrangements throughout the year!

2. Arrange your branches and decorate with leaves.

Depending on how large your sticks are, you’ll need to find a vase or jar that’s the right size for your thankful tree. Ours were fairly large and had a wide spread, so I needed to use a large, heavy vase to make sure our tree didn’t topple.

Once you’ve got your sticks arranged the way you’d like, it’s time to add the leaves! There are a few different options. If you happened to preserve some real leaves in beeswax this year, pull those out and make ornaments by tying on some string.

If not, you can purchase fabric leaves to reuse every year! We have some autumn leaf garlands that I made in the past by simply gluing fabric leaves onto a strand of string that we’ve used in previous years. My little guy loves crafts and decorating for holidays, so he was pretty enthused to help out with this!

3. Add gratitude ornaments to your thankful tree!

Lastly, make your gratitude ornaments to hang up! We used our circle paper punch tied with string to create ours. Gift tags like these would also work really well for decorating your thankful tree. Then, spend some time together writing out all the things you’re thankful for!

small boy's hands punching out paper circles for Thanksgiving craft

Try and be as specific as possible! It’s pretty much a given for people to be thankful for their home, friends, and family. Go into little bit more detail of why or what in particular you appreciate about those things.

This part can be especially entertaining if you have younger kids with fewer inhibitions about saying what they’re really thankful for. Like our four-year-old who is very grateful that he owns a swimsuit 😂.

On top of establishing the tradition of decorating a thankful tree, I also love the idea of documenting the different things each family member is thankful for each year. I fully plan on writing all of it in my journal to look back on in the future. I’m sure it will provide a great source of amusement as well as a reflection of what we experienced as a family through the years.

Once they’re all written out, hang your ornaments on the tree! My little guy especially loved this part. Like I said, he gets pretty excited about any sort of holiday decorating. Now we have a pretty Thanksgiving decoration and a physical representation of our family’s blessings!

several branches in a vase decorated with leaves as a thankful tree


If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving craft to do with your kids or a new family tradition for the holiday, this thankful tree is the perfect option! It’s a fun activity for kids and helps ensure that everyone actually spends time reflecting on all the things we have to be thankful for!

I hope you and your family enjoying this new tradition of reflecting and spending some quality time together as much as we did!

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