Thankful Tree

I have seen various ways of expressing the things that we are thankful coming up to thanksgiving; at my parents house, they have little cards which they pass out a week or so before on which every one can write what they are thankful for and then when we gather for our Thanksgiving meal there is a cross in a display that Mom sets up where we all pin our thankful cards. Whatever the way is, I think it is always of value to take the time to write down thankfuls and blessings.

Lately, I have seen thankful trees and I really like the idea, especially this one by Simply Vintagegirl. I love the simplicity of it, but I didn’t really want to get stock paper and I don’t really have any so I did some brainstorming of what I do have. Then as the leaves are just beginning to change here in the valley, I was thinking that I would like to press some with the girls for decorations and I thought, “hey, the Thankful Tree!” So this little tutorial isn’t particularly genius on my part and we will collect more leaves later once they are really changing color, but I wanted to share this now as I know that in some parts the leaves are already changing quickly.

I did this with the girls but some parts like the cutting out of the leaves are a little beyond them; it is an activity that could be geared a little more toward older ones. Although, Aneliese fully enjoys and understands the concept of being thankful and writing them down.

Part One: Pressing Leaves.

You will need:

– newspaper, books, leaves

First you will need to go collect various leaves, ideally colorful ones. It is easiest for little ones to get them off the ground just make sure they are not starting to rot. (Having lived in Central BC and Alberta, I know that there isn’t quite the same variety but get creative, it doesn’t need to be just tree leaves.) Once you have your leaves, place them flat on sheets of newspaper.

Some oak, maple and unknowns.

Cover with a second layer of newspaper.

Cover with the second layer of newspaper, making sure that all the leaves are covered. Add some heavy books on top, taking care that the leaves don’t shift or curl.

Nice heavy books and some excellent ones by the way. Esp. James Harriot and the Narnia Series.

Give them a few days to flatten and dry out. You could check for moisture and turn but while I meant to, I never got to it and they were fine.








Part Two: Thankful Leaves

You will need:

–       Contact paper (available at craft, dollar and hardware stores)

–       Scissors

–       String

–       Hole punch (if you have it)









Roll out a length of contact paper, enough to spread your leaves on. If you really want to be specific and use the exact amount of paper, you can lay your leaves out before cutting the length. Carefully peel the paper backing (carefully so that you don’t create wrinkles) from the contact paper and lay the CP sticky side up. Lay the leaves around, leaving enough room between to cut out the leaves with an edge, pat down to stick.

Leaves on Contact Paper









Cut another length of CP and carefully remove backing (you can do this all at once or bit by bit as you lay it over the leaves. Cover the leaves, making sure there are no wrinkles or air bubbles (yes hard to do with small children). Doing this with the girls, I gave them rolling pins to make sure the paper was sticking.

Rolling out wrinkles









Now you can cut out the leaves, making sure that you leave enough edge that the CP can stick together. Punch a hole however you would like the leaf to hang and add a string to hang it. If you don’t have a hole punch use a needle with the thread attached or a nail to poke a hole.

Part Three: The Thankful Tree

You will need:

–       A knife or pruning shears

–       Jar or container

–       Something to weight inside container (maybe).

Find a branch or two that you like in your yard or your neighbors yard (probably ask them first!). If you are like us, you go for over kill and cut too many, too big branches, use a cart to truck it back when it would be easier to carry it , stop to enjoy some fall raspberries and pick some free growing oregano, drag the branches inside only to drag most of them back out.

carting our branches, stop to enjoy some fall raspberries and pick some free growing oregano, drag the branches inside only to drag most of them back out

bringing our branches inside

Find a jar or container that you like, stick the branches in, using some beans, rocks, rice, popcorn, or whatever as a weight if needed (ours didn’t need it as we used a tall milk bottle and the branches are light), and decorate the jar with twine or ribbon if you like.

Part Four: Being Thankful

You will need:

–       prepared leaves

–       things that you are thankful for

–       Fine point Permanent Marker

On the day that we made this, we wrote a few things we were thankful for and hung them on the tree. Between now and Thanksgiving in October, we will add things as we think of them. Probably it is something we will do after supper so that Daddy can also join us.

writing our thankfuls (I printed what she said later).

My order loving daughter wished to hang them in a row on one branch (we go through this at Christmas as well) because she thinks we should fill one branch at a time.


Variations: You could skip the contact paper step and just press, string and write on leaves, this just makes them more durable and we can keep them. You could also use a dry erase marker and re-use the leaves. Another way is to use wax paper which requires using an iron so is only really older child-friendly or to do on ones own.

If you can’t get a branch or don’t really have room, you could string the leaves like a garland and hang them on wall, window, or mantle. Or use paper clips or little clothespins and attach them to a paper tree on the wall. I am sure the possibilities are endless. And the main point is, for me at least, as I see the tree with those leaves I just think of more things that I am thankful for.

If you decide to have a thankful tree, I would love to see or hear about what you do! I will also add a better picture when we have more colorful fall leaves to grace the tree with and have written on more closer to Thanksgiving.