Start A New Tradition: DIY Thankful Tree

Thanksgiving is upon us, and I thought it would be fun to share a tradition that we have in our family!  Thanksgiving is such a special holiday, since it gives us a set time to really reflect on the past year and give thanks for all that we have!

Several years ago (before I had my own children), when I was teaching pre-school, I came across a project for a Thankful tree.  That same year, I introduced this to our extended family.  We only had one or two kids in the family at the time, but the Thankful Tree was a huge hit, and has continued every year.

Thankful Tree Collage

The great thing about this project – you can create it using materials around the house!  Plus, it is a fun activity to keep everyone occupied while they are waiting to dig into dinner!


  • Construction Paper or Scrapbook Paper  (you could also use plain paper and color it).
  • Pencil, Pen, Markers, Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Roll of Brown Craft Paper (or brown paper grocery bags)

Step One:

Create a trunk for your tree using the brown craft paper.  In the photos above, we didn’t have a roll of paper, so I just used paper grocery bags – I just cut them out to create the branches and trunk.  Then I used a brown crayon to add lines and “texture” to make it look a little more like bark.  (I am no artist, but it still always comes together!)

Step Two:

(Optional)  Cut out letters spelling “We Are Thankful” or “Thankful Tree” – give them to the kids to color and decorate.

Step Three:

Have each family member trace their hand on a piece of paper and cut it out.  After it’s cut out, have them write their name and what they are thankful for this year!


Step Four:

Attach all of the “leaves” to your tree with tape.  If you want to make your tree look a little fuller, you can always cut out actual leaf shapes and add them in.  Have fun and be creative!

I don’t always get to be with my mom, sister and grandparents on Thanksgiving, so now, they create their own “leaves” ahead of time and send them to me so that they are included on our Thankful Tree!  One year my sister and I facetime’d while we created our leaves.  It’s one of my favorite pictures ever!  I am definitely thankful for FaceTime!


We love looking at our Thankful Tree every year – it’s fun to see the kiddo’s “leaves” grow from year to year!

Do any of you create a Thankful Tree?  What are some of your traditions?  We’d love to hear about them!




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