Thankful Tree

Start your engines because the beginning of the holiday season is about to take off! And what better way to highlight the meaning of the season, particularly the month of November, with a Thankful Tree. We’ve been practicing gratitude by making this tree for several years and it’s become one our family’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions. The beauty of the Thankful Tree is the set up is minimal and the impact is BIG!


Our 2016 Thankful Tree in progress.


I originally saw the idea of a Thankful Tree on Pinterest here and didn’t even click through to see the other photos or instructions. I thought it self-explanatory enough so I took the concept and ran with it. Here’s how you can do it too!


I like to start our Thankful Tree on November 1st but you can really start it any time in the beginning of the month. Once the tree is up I put the paper leaves and a few markers on a platter near the tree and let the kids take it from there. Ok, I did add a little direction when they wanted to write a leaf for each of their toys one year… It’s also fun to let the kids’ play dates and visitors in on the fun.


Oh the tree. I cut out a new tree each year because my trees are always lacking in the trunk-to-limb ratio so I like to *try* to undo the ugly from the year before. 2017 will be my year! 🤞🏼 First you’ll need brown craft paper. You can find a roll at Staples or Walmart or here. Wherever you end up buying it, make sure the roll is at least 30″ wide. The amount of paper (usually listed in feet) doesn’t matter as much unless you want to have more paper on hand. Like when I ordered this roll of butcher paper from Lakeshore Learning 6 years ago, when the kids were both under 4 years old. We won’t be finished with it until the youngest graduates high school. I blame sleep deprivation for not only the amount ordered but the amount paid. Why didn’t I see the correlation there?? 😳 🤷🏼‍♀️


Why does the shape of a bare tree vex me so?


Start by unrolling a good amount of the paper and just free-hand the trunk and limbs. IN PENCIL. With a big eraser next to you. 😉 Then cut out the trunk and branches and tape it up to a blank space of wall you have. Even the 30″ wide paper isn’t big enough for the limbs for the space I had this year so I cut out more limbs and taped them to the ginormous tree.


This part does take just a teeny bit of planning. For the past few years I’ve bought the Paper Source leaves (these and these). I find them on sale right AFTER Thanksgiving from the year before and save them year over year. Similar leaves can be found on Etsy at LeCardShoppe. Just check the dimensions of anything you find online. And before I found the Paper Source leaves I used fall-colored paper (brown, orange, yellow, red) and cut out leaves in a simple shape like the template below. You’d be surprised how many of those leaves you can turn out during a single episode of Mad Men!


I buy 2 packages of the large leaves and 2 packages of the small. Makes for a nice variation in size and color.




Now comes the part where you populate your Thankful Tree with thankful thoughts. When our kids were younger there were a lot of “my toys” and “my scooter” leaves that went up. 🤦🏼‍♀️ But through the years we’ve been able to transition the conversation from things to concepts and experiences, and the leaves reflect that. By practicing gratitude in this way we’re able to shed the small stuff for a little bit and look at the big picture in a meaningful way. I absolutely L❤️VE seeing the tree fill out over the course of the month. And it’s really quite special to see what’s important in my kids’ lives and where they place worth.


I add texture to the trunk with a gold sharpie. And a carved heart for fun.

So write out a leaf a day, or maybe several leaves in one. It’s really up to you and your family how you fill those branches. Because by the time you sit down at your Thanksgiving table you’ll be able to see all of your blessings right there. And it’s gorgeous. Let the grateful begin. 😊






3 thoughts on “Thankful Tree”

  • Hi! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Thank you!

  • This year I bought a $3 tree with leaves at Target. Have we started it yet? No! But you remind me, it’s never too late to practice gratitude! 🙂 Great post, Mags!

    • Thanks Kari! It’s never too late. And it’s almost always “better late than never.” Hugs & kisses to you and the family!

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