Thinking Ahead to Thanksgiving: The Tree of Thanks

Last year we started a new tradition for Thanksgiving that we all really loved: The Tree of Thanks.  I posted pics on Facebook but never got around to adding them to the blog.  I thought I’d go ahead and share the pics with you now in case this is something you’d like to prepare to do this year, as it does take a little bit of prep work ahead of time! 🙂

There are tons of different ways you can choose to do this activity and I’m sure if you google words like “Thanksgiving” and “tree” you’ll find lots of other people’s takes on the idea, but I’ll just share what we did and you can run with it the way that’ll work best for your family! 🙂

First we found the perfect tree limb on a nature walk.  We brought it home and put in into a vase on the table.  It was kind of big, but it worked out.  We added some other fall items from our walk to the top of the vase.  The vase came from the clearance section at Michael’s.


Next I used a leaf-shaped hole punch (bought at A.C. Moore) to punch out lots and lots of card stock and construction paper leaves in fall colors.  I used a teeny tiny hole punch (from Stampin’ Up) to put one hole in each leaf for hanging.  I put the leaves in a wooden bowl next to the vase, along with some wire Christmas ornament hooks and an ink pen.

We added a cornucopia basket filled with little seasonal squashes to round out our Thanksgiving table centerpiece display.

The ideal plan is to start the Tree of Thanks at the beginning of November, however, we didn’t start until mid-November last year as I wasn’t prepared enough ahead of time.  Finding the right branch to make the tree can actually be a difficult task, especially if you live in the city, so go ahead and start looking NOW!!  

Each November night as we sat around the dinner table preparing to eat, our family of four would take turns saying one unique thing for which we were thankful.  “I’m thankful for…”  I’d write the person’s words on a leaf along with their name, and we’d hang it on our tree.

By Thanksgiving, our tree was quite full of all the things for which we were thankful!  It was hard to get a good photo of the completed tree because most days were overcast and I didn’t know as much about photography back then either, but just let me say it was soooo pretty in person!! 


As the month went on, we had to get pretty creative with our responses and it was fun to listen to what everyone would add each night!  I was often most impressed with the things the kids said.

I loved this centerpiece decoration and all it meant so much that I couldn’t bear to throw the leaves away after Thanksgiving.  Instead, I used them to create a little display in our art frames that hang over the table afterwards, so we could continue to remember to be thankful.  I simply printed “we are so thankful” on green card stock, glued some of my favorite “thankful” leaves on, and slid them into our frames.  

 Will you be making a Tree of Thanks this year?  

Does your family have any special Thanksgiving traditions?

This post may contain affiliate links.

Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Brenna says:

    This is a great idea for the month of November. A friend did this activity in her home Super way to teach thanks and thanksgiving. Any classroom of preschool students can participate.

  • Angie Schott says:

    I LOVE this idea! So cute! We’ll definitely have to try it in our home. 🙂

  • I love this idea and am SO doing it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tawnee says:

    Great idea. I sure hope we get this started.

  • Deb Chitwood says:

    This is fabulous! I love your whole process from selecting the right branch to displaying the leaves afterward. I featured your photo and post in my November Family Gratitude Activities at

  • […] See our Fall book list for kids. See one of our favorite November traditions: The Tree of Thanks. […]

  • >