In the flurry of football, parades and feasting, the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving can get a tad lost. Take a few minutes to re-focus on your family’s bounty with a Gratitude Tree – an activity that, when complete, makes a fitting focal point for the middle of your dinner table.
Our centerpiece is inspired by magazine creator Amanda Formaro, who originally created the concept in 2-D form.
“Each year, I try to think of something new to remind my kids that we have plenty to be thankful for,” says Formaro, a Wisconsin mother of four. “I really wanted to preserve their handprints to remember just how quickly they grow, and how time passes before your eyes.”
- Two or three twigs, about 2 feet tall with plenty of offshoots (gather then up while raking leaves)
- Medium-sized wicker basket
- Green, dried florist foam, at least 3 or 4 inches thick (available at local craft stores)
- Decorative wood shavings
- Construction or scrapbook paper in autumn-leaf hues (orange, brown, red, orange, etc.)
- Hot-glue gun
- Black marker
- Paper or cloth ribbon and/or cornhusks (optional)
1. First, assemble your tree. Hot glue the florist foam into the base of the basket (foam can be carefully cut to size). Gently wedge the twigs straight down into the foam, clumping them closely to give the illusion of a single tree. Use wood shavings to fill in around the base. Note: If using paper or cloth ribbon and/or cornhusks to trim the basket, glue these items on first.
2. Next, create the leaves. Have each family member trace his or her hand on a piece of construction or scrapbook paper. On it, with the marker, have them write one or two things they’re grateful for (if your family is smaller, simply create more). Then, affix the leaves to the tree with tape.
3. Display your Gratitude Tree during Thanksgiving dinner. Encourage your kids to present their leaves, talking about what they’re grateful for and why. Parents and other family members can do the same. And when the day is done, glue the hands down onto a flat paper tree, which is Formaro’s original craft (click here for details!).
This post was originally published in 2009 and has been updated for 2015.