How to Make a Gratitude Tree
In the U.S., Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. We remember the hardships of the Pilgrims during their first year in the New World, and the friendship and generosity of the Native Americans, who were instrumental in the Pilgrims' survival.
November is a month where we all reflect on the things we have and the people in our lives. Across the nation, people express gratitude in a variety of ways. This is the perfect time to reiterate to our children the importance of having and practicing gratitude everyday.
Every year, my son and I make a Gratitude Tree and our whole family participates in a fun 30-day gratitude practice. Every morning, on a small slip of paper, we each write a person's name for whom we are thankful, or one thing for which we are thankful, and then hang it up on the tree. It's a simple craft that creates a lifelong habit and teaches an important lesson.
- Large and medium branches
- Leaves of assorted colors
- A container, vase, old teapot or coffee pot
- Old newspaper, ads, or magazines
- Twist ties and/or rubber bands
Part 1 — Assemble Your Gratitude Tree
- Go outside and collect large to medium sized branches for your tree. While you are outside, you will also want to collect an assortment of leaves.
- Pick out a unique container for your Gratitude Tree. I've used an old family teapot.
- Gather your branches and begin to arrange them in your container.
- Crumple newspaper or ads to place around the branches in your container. This helps hold the branches in place.
- Use twist ties or rubber bands to help hold two or more branches together.
- Once you have your tree created, arrange leaves around the branches to hide the paper.
Now you are ready for Part 2.
Part 2—Materials Needed:
- Blank paper
- Markers in the colors of your choice
- Thread or string
Part 2—Finishing Touches
- Cut a piece paper that will fit on the outside of your container for a label.
- Write the word, 'Gratitude' on it with your markers.
- Tape your label to the outside of your container.
- Cut the remaining paper in half a few times to make small to medium sized squares or rectangles. These pieces are for writing daily "gratitudes" and will be hung up on your tree each day.
- Find a spot to set your Gratitude Tree. I chose the Buffet in my dining room. You may wish to place a table cloth or other linen under your tree. You might also want to make your Gratitude Tree a part of your household decor for the month of November.
- Once your tree is in place, arrange the remaining leaves around your container. Place your paper squares or rectangles nearby, along with your thread or string. Add a pen or two and your Gratitude Tree is complete and ready for use!
- Set a time each day to gather around your tree as a family and have each member write down one person for whom they are thankful, or one thing for which they are thankful. (At my house, we do this activity first thing in the morning.)
- Cut a small piece of thread or string and hang up each gratitude.
That is all there is to it!
Optional: You could take down the slips of paper on Thanksgiving and read all of the them aloud. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you might like to invite your guests to participate and write down something or someone for whom they are thankful, and hang it up on the tree. You could also just leave the Gratitude Tree as is, and let it be a nice decoration and reminder of gratitude for the entire month of November.