Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are grateful for. Create a family thankful activity for your family using a real tree branch and paper leaves.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Read step by step instructions after the video.

Practice gratitude and share the meaning of the season with this sweet and simple gratitude tree. This tree is a great family Thanksgiving activity to get everyone into a thankful mindset. Family and friends can write what they are grateful for and display it on the tree at the big dinner, or you can make this a daily activity that happens around the fall dinner table. As you watch the leaves fall off the trees outside, add your own colorful leaves to this festive gratitude tree.

  • Working time 30 mins
  • Start to finish 30 mins
  • Difficulty Easy

What you need


How to do it

Part 1

cutting out paper leaf stencils for gratitude tree
Credit: Alice & Lois
paper scissors supplies for thanksgiving gratitude tree project
Credit: Alice & Lois
Step 1

Place and Trace

Download, print, and cut out our free template to start the leaves of gratitude. Grab colored paper and cut multiple leaves using the stencil you just cut out. We chose autumnal colors like red, orange, tans and browns for our tree. Remember that darker colors may be harder to write on.

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Teach Kids Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Get the free template
thanksgiving gratitude tree with writing
Credit: Alice & Lois
finished gratitude tree in vase with hanging paper leaves thanksgiving
Credit: Courtesy of Alice and Lois
Step 2

Build the Tree

Venture into the great outdoors (or just the backyard) to find a small branch for this project. Place the branch into a short glass vase ($18, Amazon), and add two or three smaller branches to the vase, allowing them to arch to one side. We recommend using branches with multiple small offshoots—this will give you more places to hang your gratitude leaves. Use a hole punch ($5, Amazon) to place a hole in the top of each leaf and string a loop of natural jute twine ($6, Amazon) through it; this is how you'll hang the leaf on the tree. Every day, write things you and your family are grateful for onto the leaves and hang them from the branches, or wait to do the activity together on Thanksgiving Day. If you keep this up as a continuous activity, place a jar of felt-tip pens ($8, Amazon) next to the display for easy writing. Display for Thanksgiving on a buffet, as a DIY centerpiece, or on your mantel to showcase all you have to be thankful for.

Comments (6)

How difficult was this project?
Better Homes & Gardens Member
November 5, 2018
Having the template made it very easy to copy and cut out. I have a 5 year old Sunday School class and they enjoyed it. I had to print what they were thankful for but it was fun.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
November 1, 2018
The templates should automatically download once you have clicked the link.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
November 1, 2018
Can not get the template to open up.......
Better Homes & Gardens Member
November 1, 2018
Easy project. I was excited about having family members write on each leaf and hang them on the "tree". But maybe my 2 grandchildren (teens) were just too old for this and the fact that no one else offered to pick up the pen and write down what they were thankful for made me feel like all the work was for nothing so this year I'm trying it again but I'm not filling out any in advance and hanging them on the tree (for examples). Maybe it will shame them into writing something down that they are thankful for! But a great idea and something you can add to year after year. Even date and put your name on the back and have everyone just write down one or two things each year. Carry it over from year to year and see how it changes. Especially as the children get older
Better Homes & Gardens Member
October 15, 2018
Thank you for alerting us. The download patterns have been updated. -BH&G
Better Homes & Gardens Member
October 13, 2018
Very hard to cut out leaf patterns when the template you attached is that of a whale:)

Project Toolbar

Font Size