Making a Family Thanksgiving Tree

Looking for a fun way to get in the holiday mood while focusing on gratitude? One of our newer family holiday traditions is what we call a “Cranksgiving Tree.” If you’re a normal family, you can call it a Thanksgiving tree. 😉

When the world shut down due to a virus a couple of years back, we decided to put up our tree at the end of October, decorate it, and start counting our blessings. It stuck and became a tradition! 

Thanksgiving tree tradition

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What is a Thanksgiving Tree? 

The Thanksgiving tree is an indoor tree with reminders of Thanksgiving all over it. These could be turkey and pilgrim crafts, little notes of thanksgiving, Scripture verses of gratitude, or whatever helps your family celebrate the holiday and focus on Christ! 

Toward the end of October or early November, we put up our fake Christmas tree. Throughout the month, we use these paper leaf ornaments for a simple gratitude activity. Each family member writes on things they’re thankful, gives praises to God, or writes answers to the prompts from our gratitude calendar printable.

What if You Don’t Have a Fake Tree? 

I used to be a die-hard “don’t put the tree up until after Thanksgiving” gal. Especially because we always got fresh trees when I was growing up and I had carried on that tradition. However, traditions change. 🙂 With a houseful of children, this maxed-out mom embraced a fake tree and I haven’t looked back. 

But even if you don’t have a fake Christmas tree, consider other ways you can do a Thanksgiving tree. You can purchase a small table-top tree for this goal. I found one once using a local Buy Nothing group on Facebook.

You could also have your kids draw and paint a tree on a large posterboard on the wall. One family I know puts an arrangement of long windy branches in a vase on the counter and uses that for their Thanksgiving tree. Be creative and use what you have or can find cheaply! 

What Can You Decorate the Tree With? 

There are many things you can decorate your tree with! Here are some ideas: 

    • Get these pre-cut leaves or make your own. 
    • Buy some fall ornaments or decorations online.
    • Have the kids draw and color little leaves, turkeys, acorns, squirrels, pilgrim hats, feathers, etc. 
    • Make little felt ornaments like turkeys and pies.
    • Put all the Thanksgiving crafts from past years in/on the tree.
    • Make strings of cranberries for garland and/or popcorn. 

When it’s time to take down the Thanksgiving decorations, you’ll enjoy reading all the lovely notes and Scriptures and then putting up the Christmas decorations!

What does your family do to encourage thankful hearts this time of year (or all year long)?

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Kacey

    So fun!! We did this last year in our homeschool “classroom”

    1. Michelle Visser

      That’s awesome Kacey! I hope you found you enjoyed it as much as the kids did! 🙂

  2. Deborah

    I love this idea! Our Thanksgiving here in Canada has already passed, but I’m sure my daughter would love to do this next year. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Katharine

    We’ve been doing this with our Sunday School class, but the children use it for a prayer tree, writing names of people we’re praying for on cutout shapes of their handprints. So, it would be wonderful to do the thankful thing with them, as well. Thanks! 😉

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