With all the hustle and bustle of everyday life we often forget to pause and be grateful for the many things we have been blessed with. I cannot think of a better way to start off the month of November and this Thanksgiving season than by spending some time focusing on the many blessings my family and I receive every day! One of the ways we like to do this in our family is by making our annual “Gratitude Tree”
For the past 10 years, our family has had a tradition of creating a gratitude tree that we display proudly for the month of November in our home. (It usually gets hung in our bay window in the kitchen so it is in full view each day.) Over the years our gratitude trees have been made out of construction paper, card stock, or an actual tree branch with paper leaves tied or taped to the branches. For me, it never has mattered what the tree is made out of, it just matters that we spend the time as a family reflecting on the things we have been blessed with in our lives.
When we first started out with our gratitude tree our children were all very small. We would give them each 10 or so leaves and have them draw pictures or tell us things to write down they were thankful for. Back then we didn’t care how many different types of foods, TV shows, stuffed animals, or toys they listed off. It only mattered that they were thinking of things that they have been given in their lives. (We still do it this way with our 5 year old.)
As most of our children have gotten older we have changed the way we do our gratitude tree. We as parents think it is important for our children to see that they can be grateful for lots of different types of things and not just monetary items. This year and last year we sat in our family room and each had a stack of 12 leaves and a pen or pencil. I then went through this list below. Each person would think of one thing in that category they were grateful for and then write the word or draw a picture of that thing.By the time we finish going through the list we each have 10 leaves ready to attach to our tree. Of course, before we get the leaves hung up on our tree, we each take turns sharing the different things we have written. It is amazing to see the things your children come up with that they are grateful for. They see life in a different way than we do as adults and it’s a special thing to be able to share these thoughts and ideas with each other. I will never forget when my daughter wrote down last year that she was grateful for the birth defect she was born with.
After we go around and share these ideas with each other we then spend the next few minutes attaching our leaves to the tree. This is always a favorite of my children because they get to have a little artistic license with it as well.
There are lots of other ways and ideas you can create a gratitude tree in your home. Another way I have seen it is to have a small jar of leaves set aside and each day each member of the family thinks of one thing they are grateful for and then attaches it to the tree. There is definitely not a right or wrong way to make a gratitude tree. Whether you attach all the leaves at once or attach a new one each day you are not only creating a family tradition but also creating in the hearts and minds of your children how to be grateful in all things!
Ideas of things to be grateful for
1. Quality about yourself that you are thankful for
2. Hobby/talent for are thankful for
3. Person outside our immediate family you are thankful for
4. A religious principle that you are thankful for
5. Something you own/possession that you are thankful for
6. Something in nature that you are thankful for
7. Something in your home that you are thankful for
8. Something you love to eat that you are thankful for
9. Something new you’ve learned this year that you are thankful for
10. Something you love to spend time doing that you are thankful for
11. Something that’s hard for you but you’re learning to be grateful for
12. Come up with your own thing that you are thankful for
Make your own Family Gratitude Tree
Click Picture – Right click and save to your desk top to print off patterns
Top of tree
Bottom of the tree
Push hard with a ball point pen over lines of the pattern to make cutting lines on your brown paper.
Cut leaves out of fun fall colored paper and tape tree sections together