A Thanksgiving Tree: Because Being Grateful Is That Important

Gold Brush Stroke

For years I never knew what to do for Thanksgiving decorations. The cheesy turkey candle on the window sill and maybe a couple gourds gracing the hutch was about as good as it got. 

It’s not that I didn’t like Thanksgiving or think it was important. I just didn’t know what to do for memorable decorations, ones that celebrate the day’s meaning. I mean there isn’t a manger scene or a star or anything that significant I could put out. 

So I opted for little. A large dinner with all the fixings, to be sure, but little in the way of seasonal display. 

Then a few years ago I began reading about a Thanksgiving or Gratitude Tree (check out Ann Voskamp for more), and I knew I’d found my decoration of choice. Simple, flexible, and meaningful. Love it! 

Thanksgiving tree

So I thought I’d pass on the blessing of the Thanksgiving Tree to you, complete with photos and a free Scripture leaf printable.

It's never too early to give thanks, or to plan your Thanksgiving Tree. Prepare your heart and home to be #grateful Share on X

Thanksgiving/Gratitude Trees


Gathered goodies for this year’s tree

A Thanksgiving Tree can be made out of anything. A Pinterest search revealed dazzling photos of trees made out of paper, cloth, branches, or various seasonal items. The trees can be 3-dimensional or taped against the wall. 

The important thing is to set up the tree as a tool for cultivating gratitude.  

Being a nature girl, we use branches for our tree, and hang colorful Scripture leaves off of them. You can either begin with all the leaves on the tree or have a bowl filled with the leaves and hang them as they are used.

During the week leading up to Thanksgiving or the morning of the day itself (depending on the nature of activities that week), we each jot down 5 things (1 on each leaf) for which we were grateful that year. At dinner we read our Scripture verses and our words of gratitude. 

Thanksgiving tree bare

Just as there are many forms of Thanksgiving trees, there are also many ways to use it.

Here are some options:

  • Take a leaf a day during the week leading up to Thanksgiving Day and reflect on and pray through the Scripture verse.
  • Do the above suggestion but take it a step further by recording a gift your grateful for on the back of the leaf.
  • Choose a leaf for each member of your family and write a word of thanks specifically for them on the back. 
  • Use the Scripture leaves as part of your regular family devotions during November, praying through each verse and discussing any thoughts about it. 

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you can think of more. 

Benefits of Being Grateful

Cultivating a heart of gratitude has strong physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. It relieves stress, gives us a greater sense of satisfaction, helps us deal with difficult circumstances, and draws us nearer to the Lord.

And as a bonus, it’s nearly impossible to be simultaneously expressing thanks and complaining. All parents should appreciate that!

Here is a meaningful, fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving and reflect on the gifts God’s blessed us with. 

Here is a meaningful, fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving and reflect on the gifts God's blessed us with. Share on X

It’s one where the entire family can participate, and it looks cool to boot. I’m grateful to have discovered it and excited to pass it on to you.

Now for the free leaf template printable! I love all different leaf shapes, so I’ve created a Scripture leaf template featuring oak, elm, and maple leaves (there are 2 different sheets with 18 unique verses).

Click on each image to download. Print them on color paper, cut out, add string, and enjoy!  

Thanksgiving Scripture Leaves (1b)

Thanksgiving Scripture Leaves 1

Thanksgiving Scripture Leaves (2b)

Thanksgiving Scripture Leaves 2

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Reflections: What’s a meaningful way you decorate for or celebrate the Thanksgiving season? 

I’m joining Holley Gerth for her Coffee for Your Heart Wednesday link-up and Rachel Wojnarowski for Whimsical Wednesdays. Click on the images to read more linked-up posts. So much wonderful encouragement!

Holley Gerth Button  new whimsical wed

By His Grace,



  1. Sarah Donegan on November 21, 2014 at 9:54 am

    What a great idea! Gotta love Ann Voskamp!

    • Julie Sunne on November 21, 2014 at 10:26 am

      She’s certainly inspiring, Sarah. Thanks for stopping.

  2. Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) on November 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I shared the Thanksgiving tree idea with our pastoral assistant last year, She had everyone in Worship serivices write on a leaf and put them on a decorative pair of trees (think home decor) and had them on the wall behind the serving line when we had or annual Thanksgiving dinner for the community.

    • Julie Sunne on November 24, 2014 at 8:45 am

      What a wonderful idea, Cecelia!

  3. […] to celebrate. Ways that aren’t overly time-consuming or costly. A few years ago I introduced a Thanksgiving tree to our mid-November decor. Decorating twigs with leaves of remembrance for gifts received has been a […]

  4. Linda Fitzpatrick McClellan on November 16, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    That is a great idea, I think I’m going to make one and have scripture leaves they can pick them up and pin them onto the branches. A great way to remember the things we and people we know deal with gratitude and also remember how very luck we are, not necessarily money-wise but also a fun day with the kids. I wish mine were still little sometimes. Great blob Julie, I remember that one from last year and it’s still good.

    • Julie Sunne on November 16, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      I wish the same thing from time to time, Linda. They grow up way too fast! But there is a new beauty in our relationships now that they are older.

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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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