Forget turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin spice lattes. (Okay, don’t tooooootally forget them.) But here’s a simple, free way to refocus on what Thanksgiving is really about.

DIY Gratitude Tree Tutorial

This all started last holiday season, when we had a rough lead-up to Christmas, and I’d started looking for creative ways to remember what the holidays are really all about. You know, things that have nothing to do with presents or food or material things.

Last year, I started our DIY I Am Grateful tablecloth (which our family still loves!).

DIY I Am Grateful Tablecloth

This year, I wanted to continue the gratitude theme, so I make our own gratitude tree.

DIY Gratitude Tree Tutorial

I used my grandmother’s manzanita branch, which is a fixture on our mantle (and was cut before manzanitas were legally protected). But you could easily go outside and pick up a few sticks and branches to make your own woodsy bouquet. If you have kids, involve them too! I know my kids would love to go on a treasure hunt for branches. (Either that, or they’d fashion them into swords and someone would end up crying). But regardless, you can very simply involve the family and then, everyone’s invested in the project.

After that, on each day of November, leading up to Thanksgiving, I write what I’m thankful for. (Or, each of your kids could have their own tree and write their own I’m-thankful-fors.)

What I love about this exercise is that it took some thought. You’d think it’d be easy to come up with 20-something items of gratitude, but once I got past my health, my kids, my husband and my friends, I was stumped for a bit.

I really had to think through what I’m thankful for. And I kept digging.

I’m thankful for those crisp, cool fall days.

I’m thankful for our church.

I’m thankful for my love of writing and the honor of sharing my words with you, through this blog.

DIY Gratitude Tree Tutorial  DIY Gratitude Tree Tutorial

The beauty in this craft was that it forced me reach inside, and pull out the things in my life that are truly wonderful and beautiful, and deserve to be set apart.

I know some people use Facebook as a way to name things they’re grateful for, and that’s a great virtual way of doing this as well. But I like that this gratitude tree is totally personal to me.

And, of course, it’s a great piece of Thanksgiving decor as well.

Which comes in handy, since our garage boxes are a mangled mess, and there’s not a chance I’ll be finding our fall decor box before 2015.


DIY Gratitude Tree Tutorial

What are your favorite, non-commercial ways to celebrate Thanksgiving? Share them in the comments section below.