Gratitude Tree


This is a simple and fun way to help family members be on the look-out for all the things they love and are grateful for…and clean up some stray branches from the yard at the same time. Ahhh…green waste.

Oh, and earlier today–this tree was called the “Gratitude Tree” but it got on my nerves. Honestly, it sounded way too much like “The Giving Tree”…which is not ok with me. If you know me even a tiny bit you know how I feel about that book. Grrrr….more on this later…no doubt. MOVING ON…

You will need:

flower pot

craft stones, rocks, or art sand

short branches

colored paper, scrapbook paper, or craft foam

paper clips

Fill a clean flower pot with rocks, stones or sand…yes, kitty litter would work, but I’d hate to confuse poor Fluffy, so personally, I’d stick with the rocks. Shorten the tree branch to suit the size of your pot. I stuck three small lilac branches together with packing tape. Set the branch securely in the rocks. Wiggle them around until you’re convinced they will “sit and stay.”

Next, cut out about two dozen leaves–template link below— from colored paper or craft foam. Push a partially straightened paper clip through the stem end of each leaf. Set the leaves in a small basket with a black marker, next to your thankful tree.

Encourage, nudge, ok, force– family members to write their names on one side (unless they want to remain anonymous), and something or someone they are thankful for–and why, on the other side. Have them hang it on the tree and by Thanksgiving Day–your tree will be a beautiful reminder of your family’s blessings and a really cute tree–that you don’t have to water. That’s a plus.

NOTE: Click here for a bunch more family Thanksgiving Crafts or a simple leaf template to make your own Gratitude tree.

Sparkly Stars

We threw a shower for Lyndi and baby chomp this last weekend. Don’t worry, as soon as she picks a real name, we can stop calling this sweet baby “chomp.” Anyway–it’s scary to throw a party for the girl who worked for years at Partyland. She’s the celebration queen. But we knew her weakness and ran with it…the girl loves STARS! No, really. She thinks that stars belong everywhere–her ears, her hair, her wallpaper, her wrists, her toast. There’s no end.

You probably think stars are suppose to be yellow–but depending on what you are decorating for–Autumn, Winter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the color is up to you. Adding sparkle to anything never hurts. The shower invites were pink and blue so naturally, we chose shades of pink and blue. April raided her scrapbook files and found double sided paper–four colors for the price of two. Except it was free.

First, Jillian and I took turns tracing the stars while we watched both dvds of Jane Eyre (Masterpiece Theater–the only true version). It was wonderful and took our minds off the fact that we were cutting out six million paper stars.

We used a cardboard pattern, a cookie cutter and a notepad to draw our cutouts, and took turns again cutting them out. The next day we got down to the real fun. Even Rhen, who normally shies away from sticky, messy stuff, couldn’t resist the glitter part. He just kinda showed up saying, “So–what’s up?” Next thing we know, he has his own glue bottle and has become a crazy man slathering Elmer’s everywhere. Be careful who you invite to play with some of this stuff. It can get ugly.

Next, we mixed regular and translucent glitter in a Pyrex baker. When the kids finished hosing the star down with glue–in whatever pattern suited them–they dropped them into the glitter pan… sometimes on top of each other…which is to be discouraged. Duh.

Since I needed to feel ultimately in charge of the world at this point, it became my job to shuffle the gluey stars around so they were well coated with the sparkly stuff.   Note: This job can make you a tad punchy after a while–no doubt having something to do with the repeated shaking motion and an otherwise perfectly good brain–so take frequent breaks or let go of the “total control” factor and trade off.

Spread them out to dry–better than we did, or you will get lots of accidental “constellations” rather than individual planets.

After they dried, we punched a hole in the tips or crooks and strung them with cotton string–all over the house.

This would be a great activity for many different age children–you would just need to match the job to the ability. Tracing, cutting, gluing, glittering, drying, punching holes, stringing up…tons of age-friendly stuff here without the fear of messing up. It’s just paper. All my guys are older–but it’s nice to know that even teens can be attracted to glue and glitter. And before you know it…there’s all that happy chatter and messing around that makes it one of those, “Remember-when-we-made-all- those-goofy-stars?” kinda moments. We need lots of these.

Millions and billions of sparkly stars…and a day to remember.

Priceless…