Give thanks in a new way this holiday season. Invite friends and family to share what they are most thankful for by creating a thankful tree that can take center stage throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.Jeanine Hays, AphroChic; Photography by Leon Belt, Beltway Graphics
Look for a colorful mix of paper die-cut leaves in fall hues of orange, red, yellow and brown. The more variety in color and shape, the better your tree will look. Using a hole punch, make a hole at the base of each leaf.
Cut baker's twine into three-inch strips. Thread the cut twine through the hole in each leaf. Bring both ends of the twine together to create a loop and knot at the top of the loop. Tip: Purchase twine in a variety of colors, from gold to silver to black and white. The twine can add to the colorful mix on your thankful tree.
Using your computer, develop a customized postcard to introduce guests to the purpose of the tree. Choose white 4" x 6" postcard paper. Type a special note to your guests and ask them to write what they are thankful for. Print the notecard, and place it in your favorite 4" x 6" frame in front of the tree.
When guests arrive, provide them with a leaf and a black gel pen to write what they are thankful for. Be sure to provide guests with extra leaves, pens, colored pencils and crayons so they can get creative when expressing their special messages of thanks.
Place bundles of curly willow in a sturdy, tall vase. Spread out the branches so there's plenty of room for leaves to be hung on the branches. As guests finish their messages, instruct them to tie them onto the tree so everyone can enjoy them. Tip: Curly willow branches have been dried, so no water is needed to keep them alive.
After the meal, invite family and friends to enjoy the notes of thanks, reading through them and reflecting on what each person is thankful for. Allow guests to take their leaves home as a favor or date and keep them till next year. To keep the thankful tree going as a tradition, bring it out each year so everyone can add new leaves and remember how many blessings they have in their lives.