A Thanksgiving project that is truly from the heart! Kick off your family’s holiday season with an activity that will get them thinking about the most treasured gifts of life.I found this great post about making a garland of thanks decoration for Thanksgiving. It’s a great little project to do with the kids and is a festive addition for the holiday. But I wanted to make it extra special. With a house full of little kids, I was looking for a simple project that we could all do together. I also wanted something that would help us all focus on life’s most important gifts since we were about to be inundated with all of the hype and retail madness of the winter holidays.
I decided that our Thanksgiving garland would include these great die cut turkeys shown in the inspirational post from Paper Source, some realistic looking fall leaves and something we made ourselves. I went seeking a fairly simple craft project that was suitable for little ones, but would yield great results in a reasonable amount of time. I chose this adorable Turkey Craft Kit from Oriental Trading. A quick search on their site for the word ‘turkey’ brought back lots of options for kids crafts with a Thanksgiving theme. I also found these beautiful decorative fall leaves at the same place.
If you’re worried about cost, don’t be, because that was a concern for me too. The die cut turkeys were just $8 for a pack of 20. The turkey craft was $6 for a pack of 12 kits and the leaves were $4 for a pack of 250! So, supplies ran me just $18 plus some string. I thought this was a great price for a teachable moment with my kids and a decoration that we can use year after year.We carved out some time on a Saturday afternoon during the baby’s nap time to make the turkey crafts. Basically, we followed the instructions for the turkey body so that the collar and face were in the right places, but everyone was allowed artistic license on the rest. They had fun putting the legs and wings on in different ways so that they were all posed differently and some of the hats were tipped to one side or the other. I think the most entertaining part was the feathers. We had 2 kits each and then traded feathers with each other to get all the same color or to create patterns. Every turkey was unique!
So, now comes the lesson part! We didn’t put the letters on the turkeys as the post suggests — I decided that each of us would think of things that we were thankful for. We had 20 turkeys split 5 ways since the little one was too little to participate in this part. So, each person had to think of just 4 things — with just 1 rule — no material items were to be referenced!
We each got a sheet of paper and started jotting down our ideas. When everyone had 4 thoughts down, we reviewed them to make sure they answered the question, “What are you thankful for?” and that they adhered to our one basic rule. We helped them do some editing, mostly to pare them down to fit on the turkeys (some of them were almost paragraphs!) I was amazed that we had no duplicates and the kids were able to think of things without our help!
I was appointed to write all of the sentiments on the turkeys. I actually wrote them on white labels that were cut into rectangles to fit nicely on the turkey body. This gave them a nice, uniform look and being on white, I was able to use Sharpie pens in fall colors and each one was readable. I began each with the words, “I am thankful for…” and then one of the 20 items we came up with. Each person’s name was also included so that we knew who wrote what.We took the leaves and using a ribbon iron, we flattened out any that were creased. We separated them into bunches with a nice random assortment of leaf shapes and then sewed them together into leaf clumps. To be honest, these leaves were a little difficult to work with in this way, but they would have been great just sprinkled on a surface for decoration. A quick search at Oriental Trading brought up several alternatives. With hindsight, I should have selected something thicker or firmer such as die cuts or felt. Felt would have given me the texture variety that I was looking for, since everything else in the project was die cut paper.
We punched holes in the tops of all of the paper items. We then strung everything onto some twine, alternating the clumps of leaves with die cut turkeys and the turkey crafts. We spaced them all wide so that we would be able to see the individual items. With all of these materials, it was a really long Thanksgiving garland, but we planned to hang it all the way around a large room.
I have to say that this turned out better than expected. The children did a great job and seemed to really “get” the point. We spent a long time gazing at our collective accomplishment and reading all of the things we wrote. So many messages were expressing thanks for the people in our lives and the time we have spent together. What a fantastic feeling to read that someone is thankful for YOU!
It took more time than planned, but with results like this, it was definitely worth every moment. We look forward to hanging our Garland of Thanks every year!