What Is a Gratitude Tree? 14 Activities & Examples


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A gratitude tree is a unique way to share what you are thankful for in life. Unlike a private gratitude journal, gratitude trees are typically public displays of gratitude. They may be created for a specific occasion, such as Thanksgiving, a wedding, an anniversary party, or a funeral. Of course, you might make gratitude (and your gratitude tree) a permanent part of your household.

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Let’s take a look at gratitude trees – what they are, how to make one, activities surrounding one, and where you can purchase one. You’ll be likely to fall in love with this idea. After all, a thankful heart is a happy heart.

What Is a Gratitude Tree?

A gratitude tree is either a tree branch or a representation of a tree used to display lists of things that people are thankful for in life. A gratitude tree is aesthetically pleasing and can be an excellent decoration for an event. But it can also be an exercise that encourages attendees to look on the bright side of life. 

Some people may write in a gratitude journal daily. This practice forces people to look for good things throughout the day to have something to write about in their diaries each night. The practice is said to be life-changing. 

While writing in a gratitude journal is a healthy habit, it is typically done in solitude. 

A gratitude jar is another option for couples or families. In this scenario, individuals write what they are grateful for on a scrap of paper and place the form in a gratitude jar (or box). The family then reads the items during a special occasion, such as Thanksgiving. 

A gratitude jar is one way to share messages of gratitude for each other and the blessings in life. 

Finally, a gratitude tree is sometimes used at an event so that a large group of people can share messages of appreciation or thankfulness with others. Sometimes the statements are focused on one person in the family. Other times, this group exercise can simply be a reminder of the importance of looking at the positive side of life. 

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What Do You Need to Create a Gratitude Tree?

You need a grateful heart and a desire to show it to create a gratitude tree. You can make the tree out of things you can find at home or purchase items specifically for the project. Creating a gratitude tree can be a fun craft project that serves a valuable purpose. It allows you to share what you appreciate with the rest of your family.

Are you not sure what you are grateful for? Perhaps reading books about gratitude would be a great place to start. Listen to mindfulness podcasts or read quotes about being thankful. 

Gratitude Tree Activity Ideas

Are you unsure where or when to use a gratitude tree? Here are some ideas on incorporating gratitude in your special event or your daily life. 

1. Gratitude tree for a classroom

Whether you teach grade school, high school, or Sunday school, a gratitude tree might be a great addition to your classroom. You can incorporate it into your writing or art instruction or use it as an activity leading up to Thanksgiving. 

The practice of gratitude is important for all ages. Yet, even though the concept is easy to grasp, it is often overlooked.

2. Gratitude tree scavenger hunt

Sometimes gratitude lists all sound the same. For example, most people would say they are thankful for family, friends, health, etc. Encourage people to be more specific and mindful of all the gifts around them by creating a gratitude scavenger hunt. This would be a fun activity for a family reunion or vacation.

The list could include such items as 

  • Find an item in nature that gives you joy.
  • Describe a smell that makes you happy.
  • List three traits that you love about your sister (brother, mother, etc).
  • What do you like best about yourself?

3. Bible gratitude activity

The Bible has a lot to say about gratitude. Share a verse a day with your family and encourage them to share what they are most thankful for with a daily writing prompt.

4. Gratitude tree guest book

Show gratitude to those attending your event by inviting them to place a signature or thumbprint on your gratitude tree. Then, display the tree in your home, so you have a daily reminder of all of the people who love and support you.

5. Gratitude or memory tree at a funeral

Give people attending your loved one’s funeral the opportunity to share memories or messages of gratitude about the deceased. You’ll feel good knowing that your loved one was important to others, and the notes may give you comfort as you mourn your loss.

6. Christmas gratitude tree

Gratitude isn’t just for Thanksgiving. Gather your family together and ask them to write what they are thankful for on strips of colorful paper. Then, create a paper chain using the colorful strips and hang it on your Christmas tree. 

7. Neighborhood gratitude tree

Encourage thankfulness throughout your neighborhood by allowing others to share items they are thankful for in life. Create tags to hang on one of your trees, as well as instructions encouraging others to participate. 

8. Photo gratitude tree

Are you looking for a way to display beloved family photos? Artfully place tree branches in a beautiful container, and create photo ornaments to hang on the limbs. You might also sprinkle the branches with ornaments that say “health,” “my job,” or other items that you appreciate.

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9. Thanksgiving gratitude tree

Are you hosting Thanksgiving? Create a tree and give those attending the opportunity to share what they are thankful for by adding “leaves” to the branches. 

10. Gratitude quote tree

Instead of sharing the things you are grateful for in your life, why not share your favorite quotes about gratitude? Then, hang the quotes on your gratitude tree.

Some of our favorites include:

  • “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
  • “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” – Frank A. Clark
  • “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus

Gratitude Tree Examples

We’ve given you ideas on themes for gratitude trees. Here are some ideas on how to create one. 

11. Tree branches

We like the idea of using natural tree branches for gratitude trees. This makes the project three-dimensional, which would be more eye-catching than something stuck to a wall. 

If tree branches aren’t available, you can also purchase seasonal stems from your favorite craft store. Some might be decorated with seasonal items, such as berries or glitter.

12. Paper bags

Roll and twist brown paper bags from the grocery store to create a tree trunk or branches for your gratitude tree. Pinterest is full of examples and instructions on making your trunk look realistic.

13. Felt boards

Make your thankful tree interactive for your preschoolers by creating a gratitude tree felt board. Create pictures and symbols for kids who are non-readers. 

14. Construction paper

Pinterest is also full of templates and instructions on creating a gratitude tree display on a bulletin board with construction paper. This is a beautiful and inexpensive way to share the concept of gratitude with the kids in your classroom.

Free gratitude tree printables are also available online. 

Where Can You Buy a Gratitude Tree Kit?

Not everyone owns a hot glue gun and enjoys crafts. However, if you are in love with the gratitude tree concept but would rather not make one yourself, here are places you can buy kits.

Lit birch tree

This small, lit tree could be used for any occasion. Place a basket full of leaves and markers nearby so that those participating can add their “gratitude leaf” to the prelit tree.

We like the Bolylight Lighted Birch Tree from Amazon.

Metal display tree

If natural branches aren’t your style or would take up too much room, consider this neater, smaller version. This metal tree has a free-standing base and comes with multi-colored “leaves” ready to receive your messages of thanksgiving.

We like the Jozie B Thankful Tree Photo Display from Amazon.

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Foam sticker tree

This bright-colored tree might be perfect for a preschool classroom. While the foam stickers may be challenging to write on, you can use the activity as an opportunity to talk about thankfulness and gratitude with your little ones. 

We like the Supla Fall Tree of Thanks Craft Kit from Amazon.

Pre-cut maple leaves

Are you in a time crunch? Purchase pre-cut maple leaves for your Thanksgiving tree. They come with ribbon and are pre-punched.

We like the Supla 120 Pcs 12 Colors Maple Leaves...Cutouts with Holes from Amazon.

Bulletin board tree

Invest in a tree that can stay on your bulletin board for years. It can feature green leaves in the spring and turn into a gratitude tree at Thanksgiving.

We like the 128 Pcs Classroom Tree Bulletin Board Set from Amazon.

Tree wall decals

These unique, decorative decals can be placed on your wall. Add your own “leaves of gratitude” as you see fit.

We like the RoomMates RMK2662GM Birch Tree Peel and Stick Giant Wall Decals from Amazon.

Fall scene with leaves

This door-sized fall scene comes with thirty leaves. Encourage your family to add their leaves of gratitude to this kid-friendly display.

We like the Amscan Fall Thanksgiving Tree Door Wall Activity Kit from Amazon.

Gratitude tree poster

We like the simplicity and elegance of this gratitude tree poster. You can add or draw on your gratitude leaves.

We like the Gratitude Tree Activity from Etsy.

Thanksgiving gratitude activity

Teach your children the true meaning of Thanksgiving by providing this gratitude tree activity. 

We like the Gratitude Tree - Thanksgiving Printable Activity from Etsy.

Printable thankful tree

Purchase a downloadable thankful tree from Etsy. 

We like the Thankful Tree Printable, Thanksgiving Poster from Etsy.

Gratitude tree centerpiece

Are you looking for a three-dimensional, family-friendly gratitude tree that you can use as a centerpiece on your holiday table? Consider this version offered through Etsy.

We like the Tree of Thanks with Leaves - DIY Printable Papercraft from Etsy.

Are You Inspired to Create a Gratitude Tree?

A gratitude tree would make an excellent addition to your holiday family traditions. This activity would act as a friendly reminder about the importance of gratitude and thankfulness and give even the youngest in your family the chance to share what they are most grateful for in their own lives.


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