We love this craft for its repetitive motions that allow you to think and daydream and honour what makes your heart sing. It includes taking some time to write messages of gratitude that you’ll weave into each placemat.
Family Gratitude Crafts: Four Easy Projects and 70+ Ways to Express Thanks
Many of us are already great at being grateful, but certain times and seasons bring out the need to count our blessings even more. Gratefulness not only inspires joy, but it’s healthy for our minds, souls and overall well-being. We think expressing gratitude is a gift in itself…especially when there are fall crafts involved.
Here are a few simple gratitude crafts designed to help you centre your thoughts, calm your mind and reflect on what makes you thankful right now.
Hallmark wrapping paper (or craft paper, construction paper, old magazine pages—two or more different colours or kinds), Crayola® markers, Scissors or craft knife, Ruler, Pencil, Tape, Backing board (optional—use poster board or cut from paperboard, like cereal boxes), Glue stick (optional)
Cut the paper into skinny strips each about 15 inches long and between a half inch and two inches wide. We started with a roll of Hallmark wrapping paper—the cut lines on the back are super handy—and then cut those strips in half. Vary the width of the strips to make your design more interesting.
The number of strips you’ll need depends on their width and length. (Our placemat has a total of 18.) If you’re doing a two-tone look, cut equal numbers of each colour.
On each strip, write a message of gratitude. For a little inspiration, see our Ideas for Gratitude Messages below. The strips will be woven together, so the complete message won’t show. You can write on the front of the paper to reveal bits and pieces of your words or on the back to keep them hidden as a sweet little secret. If you’d like complete messages to show, write them on the completed placemats.
Arrange an odd number of strips from top to bottom in a colour pattern that makes you happy (or all one colour for a two-tone design).
Beginning in the centre of the placemat, weave a single strip of paper first over and under the horizontal strips.
Continue working out from the centre.
Alternate starting the strips under then over the horizontal pieces.
To hold the placemat together, tape the corner pieces together on the back of the mat. Or cut a piece of poster board or paperboard slightly smaller than the placemat, cover it with glue stick and gently lift your woven placemat and stick it to the board. (You will be able to see all your gratitude messages interwoven.)
It will look like this at the end.
Paper gratitude chain
Paper chains are so fun and easy and are the perfect way to celebrate gratitude with the whole family. You can make it a one-time project or a daily meditation.
Supplies for paper gratitude chain
- Hallmark wrapping paper, craft paper, construction paper
- Crayola® markers
- Scissors or craft knife
- Glue stick, tape or stapler
How to make a paper gratitude chain
- Step One: Cut the paper into strips about 8½ inches long and an inch wide.
- Step Two: On each strip, write a message of gratitude on the front or back of the paper.
- Step Three: Glue, tape or staple the ends of one strip together to make the first link in the chain.
- Step Four: Loop the next strip through the first and fasten the ends to make the next link and repeat until the chain is as long as you’d like.
Ways to use a paper gratitude chain
- Give each family member a stack of paper strips and take some time to write messages. Then take turns adding links to the chain—you can decide whether to talk about your messages or not.
- Make the first link and hang it on a mirror, mantel, doorway or wall to start the chain. Keep a stack of paper strips and markers nearby and add links to the chain every day or whenever you’re thankful for something.
- At the beginning of breakfast or dinner, take a moment for everyone to write down something about the day they’re thankful for and add it to the chain.
- Start creating the chain November 1st (or January 1st) and make it the first decoration you add to the Christmas tree.
- Bring the paper chain out every holiday season and keep adding to it.
For inspiration, see our “Ideas for gratitude messages” below.
Gratitude branch or tree
Making a gratitude branch or tree is a simple and fulfilling way to think about what matters most…and share it with those you love.
Visit our creative blog Think. Make. Share. to see how to make your own DIY Gratitude Branch or Tree.
And to make it even more your own…
- Decorate it with photos, messages, ornaments or trinkets (or all of them) that have special meaning.
- Drape it with a paper gratitude chain.
- Give everyone in the family their own branch.
Decorated doodle letters
If you’ve ever doodled all over a piece of paper during a meeting or phone call, you know it can actually help you focus on what people are talking about. It’s also a way to relieve stress.
We’re stealing this decorated doodle letter project and repurposing it for focusing on what we’re thankful for. All you need are letter forms—you can find three-dimensional Papier-mâché letters, cut-out wooden ones or make your own on cardstock or cardboard. Whether you doodle on your own or with others, it’s a simple way to create something personal and meaningful.
How to give decorated doodle letters an attitude of gratitude:
- Spell out a word (may we suggest “THANKS” or “THX”?) with the letters, use your initials or choose a letter that stands for something meaningful.
- Draw icons representing things you’re grateful for, including little illustrations of people you love.
- Write a free-form poem or list of words.
- If you’re using multiple letters, try giving each one a theme, colour, medium (markers, paints, stickers, magazine collage, etc.) or subject.
Ideas for gratitude messages
Want some starter ideas for your gratitude messages…or some kick-starters in case you get a little stuck? Here are some different ways to think about thankfulness:
Choose a writing direction that most fits your personality. Here are a few prompts to get you thinking:
- Think of the people and pets in your life. What are three things that make each of them special? (Examples: good sense of humour, giving the best hugs, being an empathetic person)
- What memories are you grateful for? (Examples: a meaningful trip, a lovely dinner, a hard-earned accomplishment)
- What is it about this time of year that warms your heart? (Examples: crunchy leaves, hayrides, apple cider)
Think about people you’re thankful for, and use these fill-in-the-blank messages to say why (this is a great one for woven paper placemats):
- Five words to describe you: 1.___2.___3.___4.___5.___ (Examples: fabulous, clever, creative, adorable, caring)
- You make me feel _______and________. (Examples: like I can be anything I want to be, cherished, that I’m amazing)
- I love you because you’re _______. (Examples: the most generous person I know, a great listener, the best salsa dancer ever)
- My favourite memory with you is ____________. (Examples: going to the beach, that time we stayed up all night, our road trip to Tennessee)
- You’re so talented at ________and__________. (Examples: making pancakes, playing the piano, being kind to others)
- My life is ________because you’re in it. (Examples: sweeter, a lot more peaceful, so much happier)
- You’ll always be my favourite ____________. (Examples: sidekick, bestie, partner-in-crime, shopping buddy, etc.)
You can personalize compliments for friends and family members (this is wonderful for photos on a Gratitude Tree). Something like:
- Thankful for your kindness.
- Love your spirit.
- You’re nice.
- You have good manners!
- You’re awesome.
- You have a generous heart.
- You have the best smile.
- Grateful for your patience.
- You’re smart.
- You keep me sane.
- Happy we’re friends.
- You’re brave.
- You’re tough.
- You’re a hard-worker.
- You’re compassionate.
- You’re calm.
List things that matter to you, such as:
- Second helpings
- All the fixin’s
- Movie marathons
- Fur Babies
- Home over our heads
- Slowing down
- Good memories
- Sweater weather
- Warm ovens
- Cozy tables
- Crisp leaves
Try writing some phrases that make you feel warm and cozy, like these (we love these for the decorated doodle letters):
- So grateful
- Happy you’re here
- Blessed beyond words
- You’re a gift
- Pass the happy
- You’re loved
- All the smiles
- Relishing the moment
- Savor and repeat
- Kindness served here
- Goodness served here
- Thankful times
- Counting blessings
Or write down some reminders to express gratitude or share your blessings, like these:
- Give thanks
- Notice kindness
- Share your pie
- Help your neighbour
- Pray for someone
- Wish good things
- Reach out
- Say something nice
- Offer your seat
- Pile on the fun
- Serve up some love
- Gobble up the goodness
We hope these gratitude crafts will reinvigorate your spirit and bring some calm to this busy season. Enjoy this you-time and remember that we’re grateful, too, for people like you.