Thanksgiving Decorations made by your kids. Crazy? Maybe. Cute? Definitely.

Friday, November 18, 2016

By Matt Norman
I admit it: My wife and I aren't big on decorating. Just the other day I asked her if we should be more "festive." After all, we'd only put up a couple of semi-spooky ghosts this year for Halloween and here it was, weeks into November, and we hadn't done anything for Thanksgiving. 

"If you're talking about getting all 'Crate and Barrel', then no, we don't need to be 'more festive,'" she replied.

Fair enough. Just the same, she acknowledged that the house looked a little bare and we should probably do something within reason to bring out the Thanksgiving spirit. 

Rather than hit up the dollar store or Target like we normally do, we decided to let the kids make their own decorations, or at least help us make decorations for the house. I thought it would be nice to share what we did, plus a few of my favorite classic kid-made decorations, in hopes that it could inspire you to get your kids involved in decorating your own home. 

***Disclaimer: Your home will not end up on HGTV or on a thousand Pinterest pages. But it will look like it was decorated with love.***

The Hand Turkey
Basically what you have here are two schools of thought. There's the old-school hand turkey where you trace your kid's hand and then they color it in. The fingers are the tail feathers, the thumb is the turkey's mouth, and the palm is the turkey's body. It's a classic and you can't go wrong with this decoration. But then there's this new (to me) version where you trace and cut a bunch of hand shapes out of construction paper, fan them out, and glue them to the back of a construction paper body. Throw on a couple of googly eyes, a beak and a gobbler and you have yourself a classy hand turkey.

Painted Acorn Garland
To make a strand of painted acorn garland, first you'll need to find a Bur Oak. Every autumn, the bur oak drops giant acorns from its branches. Take the kids to a park littered with bur oak trees (Brentwood Park in north central Austin has quite a few) and let them collect as many giant acorns as they can hold. Try to find the ones that still have the "caps" on them. Take the acorns home and paint them in festive Thanksgiving colors. Ours are painted orange, red and yellow. If your kids can properly handle it, I highly recommend spray paint. Younger kids might do better with brushes and washable paint. After the paint dries (ours had to sit overnight because 4 and 5 year olds don't know how much paint is too much paint), tie the acorns together with twine and hang them where you won't hit your head on them when you walk under them. Those acorns are big and hard and they hurt. They sure do look great, though!

The Thankful Tree
The Thankful Tree is my personal favorite Thanksgiving decoration. This decoration gives your kids a chance to do an arts and crafts project as well as think about the people, ideas, and things in their lives that they are thankful for. Start by cutting a tree trunk out of brown paper. Then cut leaves from autumn-colored construction paper. We start at 10 leaves per child. On each leaf, the children write one thing they're thankful for. If they have more than 10 leaves worth of things they're thankful for, by all means, cut more leaves. Anything they want to include is acceptable. We try to encourage our kids to think outside of the norm. And, yes, we make a few assumptions for our one-year-old who can't express with words what he's thankful for. This is a great exercise to learn about what your children value and to help guide them toward living a thankful and grateful life. We cherish our three children's thankful trees each year.

Our holiday decor may never look like it came from the pages of a magazine, but that's just fine with me. The decorations we have come from the hearts, minds, and hands of our children, and that's hard to beat. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. 

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