Make a Beautiful Fall Leaf Garland with Kids and Sharpies

How to Make A Beautiful Fall Leaf Garland

Make a Beautiful Fall Leaf Garland

We made a fall leaf garland today to add to our Thanksgiving decorations! Maia and I worked on it together, writing things we were thankful for on the leaves as well as designs and pictures.

This is something I’ve wanted to do ever since Sarah at Quince and Quire posted about her beautiful hand-painted leaves last fall. And then Cassi posted her list of crafts to instill thankfulness in children this past week which further inspired me. For this garland, I put a couple ideas together, namely Sarah’s leaves and Playful Learning‘s grateful tree with something that we could hang on the wall.

I love it!

And it was even more fun to make than I expected.

How to Make A Beautiful Fall Leaf Garland

Thanksgiving Leaf Banner

Maia and I started with fall leaves we had pressed, Sharpie metallic markers, and poster board to protect the table. We wrote what we were thankful for—family, light, friends, love, chocolate, birthdays, etc.—on some of the leaves, traced veins on some others, and just decorated the rest. Maia and I both loved this and spent over an hour drawing and writing.

Thanksgiving Leaf Banner

The leaf makes a great fall canvas…

Thanksgiving Leaf Banner

Afterward, I used my hot glue gun to glue the stems of the leaves to some black satin ribbon. Have I mentioned that I love my glue gun? I love my glue gun. It seems to make the impossible possible. I briefly thought about sewing the leaves on but pictured leaves and stems crumbling around the sewing machine. Not a pretty site after all this work. So glue gun it was.

Make a Fall Leaf Garland

And here is the finished fall leaf garland. I love how it looks against the pale blue walls in the living room.

Make a Fall Leaf Garland

I think this fall leaf garland may be a keeper. I can imagine looking forward to doing this every year with my family.

Make a Fall Leaf Garland

Aren’t they beautiful? I just love how well the metallic Sharpies show up on the Autumn leaves!

Thanksgiving Leaf Banner

They look nice in the window, too, with the light shining through.

How about you? Do you have any family thankfulness traditions? I’m looking for more ideas to incorporate into our family life, both for Thanksgiving and in general.

Make a Beautiful Fall Leaf Garland with Kids and Sharpies

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  • Jodi
    November 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    That is absolutely gorgeous! I love the creativity and the thought to string up like a garland!!! Very cool.

  • Sara
    November 6, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    This is a beautiful project! I love it. How long did you press the leaves before decorating them?

  • The Artful Parent
    November 6, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Two weeks I think, but you could probably get away with about three days.

  • jen at
    November 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    i LOVE what you did with your leaves! we decorated some last year and mailed them away to friends, but i am sucker for anything garland and made from natural objects. this is inspiring!

  • V.Kerr
    November 6, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Great idea, love the designs on the leafs. I think we are going to collect some leaves today.

  • Julie Liddle (ART IN HAND)
    November 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration. This is a new one on me and just lovely. Can’t wait to try it and recommend it to the parents in my classes!

  • Barbara Zaborowski
    November 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Since we’re a little short of fall leaves here in Phoenix (temperature still in the 90’s), my preschool class makes a gratitude chain. They cut strips of fall-colored paper (lines already there) and tell us something they’re thankful for for each one. We write on the strip and they add it to the chain. They love the straight line cutting (because it’s easy enough for most of them to feel very successful) and the stapling. The thinking of something they’re thankful for–not so much. It takes a lot of explaining what “thankful” means or we get 600 versions of “Christmas presents” (something you say “thank you” for.) Our chain eventually is carried by the line of kids to our fellowship hall and becomes the centerpiece of our “table” for the school’s Thanksgiving feast.

  • rae
    November 6, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    these are gorgeous, jean!

  • Mrs. Bowen
    November 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Absolutely lovely- will have to do this- thanks!

  • molly
    November 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Really beautiful but I hesitate — we have had bad experiences lately with both Sharpie (Henry) and hot glue (me). Maybe for next year when my boy is a year older and I am less sleep deprived! :)

  • Quince and Quire
    November 6, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    This turned out beautifully! What a great way to use all the leaves!

  • sherri/the claw
    November 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    wonderful idea. love this. what a perfect way to celebrate fall and being thankful. must try with my kids – they will love it.

  • Maria
    November 6, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Ok, we’re definitely going to have to do this! I hope it’s not too late to collect enough beautiful leaves…

  • lindsay
    November 7, 2010 at 12:48 am

    beautiful! will definitely have to give this one a try. the leaves are just now becoming pretty amazing!

  • Two Chicks and a Hen
    November 6, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Wow, I love it! We’re going to have to get some of those pens. The ones where you traced the veins are particularly cool.

  • Dawn Lange
    November 7, 2010 at 6:46 am

    That is so beautiful, Jean!! I have also been gathering ideas for thankfulness projects, but haven’t quite chosen yet. This makes me just want to get going and choose!

  • Mariah
    November 7, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Beautiful… the girls are going to love it! What a wonderful way to express gratitude and bring the colors of the season into your home :-)

  • anushka
    November 7, 2010 at 8:29 am

    i loooove this and am going to go hunting for proper leaves on our island today. not sure if we’ll find anything workable. but, i’ll be sure to post back to you if we do this succesfully! thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas always… : )

  • Monique
    November 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

    LOVE!! Artful, meaningful, and gorgeous all at once, thanks for sharing, we are going out right now to collect leaves for this!
    PS Have you considered sewing an Advent calendar? I have been searching the web for ideas, and found a current sew-along with felt that I might do but wondering if I can use freezer paper stencils instead of embroidery on felt? BUT I prefer to wait until the Artful Parent tells me what to do, you have impeccable taste and I love everything you do. ;) Your idea from last year is my back-up plan, but I want something more permanent. Just wanted to plant the seed… :)

  • Amanda
    November 7, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    lovely! What a super idea.

  • [email protected]
    November 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    This is great! Thanks for the inspiration! I want to do this. Time to press some leaves!

  • Light
    November 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Great project! I’m a sucker for anything leaves! We’ll fo collecting soon!

  • Lisa Pedersen
    November 7, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    I am loving your website. It’s fantastic! I’ll be coming back for some more great ideas, thanks. I just wish I had thought of this one. We collected lots of leaves but didn’t get anything made with them. They just sat around shriveling up.

  • Suzie
    November 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Just beautiful! We don’t have “Thanksgiving” in Australia but what a lovely holiday – nice to have an opportunity to stop and take count of your blessings! My kids are a little young yet (still trying to get them to remember to say ‘thank-you’!) but will put this in the project diary for next year! (Just a word of ‘thanks’ from me – absolutely love your site and blog. Look forward to your messages every day! I have 2.5 year old boy/girl twins and a 9 month year old boy and am enjoying all their art activities. Also thinking of setting up a toddler art group – just trying to find a venue – not sure i’ll be able to cope if it’s here!. Absoltely fascinated by how my kids do things and what they come up – even at this age – and how different their individual styles and preferences are. In terms of drawing and painting, my son loves big expansive drawings that fill the page and my daughter hones in on one little bit. Be interesting to see how this changes over time – if it does – and how it reflects their personalities. Anyway, will write again with some specific questions re. the toddler art group, but just wanted to say hi and ‘thanks’!)

  • Jean Van't Hul
    November 7, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Monique – I have considered sewing an Advent calendar, but I’m afraid it’s not on the must-do list for this year. Perhaps next! I haven’t tried freezer paper stencils or fabric paint on felt, but imagine it would work okay. Let me know if you try it!

  • Jean Van't Hul
    November 7, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone!

  • Kelly
    November 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    This sounds like the start of a lovely family tradition. :)

  • Lisa
    November 8, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Oh what a lovely idea! My daughter adores collecting all of the leaves around our place…this would be an excellent way to do something with them other than collecting them in the bag. :)
    (No traditions to share – sadly we are still working on this)

  • Halley's Mommy
    November 18, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Did you have to do anything to preserve the color in the leaves? I seem to remember if you soak leaves in some sort of solution (cannot recall) before pressing them, they keep their color for years.

  • sfdsgh
    February 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    ha ha shit

  • sfdsgh
    February 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm


  • Joyce
    September 20, 2011 at 4:20 am

    I seen this post some time last year, after it was too late. I can’t wait to do it this year though! I’ve added it to our autumn bucket list, which I plan on blogging about later today and linking back to you. Thank you so much for sharing this. This is seriously one of the best ideas ever!

  • Amanda
    October 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Just stopping by to let you know that I have featured your project on Fun Family Crafts! You can see it here
    If you have other kid friendly crafts, I’d love it if you would submit them :) If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above.

  • Ametlla
    October 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Muy bonito!

  • Jennifer Hughes
    November 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I’m writing because I run a sensory site and am looking for great ideas for Thanksgiving. And as any parent, we’re looking for terrific Thanksgiving crafts and ideas for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder and on the Autism Spectrum. Would you add a link to a craft idea or two on our blog? Here’s the link to share and get more traffic to your site…

  • Sarah
    November 10, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I live in Abu Dhabi now, so there are no fall leaves to be found, but we are going to do this with paper. I think they will love it! Thanks! We need a little pick up this time of year being away from family and friends.