Being thankful and expressing gratitude always shifts our own mindset in a positive direction, especially over the holidays, so my family came up with a new tradition we’re excited about: a gratitude garland!

I was inspired by my neighbor’s beautiful paper snowflake garland on her mantle, although you could make paper gingerbread men, Christmas trees, or menorahs too — whatever best represents your own holiday spirit.

The idea of this simple craft is that it can help us shift some of the focus from “here are the gifts I want,” to recognizing all the amazing things kids have to be thankful for in their lives. Basically, helping them develop a sense of “thanks!” vs. “want!” over the holiday season.

I mean, I understand why the first question people tend to ask my kids each December is, “What do you want for Christmas?” But wouldn’t it be awesome if our focus was more about spreading kindness and cheer?

I kind of think so too.

Photo at top styled by Elizabeth Hardin from HardInk Calligraphy. 

Related: 3 tips for keeping a gratitude journal with kids


How to Make Your Own DIY Gratitude Garland

Supply List

・construction paper
・ribbon or craft string


DIY Gratitude Garland tutorial: Step 1: Cut out snowflakes (or any other festive shape) for your garland. | Photo (c) Kate Etue for Cool Mom Picks

Step One: Cut out your shapes. You can do Christmas trees or ornaments, snowflakes or gingerbread men. We have a great post with lots of snowflake cutting tutorials, including some basic paper snowflake cutting patterns.

Fun crafting tip: you can also use cookie cutters to outline other holiday shapes; make enough for everyone in the family to have 5-10 snowflakes each.

DIY Gratitude Garland tutorial: Write down what you're thankful for on each cut-out. | Photo (c) Kate Etue for Cool Mom Picks

Step Two: Write down what your’e thankful for. Pass around markers, and ask each person to write the things they’re thankful for on along each branch of the snowflake. You can share them out loud as you write them, or reveal them all together at the end.

Kids will also enjoy decorating with more markers, by drawing ornaments on paper Christmas trees or faces on gingerbread men.

Related: Build positivity with these 5 printable gratitude journal pages

DIY Gratitude garland snowflakes help build the Christmas spirit all holiday long. | Photo (c) Kate Etue for Cool Mom Picks

And why shouldn’t he be grateful for Pokemon? There are no wrong answers!

Step Three: String them up as a garland. Now use the ribbon or string to hang up each of your gratitude garland pieces somewhere you can see them every day. You can punch a hole in them, use clothespins to hang them from a ribbon or twine, or just string the ribbon right through the cut-out shapes if they’re snowflakes. You can also just pin each one individually on a door or over a mantle, or even hang them right on your tree.

The best part is: They don’t have to be done! You can create more through the holiday season, or ask your visitors and guests to create one, and build on the spirit of thankfulness together.