Give thanks this season with family & crafting

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

For eight years I spent Thanksgiving at school hundreds of miles away from my family, trying to evoke the holiday by wrapping myself in scarves and frantically sipping pumpkin spice lattes. Though cozy and delicious, they never warmed my heart as much as crafting and thinking of home. Now that I've come home I eagerly look forward to real pumpkin spice, giving thanks, and family crafting! Nothing brings the fam together quite like a cookie decorating bonanza (even though dad's contribution is more of the consumer than crafter). Here I'll pass on some tips for the best crafting experiments I've had in the past couple of years prepping for the lovely day of thanks.

Easy centerpiece

To create a centerpiece that the whole family can help with, take walks on the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Pick a color scheme (oranges and browns are great for autumn) and gather leaves, branches and pinecones that match those colors. Matching colors is a good skill for tykes, and keeps your centerpiece under some control. Everyone can work together to create a masterpiece of fall to grace the table.

Potato stamps

Potato stamps are a great way to have some fun for all ages and are practical for any budget. Cut a large baker potato in half and carve a pattern into the potato. Use food coloring as the ink in a blank stamp pad or sponge. For a large tablecloth visit your local newspaper for a scrap roll end of newsprint (often free). Let little ones stamp the paper tablecloth while you work up a storm in the kitchen. Then, use the potatoes to make colorful mashed potatoes for the feast later.

Food as decoration

Use leftover Halloween pumpkins and gourds as a low-budget way to keep with the autumn color scheme. Check stores for discounts on these and other autumn-colored foods like corn. Instead of carving spooky faces, pile several into a collage of plump pumpkins. Or cut off their tops, line with bowls and serve snacks in them.

Teacup candles

These little lights give a warm glow and can fill your house with spicy holiday smells - even after all the pie is eaten. Pick mismatching teacups from your local thrift store for a cozy, eclectic feel. A quick tutorial at shows you the steps to making scented and colored little creations. Use these candles to decorate and save some to give as thanksgiving parting gifts. Guests will be able to enjoy the memories and smells over and again.

Finger garland

After the guests have gone and the family is sitting around relaxing, try my favorite childhood craft: finger knitting. It only takes four fingers, it's easy for all ages and you can start early on your holiday tree garlands! Try for a detailed tutorial with pictures. I even used this method to create a rug and a scarf in my younger years.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy crafting from my house to yours!

Tanna Peters is a crafter and designer from wonderful, rainy Southeast Alaska. View her latest creations at and her shared crafting Send local craft inquiries and info to

Illustrations by Tanna Peters.

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