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Thanksgiving Crafts using Recycled Materials

By Ellen Luckett Baker

A Recycled Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving we’ll be serving up a heaping helping of gratitude. Though the historical meaning of Thanksgiving is a little murky, giving thanks is always a good exercise for children. In these lean times, simple is better. So here are a couple of recycled crafts to get children involved in the Thanksgiving festivities.

Turkey Place Cards

From planning the menu to setting the table, children enjoy being part of the process. Our five-year-old loves to talk about what should be served and can practice her writing skills by creating a menu. Young kids can also help out in the kitchen. By giving them manageable tasks like tearing the lettuce, pouring the ingredients, stirring, or cutting mushrooms with a butter knife, they will enjoy cooking with you. Folding napkins in a new way helps build their motor skills while keeping them busy. Children can also help decide the seating arrangement and make place cards.

These Thanksgiving recycled place cards are fun to make and will add a personal touch to the table.

Turkey Placecard for Thanksgiving
Close up of paper turkey placecard

  • Junk mail postcards for the feathers
  • School glue
  • Cereal boxes
  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper cutter (helpful, but not necessary)

How to Make Upcycled Turkey Place cards  

1. Cut cereal boxes to 5″x 8″. You’ll need one for each place card, so you can get about two cards from each box.
2. Score the printed side of the box in the middle. Fold over and put under a heavy book to press flat.
3. Cut card stock mailers in 1/4″ strips.
4. Fold down about 1 1/2″, wrap around and fold again. Glue in place. Continue until you have all the “feathers” made. You’ll need 6-8 feathers for each card.

Cutting paper for turkey placecards
5. Glue feathers together and allow to dry.
6. While you’re waiting for the glue to dry, go ahead and have your child write the names on each card.
7. Fan out the feathers. Dip the feather group in a pan of glue and place off-center on the card.
8. For the turkey body, cut 2″ circles from the cereal boxes. Have your child draw a turkey head and face on each circle.
Drawing paper on turkey
9. Glue bodies on top of the feathers. Have your child draw some turkey legs.
10. Add one to each place setting.

Jar of Thanks

Amidst the holiday consumerism, it’s nice to think about the gifts we already possess, both tangible and abstract. This Jar of Thanks project will help your kids focus on the meaning behind the Thanksgiving holiday. Have each member of the family write down what they are thankful for and add it to the jar. You can go around the table and have each person draw a piece of paper randomly from the jar and read it aloud. Best of all, these jars are simple to make, almost free, and can be re-used after the holiday as fall votive holders.
Jar of Thanks with leaves


  • Large glass jar
  • Leaves
  • Decoupage glue
  • Paper
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors

multi-color paper leaves
How to Make a Jar of Thanks

1. Brush leaves with decoupage glue and apply to jar. Brush a little more glue on top.
2. Glue some ribbon around the top.
3. Cut out paper in the shape of leaves.
4. Place one leaf along with a pencil at each place setting for each person to write their thanks.
Have a great holiday and enjoy spending this time with your children! Maybe you can squeeze in a nap sometime too.

Check out More Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids:


About the Author

Ellen Luckett Baker

Ellen Luckett Baker is the author of the long thread, a blog about handmade goods. She has always enjoyed making things, but the flexibility of staying a...

Ellen Luckett Baker is the author of the long thread, a blog about handmade goods. She has always enjoyed making things, but the flexibility of staying at home with her two daughters along with the creative inspiration they provide has led her to craft on a daily basis. Combining her love of graphic design and sewing, she has created an Etsy shop selling machine embroidery designs and sewing patterns.

Ellen lives in Atlanta with her husband and two young daughters. She holds a B.A. in Art History and a Master’s of Public Administration with a focus in Non-Profit Management.

Ellen recently wrote 1, 2, 3 Sew: Build Your Skills with 33 Simple Sewing Projects her crafting book. She is crazy talented!

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