NEW YORK — Between stuffing the turkey, catching up with family and watching football, it can be hard to find time to actually give thanks on Thanksgiving.
But this idea for a Thanksgiving table centerpiece, which can double as an activity for at-loose-ends kids on the big day, gives gratitude its due.
This version of a "Thankful Tree" was created by Katie Metzger and Catherine Clark, co-owners of the Brooklyn General Store, a fabric and yarn shop in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.
"Kids are so busy these days that it's really good for them to sit and make something," says Clark, a mother of three. "They don't have time to be thankful for anything."
And adults distracted by e-mail, cell phones, iPods and TiVo can suffer the same predicament - all the more reason to gather for a communal project that emphasizes the important things in life, she says.
For this Thankful Tree, place branches into a Ball canning jar and decorate them with ornaments made of felt leaves, each embroidered with a single word representing a concept or ian tem worth acknowledging.
Some examples might include "nature," "music," "family" or "health." Another option is to embroider the names of all the guests at the table. After the meal, they can take the ornaments home and reuse them on their Christmas trees.
(If you're not feeling quite so crafty, you could also use construction paper and markers.)
But as lovely as the Thankful Tree might look on the table, you might want to move it once the food arrives, for ease of conversation with the person across from you and to make room for all the fixings.
Steps for making Katie Metzger and Catherine Clark's Thankful Tree:
1. TRACE AND CUT
Trace a real leaf or a cutout onto wool felt using a disappearing ink pen. For the felt use autumn colors like orange, yellow, rust, brown or green. Fold the felt sheet in half and cut out the leaf through two layers of felt so you have two replicas.
On one of the sides, embroider leaf veins using a back stick with a brightly colored wool thread. On the other leaf, embroider a single word to represent what you're thankful for.
3. GLUE AND TIE
Paste the two sides together using fabric glue. Felt stretches easily, so you can manipulate the fabric if the two sides don't match perfectly. Punch a hole in the top and string it through with brown silk cord, tied at the top. It's pretty and blends in well with the branches.
4. HANG AND ACCESSORIZE
Hang the leaves on the tree. Clark and Metzger suggest branches from a Beech tree, but you can also explore the ground outside and see what you find. Stick the branches into a bell jar. Chinese lanterns, from a florist, can be a nice touch. Decorate around the foot of the jar with mossy rocks and more felt leaves.