In the midst of summer’s bounty and glory, one can’t help but feel gratitude for the gifts of the season. This year Ramadan, a month where Muslims fast from sunup to sundown, falls in the long days of summer. For the adults who fast, Ramadan is a time we often feel and experience immense gratitude in the face of the fasts daily deprivation. A gratitude tree is a special way to include children in on the fast, as the adults are breaking their fast at sunset, the little ones can also reflect on the day and give thanks. It is a great activity for families and can be adapted to fit each family’s unique traditions and celebrations.
When decorating for the holidays and special occasions, bring in elements from the natural world for their real and simple beauty.
For the Tree
Branches (living or dried)
Pruners or heavy duty scissors
For the Tags
Paper (you can chose a color palette, make it bright multi-colored or just use white copy paper.)
Needle or hole punch
You can create the type of tags that you prefer. Some options are: a long thin flat tag, a larger tag that can be rolled up, rectangular tags that can be folded in half like a card, or little square tags. Keep in mind the size of your tags in relation to the size of your tree.
1. Cut floral foam to fill container. (If you are using living materials then you will need to let the floral foam soak in water in advance.)
2. Cover the floral foam with moss.
3. Add the branches, turning your pot as you go so that you get a nicely formed tree. Put aside.
4. Cut the tags to your desired shape and size.
5. To create the little hangers you can either thread the floss through the top of the paper with a needle, or punch a hole and loop the floss through the hole. Tie the ends together.
6. Now, put your grateful thoughts to paper.
:: Potted plants may be used instead of branches.
:: Plant grass seed or use glass marbles instead of moss.
:: Add a tag for each family member or combine all of the tags on one piece of string. You can choose whether to make your gratitude thoughts private or public by the way you make the tags. If you are working with young children, let them draw or transcribe their thoughts to you.
:: You can create this as a one-time activity or add tags daily over the course of a month and then start fresh the next month. If it is done monthly then you could think about working with seasonal materials for your branches. For example, Japanese Maple branches in the autumn or Cherry Blossoms in the spring.
Khadija O’Connell is the Creative Director of Barakah Life, a creative living company. Barakah Life holds studio classes in sewing and crafts, artist workshops, as well as custom design projects in decor and design in the San Francisco Bay Area. Khadija keeps a blog here and a special blog devoted to Ramadan crafts for children and their families here.
Khadija is the co-founder of an international event series, called Creativity and the Spiritual Path. Formally from Alaska, Khadija is a happy resident of the Bay Area with her husband and sons.
A special thank you to Manija Ansari for her help with the photography!