Thankful hand keepsake

This annual tradition creates a chronicle of all your family is grateful for. 

You'll Need

  • Plain cotton tablecloth or placemats
  • Non-toxic fabric paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Fabric markers


30 minutes

By Tina O'Shea
Managing Editor at LeapFrog

Tina O’Shea is LeapFrog’s Managing Editor and the voice of @LeapFrog on Twitter, but to her kids, she’s the Freeze Dance DJ.

Start a new family tradition with a Thankful Hands table covering. Begin with a plain tablecloth or individual placemats. Every year, the members of your family will help decorate the keepsake(s) with a painted handprint labeled with their name and a sentence stating what they are thankful for that year. You will love having a record of your child’s growth year by year and reminders of what she gave thanks for in years past.

  1. Paint the hand of each member of the family with washable fabric paint. You can choose your colors to match your décor, or use rich fall colors like orange, red and gold.
  2. Ask family members to press their hand on the tablecloth or placemat. If using a tablecloth, you can either group the whole family’s hands together in a different spot each year, or have each member make their handprint at their regular dinner spot at the table.
  3. Ask your child what she is thankful for this year. Tell her to write her response with a fabric marker near or on her handprint, along with her name and the year she is saying it. (If she's still too young, write her response for her.)
  4. Repeat the process with each member of the family. Even the family dog can lend a paw print. (Is he thankful for the squirrels he chases or the treats you give him?)  

We hope this activity will produce a valuable family treasure that is full of memories.


If you're like me and can't stand the thought of bringing out fabric paints when your children are dressed in their best, consider making the handprints before Thanksgiving Day arrives. Making the prints in advance prevents messes on an already busy day. (Remember that fabric paint is made to stick to fabric.)

For guests that may be coming, make leaf prints on your table covering in advance using different fallen leaves that you paint and press on to the cloth. Ask them to sign your cloth ‘guestbook’ with the fabric marker.

A cleaner, but less colorful and less fun, alternative is to trace the outline of hands with the fabric marker rather than print with paint. The outline can be painted in later if desired.