• Maddylane

DIY Bountiful Thanksgiving box ~ Thanksgiving Decor


@Home with Maddy

Project article and photographs

by  Madeleine M Langlois,  MaddyLane Designs


Giving thanks to nature’s bounty by preserving fall leaves into an original Thanksgiving centerpiece



Hands-on time: Less than two hours.

Total time: Plus drying time for the leaves; 1 hour for each side.

Varnish drying time; add one hour for each coat.

Skill: Easy.

Cost estimate: Less than $25.00 for the materials.

(Several other projects can be made with the balance of these materials).


Materials & tools:

* Box of your choice; in the style and size of your choice, wooden or craft birch boxes

* Leaves in assorted sizes and fall colors (from your backyard or from a nature walk)

* Newspapers

* Preserve-it by Krylon (to preserve the leaves appearance and colours)

* Spray adhesive glue, Super 77 by 3M

* Triple-thick clear glaze varnish by Krylon

* Alphabet Charms by Making Memories, metal letters to spell the word Thanksgiving

(The type used for scrapbooking crafts. They are available in a variety of styles, fonts, sizes and colours)

* Metal glue, or glue gun

(Materials are available at art and craft supply stores and dollar stores)


Preserve the natural beauty of leaves to create a container box with a mosaic of colours to enhance traditional harvest festivities.

Gather leaves in assorted sizes, shapes and colours from your backyard or from a family nature walk in the countryside. You will need approximately 20 leaves, depending on the size of your box.

Cover your work area with newspapers. Go through your medley of leaves and select the ones that are in excellent condition and that are the right size and colour for your project. Smaller leaves are also needed; they are great to cover spaces between larger leaves. Place your chosen leaves flat over the newspapers area.


Preserving the leaves: Shake the “Preserve-It” by Krylon can for two to three minutes. In a well-ventilated area spray the leaves in a steady motion to apply an even coat. The leaves will dry within 10 to 15 minutes but wait at least one hour before repeating this step on the other side of the leaves. Turn the leaves over and repeat the “Preserve-It” application step.

Applying the leaves to the box: Shake the Super 77 adhesive can for a couple of minutes. Apply adhesive (in a well-ventilated area only, outdoor is best) to the backside of each leaf (you can work with doing three leaves at a time), wait 30 seconds and randomly apply each leaf around the box. Overlap and pat the leaves down into place. Remove any air bubbles with your fingers. Repeat and continue until the whole box is covered with leaves including the sides and the top border. Use smaller leaves to cover any gaps. Trim any leave overhang or excess with scissors if needed. Once completed, let the box set for at least an hour.



Protecting the foliage box: Shake the can of Triple-thick clear glaze for two minutes before applying it to the box in a well-ventilated area. I choose to use this particular product for the finishing topcoat because it protects the foliage while giving the box a high-gloss glass-like coating. Apply two to three coats of Triple-thick clear glaze to topcoat and protect the entire foliage box, letting it dry between each coat application. Once dry, let the box sit over night before applying the metal letters.

Text accents: To truly personalize your foliage box add metal letters as decorative text accents. (I used circle letters in antique copper). Position the box on its side onto a clean flat surface, measure, place and center the metal letters to spell out the word Thanksgiving, or other choice words of gratitude. Apply a drop of metal glue to the back of each letter (one at a time) and place it into position onto the side of the box. Wait a few minutes, and then press each letter firmly in order to stabilize them into place. Let the letters set for a few hours, until the glue is completely dry.

Garnish and fill your thanksgiving box with a bountiful composition of fall flowers and small gourds, to display as a table centerpiece or to adorn a mantel or hallway.


Variations: Using the same concept and technique as per describe above, you can additionally create beautiful decorations with preserved leaves such as; picture frame borders, trays, coasters, and placemats. Preserve leaves can also be used to place on a table for a festive touch, added to wreaths, applied around candle pillars, to enhance plain lampshades, included into a centerpiece, or to sandwich between a table and a glass top.

The same materials can be used to make a keepsake Thanksgiving memory box with a lid, to keep all your mementos, photo’s, and special letters of thanks and gratitude written by family members. Preserved leaves and metal letters can also be incorporated into the creation of memorable scrapbooking pages. The “Preserve It” spray is formulated especially to preserve digital photos, it is moisture-resistant, provides UV protection against fading and it’s acid-free and archival-safe.

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Copyright maddylane designs 2020

photos, text by maddylane designs




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Madeleine Langlois