Framed chalkboard with "thankful" written on it

My kids are at an age where they’re old enough to really get what Thanksgiving is all about. They understand the concept of being thankful, and they know how important it is to express our gratitude. A few years ago, I thought it would be fun to make a little DIY “thankful” framed chalkboard where we can write all of the things we’re thankful for. It’s a perfect decor piece to pull out in November, but it can really be used all year long. Because, who doesn’t want to remember what they’re thankful for in August, March, and July as well?!

Today I’m going to share the tutorial for this quick and simple DIY framed chalkboard sign, and I hope it inspires you to do something intentional in your home to celebrate thankfulness too!

close up of a framed chalkboard with text overlay that says "quick and easy diy thankful chalkboard"

DIY Thanksgiving Decor: Thankful Chalkboard Sign

Materials Needed:

Prep Work

Your first step is to gather your materials – I went to Goodwill and found this 16X20 frame for $6.99 – it doesn’t matter what the art is or really even what the frame looks like, as long as it’s a shape you like!

If it’s your first time working with gold leaf, I’d recommend a less intricate design – it can be tricky to get it looking good on a piece with a lot of curves, so simpler is better.

Once you’ve got everything gathered, start by cutting your plywood down to fit your frame (a jigsaw is probably your best bet, here’s my tutorial for how to use one!), and then painting it with your chalkboard paint. I used a foam roller and did two coats of chalkboard paint.

plywood painted with chalkboard paint

Adding Gold Leaf

I decided to add gold leaf to my framed chalkboard – it had been a while since I had used it and I thought it might be fun to try it out again. It’s also a great way to get a more unique look on a frame than you would just get with painting it!

I recommend this gold leaf and this adhesive – it’s really simple to use! The can is giant, so it would last through a zillion projects (that’s an exact number, I calculated). Or, you could just gold leaf your entire house.

Basically, I’m just saying you’ll buy this stuff once and it will get you through all the gold leafing you could ever want to do!

Frame with gold leaf being applied

How to apply gold leaf

  • Grab a small paintbrush and paint the entire frame with your sizing liquid. You don’t need to worry about doing it in sections, because this stuff has a nice, long working time.
  • Allow it to dry for a few minutes until it starts to feel tacky. I found that my sweet spot was about 4-5 minutes after I painted it. And, remember, it’ll stay tacky for a long time so you don’t need to rush!
  • Grab a gold leaf sheet and gently press it into the frame. Use your finger or a clean (small) paintbrush to press it into the frame and gently remove the excess.
  • Don’t worry too much if it’s not perfect. It’s a very flow-y process and you can apply multiple layers.
  • Once you’ve applied the first layer, gently brush off any excess and go back and apply more sizing liquid and gold leaf to any bare spots or areas that don’t look great.
  • Allow it to fully dry for several hours before handling it.
  • Optionally, you can seal it using a clear spray sealer for added durability.
thrifted frame with gold leaf applied to it

Putting it all together

While the frame dried, I printed out the word “thankful” in a cute font and traced it onto my plywood. To transfer it, I just colored all on the back of the paper with a white crayon, then placed it where I wanted to write the word and traced over the printed word with a pen.

When I removed the paper, there was a light outline, perfect for me to trace!

I used a paint pen to write the word – I love to do lettering on signs with pens like this because you have way more control than you do with a brush, and I’m always so satisfied with the results.

I just carefully traced over my letter outlines and allowed it to dry, then I was ready to put it all back together!

framed chalkboard hanging on a blue wall
two images of a framed chalkboard

This has been a really fun family activity already – Jackson loves to write what he’s thankful for, and it’s been a great way for Corey and I to slow down a little and intentionally recognize what we’re grateful for as well.

There are so many different ways you could use a framed chalkboard in your house during the Thanksgiving holiday, or any time. You could change it up every day, you could have the family just add things to it as you think of it, or you could take turns choosing something to write on it!

How do you discuss thankfulness with your family this time of year?!

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