Handprint Keepsake Thanksgiving Plate Craft

Even though Thanksgiving is late this year, I can’t believe that it’s only 2 and a half weeks away! I’ve been cranking out Thanksgiving crafts with my kids on the weekends, and have just a few more to post – but I really need to get going on Christmas crafts!

Last weekend we finished up our keepsake Thanksgiving plates. I’ll be using these every year until I’m old and gray, I tell you!

Thanksgiving Keepsake Plate Craft

Thanksgiving Keepsake Plate Craft

These turkey handprints are surprisingly easy to make, you just need a few special materials found at any craft store:

What You Need to Make Thanksgiving Handprint Keepsake Plates

Thanksgiving Keepsake Handprints - Craft Materials

Thanksgiving Keepsake Handprints – Craft Materials

Plain white plates – I got mine at my local dollar store – cheap, cheap, cheap!

Folk Art Enamel paints – these are baked onto the plate surface after the painting is done, so be sure to get the Enamels. They don’t come in a huge number of colors, so you will be mixing colors from red, green, yellow and brown paints. I also used black paint for the eyes, but you can use one of your existing colors for that tiny dot, too.

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Paint brushes

Keepsake Thanksgiving Plate

Keepsake Thanksgiving Plate

Wash and dry the plates, and get a paper plate ready to use for mixing your paint colors. There’s no exact science to it, I just created different shades of red and orange out of the brown, red and yellow paints. When trying to mix lighter colors, use only a very little bit of the darker color and mix more if necessary. These pigments are pretty saturated and light colors are easily overpowered.

For the above design, I used:

Straight brown for the palm and thumb

Straight red for one finger

Light orange (yellow plus a little red) for another finger

Dark red (red and brown) for another finger

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Darker red (red brown and a drop or two of green) for the last finger

You can mix it up and also use straight green like my son did for one of his fingers.

Plate Painting Instructions

If they mess up, don’t worry, just wash the paint off while it is still wet and start over!

Working fairly quickly (because the paint can dry out fast), paint the colors onto your child’s hand. Be generous with the paint, but you don’t want globs of it coming off onto the surface. Help your child hold their fingers apart and center it over the plate, then guide it down in position and have them press their handprint for a few seconds. After they lift their hands, they may need to press again to ensure the full handprint makes it onto the plate. Because the finger impressions didn’t end up touching the palm impression, I went back in with some brown paint and filled in the parts of their hands that didn’t come in contact with the plate.

If you end up with thick globs of paint, take off the excess with a paint brush, because baking globs of the enamel paint doesn’t turn out well at all.

After your kids have washed their hands, have them come back with a small paint brush and add the eye, beak and red turkey waddle underneath the chin.

For the outside rim decorations, I gave each of them only a little guidance. I was really pleased to see all of them come up with interesting designs that complimented each other yet were very much a reflection of their personalities.

After they were all done, I took a tiny bit of black paint and added “2009” to the bottom corner of their handprints. Then I painted their initials onto each plate .

Bake according to the directions on the Enamel paints.

While these plates can’t be used for eating, they can dress up your walls, decorate your Thanksgiving table, be excellent hostess gifts for Grandma, or be used as charger plates for smaller see through plates!

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About the author

Founder and CEO of Woo! Jr. Kids Activities, Wendy loves creating crafts, activities and printables that help teachers educate and give parents creative ways to spend time with their children.

View all articles by Wendy Piersall


  1. TJ

    Hmm…. Could you do this on the outside of a coffee mug and be able to drink out of it, as long as the paint didn’t go all the way to the top?

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  3. S. Smith

    I love this website. I have three boys, 7, 5, and 3 and a baby girl that is 3. We are always doing crafts to keep them busy he he. I will be using the plate decorating idea for my kids handprints, no particular season to decorate my kitchen. It was a tradition of my grandmothers and the plates were lost after her passing. Thank you for giving me a easy way to keep that tradition going.

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