Food & Entertaining - Entertaining

Set your Thanksgiving table with nature finds

Jennifer Roos
Photography by
Jennifer Roos

Use fall leaves and gourds to create colourful tea light holders, napkin rings and place cards

Preserving leaves is simple. For this craft, collect large oak leaves and look for maple leaves that have turned from green to shades of vibrant red, orange and yellow. You want leaves that are still fresh, so don't pick leaves that have begun to dry up and crack. Pick them off the tree, not the ground.


  • Fresh leaves
  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Scissors 
  • Bowl
  • Paper towel
  • Masking tape
  • Hole punch

To make

In a shallow glass bowl or pan, combine one part vegetable glycerin (available at pharmacies) to two parts hot water. Use enough glycerin and water to make the mixture about five centimetres deep. Use sharp scissors to trim the stem of each leaf. Snip the stem at an angle and place each leaf in the water and glycerin mixture. You can stand the leaves up or submerge them in the liquid. Submerging the leaves worked best for me, but try it both ways to see which method works best for your leaves. Let the leaves stand in the mixture, keeping one leaf aside as the test leaf.

In two to five days the leaves should be preserved. Compare with the test leaf: It will be brittle and dry. The leaves in the glycerin and water mixture should be smooth, shiny and supple, and darker in colour. Remove the leaves from the mixture. Place them side by side on a sheet or two of paper towel to dry. Note: the glycerin and water mixture can be reused.

To turn the oak leaves into napkin rings, simply wrap a leaf, good side facing out, around a cloth or paper napkin. On the underside of the leaf, put a small piece of masking tape near each end (you might need to wipe the area before taping). Using a hole punch, punch a hole through the masking tape and leaf. Slip a twig through the holes to secure.

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