The Wishing Tree, written by Mary Redman and illustrated by Christina Rodriguez, is creating renewed interest in wishing trees! Wishing trees have been around for a long time and exist in many cultures around the world. For more than 100 years, the Chinese have been tossing wishes written on red and gold paper attached to oranges into the Lam Tsuen wishing trees in Hong Kong. In England, there’s an old Hawthorn tree near a castle with pennies pushed into the bark. In Turkey, people write wishes on bits of white paper and tie them to trees.
It Starts with a Wish!
Who hasn’t tossed a coin into a fountain, made a wish and secretly hoped it would come true? Whether our wish was for personal gain, a better life, the safety of a loved one, or improving the world, we all share in the possible hope our wishes might come true.
In the inspiring book, The Wishing Tree, Amanda makes a wishing tree with the pure desire that she could somehow help her father who is deployed with the military. Each of her lovingly placed ribbons bring us closer to her prayers and spark our hopes for Amanda and her family.
You can explore the wonder behind making a wish with your own wishing tree.
Create Your Own Wishing Tree
Wishing trees can be created to host many kinds of wishes! You can wish, hope, pray, or dream for others who are less fortunate, the safety or good health of a friend or family member, goals and dreams for your future, places you’d like to travel, or good wishes for a newly married couple, new parents, graduates, and many more.
You can create a wishing tree in a classroom, family assistance center, church, organization, business, or your own home. A few examples:
Amanda’s Wishing Tree
- Select a small tree or plant (artificial or real) or use branches supported by florist foam.
- Cut lengths of ribbon.
- Using a fabric pen, write your wishes on the ribbons and tie them to the branches.
(On MilitaryFamilyBooks.com, you can purchase a package of 31 pre-cut yellow ribbons—enough for one child to write a wish each day of the month, or a package of 50 ribbons—a perfect complement to a case of 50 paperback books for your school, family readiness gathering, or other special event.)
Bulletin Board Wishing Tree
- Hang on a wall a pre-made bulletin board, cork board, heavyweight poster board, or flannel board. Or create your own sturdy poster board.
- Cut out a bare tree with several long branches using construction paper or flannel. Tack, tape, or staple your tree to the bulletin board.
- Cut out “wishing leaves” made of ribbon, paper, flannel, or faux leaves or fruit, in any shape (leaves, ribbons, hearts, stars, ornaments, etc). The leaves can be flat or three-dimensional or have flaps to cover/reveal the wishes.
- Have students, family members, or other participants write wishes, hopes, and prayers on the wishing leaves and tack to the tree.
Box of Wishes
- Select a box with a lid. Cut an opening in the box top or use a liftable lid.
- Decorate the box with photos of a person you are wishing on behalf of, a drawing of a tree, or other decoration.
- Write wishes on small pieces of paper or paper leaves and put into the box.
Jar of Wishes
- Choose a large clear container with an easy on/off lid, such as a large pickle jar or candy jar.
- Decorate the jar with permanent marker, paint, or pasted paper or leave the jar clear if you want to see the wishes.
- Cut out colorful ribbons, paper leaves, stars, hearts, and other shapes and write on your wishes.
- Put the wishes in the jar by color or material type to create a pattern or randomly for a colorful display of wishes.
Wishing Tree Placemats
- Color a picture of a tree onto a large piece of paper slightly smaller than the size of the placemat you want to make. Include leaves on the tree. Include photos of your family around the tree.
- Laminate the paper, leaving an edge around the paper for the lamination to adhere to itself.
- For reusable wishing tree placemats, use dry erase markers or other wipe-off crayons or markers to write wishes on the leaves. Clean and write new wishes at each meal.
Styrofoam Wishing Tree
- Begin with a styrofoam cone, with the flat edge down. Spraypaint or decorate the cone.
- Write wishes on ribbons or paper leaves and affix to tree with pins or pipecleaners.
Holiday Wishing Tree
- Using your normal holiday tree, write wishes on ribbons, paper ornaments, or other crafts and decorate with your wishes and hopes for others.
- Create a giving tree, decorating with wishes from others in need. Encourage everyone to select a wish from the tree and make it come true!