Whimsical Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece

So I answered the call for anyone who was “crafty” to make decorations for our Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast. I’ve been sort of noodling on what I wanted to do, what I could use to make the decorations, etc. I scored some paper party goods at Party City last week, and thought I’d try my hand at making big turkeys for the tables to use with some paper lantern pumpkins I still have. From a baby shower. Two years ago. Don’t judge.

I played around with my materials and my trusty glue gun last night, and here’s what I came up with. If this guy isn’t the most hilarious thing ever well, then I just don’t know what is.

His name is still forthcoming, but if you want to make one of your own. Here’s what you’ll need:

    -One 7 to 9 1/2 inch paper lantern (red, orange or brown – mine was 9 1/2″ red)
    -One 12 to 16 inch paper fan decoration (mine was 16 inch rainbow)
    -One heart-shaped balloon for his red hangy thing (aka wattle)
    -One 2 oz black condiment cup (you can also use a small disposable cup you use to rinse in the bathroom by covering it with black paper)
    -Four sheets of paper (one brown, one black, one yellow, one orange)
    -One googly eye
    -One letter-sized piece of cardboard
    -One low temperature glue gun/sticks
    -Rubber cement


    • Print the attached template and use the patterns to cut out a yellow beak and buckle, brown head and black hat brim.
    • Use the feet/base template to cut the base out of cardboard. Once cut, trace the cardboard onto orange paper. Cut out and use the orange paper feet to cover the cardboard base. Adhere the two with rubber cement.
    • Unwrap the paper fan and before unfolding it, round off the pointy ends of the tissue paper with hefty scissors.

    • Unwrap the paper lantern and using a pair of pliers, twist or snip off the C-shaped metal piece on one end of the metal lantern frame. It gets in the way of having the tail feathers sit snuggly to the body of the turkey.

    • Open the paper lantern and insert metal frame.
    • Open the fan and hot glue the paper fan edges together in open position.
    • Turn the paper lantern on its side so that the smaller opening is on the left and the larger opening is on the right side of the lantern instead of top and bottom. Rotate the lantern about 20 degrees so that the smaller head opening is looking up at an angle and the larger tail hole is pointing down a bit. This helps the tail feathers to splay out at a nice angle and allows the brown piece for the head to sit more flush with the lantern when adhered.
    • Align the paper fan to the larger hole in the lantern at right so that the bottom of the fan and the bottom of the lantern will sit flush on a surface. The tail feathers will protrude at an angle from the body. Adhere with hot glue.
    • Once the glue is set, adhere the belly of the lantern to the circular base of the turkey’s feet with hot glue, making sure the feet show on the side opposite the tail feathers and that the circular base is mostly hidden under the lantern body.

    • Take the heart balloon, and blow a tiny bit of air into it. Stop when you feel the balloon resist–just before it really starts to stretch–as shown in first picture.
    • Being careful not to burn yourself, seal the balloon by using low temperature hot glue inside the stem. This works better than tying a knot because it will lie flat against the head and beak.
    • Wrap the end of the balloon around the back of the beak and adhere with hot glue.

    • Flop the slightly inflated wattle over the top of the beak and adhere flat with hot glue.
    • Adhere a single googly eye and beak with wattle just left of center as shown here on the finished product on the brown turkey head you cut out.
    • Cut a slit along the center line in the 3 inch black circle hat brim you cut out, making sure not to cut all the way to the edges.
    • Turn the 2oz black cup upside down and with a tiny bit of hot glue, adhere the edge of the cup centered within the 3 inch circle brim.
    • Cover the slit in the hat with hot glue, then slip the hat on the turkey’s head by inserting the top of the head into the slit.
    • Once set, apply hot glue to the back of the gold paper buckle, and adhere it to the front of the hat.
    • Once the turkey face is assembled, apply glue to the wide right and wide left sides on the back side of the turkey head base. At its widest part, wrap the base of the head piece around the lantern. Press and hold the sides to the paper lantern until set.

    And unless something went terribly wrong, you should now have this sassy guy!

    Here’s a back view.

    He’s festive any way you look at him. Give thanks and enjoy!

    One thought on “Whimsical Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece

    1. Wow – never would have thought of that use for either the pumpkin or the fan!

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