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How to Preserve Fall Leaves

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The fall leaves in Minnesota are beautiful! Autumn afternoon walks are full of oohs and ahhs, and we don’t want to see it end. To capture some of that fall beauty, the kids and I like to use a glycerine solution to preserve fall leaves.

The process is simple, but it takes several days, so be patient. Here’s what we did to preserve some of our favorite fall leaves.

How to Preserve Fall Leaves

How to Preserve Fall Leaves

If you’re collecting colorful fall leaves from the ground, the stem shaft of each leaf has already closed. It’s probably starting to get dry and brittle. You could always just press your leaves between some book pages and preserve them that way. However, a glycerine solution will preserve the leaves in a way that keeps them pliable and helps them maintain their vibrant colors for years to come.

Step 1:

It’s best if you can use freshly fallen leaves. (That’s what we did.) If you can’t find freshly fallen leaves, though, you can still do this project. Simply use a hammer to tap the stems a few times to open the stem shaft again.

what to do with fall leaves


Step 2:

Make the preservation solution using two parts boiling water to one part glycerine. You can find glycerine in the health and beauty section of your drugstore or on Amazon.

what to do with fall leaves


While the water heats up, measure the glycerine. After the water comes to a boil, slowly and carefully add the glycerine and stir.

how to preserve fall leaves
how to preserve fall leaves


Step 3:

Now, carefully submerge your leaves in the mixture. We used a shallow baking dish which worked great. Make sure to cover the leaves fully. We put all of ours into one bowl.

Now you have to be patient because the solution has to work its magic for 5 to 7 days.

preserving fall leaves with glycerin

preserving fall leaves with glycerin


We allowed our leaves to soak for five days, and they turned out great! They were all shiny and glossy after their week at the glycerine spa.

Step 4:

You’ll need to take your leaves out of the pan and lay them flat on a newspaper to try for at least a few hours.

Our leaves remained glossy even after they were dry. Now we can bend them, and they won’t crack and break into a million pieces. The color is preserved, and we can use them for decoration.

craft projects with fall leaves
tips for preserving fall leaves

What to Do with Preserved Fall Leaves

Once you’ve preserved a collection of fall leaves, try some of these ideas:

  • Make a beautiful fall lantern to enjoy all season (and for years to come).
  • Take them outside and try to find the trees from which they fell.
  • Make some fun fall leaf creatures!
  • If you have little ones, do some preschool leaf math! (You don’t have to preserve your leaves to do this activity, but using preserved leaves will make it easier to reuse the leaves over and over and in future years.)

You may also want to:

  • Label them and display them on your nature table for the season.
  • Write on them with pretty calligraphy and use as place cards at Thanksgiving.
  • Scatter them in the middle of your table and add candles for a seasonal centerpiece.
  • Tie or tape some to a string for a simple garland to hang on the fireplace.
  • Attach them to packages to give a festive, seasonal gift.

Enjoy the beautiful fall season before the weather gets too cold! Your preserved leaves will remind you of the lovely fall you enjoyed.

Do you have any creative ideas for what to do with preserved leaves?

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  1. I’ve never known how to preserve leaves. My 17 year old daughter would love this because she’s obsessed with autumn and always keeps a collection of the first leaves that have fallen. I’ll be passing this along to her, fo sure!

  2. That is so cool! I love to decorate my house for fall with fallen leaves, but they always shrivel up and don’t look as nice after awhile. And I actually have glycerin because I make my own body wash and hand soap. The only bad thing is that our leaves are pretty much done for the year. I will be pinning this for next year!

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