We started by painting a large tree in the center of the canvas and letting it dry for about 30 minutes. Then the kids all choose a paint color and we placed a quarter size amount on a paper plate. They used their hand to spread paint all over the plate and then placed that handprint on the tree. Extra sheets of paper kept the younger kids occupied after the initial excitement of making their print on the canvas.
If your family doesn't all get together once a year, mailing a canvas between family members is a great option as well. We are going to add three grandkids that couldn't make it this year, next time they visit. Also, it was a huge help to have extra grown-up hands to help with the little kids' clean-up.
I'm absolutely thrilled with the way our canvas turned out and my mom loves it! With 19 handprints, we opted against labeling each print, but with fewer hands, that might look great as well. If you want to keep track of who each hand belongs to, you can write the names on the back of the canvas and then place a dot of paint next to each name as they make their handprints.
I'd love to see your handprint trees, if you decide to try this!