©2008, Ramona K. Silipo. All rights reserved.
One of the simplest handmade tree ornaments is a spiral. You can make them in different sizes by tracing different round objects– for instance, jar lids of several different sizes; or a teacup, a mug, and a saucer. The larger the circle, the longer the dangle from the tree branch.
You’ll need scissors, pencil, paper and items to trace. That’s all. You can add glitter if you don’t mind the mess, but I would forgo it with young children. It just gets everywhere, including in their mouths and up their noses which can’t be healthy for them.
Construction paper is the old standby. But good-quality, heavier gift wrap works very well and adds a bit more colour. Magazine covers are excellent, as they have body and lots of colour. Aluminum foil can be used, too, but may be best saved for older children who can cut through it more easily.
Trace the circle. Then simply begin at the edge, cutting round and round the edge, about 1/4 inch from the edge, until you reach the center. Leave the center about the size of a nickel so you can punch a hole for the hook or ribbon to hang it (or you can fold the end over the tree branch, but it doesn’t work a well as using and ornament hook).
Younger children might need you to draw a guide line for cutting, which can be tricky. If you show them how to cut, following the edge as the circle gets smaller, most children “get it” from watching.
Another easy decoration with circles is made by cutting one large circle, say, 3″ in diameter (a coffee mug size) and four circles slightly smaller (a tea cup size). For this you need construction paper or light card. Heavier magazine covers might work, too, if you want to experiment. Fold the four smaller circles in half and make a cut in the vertical middle of the fold. Using the slit you cut, slide the four smaller circles on to the larger circle, spacing them evenly around the edge. Punch a hole near one edge of the larger circle for the hook or ribbon to hang it on the tree.
Don’t forget the old traditional stand-by, the paper chain. These are more colourful when made from gift wrap than construction paper.
Cranberries and popcorn are great to string for your trees outdoors. The birds will enjoy them, but you will have to remember to remove the thread after the berries are gone so the birds don’t get tangled in it.
For a slightly more sophisticated garland, you can use walnuts. For this you will need whole walnuts, eyepins (which you can find at crafts shops and stores that sell beads and jewelry findings), and narrow ribbon, yarn or cord in gold, red or green (or any colours you want).
You can leave the walnuts natural, or paint them gold or just give them a coat of clear gloss to dress them up. Put an eyepin in each end of each walnut. Thread ribbon or yarn through the eyes of two nuts, and tie a decorative bow leaving an oval of ribbon about an inch long between the two nuts. Make the garland any length you like.
To make ornaments from single walnuts, tie narrow ribbon or gold cord around them longwise. A dab of Elmer’s Glue-All at the bottom will help if you use satin ribbon or metallic cord and it’s slippery. Tie a loop at the top to hang it from the tree; or tie a bow at the top and use an ornment hook threaded through the knot to hang it.