Making Christmas decorations with my mum every year is one of my most cherished holiday memories. Here’s how to start the tradition in your family.
Growing up, we would take a trip to the woods every year as Christmas approached to gather moss. My mum had a big box back home full of Christmas decoration items. Some she had found and kept over every year and some that were purchased at one point.
It’s not in our budget this year to buy things for decorations. There’s just no way I’m spending $11 for a single item. One thing doesn’t make a very great decoration, does it?! Thankfully, you can make great Christmas decorations almost for free. All you might need to pay for is some clay to fix it all in (affiliate link). We found ours locally for $2 for 2 kg so it shouldn’t break the bank.
Head to the Woods for Your Christmas Decor
Thankfully, we live close to the common. So we just head out there in search for moss and everything else needed for the Christmas decorations.
Going into nature is fun for the entire family. If you are raising your children to be aware of nature and seasons and to be good stewards, then this trip is even more important. You aren’t just collecting free stuff, this my friend, is homeschooling at it’s finest.
As we began to collect things my son eyed me picking some red berries, his first question was: “Mama, are those poisonous?” That question gave me confidence we are doing something right! We then had a talk about how, yes, the berries were poisonous, but would look pretty in our decorations none the less.
What to Look for in the Woods
Here’s a fact you probably don’t know about me yet, I’m allergic to pine trees. Needless to say, we don’t have a Christmas tree or any other pine greenery in our home.
- Pine tree twigs
If you aren’t allergic then pine is a wonderful option for your decorations. It stays fragrant and beautiful all through December.
Another item that’s beautiful to add is all kinds of cones. I’m not allergic to them so we tend to grab a lot.
Red or white berries add colour to your decorations. Opt for berries that have already dried on the trees, as they will keep well in your home.
You’ll want enough things to cover all the clay you use for your decorations. If you can’t use pine or just want more choices then moss is a good option.
- Whatever else you find that looks beautiful
Your imagination is all that limits your creativity. If your child suggests something, you don’t think will work, then bring it home anyway. They might like it or they might see for themselves why it doesn’t work. Be daring in your choices but careful as you pick. Grab a bit more than you think you will need, but leave plenty behind.
Making the Christmas Decorations
Going to the woods to collect items for your Christmas decorations is half the fun. The other half comes when you actually sit down to make them.
We advise making a big batch of homemade hot cocoa with plenty of real whipped cream to sip on and a side of honey hearts to munch on while the fun continues. It’s a great way to warm up after the trip to the woods.
You need a plate or dish to put your clay on. We use an old glass dish every year for our advent decoration. If you are planning on giving away the decorations (and they do make great gifts), you might want to use paper plates to make them on.
Gather all your supplies. Whole herbs, like cloves and cinnamon, are beautiful to add in. So are dried orange slices. You might have small figures, like woodland animals, as well that would make a lovely scene.
Use some wire to cut the clay into size. You want to cover most, but not all of your dish. If you want to add candles to your decorations now is the time to situate them securely in the clay. If you are doing this with a small child you can simply place the candle in the clay and then take it back out. It might be easier for the child (or the adult, really) to make the decoration without the candles in the clay.
Now, it’s simply a matter of letting your creativity run wild. If you are a neat freak then make one decoration yourself, and let your children do whatever they want on their own. You can use this as an opportunity to teach the children about simple design rules.
Simple Design Rules for Christmas Decorations
Odd numbers look better, go with 1, 3, 5 or 7.
Symmetry is beautiful, especially if you are doing a design that requires a key element to be equal, like an advent decoration with four candles in it.
Work with hights. Go three dimensional and work up, and out to the sides.
Cover all the clay. The clay isn’t that pretty, make sure it’s all covered.
Break the rules, add a twist. If you find your decoration look a bit too neat, just break a rule or add a twist.
Be Aware of the Fire Hazards
I want to make one thing clear, homemade Christmas decorations are not dangerous if you use common sense. Nonetheless, fires happen every year because of them, so let’s rehearse the basics.
Never leave a burning candle unattended. That’s common knowledge, right?! It especially applies when the candle is surrounded with highly flammable things, as in your Christmas decoration.
Make sure the decor doesn’t interfere with the candle. Teach your children that the tall things must be pointing away from the candles.
Have a spray bottle of water close by. A fire can happen to the best of us at any time, so keep a spray bottle at hand to put it out quickly if something were to happen.
Creating Memories, not Perfection
More than anything else, I want you and your children to have fun. Have a sword fight in the woods, put whipped cream on your nose and try to reach it with your tongue. Put weeds in your hair or cones in your ears. Laugh. Create. Help each other.
Making Christmas decorations has very little to do with ending up with good-looking decoration and everything to do with making memories. Remember that you get to set the tone. If a child doesn’t want to make decorations then don’t force them, just let them be present in the room as the fun goes on and embrace them wholeheartedly if they decide to join.
Christmas is not about perfection and gift or how you are perceived. It’s a time of year dedicated to celebrating the birth of our Saviour and to be together as families mirroring His love for us to our little ones.