The joy of handmade Christmas ornaments
The Christmas tree is the focal point of Christmas decorating. With its twinkling lights and carefully hung ornaments, the Christmas tree serves as the setting where the family will gather to open presents, sip hot cocoa and enjoy each other’s company throughout the season.
The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree has been carried out for centuries. Women used to spend hours quilling snowflakes and stars and making beaded and lace ornaments for the tree. Small toys, ribboned bags of sweets and cornucopias made from decorative paper and filled with dates or other sweet treats were commonly hung on evergreen branches in homes throughout Europe and eventually the United States. Lace snowflakes were also popular.
While most women today are too busy to spend hours quilling snowflakes (and most wouldn’t know how if they did have the time), there are some easy and beautiful ornaments that families can make together in their home. Not only will handmade ornaments give the tree an even more personal quality, but the act of making the ornaments will give families a chance to spend time together, bonding during the all-too-often hectic season.
A beautiful lace-like yarn snow ball ornament can be made with just some string or yarn, Elmer’s glue, a balloon and a little glitter.
First lay wax paper down on the table or work space. Next inflate a few balloons with just enough air to make the size snow ball you desire. Pour a mixture of one part glue to one part water into a disposable bowl. Soak the yarn thoroughly into the glue mixture.
Now begin wrapping the yarn around the balloon in different directions, allowing the yarn to cross over itself and make whatever kind of artistic or haphazard pattern you like. It is up to the creator to decide when the ornament is complete. The snowball can be dense with only hints of open space, or it can be an open structure with decorative negative space between strands of yarn. Make sure the loose end is securely attached to another part of the yarn (not just laying against the balloon). Now sprinkle the entire creation with glitter. Clear glitter on white yarn makes a festive, glistening snowball. When the glue has dried, pop the balloon and pull it through one of the open spaces in the yarn.
These beautiful yarn snow balls can simply be nestled into the Christmas tree branches, requiring no hook to hang by. Several snow balls can be placed sporadically throughout the tree branches to serve as a unifying setting against which other homemade or keepsake ornaments can shine in the forefront. Like snowflakes, no two will be just alike.
Another idea for a family themed tree is inspired by a wonderfully simple ornament on the Martha Stewart website. The site suggests selecting patterned papers or family photos and gluing them to the backs of aluminum cookie cutters. Painted cookie cutters also compliment black and white photos nicely and will contrast well with the dark evergreen branches.
To create these decorations, trace a cookie cutter onto a photo and cut out the shape. Apply glue to the edge of the cookie cutter and press it onto the photo. Also glue a ribbon loop to the back of the photo.
These family photo ornaments could be the theme for the whole tree, allowing families to display their history and highlight meaningful or memorable moments. Also, if you start at the top of the tree with the oldest photos and work down through generations, the Christmas tree can serve as a visual family tree.
While the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree has been carried out for centuries, there are plenty of simple ways to make the tradition unique and meaningful each year. ??