Homemade Christmas Tree Decorations

christmas tree

Well we’re now into the last week of November and that can only mean one thing… Christmas is coming! This will be my toddler’s second Christmas.I love getting things ready for Christmas and what better way to start than with some homemade Christmas tree ornaments?

We made four salt dough ornaments. These are great mementos to keep year after year. Last year I made some with friends from my post-natal group to mark our babies’ first Christmas and it was a lovely thing to do together.
Making the salt dough

The first thing we needed to do was make the salt dough. We used the following recipe:

1 cup salt
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup water

Mix the ingredients together and knead. Then sprinkle some plain flour on your work surface and roll the dough out. You should have enough to make 4 ornaments. my toddler and I made two snowman fingerprint ornaments, a Father Christmas handprint ornament & a snowman footprint ornament. Once you have created the shapes of the ornaments, bake them in the oven at 180-200 degrees for 2-3 hours.

Snowman Fingerprint Ornament

Roll the dough out and cut it in a circle using a circular cookie cutter or the rim of a glass. Your toddler can then poke their finger in 3 vertical spots to create the shape of a snowman (see photo above). Use a pencil or straw to poke out a hole at the top. Bake as described above and leave to cool. Paint the whole ornament with blue acrylic paint. I needed two coats of this.

Once dry, paint the snowman, ground and snow white. Choose another colour of paint for the scarf. Use brown paint for the arms and hands, and paint on the snowman’s nose, or use an orange marker pen. Finally, use black paint and a fine brush, or a permanent marker, for the eyes, smile and coal buttons. Paint the ornament with a layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush to add a nice shine. Finish by tying a pretty ribbon through the hole and hang on your Christmas tree!

Father Christmas Handprint Ornament

Roll the dough out and let your toddler press their hand into the dough to leave a clear handprint. Cut around the handprint and use a pencil or straw to poke out a hole at the top. Bake as described above and leave to cool. Paint the whole ornament with white acrylic paint. I needed two coats of this.

Once dry, paint Father Christmas’ hat red and his face light pink.

Use a permanent black marker or fine brush and black paint to outline the bottom of the hat and his beard. Draw or paint his eyes, nose and moustache and you have a lovely Father Christmas ornament! Paint the ornament with a layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush to add a nice shine. Finish by tying a pretty ribbon through the hole and hang on your Christmas tree!

Snowman Footprint Ornament

Roll the dough out, pop it on the floor (in a container/on a large chopping board) and let your toddler press their bare foot into the dough to leave a clear footprint. Cut around the footprint and use a pencil or straw to poke out a hole just underneath their heel. Bake as described above and leave to cool. Paint the whole ornament with white acrylic paint. I needed two coats of this.

Once dry, use blue paint to paint around the shape of the foot and toes. Choose another colour and paint your snowman’s scarf, then paint in the brown arms and hands. Use a permanent black marker or fine brush and black paint for the eyes, smile and coal buttons, and use an orange marker or paint for the nose. Paint the ornament with a layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush to add a nice shine. Finish by tying a pretty ribbon through the hole and hang on your Christmas tree!

These ornaments are so special, as each year they will evoke memories of my daughter at this age (18 months). I hope you enjoy making some Christmas ornaments with your children, too. Older children could have lots of fun decorating these themselves.

Ladybird, Ladybird

Ladybirds

One of my toddler’s favourite books is What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson. For anyone unfamiliar with Julia Donaldson, she was the Children’s Laureate from 2011-13 and has written a host of children’s books, her most famous arguably being The Gruffalo. We discovered her books when my toddler was still a small baby and they were an instant hit, thanks to the wonderful rhyming text and imaginative storylines. my toddler particularly likes What the Ladybird Heard because of the different animal noises and the vibrant illustrations by Lydia Monks. On every page there is a small, sparkly ladybird, and my toddler enjoys finding and pointing to her while we are reading.

Inspired by the book, I created some ladybird-themed craft activities for my toddler.

Potato Printing Ladybirds

To prepare, I cut a potato in half then scooped out several small circular holes to create the distinctive spots on a ladybird. I used the pointy end of a potato peeler to do this.

I also cut out a ‘handle’ to make it easier to hold the potato.

I poured some red paint onto a paper plate and my toddler had lots of fun dipping the potato into the paint and printing ladybird shapes onto the paper.

We used black sugar paper so that the red paint would really stand out. Also, it would have been tricky for my toddler to separately paint in the black spots at her age (17 months), so this solved the problem! my toddler loved this activity and I would highly recommend it for any toddlers of a similar age.

Egg Carton Ladybirds

This activity requires parental help and takes a little longer to complete, as you have to wait for the paint to dry, but it is worth the effort to create your very own little ladybirds!

  • You will need:
  • An egg carton
  • Black pipe cleaners (for the ladybird’s antennae)
  • Black pom poms (for the ladybird’s head)
  • Goggly eyes
  • Red paint
  • Black paint/marker pen/circular stickers (for the ladybird’s spots)
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Cut the cups out of the egg cartons.

Paint each of the cups red and leave to dry. For a sparkly ladybird, you could add some red glitter or use red glitter paint.

Once the cups are dry, add black dots. You could use a marker pen, black circular stickers or black paint. Next stick or glue the goggly eyes onto the black pom pom.

Cut some black pipe cleaners into about 4 cm long strips and bend them into “L” shapes for the antennae. You will need two strips per ladybird.

Finally, glue two pipe cleaners and the pom pom onto the red body, and your ladybird is complete!

Next, we needed to create somewhere for our ladybirds to live!
For the base of the sensory box, I used white rice that I had dyed green to give the illusion of grass.

To dye the rice, I used the following method:
• Pour 500g uncooked rice into a plastic container which has a lid.
• Add green food colouring and 1 ½ – 2 tsp of white vinegar.
• I also added a few drops of lavender oil to eradicate the smell of vinegar.
• Pop the lid on and shake the container to evenly distribute the colour.
• Finally, tip the rice mixture onto a baking tray/into a roasting pan, and leave to dry for at least 24 hours. It actually took longer than this for my rice to dry, so I put it into the oven on a low heat for about an hour to speed things up.
• Once dry, the rice can be used and re-used. Just make sure you store it in an air-tight container.

Once the ‘grass’ was dry, I added the egg carton ladybirds, some pine cones, fir tree twigs and conkers to the box.

Next to the box I placed some containers, a mini muffin tray, a little plastic spade and a rake.

my toddler had lots of fun with this activity but it was rather messy, so I would definitely advise you to put down a large tablecloth/old sheet on the floor to catch the rice. my toddler spent most of her time picking up the rice and letting it trickle out of her hand into all the different containers.

Ladybird Music

The perfect accompaniment to our activities was Marienwürmchen (meaning ‘Ladybird’) by Brahms from Seven Children’s Songs:

This song is in German and was written in 1857. The lyrics of the song are similar to those of the old English nursery rhyme, Ladybird, Ladybird:

Ladybird, sit on my hand -
I will do you no harm.
No harm shall come to you;
I only wish to see your colourful wings:
your colourful wings are my joy.

Ladybird, fly away,
your house is burning, your children are crying
so much, so much.
The evil spider is spinning her web around them;
Ladybird, fly home,
your children are crying so.

Ladybird, fly to the neighbour's children,
They will do you no harm.
No harm will come to you:
they only wish to see your colourful wings,
and greet them both for me.

We hope you and your children have lots of fun creating some ladybirds of your own and you enjoy these activities as much as we have.