This post is was originally published on The Penny Hoarder
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about gift ideas. But when you start adding up the number of friends and family members you need to buy something for, the holiday season can suddenly seem overwhelming. Rather than start the New Year with new credit card debt, I decided to try making some of my gifts this year with the help of my toddler, Rose.
Now, as you probably know, the world is made up of two types of people: those who can craft and those who cannot. I fall firmly in the latter camp, so the idea of making presents this year was a little terrifying at first. Luckily, I remembered one holiday craft my mother and I used to make together: felt Christmas trees.
Felt is easy to work with even if, like me, you don’t have an artistic bone in your body. The best part about this project is that you can decorate the trees however you want, making it ideal for toddlers and preschoolers.
How to Make Felt Christmas Trees
Prepare to Craft
For the Christmas tree ornaments, I cut tree shapes out of green felt. (This process in itself was challenging — I made three attempts before I cut one that actually looked like a Christmas tree.)
We gathered glitter glue, pompoms and sparkly pipe cleaners to decorate our trees, but you could use just about anything — marker pens (for older kids), feathers, stickers or even jewels. The beauty of this project is that you can make it completely your own.
Then, once Rose was safely in the art smock I bought just for this occasion and her table was in a safe (read: easy-to-clean) place, we set to work.
Trimming Your Felt Trees
For our first tree, I tried to guide Rose by squeezing the glue onto certain spots of the tree and having her place the pom poms. But I soon found that it was easier to just give her the glitter glue pens and let her go to town.
It took her a while to figure the pens out, but once she did there were giant piles of glitter — perfect for squishing pompoms down with chubby toddler fingers. I spread the remaining glue out myself once she had moved onto something she found more interesting.
Once the glitter glue was dry and the pompoms were secure, I cut a rectangle out of red felt and stuck it to the bottom of the tree to resemble a pot.
The, I glued about 3 inches of sparkly ribbon to the back of the tree at the top in a loop for easy hanging from our real-life Christmas tree.
If you’re Christmas-treed out or have leftover felt you want to use, cut out some circles and decorate them as felt ball ornaments. Use the same decorations as you did for the trees, or use other felt colors to cut out different shapes like hearts and circles.
If you’re more artistic than me, consider making more complex shapes, like Santa heads, stars, reindeer or polar bears. Use free stencils online to easily create a variety of ornaments. These are also good ideas for older children who like crafting. Ask your kids what shapes they want to make and let their imaginations run wild.
Felt Christmas trees and other decorations are ideal crafting projects for young children — and artistically-challenged parents. — They make wonderful gift ideas for grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends.
Catherine Hiles hates Christmas shopping and is always looking for new ways to avoid the crowds. This year, her gifts will mainly consist of handmade ornaments and things bought from Amazon.