Making bird feeders is not just a Christmas thing! Apparently the birds benefit if you put food out for them all year round. Apart from anything else, they learn that your garden is the place to go if they are feeling peckish.
Boy 2 likes birds and I like the warm fuzziness that comes with being kind to animals.
These bird feeders are good ones to make in the winter. The bird cakes are made with lard, which stays firm when it’s cold out. If you hang them out in warmer weather, you might end up with a sticky bird seedy mess all over your garden.
The garland bird feeders are a lovely natural way to decorate your garden for Christmas!
How to Make Bird Feeders
You Will Need: bird seed, lard, raffia or twine, paper cake cases, a jug or a bowl.
1. Melt the lard. As I had Boy 4 helping me, I melted the lard in a jug in the microwave then poured it into a bowl.
2. Stir in the bird seed. You will need more bird seed than lard. I don’t have exact measurements because I didn’t weigh it out!
It needs to be sticky. If there is not enough bird seed, the cakes will be squishy and fall apart.
3. Dollop half the lard bird seed mixture into the paper cake cases so that they are half full.
4. Cut pieces of raffia or twine about 10 cm long. Put the ends into the paper cake cases on top of the bird seed to make a loop.
5. Fill the paper cake cases with the rest of the lard and bird seed so that the ends of loops are inside the cakes.
6. Press the cakes down with the back of a spoon.
7. Pop the cakes in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.
8. Hang them up in the garden, ideally out of direct sunlight.
Bird Feeder Garlands
You Will Need: string or strong thread, a darning needle, popcorn, an assortment of dried fruit and cereal (I used raisins, dried cranberries and cheerios).
1. Cut a piece of string 50 cm – 80 cm long. Tie a loop at one end.
2. Start threading the popcorn, dried fruit and cereal onto the string.
3. Tie a loop at the other end.
4. Hang it up outside.
We’ve had noticeably more birds in the garden since I put out the bird feeders!
This is my last post of 2014, so Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2015!
These easy last minute Christmas centrepieces are perfect if you still need something for your table (or anywhere else!) but you don’t have the time to make anything elaborate.
It takes less than half an hour to make and uses stuff you will probably either have already or be able to find easily outside.
How to Make Easy Last Minute Christmas Centrepieces
You Will Need: a glass bowl, candles, greenery, pine cones, berries, double sided tape or sticky fixers.
Depending on the size of the bowl, chunky candles might be a better option than tea lights.
If you only have tea lights and your bowl is quite deep, you will need to use something as a stand for them. I used a piece of flower foam from a kit I’d never got round to making.
1. Tape the candles to the bottom of the bowl. Because I was using oasis as a stand for tea lights, I taped the oasis to the bottom of the bowl, then stuck the candles to the oasis.
This is partly for safety so that they don’t fall over and set the place on fire, but also so that they don’t move about while you are making the centrepiece.
2. Cut the greenery into smaller pieces. The smaller the bowl, the smaller the pieces will need to be.
3. Start to fill the bowl with greenery. I filled mine up to the level of the oasis.
If you are using chunky candles, leave about 3 -4 cm of the candles exposed.
4. Add some of the berries.
5. Arrange the pine cones.
6. Fill remaining gaps with berries.
7. If you are using a chunk of oasis as a stand, cover the oasis with tiny bits of greenery.
That’s it, finished!
I also made a centrepiece using a much smaller bowl. I didn’t need a stand for the tea light as the bowl was shallow enough.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy bowl, a plain glass one will do. The bowl I used was a wedding present that had been lurking forgotten in a cupboard!
Deeper bowls will need bigger candles. If you use tea lights in a deep bowl, they will need a stand of some kind. I used a chunk of oasis.
Taping the candles to the bottom of the bowl will make them less likely to fall over.
To fill the bowl, just use what you have. At this time of year I am always very thankful for my neighbour’s Leylandii hedge! Any evergreens will do. You could even lop a bit off the back of the Christmas tree if you have a real one and it won’t show.
If you don’t have hawthorn growing near you, you could use dried orange slices or cinnamon sticks.
If you like using natural stuff to decorate at Christmas, you might also like these posts!
Christmas is a great time for making stuff. Now we’re only 2 weeks away and I keep finding more stuff I want to make and there just isn’t time!
Here is a round up of 10 Christmas craft tutorials. Some of them are my ideas, most of them are not. Some of them I have made, some of them I am planning to make but I haven’t got round to it yet!
All the things in the tutorials can be made using stuff you will probably either have already or can obtain easily. All of them could be made within a couple of hours or an evening.
1. Snowflake Suncatcher Garland
This is genius. It’s such a simple idea and they look amazing. The snowflakes are made from salt dough using a cutter. The centres are filled with plastic beads which then melt when the decorations are baked in the oven. Full instructions how to make them can be found here on Homegrown Friends.
2. Dried Fruit Decorations
I have made these for the last two years. It’s very easy to dry the fruit yourself. Instructions for how I did this are here, How to Dry Citrus Fruit.
All you do is thread the fruit onto twine, cord or raffia and decorate with bows. You might also like to add pine cones or cinnamon sticks.
If you have a bit more time (and a bit more fruit!), you could make a garland in a similar way. Instructions for a garland using just dried fruit, raffia and ribbon can be found here, Fruit Garland and Decorations.There are instructions for making a garland using dried fruit and pine cones here, How to Make a Pine Cone Garland.
3. Paper Snowflakes
Making paper snowflakes is not just for the kids! These snowflakes on Vintage Junky are so gorgeous. Templates are available to download and print out so you can recreate them yourself!
4. Cinnamon Stick Candles
While I was pregnant, strong synthetic scents made me throw up, with fake coconut and laundry detergent featuring top of the list.
I still associate these scents with feeling ill, so generally I steer clear of scented candles and anything that smells strongly of fake stuff.
However, natural scents are fine!
These cinnamon stick candles on Home Stories A toZ are easy to make and look lovely. When the candle warms up, so do the cinnamon sticks and the scent is released without being overpowering.
5. Crocheted Stars
Crocheting Christmas decorations is great for using up odds and ends of yarn and, being small, they don’t take to long to make.
The pattern for these stars is here on One Dog Woof. If you like crochet, there are lots of other crochet projects too, including some very cute little elves!
6. A Christmas Wreath
Maybe it seems a bit late to suggest making a wreath now that Christmas now is only two weeks away. However, historically, people used to bring greenery into their homes on Midwinter’s Day which is on 21st December. So there’s still time!
Christmas wreaths can be expensive to buy, but they are not expensive to make and it’s easy and fun to do.
To make this one, I used a flower foam wreath and greenery from the garden, berries and pine cones just from around outside, fruit that I dried myself (instructions here!) and some ribbon.
Once I’d collected everything together, it took me about an hour and a half and it cost less than £10 to make.
This tutorial involves covering a little star shaped box, the kind that can be bought from craft shops, and decorating it to make a 3D scene. I suspect if I start making these, I won’t be able to stop! I can imagine all kinds of cute scenes in tiny little boxes!
This comes from a French site, Le Cottage De Gwladys. There are lots of ideas on here for using candles and greenery to decorate your home for Christmas. The photographs are beautiful and Google Translate is very useful if you don’t speak French.
9. Cookie Cutter Felt Decorations
These decorations are great for using up scraps of felt and cookie cutters make perfect templates. A little bit of polyester filling in the middle gives them a slightly padded look. They are easy enough for older children to make too!
According to something I was reading on the internet, cinnamon is officially the smell of Christmas. I associate lots of smells with Christmas. Not only cinnamon, but cloves, ginger and nutmeg. These were all ingredients in the Christmas cake and the Christmas puddings. Also pine, the smell of the Christmas tree (we always had a real one, the smell of plastic doesn’t quite do it!) and tangerines, when fruit and vegetables were seasonal and you couldn’t get tangerines before November.
These scented Christmas decorations contain cinnamon, cloves and star anise for a perfect Christmas smell.
How to Make Scented Christmas Decorations
You Will Need: fabric, elastic bands, ribbon, pinking shears (optional), cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, needle and thread.
1. Cut a square of fabric 15 cm x 15 cm. Finish the edges with pinking shears.
2. For the spices you will need a few cloves, 3 or 4 little leaves of star anise and half a cinnamon stock, broken up. Crushing them a bit will help to release their scent.
3. Place the square of fabric wrong side up and put the spices in the middle.
4. Gather up the corners and wrap an elastic band round the top of the bundle to hold it.
5. Cut a piece of ribbon 25 cm long. Tie in a bow around the elastic band.
6. Sew a loop into the back of the ribbon.
If you like a stronger Christmas smell, you could put the spices into a muslin bag or a tea infuser and pop it in a pan of warm water.
Making a Christmas wreath to hang on the door is one of my favourite pre-Christmas tasks.
This is actually only the second time I have made a Christmas wreath using a floral foam wreath. I used to bend a wire coat hanger into a circle and attach bits of greenery to it with florists wire but, to be honest, they looked shoddy. The bunches of greenery would slip round and the white coat hanger would be exposed. A couple of times I was so ashamed of my rubbish Christmas wreath was it was only hanging up for a week before I brought it back inside!
So to try and ensure that my wreath was not rubbish , I decided to take a different approach and use a flower foam wreath instead of a coat hanger.
The result was much better :).
How to Make a Christmas Wreath
You Will Need: 1 oasis flower foam ring, florists’ wire or garden wire, greenery, twigs with berries on, pine cones, dried fruit slices, ribbon.
For greenery I used Leyland Cypress because our neighbour at the back of us has a hedge of it so there is some in our garden.
For the berries, I used hawthorn. This grows wild in the hedgerows round by us and I only needed a bit.
The pine cones were also free, collected from woods and lanes.
The oasis ring cost £3.50, a packet of florists’ wire was £1 and the ribbon was £1 each and I’ve got lots left over. I used 15 dried fruit slices, probably about 1 orange and a couple of lemons, which I dried myself (instructions how to do this can be found here!).
The total cost was less than £10 and it took me about 1 1/2 hours to make. I’ve seen wreaths like this retail for £20 – £40!
1. Soak the foam ring for a few minutes. Oasis is supposed to sink when it is ready but I found that the plastic holder thing prevented it from sinking. It probably had about half an hour soaking which was plenty long enough.
2. Using a sharp knife, remove the edges from the foam ring to give it a more curved shape.
3. Cut your greenery into pieces about 20 cm long.
4. Push the pieces of greenery into the foam ring. Working in threes, put one on either side and one in to middle a little further down to make a v.
5. Keep going until you have filled up the ring. If there are bald patches, fill those with any spare small pieces of greenery, but don’t worry too much as the berries and pine cones will hide some of these spots.
It might look like the wreath is having a bad hair day. Don’t worry, the berries and stuff will act like hair clips!
6. Push the twigs with berries on into the wreath so that they are arranged evenly.
7. Wrap some wire around a pine cone. Twist the ends together.
Do this for the other pine cones you want to used. I used 5 in total.
8. Arrange the pine cones on the wreath so that they are evenly spaced out. Push the ends of the wire into the foam ring to hold them in place.
9. Take 3 dried fruit slices. Put a piece of wire through the slices next to the rind. Twist the ends of the wire together.
10. Arrange the fruit slices on the wreath and push the ends of the wire into the foam ring.
11. Cut a piece of ribbon and tie in a bow. Thread a piece of wire at the back.
12. Attach the bow to the wreath using the wire.
12. Hang it on your door and enjoy the Christmassy-ness every time you open the door!
I'm Anna and I live in Norfolk with my four beautiful boys, my husband and a three legged cat. I don't have an actual craft room due to the fact that we are six messy people living in a not very big house. I do however have a pile of unfinished projects. Thankfully there is plenty of room in cyberspace, so make a cup of tea, pull up a chair and make yourself at home! And please leave me comments! And maybe like me on Facebook :)