6 Christmas Gifts Your Kids Can Make from Garden ClippingsColin Campbell-Preston
These fun Christmas activities will keep your kids’ interest in gardening alive over the winter months while nature does its work. With just a few regular garden materials, they’ll love making their own unique Christmas wreaths, swags, bouquets, and ornaments to display on the tree and throughout the house this festive season.
Christmas tree twig decorations
Twigs make fantastic decorations for the tree and for hanging around the house. There are endless possibilities and they have a lovely rustic look to them.
First, find a decent collection of twigs in the garden. You’ll then need some fairly thick cardboard for the ‘trunk’ of the tree – brown looks nicest but if you don’t have any, you can cover white card with an old brown envelope. For each tree trunk, you’ll need to cut a rectangle about 1.5cm wide.
Then, break the twigs into pieces of varying sizes, arranging them into size order as you go. The longest should be around 5cm wide and the shortest will be around 1.5-2cm. The pile of twigs will form the triangular shape of the Christmas tree – and once you’ve got enough, you can simply stick them down to each trunk. Be sure to leave a small area of cardboard at the top.
Once the ‘tree’ has been created, make a small hole in the card at the top and add a loop for hanging. Any type of thick string or a sparkly pipe cleaner will serve as a hanging loop. You can leave your rustic trees natural, or use little painted stones to create ‘baubles’!
Dried fruit decorations
Dried fruit is wonderful for making Christmas decorations, with endless possibilities. You can slice up many different types of fruit from the garden or the fruit bowl – apples, oranges, lemons and grapefruits all work well.
Cut the fruit into slices and place it on baking paper on a baking tray. For the citrus fruits, you can push a few cloves into each piece, which will create you a lovely Christmassy scent as it is drying in the oven. Set the oven to the lowest setting and bake for around 2 hours before turning and baking for another 2 hours (check the fruit regularly as these times will vary depending on your oven). Once dried, the fruit can be painted with silver or gold, or left natural. Then simply add a loop and string onto the Christmas tree!
Wreaths are so popular at Christmas and the kids will love making their own version to hang on their bedroom doors. You’ll need 5 to 6 feet of strong wire that holds its shape, a bunch of twigs (some thick, some thin), thinner bendable branches, a ribbon for hanging and any scraps to decorate. You can actually buy wire wreath bases ready-made, but it’s cheaper to make your own and not too difficult!
The first bit involves making a wire frame. Wire can be sharp so you might want to do this part for younger kids. First, make a circle about 8 inches across. Twist together the ends with a few inches of overlap for strength, ensuring no sharp bits are sticking out.
Then, make another circle about 1-2 inches bigger in exactly the same way. Lay the smaller circle inside the larger circle. Then, you’ll need about 8 straight lengths of wire, about 5 or 6 inches long. You’ll fix these lengths all around your two circles as ‘crossbars’, to join them together and to give you somewhere to attach the twigs. For each length, simply twist one end to join it with the outer circle, then twist the other end to join it with the inner circle. Space your connecting wire fairly evenly around the two circles.
When you’re finished, reshape to make sure the frame is circular and crimp any exposed wires with pliers to ensure they are flattened and not sharp.
Once the frame is made, gently bend the outer circle upwards all the way round so it looks a little like a very shallow bowl. This will help the frame to hold the twigs better.
The kids can now arrange the twigs in their own design around your frame. Starting with the thickest twigs, lay them in a spiral pattern between the two circles all the way round so that they slightly overlap.
There are various ways you can attach the twigs. The easiest and least messy way which the children can do themselves is to secure with pliable thin wire, but a hot glue gun also works well (grown up help required!). You could also use strong glue or string – or a combination of these methods. If you do decide to use glue, it’s recommended that you secure some of the twigs with wire or string for strength.
Once you’ve got the thicker twigs in place, you can arrange and twist the thinner branches around your wreath. Next, tie a satin ribbon to allow it to be hung up. You can leave it natural, or decorate further with evergreen foliage, dogwood branches, dried fruit, leaves and moss from the garden. If you want to include leaves, you can ‘preserve’ them so they look nicer for longer simply by coating them in PVA.
Clear fillable baubles are a huge trend this Christmas – you can find them in shops such as Hobbycraft, Paperchase or the Works, or pick them up online from Amazon or eBay. The kids will love deciding what goes inside their bauble – with plenty of inspiration to be found in the garden. Look for soft green moss which looks beautiful on its own, or make a collection of pretty feathers. Seed pods, shapely twigs, tiny pine cones, leaves, foliage, berries and succulents all make interesting additions for your child to use.
A Christmas swag can be made from strong wire or a bent wire coat hanger, shaped into a thin diamond. The first step is to find plenty of different types of green foliage in the garden – fir, pine, cedar and holly are ideal. Lay the first foliage (e.g. fir) over the shape, pulling them tight in the middle and securing them with some thin wire. Add further foliage – pine, cedar or holly – again securing with wire in the centre. Add a bow around the centre, concealing where the foliage has been attached. You can then add additional decorations to the swag, making use of bits and pieces from the garden. Pine cones, leaves, berries, seed pods, more foliage and succulents can all be used.
Easy twig displays
Displays of twigs adorned in pretty fairy lights are all the rage, retailing for anything from a few pounds a bundle up to £100 for a 6ft fully lit version. Fortunately, there’s a much cheaper option. Let the kids collect fallen branches or snip a few from the garden and place in a large container. Pick up some affordable fairy lights from Wilko or Asda and let them wind them around the branches. Your ‘tree’ is then ready for decoration with the decorations that the kids have made – dried fruit, filled baubles, twig trees and any other pretty scraps they can find.
At Capital Gardens, we stock everything you need to fill your home with beautiful plants this winter. Head to one of our three store locations to find your perfect garden essentials.
Image credits: Eusebius Commons