Wednesday, December 5, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 3: Cardboard Trees

Most of the Christmas ornaments I'll be making are for the tree, but I figured I'd throw in these ones since they are in fact trees, and we don't have a real one up yet! 

I've been wanting to make some trees for awhile now, but when I saw these trees last year I fell in love. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money to buy the entire set all at once, and they don't even carry them any more, so trying to collect them one at a time would have been pointless. After finding a bunch of tutorials online though (see some of my favorites here and here), I decided to just make my own.

There are so many different things to cover these with, but I tried to limit myself by sticking to a metallic theme (since that's what I loved about the Anthropologie ones), and only used colors found in nature. (Green = healthy evergreens, copper and gold = dead or dying evergreens, and white/silver = snow covered evergreens.)

Most craft stores carry styrofoam or paper mache cones, but to save some money, I decided to make my own. I used a bunch of empty cereal boxes to make the cardboard cones for my trees. The tallest ones are about 12 inches tall, the medium-sized ones are 8½ inches, and the shortest one is 6 inches tall.

Just open the box, trace my tree template on it (or draw your own), and cut out.

It's a bit easier to roll the trees if you bend the cardboard before cutting it out. I just ran it over the edge of the table a few times.

Roll into a cone shape, slightly overlapping the edges, and glue or tape together. (As you can see, I just used tape which works fine for the ones that are wrapped with beads or yarn, but Abe was playing with the green glittery one and I noticed the seam started to pull apart at the bottom. Glue is probably a better option.)

Here's my forest of unfinished cardboard cones. Not perfect, but it's hard to tell once they're covered with stuff. Oh, and if they lean to the side or seem unstable at all, just trim the bottoms a bit until they stand straight and steady.

I covered my trees with a variety of materials I had around the house, and a few I picked up at the craft store.

This one is Noah's favorite. I used Martha Stewart Iridescent Glitter in Limeaid, and basically painted the cone with a thick coat of Mod Podge, sprinkled on a thick layer of glitter, and waited for it to dry. Then I knocked off the excess glitter and covered it with another layer of Mod Podge to prevent the glitter from rubbing off and getting everywhere. Oh, and this guy is shorter and fatter than the rest because I experimented with a few templates before making my own. (Google "party hat template" if you want trees like this.)

Abe told us this coppery one is his favorite. For this one I used some Martha Stewart Tinsel Glitter in Fire Opal that I picked up on clearance at Michael's. Same process as the green glitter tree, but I didn't want to ruin the texture, so I skipped the Mod Podge topcoat.

These three are my favorites. I wrapped the brown one with Martha Stewart Glitter Eyelash Yarn in Brownstone. It's so soft and fun to pet! The white one is covered in Diamond Dust, which I didn't realize was actually made from finely ground glass, until I ended up with a tiny shard of glass stuck in my finger! I find it a little funny that my favorites of the bunch are the softest tree and the one that will cut you. 

It's hard to tell from the pictures how pretty the white and gold trees are in real life. The white one looks just like it's covered in snow, and the gold one is glittery with a nice texture. I wrapped it with a shimmery gold yarn (similar to this) that I picked up a few years ago.

Mardi Gras beads are another easy option. (If you don't have an endless supply of Mardi Gras beads, you can often find them at craft or party stores.) Just use hot glue to secure them in place. I used a super long (10 foot) strand of beads to cover an 8½ inch tree. The tall silvery-white tree in the background is covered with sesame seeds! I really liked the look of it just coated with seeds, but I didn't want them falling off, so I covered them with a coat of Mod Podge and added some gold luster dust thinking it would give the seeds a slight metallic shimmer. Unfortunately, I added too much and it just looked like ugly gold paint, so I painted over it with the Martha Stewart Mother of Pearl paint I had picked up. Not totally in love with it but it's better than the gold. Maybe I'll re-coat it with plain sesame seeds next year.

Anyone else out there starting a tree farm? Temporarily substituting tiny cardboard trees for the real thing? Feel free to share links to your holiday decorations in the comments, and check out our other Christmas crafts right here.


  1. Hey Michelle,

    I love your ideas for Christmas trees. They look really classy and I'm dying to have a go at some myself. Thought I might make some to brighten up my desk at work too! Happy Christmas to you and yours!

  2. Very nice idea; You do a great job :) Congrats

  3. Hi Michelle! Your trees are beautiful! Thanks for the download! Blessings from Bama!