Crafts,  Life on a Mini Farm,  Repurposing

A Handmade Christmas

Each year, as we prepare for Christmas, we carry on a family tradition of creating decorations for our home and gift-giving.

Most of these ornaments are on our ‘handmade ornament’ tree (in the middle). We added the cowboy tree (right) when we purchased our first house in 1991, and added the tea and bird-themed tree (left) this year at the guest house.

My great-great-aunt Ruth made the oldest of these decorations in the 1960’s. They are hand-stitched and made of felt and sequins; one set represents the story of Cinderella. She also made ornaments with clothespins and beads.

My grandmothers, Marge and Helen, made the goose egg scene, walnut critters, ribbon acorn and frilly satin ball . The group of decorations in the upper right includes a Santa made by me at age 6, paper houses made by our girls when they were very young, and items made by Aunt Ruth and Grandma Marge.

Larry and I created ornaments out of necessity when we were first married because we didn’t have the money to go out and purchase enough to fill our tree. One year we painted ceramic ones, the next I cross-stitched some. I made the lace angel and southwestern ornaments when we celebrated our first Christmas in our first non-rental in 1991.

Our tree also includes ornaments made by the girls – these are some from when they were very young.

In the last few years we’ve made ornaments with a variety of items: Scrabble pieces, bottle caps, fabric yo-yo’s, digital graphics, photos, and even ping pong balls (the Golden Snitch from Harry Potter). Some ideas are from the web, some are riffs on things we’ve seen, and some come from my crazy brain when lying awake at 2 a.m. or when driving!

Not all decorations are for the tree. We’ve made gnomes from mini Christmas trees, cones, and socks (we like gnomes, as you can see). We’ve also made various ornaments for our horseshoe ‘tree’. There are wine cork decorations and fabric yo-yo trees. This year we ‘shopped’ the property for greenery and berries to make swags for both outside and inside the house. The Joy decoration was made using a glass light globe and a tuna can, with battery-operated lights inside.

This year, I challenged myself to use pieces from our outdoor piano (see Life’s Bittersweet Moments); we kept every piece when dismantling it. The mailbox, angel and reindeer ornaments are the first round. There are a LOT more pieces to use in future years! The gnome was made using a wine cork, an acorn cap and tiny branch from the yard, and crafting scraps.

And, finally, we created a themed tree for the guest house – the Guest Nest. It is decorated year-round with tea and bird items, so we created tree decorations with the same theme. We used things we had around the house, natural items from the property, printed graphics, and wooden spools from Grandma Helen. See the beautiful, sparkly hummingbird? That was a birthday present from my lovely youngest daughter.

Not only is it a fun challenge to come up with new ideas each year, it warms our hearts each Christmas as we enjoy all the generations’ creations in our home. Great things really do come in small packages, and these are all filled with lots of love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! We’ll see you in 2020!

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