Make a Birdhouse Christmas Tree Ornament

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Christmas is a holiday celebrated by people all over the world to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. Roman Catholics and Protestants observe the day on December 25th, while members of the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrate on January 7th. During this busy, happy time of the year, Christians prepare for the holiday by attending church services, sending greeting cards, buying and wrapping gifts, and decorating their homes.

People in many parts of the world decorate Christmas trees with lights and ornaments. We're working with a local neighborhood association to recycle materials to make their Christmas ornaments. Our tree will be decorated with tiny, white lights, dried flowers, bows, garlands, snowmen, and small birdhouses. Most of the ornaments will be made of postconsumer waste and scrap materials gathered from local businesses such as interior design studios, gift shops, and florists. We challenge you to recycle to make your ornaments and help save landfill space and natural resources, too.

You Will Need:

  • White glue
  • Glue stick
  • Acrylic paints
  • Cereal carton
  • Brown paper bag
  • Wallpaper samples
  • Scrap of white felt
  • Polystyrene peanuts
  • Small, thin stick
  • White polystyrene tray
  • A 12" dowel rod or twig
  • Scraps of construction or tissue paper
  • Paint brush and pan
  • Compass or awl
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
Birdhouse Christmas Ornament



How to:

Trace the pattern onto the brown paper and the wrong side of a cereal carton or other lightweight, scrap cardboard. Cut them out, and use the glue stick to glue the paper to this side of the carton. If you prefer, skip this step and paint a light coat of acrylics on the house after it's assembled. Fold the "I-shape" as indicated by the dotted lines. This will be easier if you first lay a ruler on the area and score the cardboard by drawing one blade of the scissors across it. Pop up the house by folding the shape at the center. Fold over the ends, and use white glue to fasten.

Glue paper or cardboard to each end of the house to hide the open triangular areas at the top. Cut two 2.75" x 4.75" scraps of wallpaper. Glue wrong sides together, fold in half, and glue on for the roof. Decorate the rest of the house with the wallpaper samples or construction paper. Make a hole with the compass point or awl, and slide the small stick through for the perch. Put a few drops of white glue around the stick to help fasten it to the inside of the house. Paint a circle above the perch for the opening.

If you use a polystyrene meat tray, first wash it in hot, soapy water and dry it. Break the tray into an irregular shape to simulate snow. Paint a dowel rod or use a twig for the pole. Make a hole in the center of the polystyrene, and slide it over the stick. Turn the house upside down, and place the rod or twig inside so that it touches the center of the roof. Fill the house with polystyrene peanuts or other filler. Slide the "snow" down to the base of the house, and fasten it with white glue. Make bushes and trees with pieces of tissue or construction paper. To finish, glue white felt on the bottom.

Tips and Tricks:

In general, use the glue stick for the decorative trim, and apply white glue to hold heavier items like the cardboard and polystyrene. If you decorate with vinyl wallpaper, you may need to use white glue to fasten it.

Another Birdhouse OrnamentWallpaper sample books are full of beautiful papers and fabrics. Employees at an interior design studio or paint store will be happy to give you books to make room for new samples. If you're unable to find wallpaper books, substitute a scrap of gift wrap or other decorative paper or fabric.

Florists may donate scraps of ribbon, dried flowers, picks, beads, and other decorative items for your tree. Also, gift shops often discard damaged merchandise, and you may be able to salvage parts for ornaments.

To make a gingerbread-style birdhouse like the one pictured at the top, decorate the ornament with craft paints in squeeze-type tubes to simulate icing and candy. The gum drops are made of acrylic paste. This ornament, exclusive of decoration, is made of 100% postconsumer waste, and it was donated to help provide support for our local art museum.

See the previous activities Snowman Christmas Tree Ornament and Junk Mail Jewelry to learn how to make the other recycled ornaments. Combine wallpaper scraps and broken jewelry to make garlands. You can also string pieces of white polystyrene peanuts to simulate popcorn.

Visit the National Christmas Tree Association web site to learn the benefits of choosing a live tree and how to take care of it. You'll also discover how your tree can help the environment after the holidays. Oh, and have a Merry Christmas!

© 1997 Marilyn J. Brackney update (2018)

Volume 10 No. 3

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