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DIY: Homemade Holiday Ornaments

4 Birch Bark Beauties

By Jean Russ
Published: November 8, 2010
countdown-chain
Photo by Cabin Life staff
If you’re hosting the holidays at your cabin this year, you’ve probably got a lot on your planning plate. And, if you don’t want to haul all your decorations from your home to your vacation home, here are four ways to make inexpensive handmade ornaments and decorations using Mother Nature’s own wrapping paper: birch bark.

These ornaments and decorations are fun and easy to make, but remember: Only harvest birch bark from dead standing or fallen trees, as tearing bark from live trees can shorten their lives.

Birch Countdown Chain

It’s the same chain you made from construction paper in the 3rd grade to decorate your Christmas tree or to count down to Christmas, only this version is a lot prettier. You can make the chain heavier with wider, longer birch strips – which are easier for the young cabin artist to work on – or you can make a small and delicate chain, which I prefer for its beauty. Simply adhere the strips with a glue gun until the chain is long enough.

birch-ball
Photo by Cabin Life staff
Birch Ball Ornament

Collect birch bark pieces and tear and attach them, mosaic-style, to a Styrofoam ball with a glue gun. Use a pin to attach a ribbon if you’re hanging them on your cabin Christmas tree, but they look great in a basket too.

candelabra
Photo by Cabin Life staff
Birch Candelabra

I made this for my daughter’s wedding reception, but you can use this for a beautiful addition to your holiday table or hearth. Cut three thin birch logs at different levels. Use a flange drill bit to make the holes in the top of the birch log to hold the candles. Secure the logs to a platform with dowels to keep them from falling over. A piece of wood cut into a triangle makes a sturdy platform and allows the candles to be staggered nicely. When the candles are safely supported, you can decorate the wood base how you see fit to complete the piece.

centerpiece8552
Photo by Cabin Life staff
Birch Centerpiece

My friend Karum Carrillo made this vase for me. When you’re out for a walk in the woods, watch for a downed birch log and gently kick it. If it’s almost hollow, it could be your next art project. Cut the birch to the length you want and shake out any residue from inside. You now have a hollow tube of birch. Find a jar or can or vase that will fit snuggly inside the birch log and either paint the outside of the container black or wrap it in black construction paper. Then, cut out whatever pattern you’d like on the birch bark. When you place the container inside the log, you’ll see the design in black. Fill the container with flowers or pine boughs, and you’ve got the perfect cabin centerpiece that will rival any florist’s.

READER RESOURCE:
No birch bark in your area? You can order it online at sites like www.naturalforestproducts.com.

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