If you’ve got young kids and you’ve been on Pinterest or Facebook this winter, you’ve undoubtedly seen the DIY Felt Christmas Tree for Toddlers project trending in your news feeds.
My friend and fellow Army wife, Jen, is a really talented creative type. She and I both wanted to make DIY Felt Christmas trees for our girls this winter, so we decided to exchange notes.
Here’s a shared recap of how the project went for each of us!
Working at 100%, I’d be making paper patterns and making these pieces 2 layers thick, with lots of details. But I’m a little burned out from family visits, traveling, cleaning, and crafting, so I‘m going basic, which, in a way, is a fresh perspective. The girls will still enjoy a basic one. And that’s the whole point.
This project is completely customizable to the person’s skill level, ambition, and time availability. You can add embellishments based on your craft cache (I have tons of stuff and great creative ideas), but getting to this when they’re in bed and all, with Daddy at work, can be hard.
I cut a basic training shape from a thick piece of felt (about the size of a sheet of poster board), and then I started to cut ornament and light bulb shapes. I glued the pieces with fabric adhesive (drying upside down). I added a gray/silver “hub” piece to each ornament and light bulb. When they’re all dry, I’ll add glitter, and maybe some craft gems (but though nothing too heavy).
For a more heavy-duty version, you could add velcro circles to the tree and each piece, like I’ve done with the advent calendar I made for the girls.
This tree project is good for families, and people with older children could even involve them in the designing, cutting, and gluing steps
Mostly, I love that I have another hands-on piece of decor for the girls. I love seasonal decorating (especially for Christmas), but as a Mom of 2 girls under 4, I don’t want them to feel excluded. Quite the opposite – I want them to be excited about Christmas, and to be involved. I want them to ask questions, build memories, and be central to our celebrations (including decorating). It’s easy to keep a “hands off, children” attitude when we put out or breakable, sparkling, delicate pieces of decor, but the wonderland isn’t so wonderful if the kids can’t enjoy it or if parents are constantly worried about fragile items. Where’s the fun?
Now, believe me, I’ve got my fair share of fragile decorations, but being a Mom who crafts, and seeing that same passion for creating in my young daughters, I want to encourage their eagerness to contribute. I want them to feel a part of the preparations.
And my theory is that if I give them some of their own kid-friendly decorations, they’ll use them, and give my stuff a wide berth. So far, it’s worked. They have 15 sets of window clings, the advent calendar I made them, the wooden Nativity set I made last year (pictured below), and now this tree.
I’ve got less crafting experience (and a smaller craft stash) than Jen does, so my process was a little more basic than hers.
First, I went to the local fabric store to buy red and green felt. I knew I had some smaller (8.5 x 11-ish) pieces of felt in my craft supply box, but I definitely didn’t have enough for the tree, much less all of the ornaments. I think I spent around $10 on two huge swaths of felt (I ordered one meter of each color, not realizing that the entire bolt of fabric was folded in half, giving me two whopping meters of each color!).
I camped out on the family room floor while we watched HGTV that night, using chalk to outline the shape of the tree I wanted to cut out of the green felt. Chalk works great on dark fabrics because it shows up well, but washes out easily. In this case, I didn’t even need to wash it out. I just hung the tree with the chalk outline facing the wall!
For the ornaments, I used red and gray felt to cut out circles, bells, and stars. I used hot glue to attach velcro to the back of each piece. If you do this, be sure to use the hard half of the velcro strip, not the soft half. The hard stuff sticks right to the felt without any problem!
Side note: Someday, I’ll complete the kitchen-table-and-chairs-restoration project so that I can tell you how we scored the beautiful hardwood kitchen table in the pictures above AND six chairs for about $150, but that day is not today. Today, I’m sticking to felt Christmas trees…
I made our tree’s angel and its trunk from felt, as well. Like Jen said you can go simple or fancy, depending on how much time and interest you have, and what kind of goodies you’ve got squirreled away in your crafting cache. Jen added glitter and sparkles to her ornaments, while I kept ours plain and simple.
Now that Small Shaw is walking, climbing, talking, and interacting otherwise with just about everything around her, I’m getting increasingly excited about doing craft projects with her. Some of my favorite memories from childhood include my mom and I crafting together.
Sometimes we painted wooden figurines from the local craft store. Other times, she helped me “design” clothes that she’d then sew together for me. I remember making ugly Christmas sweatshirts with puff paint and sequins and doing just about every other craft project you can think of with my mom. Now that I’m a momma, I want to encourage that same kind of creativity and time together with Small Shaw.
Like Jen, I’d hoped that if Small Shaw had “her very own tree,” that she’d be less likely to fuss with our family tree. As an extra safeguard, though, we just put up a 3-foot artificial tree this year, and we left all of the breakable or sentimental ornaments in storage. With a 50+ pound clumsy puppy who doesn’t know how big she is and a rambunctious 20-month old, it just seemed safer this way. No broken glass for us this year!
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