Lately, the kids have been asking for Christmas ornaments for our tree. Not for the Christmas tree, oh no… for the big Sunset Maple in the front yard. Several of our neighbours have bought enormous oversized ornaments for their trees, you see, and the kids have decided that having a decorated tree outdoors is a good thing.
After looking at the ornaments in the stores and in the neighbourhood, I decided a few things. (A) they are outrageously priced for what is essentially a cheap plastic ball with glitter on it. (B) there is no way I can manage to get this somewhat impaired body of mine to climb up a ladder and hang balls from the tree. And (C) great big maple trees with cheap plastic and glitter balls hanging from the bottom branches just look silly. Totally in the spirit of Christmas, but silly all the same.
Normally, I embrace silly. But, having just dragged out the three enormous plastic tubs and four boxes and two bags that contain all the rest of our ornaments and decorations, not counting the box for the tree… I just couldn’t bring myself to buy yet more ornaments, nevermind oversized ornaments that require large amounts of storage space and quite probably necessitate the purchase of yet another enormous plastic tub which we don’t have room for in our storage space in the basement.
But… the kids kept asking. Oh so politely. Oh so nicely pointing out how pretty and festive the neighbour’s trees look and how ours is, without lights or ornaments of any kind, quite sad and unhappy.
Being a crafty kind of family, we decided to make some ornaments for our sad and unhappy maple tree. Being a storage-scrooge, I decided that whatever we make would have to be completely disposable so that come January, they could just… go away.
Enter the margarine tubs.
For some reason, we’ve been stacking up margarine tubs lately. Big ones, little ones, all different brands, we’ve got margarine tubs. So I knew that somehow, our outdoor tree ornaments would have to use margarine tubs. Or maybe just the lids. But how? What to do? What to make? What wouldn’t look completely tacky and even sillier than the glitter-infused plastic things that were happily bobbing away in trees up and down our street?
Then, in the midst of setting out some of our other Christmas things, I realized it was time to retire our nature bowl for a few weeks. Our nature bowl is actually a decorative glass serving plate that I found on sale for $10 a couple of years ago. As we wander the woods and parks and putter in our garden, the kids collect things for the bowl. Small sticks, lost feathers, interesting pebbles, dried flowers, pretty leaves, acorns, and even a sand dollar. Most recently, it also held a beaver puppet on a stick, since putting a real beaver in the nature bowl might be a little difficult.
As I went to put these things away for a while, inspiration struck, and so we did the easiest kid’s Christmas craft ever. Ever. Really. It was super simple to do, came out looking super cute, and the kids had lots of fun making them and wanted to make more, only we had run out of margarine tubs.
To make these, simply fill an empty and clean margarine tub with about 2cm of water. Lay a length of red yarn in the water to act as a hanging string. Add items found on walks and in the garden, such as pine cones, acorns, sticks, flowers, and bits of leaves. Put in the freezer until they freeze solid, or if it is cold enough outside, simply leave them outside. When frozen solid, let them sit on the counter for a minute to loosen the edges and then lift them out of the margarine tubs by the string.
We had to wait a few days to be able to hang them outside since our weather went through a warm spell, but it is now well below freezing and they look gorgeous in the sunlight, and spin freely in the breeze. Best of all, come spring, all that will be left of them is a couple of lengths of yarn and a few compostable objects that mother nature can take care of.