I am thrilled to introduce you to my guest poster today, Holly Jones! I first met Holly a few years ago when we were in a babysitting co-op together. (Remember my sound walk post? That was inspired by an activity Holly did while sitting my kids.) Holly is an amazingly creative woman and a real hands-on mom. Walking through her home feels like you’re in a super cool and eclectic art gallery combined with a reggio-like preschool. I want to live there any time I walk through her door!
Holly’s post today on homemade ornaments using sticks and yarn combines the outdoors with creativity and hands-on learning. It’s the perfect activity for a variety of ages. (Holly even gives you tips on doing the activity with different age groups.) You’re sure to find some inspiration after reading her post! (This post contains affiliate links.)
DIY HOLIDAY STICK LETTER ORNAMENTS
by Holly Jones
If you are anything like me, you are planning to procrastinate holiday gift giving. Or maybe you just have a list of really cool ideas brimming in your mind that you are planning on doing the first day you haven’t logged in 16 hours straight of carpooling, playing, laundry, trying to get back to your mother-in-law, scheduling your 3-year-old daughter’s first dentist appointment…. this is a list that could obviously go on for all of us. So say you are working through this list and all of the sudden, low and behold, it’s December 20th and now you are wondering “what the what” you are going to do. Before you reach for the computer mouse, before you resign yourself to braving a mall parking lot (or any sort of parking before the holidays), let me ask you… do you have sticks? Do you have yarn? If the answer is no, then, would your little one like to go on a walk and get some sticks?
In our house, the answer to this last question is always YES! In fact, this aspect of life doesn’t really need to be scheduled. It just happens ALL THE TIME. And by “all the time”, I mean CONSTANTLY all the time. We have so many sticks that I recently purchased The Stick Book from a local bookstore. (Not that I’ve read it. There’s too much stick collecting to do!) But I must have been dreaming about sticks and 5-year-olds and 3-year-olds and what I could possibly do with all of them together, and I came up with this really nifty craft/ornament idea. You can do it on the tightest of budgets and the absolute minimum of planning. I am absolutely certain this craft is out there on Pinterest somewhere (ok, full disclosure, I searched for it, and indeed you can buy some of these from Anthropologie. In the mean time, I’ve started my own Pinterest Stick-Craft board ). Nonetheless, before I saw the Anthro version, I dreamed up my DIY toddler take on it.
What’s this magnificent dream, no planning craft? It’s a letter made out of sticks, then wrapped in yarn. I’m telling you, it’s so simple and lovely I kind of feel silly giving you instructions, but since I love to share process and photos here it goes!
Materials for Stick Letter Ornaments
- Yarn (I have some yarn that’s not really all that fancy since I don’t really knit. Since this is a toddler craft, I recommend keeping it simple and affordable, although there are some pretty fancy yarns out there. And if it’s December 23rdand you don’t have any yarn, I recommend calling a few friends. I’m pretty sure every 1 out of 3 friends has some yarn.)
- String to attach the letters (Don’t have string? See the above note about friends)
- Wood Glue (I’m sure this is optional, but it made me feel like my ornaments were more secure. But again, if it’s December 23rd, this is optional)
Directions for Stick Letter Ornaments
1. Decide on your letters. I did an “M” for my son Maximillian and an “E” for my daughter Eloisa. I also did a couple of letters for some other 3-year-olds I watch. I can imagine doing the first letter of a Grandmother or Grandfather’s name and then sending it to them as a gift.
2. Get yourself some sticks. Don’t have any? Take a walk around your block. Walks can be very grounding and a time to connect with yourself and your children. Dance a little jig if this sounds like a good idea around the crazy-making holiday time. If you are absolutely paralyzed by scotch tape and ribbon, and have an older child that’s looking for a good reason not to play a video game, ask the older child to go outside and get some. Or, if you are like me, you might have a bunch around your house already. In that case, you have to be sneaky and surreptitiously collect them at night.
3. Make letters with the sticks. Break, tie (and/or glue) the sticks together in whichever letter of the alphabet is calling your name. When you present your 5-year-old with a letter made out of sticks, you hug and assure him that these are in no way any of the sticks he collected.
- Here’s some more thoughts on the letter assembly part: It’s really organic and there is no right or wrong way. They aren’t going together like Legos people. You just have to make it work.
- I decided to use string and wood glue because somehow in my head I thought it might be more sturdy. But it’s not like these ornaments will be hurled against a wall, so again, this part could be totally optional. When I read the directions for the woodglue it stays to clamp the wood together and leave it in place for 30 minutes. I figured the string worked as a clamp.
- Since I have a 3-year-old and 5-year-old, I did this part by myself and had it ready for the children. Older children would probably get into doing this part by themselves.
4. Wrap the letter in yarn. My 5-year-old son was able to this without much instruction or help. I let him pick out a color of yarn (um, dark blue). Then I tied a piece of the yarn to the bottom of the letter. I showed him how to go around and around, and he did it. When he’d get to a corner, he’d ask for some help.
For the 3-year-olds, I had the letters ready and then had each of them select their yarn. One by one I’d take one of them aside and sit them on my lap, taking their hand in mine, wrapping the letter together. It’s snuggly. It’s handwork. If you move fast enough they’ll have about just enough attention span to make it to the end of the letter.
– I told my 3-year-olds a tree story that ended with a tree being decorated with ornaments and handed them each their ornament to decorate their tree at home. It was a lovely little shared activity. The activity helped them learn the first letter of their name. It introduced handwork to them. Adding a story weaves meaning into their weaving and incorporates the idea of tradition.
– If you are truly doing this craft as a last minute gift, you might want to stop there and just run it to the post office or drop it in a gift bag. If you have more time or this just got your creative juices flowing, I’m sure there is more you could do with this craft. Do you have glue? Do you have pom-poms or leaves or nuts or glitter? I think there is more fun to be had.
You can find Holly Jones on Pinterest!