Collect Your MaterialsWe started by gathering pinecones from around our property. You can also just use this time to choose the tree you'll be decorating. If you're in an urban environment or don't have trees, you can also use a branch with lots of smaller branches on it. This first time out can also be spent animal watching to get the kids excited about decorating later.
Make Your OrnamentsI collected all of my ingredients the week before, so I wasn't scrambling at the last second. Here are each of the decorations we made with a link to instructions:
Peanut Butter PineconesMy tweaks: I used Organic peanut butter for this (I know, I know but that's how I roll!).
Birdseed Orange FeedersMy tweaks: We made these the day before and threw them in the refrigerator.
Birdseed OrnamentsMy tips: Here are the ornament forms I use. I replaced the corn syrup with honey in this recipe. I've read different views on using honey and gelatin to feed birds. It is incredibly cold here in Michigan, so I have less fear of mold and melting. Also, I use Great Lakes Grass Fed Beef Gelatin. However, if you are nervous about this one just leave it off the list. Or, you can make suet ornaments.
Dehydrated Fruit My tips: Skip the last step where the varnish is applied
Popcorn and Cranberry GarlandsThese are are quite a pain if the kernels are small, and it's not something you want to do with tiny little hands around. But when we switched to an all cranberry garland things got a lot easier.
It's best not to use fishing line to hang any of these because birds can get tangled in them.
Read The Night Tree by Eve BuntingThis is one of my favorite childhood books, and I couldn't believe how well it fit with this activity. It's about a family that decorates the same tree in the forest every year. They homemake and hang edible ornaments for the animals and share a cup of hot chocolate under the stars. Even though we didn't decorate at night, this book still set the tone and scene perfectly! You can get it here.
Decorate Your TreeAnd now comes the best part - mix up some healthy hot chocolate and get out there! Start with the garland first and then move on to the rest. Don't worry too much about how perfectly the ornaments are hanging. Cora couldn't reach that high, but we just moved a few up before we left.
Create a Closer Observation PointThe only bummer part about our tree was that we couldn't see it from our house. It's great for the animals because they can eat it peace, but we still wanted to see some wildlife eating our ornaments. So we found a branch and stuck it in a pot just outside our sliding glass doors. Then we took a third of the ornaments from the original tree and hung them here. It's the best of both worlds, and it is a great option for those who don't have many trees in their yard. I would love to hear how this works out for you and hear about some of your own family traditions!
Your Woman Gone Wild,