The green table is moving! I'll begin posting again after we're all set up in our new home!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baubles & Bread Themed Ornament Making

Over the past week much of our spare time has been spent making ornaments for our Baubles and Bread themed Christmas tree. I gave the details of our 2011 Christmas Theme in an earlier post (click to read) - explaining the history and meaning of some early Christmas ornaments, that serve as beautiful reminders of our sin and salvation. I encourage you to read it! 

Here I'll show you the ornaments we made to address this theme along with instructions for making them yourself!  While each ornament fits the theme, they are also made from common, inexpensive and shatter proof materials, and can be constructed even by little hands - all very important aspects in designing a Christmas tree for the home of a baby and preschooler!

Bauble Fruit
The red bauble, a classic symbol of the season, connects us back to Eden with that sparkling forbidden fruit, a symbol of our Original Sin, remedied only by our Savior, Jesus.  Our simple Bauble Fruit ornaments make this connection a little less abstract.

Plastic Plain Red Bauble (Ball) Shaped Ornaments
Heavy Green Paper
Glue Stick
Small Hole Punch
Wire Ornament Hooks, or Paperclips
Working in small sections, apply glue stick to green paper, covering it completely.  Sprinkle glitter over the glue and tap it in place with your fingers. Once dry, cut into leaf shapes, punch a hole on one end and slightly bend or fold the leaf to give it some dimension. You'll lose some glitter, but keep a lot of it, so don't worry! Loop the leaf onto the wire ornament hook followed by the red bauble.  Pinch the hook closed.  We displayed ours on a some tiered cake stands until we were ready to hand them on the tree!

Cranberry Cords

The classic string of cranberries!  Another fruit connection that can not only remind us of the bitterness of our sin, but also of the red blood of Christ Jesus, whose birth we celebrate during the Season of Christmas. 
Needle (with a large eye)
Thin Ribbon
2 Bowls - one large, one small
Empty the cranberries into a large bowl.  Little ones will enjoy sorting the firm "good" berries from the smooshy "bad" berries, and discarding them into the smaller bowl.  Meanwhile, string the berries who have passed the quality control check onto the ribbon.  We left about an inch and a half of space between each berry, which stay in place on their own when strung on ribbon.  Tie a knot on one end before stringing, and the other end when the strand is complete. 

Gingerbread Cookies
To make our cookies durable, but still contain wheat as to match the important "Bread" of our theme, we stirred up a batch of cookie dough derived from a biter biscuit recipe.  We substituted molasses for the maple syrup called for in the original recipe, originally printed a few years ago in Wondertime Magazine. By also adding some spices, our "cookies" took on the look and wonderful smell of lebkucken ("bread of life") or gingerbread cookies, but they are as hard as rocks.  They smell tempting, but don't eat them - you'll break a tooth!

4 c Flour
1c Molasses
1/2c Applesauce
A few pinches of warm spices (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, etc.)
Rolling Pin
Cookie Cutters
Drinking Straw
Stir all of the ingredients together. There isn't a lot of liquid in this recipe, so it takes a bit of hard stirring to form the dough.  Keep at it, eventually you'll have a warm Christmas-y scent in your kitchen, and nice strong arms too!
Roll out the dough on a floured surface, and cut out your favorite holiday shapes using cookie cutters. It's important not to forget to make a hole in each "cookie" so you'll be able to hang them after they bake.  We used a drinking straw to make the holes, but a toothpick might also work well.  Bake at 300F for 35 minutes.
Once cool, use wire hooks to add the cookies to your tree. It would be pretty to tie with a bow too.  These cookies really fill out the tree and make your whole house smell wonderful throughout the season!
Glowing Orange Slices
A must for Floridians, it doesn't get simpler, or more beautiful, than these orange slices - yet another fruit connection.  Andy and I agree that these ornaments "make" our tree! I simply cannot photograph these glowing oranges as beautifully as they look hanging on the tree. 

Wire Ornament Hooks
Christmas Lights
Slice oranges thinly and evenly.  Each orange yields about 6 ornaments.  Spray a cookie sheet with baking oil and set the oven to 200F.  The goal is to dry the oranges, not bake or cook them, so this process takes time!  Dry the oranges in the oven for at least 2 1/2 hours, flipping about every half hour.  Once dry, hook the oranges onto a wire ornament hook along with a cranberry to finish the look.  Strategically hang the oranges in front of lights on the Christmas tree to make them glow!

Trinity Wheat Sheaves
These are even simpler than the Orange Slice ornaments!  Count out three sheaves of wheat, trim off the top half of each sheave, but be sure to save the bottom halves for the Wheat Sheave Stars (below).  Bundle the sheaves together with a red cord and hang them on the tree, remembering the gift of the Bread of Life, Jesus, born to be our Savior, our eternal life giver!

Wheat Sheave Stars
These ornaments will take a bit more time to complete - plan on about 5 minutes each, plus soaking time prior to making the stars, but they also have a huge impact on the overall look of the tree, and are well worth the effort.  Wheat again, draws us to recall the Bread of Life, Jesus, while using the straw portion of the sheave reminds us of His lowly manger, and the shape, a star, that led the Magi to the King.
Wheat Sheaves
Gold Twist-Ties
Tub of Hot Water
Wire Cutters
Cut the bottom half of wheat sheaves (available at floral shops or, if you're luck enough, a field near your home!) to five 7" lengths.  Five pieces are needed for each star, and 8-10 stars for a 6' tree.  Fill your sink or a large tub with hot water, and submerge the wheat under the water for an hour.  Meanwhile, use wire cutters to cut the twist-ties in half. You'll need 11 twist-tie halves for each star.  After the wheat is soft gather five straws and use a twist-tie to bind them together in the center of the cluster. 
Draw two straws together and bind with a twist-tie about about an inch away from the center tie.  Repeat, binding all ten spokes in groups of two. Next, split the straws, bending them left and right, then connecting adjacent straws together with a twist-tie to form each side of the star.
For complete directions and more wheat weaving projects, check out the Wheatweaving Company.  They recommend using a waxed string, but because I wanted my ornaments to be made by my children, it was much easier to use the twist-ties and work together to twist them tight over knotting each point of connection.

There you have it!  I beautiful, homecrafted Christmas tree that is full of meaning - and is *nearly* babyproof too!

Merry Christmas!

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