It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Monday, 8 December 2008

The sparkle of a fairy light, the gleam of a glass orb through snow-covered branches – this is the stuff traditional Christmas trees are made of.

Whether it’s aromatically authentic or fabulously fake, decorating a Christmas tree is one of the most delicious parts of the holiday season. But why not branch out a little and make this year’s Beijing tree – whether real or faux – something truly special? Inside, find some ideas for Christmas ornaments which involve the whole family, and perhaps inspire kids to create their own masterpieces.

Sweet Candy TreeMaterials:

  • Wrapped candy

  • Ribbon

  • Popcorn

  • Needle and bright red thread

  • White cardboard

  • Glue or tape

  • Scissors

  • Twist ties

    See how long this tree can last before all the ornaments end up nibbled! Try to purchase Christmas-themed candy if you can; otherwise, any other brightly colored candy will also work.

    Make candy garlands by stapling the ends of the wrappers together. Hook striped candy canes over branches. Unwrap candies and glue them together to make little balls, wedging a piece of ribbon in between for hanging. It is a good idea to test the glue, as some candy wrappers can’t be stuck easily. Double-sided tape will also work.

    Thread popcorn using bright red thread and a long needle. Tie a knot after piercing the first popcorn through the center, then keep threading until your popcorn chain is long enough.

    If you want to make a tree topper, cut a star out of cardboard and use glue or double-sided tape to cover it with candies. Tape a skewer to the back and use twist ties to affix at the top of the tree.

    Gingerbread TreeMaterials:

  • Gingerbread cookies

  • Ribbon

  • Red and white pipe cleaners (optional)

    Nothing tastes and smells more like Christmas than gingerbread cookies. Be sure to make at least two batches (one to eat and one to hang)! The hanging cookies should be baked longer until they are crisp.

    Hang cookies with ribbon and dot bows throughout the tree for a charming Santa’s workshop look. Add little retro toys or red and white candy canes, or make your own candy canes by twisting together red and white pipe cleaners.

    Winter Woollies TreeMaterials:

  • Brightly colored yarn

  • Thick card or poster board

  • Scissors

    This warm and woolly tree is extremely easy to create – the hardest part will be choosing your color scheme! Make pompoms and tassels in various sizes and colors and dot them along the tree.

    To make pompoms, cut circles from thick card or poster board. Then cut a hole in the middle and wind yarn around the ring, pulling one end through the hole in the center. The more yarn you wind, the fuller your pompom will be. After you finish winding, hold the center of the circle to keep the yarn in place, then cut around the outside to release the strands. Insert a separate piece of yarn between your card circles and tie off tight to form the pompom. Leave this piece of yarn long so you can use it as a hanger. Carefully ease the card rings off the pompom and then trim neatly.

    Tassels are also easy to make. Using an 8cm piece of savare card, wind yarn around it at least 12 times. Remove the loops from the card, gather tightly in the center; use a separate piece of yarn to tie a knot in the middle, leave a loop for hanging. Cut one end of the tassel’s loops and pull the strands down into a bunch.

    Paper Snow TreeMaterials:

  • White paper

  • Pale blue ribbon

  • Glitter

  • Glue

  • Scissors

  • Stapler

    Create a shimmering winter wonderland using just ribbon, white paper and a dash of glitter. Make paper chains by cutting 3cm by 21cm strips of paper and stapling them into loops. For a lacy look, use craft scissors to embellish your strips with a decorative edge before stapling.

    To add an icy cool touch, nestle snowflakes amongst the branches. Fold a square of white paper in half diagonally, then in half again. Fold the triangle in thirds, making sure the sides line up. Snip off the points at the bottom and continue by cutting out small notches and circles.

    After you have made your cuts, unfurl your creation. Hang with silvery thread or pale blue ribbon. For added sparkle, dab craft glue onto your snowflakes and paper chains, sprinkle with glitter and let dry. For a little more color, tie bows of pale blue ribbon here and there, or let them hang down on the branches like icicles.

    Beijing TreeMaterials:

  • Red tassels

  • Little Chinese dolls

  • Hong bao (red envelopes)

  • Beijing cards or postcards

  • Red or gold ribbon

    Celebrate a real Beijing Christmas by decorating the tree in honor of your host country. Start by dangling red tassels and little Chinese dolls from outer branches. Punch a hole in the top of small hong bao and thread through red or gold ribbon; hang the envelopes on inner branches for a pop of color. You can also use the flat, gold-filigreed ornaments found at many local markets.

    Make the Beijing postcard ornaments by punching or cutting circles from the cards. Fold circles in half and glue four of them together, wedging a ribbon loop in between. Clamp until dry. For a faster result, use double-sided tape.

    First published in beijingkids magazine and on the beijingkids website. Photographs by Luna Zhang.
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