I know, I know … you’re saying For shit’s sake, what the hell, Andy? Another craft? Is Martha Stewart binging eggnog and throwing up all over your blog or what?
I’m not sure what has happened to me this December but if creativity were akin to sex, I’d be a short, uptight, quasi-OCD nymphomaniac in dire need of a twelve step program. One with all the chairs lined up just so.
Every year, we make a family ornament for Christmas. Nate came up with the idea years ago, soon after Helena was born and it’s become a holiday tradition ever since. It usually starts at the beginning of December with me singing Hey guys, what should we make for our ornament this year? Hello? Anyone? This is usually followed by a cacophony of chirping crickets and then it culminates three weeks later with me shrieking FOR GOD’S SAKE, SOMEBODY GOOGLE A FREAKING IDEA. WE CAN’T CELEBRATE JESUS’ BIRTHDAY WITHOUT SLAPPING GLITTER ON SOMETHING.
The rules are: (1) the ornament must be relatively simple and easily completed within an hour; (2) during ornament hour, nobody is allowed to complain about anything like dinner, the color of Mom’s hair or SINCE WHEN DOES AN HOUR LAST 193 MINUTES? (3) everyone must participate in making the ornament; (4) everyone includes only those who supervise Ollie’s bowel movements so unless your friends clean up poop behind the coach, they are not participating as this is family bonding time; (5) does your cell phone clean up poop? No? Then stop texting and put it away; (6) family bonding time consists of smiley, happy faces with no hand to hand combat; (7) we all take turns completing a step in the ornament; (8) so as to avoid fainting spells or aneurysms, Mom gets as many turns as she wants if there is any threat of anything remotely resembling asymmetry about to happen anywhere on the ornament; and finally (9) no matter how crappy the ornament may turn out, it gets hung on the tree every single year, even if it means hanging it right next to Nate’s Buffalo Bills ornament on the back of the tree.
This year, we created a paper pinecone ornament and I have to say, it’s my favorite of all of our ornament so far.
Want to learn how to make one?
Too bad, you’re going to learn anyway.
You will need:
- A three inch styrofoam egg. Make sure to ask your ten year old where they get styrofoam chickens from. When she sighs and walks away, tell her Daddy wants to know.
- Patterned paper. We used almost two full sheets of this paper from Hobby Lobby:
- A box of pins. We used almost an entire box of 225 ct bridal and lace pins with a simple, flat top on them. I think they’re also called dressmaker pins? Then again, I hem with desperation and duct tape so don’t listen to me because I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Now go inhale a bunch of the Christmas cookies that your eldest made with her father and which you shoved into the freezer in a futile attempt to get them out of your sight so that you would not feel compelled to instruct total strangers to go inhale a bunch of them.
Yay for cookies and futile attempts!
Cut your paper into one inch strips. Then cut those strips into one inch squares. I happened to have a one inch square punch so I simply punched a few thousand squares out of the paper while telling myself how smart I was and giving myself carpal tunnel in the process.
Place each square, pattern down, on your table and then fold the top corners in. When you turn your square over, it will be in the shape of a little house, like so:
Do this 3,574,391 times and make sure you stop periodically to call out to the slugs in the living room GOSH, THIS IS HARD and IS THE ROOM COVERED IN PAISLEY OR IS IT JUST ME and SOMEBODY BETTER BE DVR’ING REAL HOUSEWIVES FOR ME. IS DVR’ING A VERB?
Now, take four of these shapes and pin them to the bottom, narrow end of your egg so that the top points are all touching. You will pin each of the four shapes in three places: top point, bottom left and bottom right, so that they are all laying flat on the egg.
It should look something like this except … hey! I know! Let’s pretend we live in a world where this photo is only of the bottom four pieces and not of the first two rows of pieces as well?
Hey, while we’re at it, can we pretend we live in a world where gravity is my friend and not some bitchy, vindictive hag?
You will now begin to pin the rest of your pieces onto the egg, pinning each one in two places: bottom left and bottom right. Do not pin the top points or your pinecone will simply wind up looking like a crazy patterned egg and people will ask why a chicken shit out a big blob of scrapbook on your tree.
Begin pinning your first row of pieces around the bottom four. Start them about 1/4 inch below the first four and stagger each piece so that its middle overlaps where the bottom two pieces underneath it come together.
That probably makes no sense at all but I don’t know how else to describe it and you can’t see all my frantic hand movements over here because I have no idea how to use my webcam.
Pity. I look particularly awesome today.
It should look something like this. I like to call this photo Study in DéJà Vu.
Continue pinning rows of pieces around the egg. Because the egg gradually gets wider, you will gradually use more pieces per row until it starts getting narrower again. When you are about half way down the egg, attach a long piece of ribbon which will be used to hang the ornament. Pin one end of the ribbon to one side of the egg with two pins and then do the same with the other end. I want to say that our piece of ribbon was about a foot long?
I also want to say that hot flashes suck big, fat, rancid orangutan balls.
Continue with your rows, making sure to pin them in such a way that the ribbon is eventually covered up completely.
It should look something like this.
Don’t worry if you get to a point where your rows are confusing and there is asymmetry happening EVERYWHERE and you have to slather cortisone cream all over your body and staple your left eyelid open so that it will stop twitching. Your family won’t notice and will continue on their merry way, pinning amuk all over the place, because they are sadists.
To all living creatures.
Just keep telling yourself that no one will care if anything is lopsidey and that you are most certainly going to Heaven because you have done your time in Hell down here on Earth.
When you get to the top of your egg, make sure to pin the last few pieces right up to the ribbon, cinching it so that it forms a perfect loop. Then tie another piece of ribbon around the bottom of the loop and …
I want to make a whole tree of these to plant in our front yard so I can have a reason to yell VOILÀ every time I leave my house. It sounds so much nicer than my typical MAKE SURE YOU TAKE OLLIE OUT TO POOP WHILE I’M GONE.
Wouldn’t an entire Christmas tree of these look just gorgeous?
In fact, I may just hang them all over my body, then roll around in some Christmas lights myself.
Then I’d be gorgeous!
In all seriousness, I cherish this tradition. We’re a blended family so it was really important to me that we have a tradition that started with “us.” Creating our family ornament has become one of the things I look most forward to at Christmas and the ornaments themselves, together with those made by my kids in school, are my very favorite things that adorn our tree.
What are some of your holiday traditions?
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