Paper pinecone ornament a/k/a the last time I got my Martha Stewart on in 2010

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.
  • Ribbon

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?


Sort of.

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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26 thoughts on “Paper pinecone ornament a/k/a the last time I got my Martha Stewart on in 2010”

  1. Avatar

    Love that tradition – I may have to steal it. Of course it would end up being just me and Katy doing them with Michael and Mark running and hiding at the sight of anything even remotely crafty, so then again, maybe not. This is gorgeous though! You should do a video how-to and post it, too (like you don’t have enough to do!). Merry Christmas!! 😀

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    That is really a super idea. Although, I don’t think I’ll ever attempt the pine cone. It’s gorgeous, but I’d want to tear my hair out before it was over. BTW, your arms look nice and thin, and I like your nail polish color. Just sayin’. :o)

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    Every year when I was growing up, my parents would get me an ornament for Christmas that had something to do with my year: a squirrel for the first time I went camping and survived (as opposed to all the times I went and didn’t survive), a blown-glass car for finally getting my driver’s license at 18 (don’t ask), a mini beer stein for the summer I spent in Germany (Yay, beer!). Then my mom would write a note to me and tape it to each ornament, to be opened by me and read once I was out on my own.

    I have been “out on my own” for 6 years now, but still haven’t read all the notes because every time I start, I get all gaspingly weepy and swollen eyes and blotchy skin don’t match my Christmas outfit.

  4. Avatar

    That picture of Ollie? LOVE IT!

    Also, don’t forget the glitter when you’re rolling around in the Christmas lights. You can also use hot glue to temporarily lift-n-separate the girls…

    In case I don’t get another chance to say this – MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

  5. Avatar

    Hey – so funny! Our tradition is eating at least a tub (ok two) of pringles while we decorate the tree. And yelling at our son that the cat isnt an ornament and then telling him that if he is gonna hang it on the tree he needs to make sure that all the ornaments are spread evenly and not all bunched together!

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    I love these! Love your blog! Your’s turned out very pretty. Thank you for not using a round ball, like I saw in a tutorial—they looked more like artichokes than pinecones.

  7. Avatar

    Loooove the pinecone! And the tradition.

    I think it’s funny the different ways that OCD tendencies present themselves. I don’t know that I would have issues with the asymmetry of the pinecones (which btw I don’t see on *your* pinecone 😛 ) so much as major heart-attack inducing issues with the fact that if I started now, the “tradition” wouldn’t start from the “beginning” (!) I hate that I do this, and yet I get all twitchy when my husband mentions starting a tradition that will just sort of *randomly* appear on our (imaginary) family timeline. So then I start coming up with wierd “Well, yes, we can do this thing every 7.6 years… from the beginning!!”

    It’s a terrible, terrible sickness. 😛

    Merry Christmas, Andy, to you and your whole family!!

    (I need to get started on some creative math 🙂 )

  8. Avatar

    It looks VERY Marthaish. You sure you don’t secretly have her locked in your basement this year?

    I love all of our traditions. We eat pizza on Christmas Eve (hello, easy cleanup and get the kids to bed). We leave Santa beer and cookies (wine on the years Santa is deployed). We wake up Christmas morning, open presents, my husband makes breakfast, and we stay in our pajamas all day. What’s not to love about all of that? Little details change as we move place to place. Like now that we live near Hershey, we like to pay $20 per car and go see their Sweet Lights display.

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    Sounds like your ornament rules are similar to my sugar cookie rules. I’m very OCD about cutting out the cookies. So OCD in fact that I only invite my family to participate once the cookies are safely & properly cut out & on cookie sheets.

  10. Avatar

    I made Paper Pinecone ornaments this year too!!!! Hubby’s family exchanges homemade ornaments instead of gifts and I loved the pinecones so much that I made them for all the teachers/daycare providers too! Took FOREVER and I ended up buying sprigs of holly and berries, took them apart and glued a few to the tops at the base of the ribbon to cover the top of the paper pieces that looked fugly. I have photos, but they’re still on my computer! LOL I loooove the paper you chose! Beautiful (and lovely tradition for your fam!)

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    I’m still grinning, though you made my little boy mad by a) making me laugh b) making me laugh really loudly and c) making me tell him he can’t read it because of the big, fat, rancid orangutan balls, and other such laugh-making tidbits. And, that’s a totally awesome ornament. I’m particularly jealous of the bow/loop thing. Every time I try to make something like that it ends up looking like some poor shrivelled up grandmother of a ribbon that’s lost any semblance to roundness or poofiness and instead lies limply on the ground clamoring for an energy drink. Sigh. Martha Stewart, I am not.

    I think the only tradition we have is to make sure Daddy stays the hell out of the way, or else it’s NOT a pretty picture. *lol*

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  13. Avatar

    Oh those are good rules! Maybe we should probably get some blended family traditions. Right now the best we probably have is that my cousin encourages all the kids to call Pharaoh, “Fah-rah-Oh” during Passover.

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    I have a big family. Once I started having kids and working part time, my income was cut in 1/2 so no extra money for presents. I started making Christmas ornaments for everyone. The first year I made about 30. I’m now up to about 80 (family continues to grow and I’ve added frends and neighbors to my list. This was my 25th year – I made one with silver beads this year. Everyone looks forward to getting them and I have a great time making them. My challenge every year is that they have to cost less than $1.00.

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    I was looking for the instructions for the paper pinecone decoration. Could not find what I wanted on Pinterest so off to the internet. Your site came up first. I am very happy about that. You are a pistol. Love the instructions, humor and then your disclaimer (how you really love to make decorations with and/or for the family). Keep up the sharp tongue and crafting. Thank you for being out there.

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