Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Super-Easy Christmas Craft - Simple Paper Covered Tree

I used to be addicted to magazines.  I liked having reading material that was easy and fun, and showed up every month. I started in college with Glamour and Cosmo, then progressed to InStyle, Oprah and RealSimple. I think that's code for "I got old".

In recent years, I've been drawn to crafty magazines. But not Martha Stewart Living, for some reason.  It just doesn't inspire me.  I can't put my finger on exactly why. Maybe it's that her crafts and food are so time-consuming and scream "if you can't be perfect, why bother trying?". I don't need that kind of discouragement! 

I recently made an exception to my no-paper-subscriptions rule to buy a year's worth of Cards magazine, which is just LOVELY.  It's stunningly-photographed handmade cards, one per page.  It has a little bit of how-to content, but is mostly just a GREAT idea book. In addition, it's so inspiring and gorgeous that I'd love to get published there someday.  It's part of my Mondo Beyondo list.

Craft magazines are RIDICULOUSLY expensive when you buy single issues (if you can find them at all). I guess they have such small circulation, with a specialized audience that will pay. So I try not to indulge very often.

I picked up 'Paper Creations' last month because it had a really cool-looking paper Christmas tree on the front.  I had about 2 minutes to make my selection before Trillian started toddler-mauling all the nice magazines at Barnes and Noble.  So I grabbed it and we left.

It turns out the magazine is not really my style.  Lots of overly ornate cards and crafts, with a more vintagey, "busy" feel.  I'm more of a simple girl myself.  Also, the production quality isn't as nice as cards, but for $6 vs the $20 single issue price for Cards (!), I guess that's why.

All was not lost, though, because the Christmas crafts on the cover were neat-o and super-easy.  I loved the paper-covered tree on the front, and found a variation of it inside. 

So the next time we went to Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts (a regular occurence when they send me xx% off your total purchase coupons!), I bought the (minimal) supplies needed.

And a couple of weekends ago, I got my craft on, while BabyT played nearby, and occasionally came by to ask "What Mama Doing?"

I had originally wanted to make the tree on the cover, with the looped bits of paper, but realized that would be hard to store after Christmas without crushing the loops.  So I chose to make a tree that was covered in flat paper instead.

Materials and Methods
  • Styrofoam cone shape (these appear at Christmas time), about 12" tall, but any size could work
  • Cool Christmas or winter-themed patterned paper, preferably not cardstock but lighter weight
  • Quilting pins with pearlized ball ends (longer is better, I chose 1.5")
  • Sequins or little beads (optional)
  • 1.25-1.5-inch circle cutter or automagic die-cutting machine like the Silhouette

1.  Cut out a TON of circles with your circle cutter or die cutting machine, no bigger than 1.5" diameter.  Cut out a lot, then cut some more.  Nope, more than that.  I needed about 100 to cover my 1 foot tall "tree".

2.  Get into your zen mind.

3.  Start pinning paper circles to the Styrofoam tree shape.  Start at the bottom, and stick the pins in the middle of the circles. Overlap them slightly so that you cover the Styrofoam.  You may have a few gaps which you can fill in later, but should be able to get pretty good coverage if you overlap them by about 1/3. 

4. When you've gone around the bottom, start another row and overlap the bottom row to achieve full coverage.  Do this some more, and then some more, until you've covered up the whole thing.

5. Fill in any small styrofoam gaps by pinning large sequins or beads onto the "tree".

6.  That's it!  You're done!  Join hands and dance around your cool little tree.  Or not.  Just kidding.

Tips and Tricks
  • Plan the rough order of circles in advance.  I had only one piece of the evergreen tree photo paper, so I interspersed it with a shiny red pattern to look like "ornaments" and then had to finish with some white glitter paper at the top to look like "snow".  Of course, you don't have to make it look like a tree - people will get the idea anyway.

  • Lighter weight paper will curve around the tree better.  The glitter cardstock I used at the top is pretty but shows more creases and was less forgiving, especially when pinned at the narrow top of the cone.

  • Remember that you're working with paper - make sure your hands are clean and dry and that you don't handle or reposition each piece of paper more than absolutely necessary.  It'll start looking grungy pretty quickly otherwise.  But you can move circles around if you're careful.

  • If you have a die-cutter, use it.  Punching all those circles by hand was NOT putting me in the Xmas spirit, that's for sure.  But I needed to do it where I could keep an eye on T so the die cutter wasn't an option.  Learn from my mistake :)

  • Older kids would probably dig this craft.  Younger ones will probably poke their eyes out with the pins.  Be safe, yo.

  • The volume of a cone is 1/3 times the area of the base times the height.  You don't need to know it for this particular craft, but it might come in handy some other time.
Um, if you're out there in Internet land, could you leave me a comment?  I'm just curious if anyone is reading :)  Extra credit if you make your own tree.  Super-duper extra credit if you post a link to a photo of your tree.  Minus points if you spam me.  :)


  1. Super cute! I don't have a circle cutter so I won't be making one of these, but I love how yours turned out. (I meant to come over here and comment on some of the other posts, but then I forgot!) :)

  2. @Stephanie, thanks for the pity comment :) I used one of those simple circle punches you can get at any craft store, but it's a dangerous path to get on, once you start buying papercrafty supplies...

  3. Okay, I love that you included the volume tip. =) I really miss being around geeky science type people sometimes. The people I work with are nice, but don't get that sort of stuff.

    The tree is very cute. Not much chance of me making one, unfortunately. I have too much baking to do and blog. =)

  4. Thanks Di! Maybe the people you work with would like to discuss arithmetic rounding vs. banker's rounding? I just learned about it today, upon reading a book about Access databases :)

    The paper crafting is keeping me busy and preventing me from doing all the baking I'd love to do. Which is good because we're trying to be healthy. I may sneak in some vegan cupcakes, though...

  5. This tree is so nice. I generally avoid the non-card papercrafts but maybe I'll give a few a try next year. These things make great gifts. Thanks again for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I too love a good craft magazine for inspiration. There is something about the glossy images in my hand that I like better than looking at blogs!


I love comments, so please leave me your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

sharing is nice

Related Posts with Thumbnails