A Handcrafted Christmas

Photo WG2 smallHi!  Winnie Griggs here.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us (and I hope you all had a very warm and happy time remembering all that we have to be thankful for), my thoughts naturally turn to thoughts of putting up my Christmas decorations.  And I LOVE decorating my house for Christmas – I have closets full of things I’ve collected over the years and many of them have special memories attached to them.


But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.  It was thoughts of Christmas decorations that reminded me of some scenes from my recent release, A Family For Christmas.  The heroine of that book, Eve, had never had a proper Christmas tree or even Christmas decorations in the home she was brought up in.  So the hero decides to remedy that by going all out with decorating their place.   I had a scene where my characters were fashioning ornaments from ’found items’.  I had fun researching and imagining what they might create.

I had one scene where the hero and heroine were doing some scavenging in the woods for greenery, seed, pine cones, twigs – anything they thought they could use.  Meanwhile the young boy and grandmotherly lady who lived with them were finding items around the house like ribbon, paper, paints, toys and such.


Then, of course, there was the scene where they were actually crafting and thn hanging the decorations.

Here are some of the decorations I had them create:

  • Stars fashioned from twigs
  • Stars fashioned from tin
  • Bows made from ribbon and lace
  • Cornhusk angels
  • Paper chains
  • Paper doll chains
  • Painted wooden discs
  • Wreaths
  • Garland
  • Toys hung with yarn
  • Candles

It reminded me of when my own kids were little and they’d come home with paper angels or tinfoil stars or ribbons with bells glued on that they would eagerly hang on the tree – I still have many of those.

So what about you – did you ever make homemade ornaments to hang on your tree?  If so, what materials did you use.

Divider - gingerbread

And in honor of the holiday season, I’d like to give one of today’s commenters a copy of my book that featured these scenes – A Family For Christmas.

15 AFFC thumbnail


An Unexpected Gift 

Eve Pickering knows what it’s like to be judged for your past. So she’s not about to leave the orphaned boy she’s befriended alone in this unfamiliar Texas town. Since Chance Dawson’s offer of shelter is the only way to look after Leo, Eve is determined they’ll have a warm, welcoming home for the holidays.

Chance came from the big city to make it on his own despite a painful secret. But Eve’s strength is giving him a confidence he never expected—and a new direction for his dream. With a little Christmas blessing, he’ll dare to win her heart—and make their family one for a lifetime.

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

35 thoughts on “A Handcrafted Christmas”

  1. Hi Winnie. This is an interesting subject.The first years of my childhood we made all of our decorations. We made most out of paper. Stars, bells, bells, whatever we could think of. Would also make 2 copies, then fold and glue together at the folds, then having 4 sides sticking out. We would also make long ropes from popcorn and put around the tree. Later years I had different things like stocking, Bell, round ornament, that were cut and sewn from material, and felt. Little animals made by a sister from that cross stitch plastic. have used pieces of jewelry, like earrings and pins. pinecones, little wooden deer, and reindeer made out of clothes pins. Would love to win your book. Know I will love it. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  2. Hi Maxie. What precious memories! I hope some of those hand made ornaments survived to the present day so that you can continue to enjoy them and the memories they represent.

  3. I have a couple ornaments that my mother made when I was a little girl. She always painted ceramics. When us kids grew up, she gave each of us the little angel ornaments that had our names on them (along with other various items). But, my favorite item (from my earliest memories) is the ceramic Christmas tree. It’s white with marbles for the balls and holes behind each marble, so when it’s plugged in, each ball glows. I haven’t put it out the last few years and won’t again this year because I have very playful cats. I fear one might break it.

  4. What a great post! Christmas has gotten so commercial anymore. It would really be nice to keep things so simple. A reminder of what’s important and appreciate for the things you have.

  5. I’m what you call crafting impaired… my stuff would look like a two-year old had been turned loose!!!
    But when I vacation, I try to find something that I can use as a tree ornament… I’ve 3 bookmarks from Alaska, otter, moose and puffin…

  6. Hi Winnie!

    I’m afraid I’m not the best at craft, either. I have so many old, old ornaments, however, and though they aren’t expensive, they still are my favs.

  7. The first year that we were married we hung all of our Christmas cards on our tree. This year would not have many as fewer people send out cards. I guess I could print out the electronic greeting and hang those on the tree 😉 I have all kinds of handmade ornaments for my tree that includes one 65 years old that my aunt made for me. I also have a crocheted garland my mother made just before she passed away. Thinking about it I think I could do several trees with the handmade ornaments stored away. One would just be ornaments my children made. One would be counted cross stich and plastic canvas ornaments my mother made and another with the ones I have made and still another with ornaments made and given to me by others.

  8. Winnie, I would absolutely love A Family For Christmas. I can only imagine the delight involved when a hand made ornament was hung on a tree. The time, effort and love that went in to the making of each tree hung treasure…priceless! I have never made a tree ornament. II would be willing to say that after reading your book, I sure may want to give it a try.

  9. I have always had ornaments made by my children on the tree. We always strung popcorn and made colorful paper chains. its’ a tradition in our family.

  10. Hi Cathy – thanks for stopping by. Your name is in the drawing.

    Janine – Oh how wonderful that you have handmade ornaments from your mother and that tree sounds lovely. I’m sure you cherish them.

  11. Oh Sherri, your tree sounds wonderful. You’ll have to pot a picture when you get it up this year.

    Amyc, glad you enjoyed the post! And I agree that we could do with a little more simplicity in our lives

  12. CateS – LOL on the crafting-impaired, I can so relate! But that is a cool tradition and what great mementos from your travels. You can remember the fun whenever you look at yoiur tree!

    Hi Karen – as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that the things that are most precious to me are not the things that were expensive, but the things that have precious memories attached.

  13. Connie – what a clever idea to use Christmas cards as tree decorations! The first year we were married, and we’d been married barely a month, I bought 2 packages of inexpensive ornaments and one string of lights. We deliberately got a small tree but it still looked woefully under-decorated. I ended up adding bits of jewelry to it as well and lots of tinsel.

  14. I love Christmas. I hope to start decorating today. I am making homemade ornaments. I have some favorite decorations that have a lot of memories, Last year I decided to write out a list of the special memories so if something happens to me the family will know the significance of the special decorations or ornaments. I would love to read your book.

  15. Hi Melanie – glad you enjoyed the post. I remember making ornaments one year as a child. We used Styrofoam balls and covered them with ribbon, fabric, sequins and beads. We thought they were quite elegant looking though I’m sure they were actually quite gaudy . I’ll have to check with my mom to see if any of them survived…

  16. Hi Joye – Sounds like you have lovely traditions. I’ve always wondered about stringing popcorn – is it as easy to do as it sounds? Is there anything special you need to do to prepare the popcorn for stringing?

    anon101 – you’re welcome

  17. Great post, Winnie, and brought back fun memories. I’ve made braided Swedish heart-baskets for our tree, and years ago, a friend gave me a recipe for “gingerbread” ornaments. I remember using lots of white glue LOL. They smelled wonderful! I think there’s still one or two of them around. We’ve got two December birthdays coming up so will probably wait until after those to put up the tree. But I’ll get the rest up slowly, before then.

  18. About 40 years ago I purchased a kit of wooden ornaments to paint as a family project. I still hang them on my tree. My 47 year old daughter says painting them is one of her favorite childhood memories. I haven’t been able to find similar ones for my grandchildren.

  19. Hi Joan – what a special memory you gave your children! And I wish you lots of good luck in finding something similar for your grandchildren – I’m certain it will be worth the effort.

    Linda, those sound like wonderful memories!

  20. Fun post, Winnie. My younger sister and I made lots of colorful paper chains and strung popcorn to go on our tree when we were growing up. Had great fun decorating it. Last year I saw a tree decorated with old cowboy boots. It was the cutest thing. And they put cotton bolls all over it to look like snow.

    Congrats on the new release!! It sounds like the perfect holiday book. Wishing you lots of success.

  21. Linda’s comment about cotton bolls reminded me of the angels made from cotton bolls that our daughter gave us one year when she was living in Charleston, S.C. Another year she gave us angels made from sea shells when they were living in Hawaii. Wherever the Navy sent them she would find Christmas crafts made locally to share with us back home.

  22. During the 1960’s, our young family was in a strange town so my husband to continue his college. We were strapped for money, but we had a ton of small pinecones. (That’s another story). We made wreaths out of the pinecones, using fine wire to hold them together. Then sprayed them with either color paint or lacquer to keep the brown. Then put fake decorations and small ornaments on them and we sold them. That is how we made some money for Christmas presents.

  23. During the 1960’s our young family was living in a small town so my husband could finish college. We had a lot of small pinecones, (another story), so we made things out of them. Mostly wreaths. We used fine wire to tie them all together and then we sprayed them with color or gold or silver. Some we decorated with Christmas-y items. These we sold to make a bit of money for us to buy presents for ourselves.

  24. when I was a kid we did the ‘String popcorn and cranberries’ decorations. We also cut out paperdolls … the kind that all stood holding hands.

    And we cut out snowflakes by folding up paper and snipping out bits and then unfolding.

  25. I think we did all the things you mentioned. One of my favorites was cutting out paper stars and snowflakes. Now that we have our first grandchild (and more to follow), look forward to doing these crafts and making memories with them.

  26. As little ones, we made paper chains and strung popcorn on thread. By age 5, I was making pounded and punched things from coffee can lids. As an adult, I enjoy crocheting ornaments and would like to do some really creative things from felt and beads.

  27. Hi Mary – paper snowflake cut outs were something we did at our house as well. But we never did string popcorn – I feel like I missed out!

    Martha – What wonderful memory-making times you have planned for your grandchildren. I’m sure they will cherish those memories all through their lives.

    Lisa – my grandmother used to crochet small pretties for us. I wish I had learned how to do it myself.

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