Need some quick bling for your Christmas mantle? These ornament topiaries are quick to make and inexpensive relative to the impact they make!
I don’t know about your family, but in ours, there are 2 GUARANTEED debates that will occur every Thanksgiving and Christmas in my family.
Debate #1: When is the best time to buy and put up our Christmas tree (which then leads to decorating the rest of the house)? ? My logic (which is faultless, of course) is that its best to buy the tree as soon as they arrive on the lot and get them home and in water. Terry thinks its best to wait a bit to get a fresher one closer to Christmas! First of all, I think all the trees are cut around the same time, before Thanksgiving, so you won’t be getting a fresher one if you wait, you’ll just be getting one who hasn’t had the benefit of sitting in water for a couple of weeks. Luckily, I usually prevail in this debate.
Debate #2: What is the right way to count down your advent calendar? My kids and I believe the calendar should count down showing how many days are left until Christmas, but Terry thinks you start at #1 on the first day of December. In Terry’s defense, our advent calendar, which is a family treasure lovingly made by my mom, has the ’25’ at the top of the tree. Terry thinks that when you reach the top of the tree, it should be Christmas. I understand what he’s saying, but it’s a family joke/fun debate each year and each year the ornaments on the tree get re-arranged depending on the belief of the person placing the countdown ornaments.
So, I have a couple of weeks before I have to gird myself for these debates; but since I know I will ultimately win #1, in a short 2 weeks we will be putting up our tree and decorating our home for Christmas. I have even more quills in my quiver this year as Kate will be home from school for the Thanksgiving break and decorating for Christmas is one of her most favorite things and high on her list of things to do over her long weekend home.
To that end, I’ve been getting my Christmas planning in gear. For the most part, our favorite decorations make an appearance every year, but I do like to mix things up a little. Since forever, my Santa collection has adorned our mantle with greenery and lights. So this year, I was compelled to paint Santa’s portrait to hang over our mantle, which has prompted me to rethink that whole space. The wall above my mantel is tall, so Santa’s portrait is 4 feet tall. But I also needed something tall to flank Santa. I didn’t have anything on hand that would work, so…RATS…I had to create something!? (picture Snoopy doing his happy dance!)
I am lucky to have these 2 white milk glass urns that belonged to my Grandma. I remember her having pots of African violets and ivy growing in them. I figured I’d use them as a base for something tall.
I considered making a tall ornament tree by attaching smallish ornaments on a conical styrofoam base, but in the end, opted to make these topiaries for ease of assembly and because I thought they’d make more of a statement. I’ve got to be honest, I’m pretty tickled with them!
They were easy to make, relatively inexpensive and do exactly what I needed them to do!
Here’s What You Will Need to Make Ornament Topiaries:
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My topiaries are 27″ tall, from the bottom of the bottom ornament to the top of the top ornament. The supplies listed will make topiaries approximately that size.
Remove all the little hanger parts from your ornaments
Mark, to the best of your ability, the top of your ornament with a pencil or pen. I put the dowel in the bottom once I remove gold hanger part and bumped it on the top of the ornament from inside and then just felt where it was bumping and put my mark there.
If your ornament has a little nib where the gold hanger part went, I found it easier to clip those away with the wire cutters. Some just cut right off, while others I rather ‘nibbled away on’ with the wire cutters.
Once I got as much off with the wire cutters, I used my drill bit to ‘sand’ the rough edges down and make it as flush as possible to the ornament. I’m sure the Tool Gods are trembling with how I was using the drill, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. And it worked just fine and no tools were hurt during the filming.
Now comes the fun part…drilling the holes. I needed something to hold the ornaments while I drilled them. While walking to the garage pondering this dilemma I spied a pot of dirt that the sad remains of a begonia occupied. Here we go again…Crafting Kismet! It worked perfectly! Sand would probably work better, but I just wiped the dirt off when I was done with the drilling.
I used the smaller, 1/16″ drill bit first to make a ‘guide hole’ otherwise the larger bit wanted to move around before it caught hold. That worked perfectly for me. Once I drilled the smaller hole in each ornament, I followed up with the larger drill bit. I found that you want to go slow and not use too much pressure…just let the drill do the work slowly.
If the openings where the gold hanger was on each ornament needed to bigger, I just worked my bigger drill bit into each of those openings.
I practiced on some spare ornaments just to get the hang of what I needed to do, but I did not have one ornament crack! I was quite surprised.
You only need one hole for your top ornament
Once all the holes were drilled, I need to make my base pots. I used these cans which fit perfectly into my urns and filled them with plaster of Paris according to the directions on the package.
I let the plaster of Paris set up a bit before I put my dowel in. The package indicates that it has a working time of 6-10 minutes and sets firm in 1/2 an hour. While it was setting, I put a piece of duct tape over the top and marked the center of the can, once again to the best of my ability, by measuring the middle of a ruler placed over the can, at a couple of different angles. (Complete non sequitur alert! Did you know that Kirkland Brand, sold by Costco, will never have BPA in their can liners!? I used to can my own tomatoes to avoid that, but don’t feel the need ever since Costco came to the rescue!)
Once the plaster of Paris began setting up, I placed my dowel in and used my level on a couple of different sides to determine that it was straight. I checked every couple of minutes for about 20 minutes. I also placed the jar up against my cabinets…which I assume are perfectly straight and eye-checked them too.
I placed the ornaments in a couple of different configurations before I decided on this one. I did need to take about 4-5″ off of the top of each wood dowel after I placed all the ornaments on it.
My mantle is high, so I’m not worried about people looking in and seeing my can, but if I was I’d add some greenery or something around the base of the topiary.
So now I just need to figure out the rest of my mantle in the next couple of weeks! Have you started your Christmas planning?
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