Outdoor Christmas Tree for the Animals
We loved decorating this outdoor ‘edible’ Christmas tree for our bird and animal friends!
If you haven’t already read it, Eve Bunting’s The Night Tree is a magical story about a Christmas Tree for the birds and animals. We read it last year so when I set up one of our artificial trees outside, it seemed fitting that we would decorate it with edible munchies for all our wildlife friends! I set up everything at the kitchen table and the kids moved through making ornaments and garland however they liked. I also happened to have one child home awaiting results of a Covid test (negative, hurray!) so she was able to help a bit during the day!
Materials for our Bird Tree
- Bird seed
- Floral wire
Cranberry and Cheerio Garland
Louisa started right in on this and used a needle/ nylon thread to string a good old fashioned cranberry garland. She added cheerios between the cranberries for a fun pattern. Note: obviously the cheerios won’t hold up great in inclement weather so use them accordingly! Tip: use a longer upholstery needle for faster garland assembly
Dried Orange Slices
I can’t believe I’d never done these because they’re ALL over the interwebs. They don’t really match my interior decor, but they’re PERFECT for our outdoor bird tree. I sliced the oranges into even widths; I’d say mine were maybe 1/4 inch? They shrivel up when you cook them a bit so you don’t want to go *too* skinny. Obviously make sure you slice them with the ends facing front/ back to get that classic ‘orange’ appearance.
I placed my slices on parchment paper/ silicon baking mat and cooked them pretty much all day. Someone suggested raising them up a bit on oven proof drying racks to speed up the process. I saw some recipes online to bake them at 250 degrees so that’s could have sped things up also. Regardless… I don’t know that there’s any way to really screw up this step unless you forget about them and they burn so… check periodically and cook until they seem firm!
Once the slices were dried out and cooled down, I wove a bunch of them onto twine with an embroidery needle to use as a garland. I simple wove through each orange slice on either side of the peel and they look great.
I also strung up a bunch of slices with a ribbon (and cranberry/ cheerio adornment) to use as single ornaments.
Bird Seed Ornaments
If you look up bird seed ornaments on Pinterest there are tons of them in adorable shapes and sizes using cookie cutters. When I Iooked through our cookie cutter stash, I found four that would have worked which seemed potentially time consuming… I ended up using muffin tins and it was SO simple. I mixed 4 envelopes gelatin (the entire contents of the box) with 1 cup water and heated until the powder had dissolved. I mixed in 4 cups of bird seed and stirred until it was coated with gelatin.
I sprayed the muffin tins with cooking spray and pressed about 1/4 cup of the bird seed mixture. It’s sticky so you may need to spray the back of the spoon or your fingers before pressing the bird seed to compact it into the muffin tins. I used a skewer to make a small hole in each one before the gelatin cooled down.
Once the bird seed has cooled, the ornaments should pop right out of each muffin tin. Use a butter knife to gently pry them loose if needed. I strung ribbon through each one for hanging.
Star for the top of the Tree
The only thing our tree was missing was the star on top! Louisa and I looked in the woods for five twigs that were all about the same size and the same length. Ours were about the same width as a pencil and maybe 18-inches long. To turn the twigs into the star, I arranged them like a regular five point star and then alternated each twig so that the star ultimately held together on its own. To secure it, I wove green yard around every intersection point and tied it tight.
We just set up the tree so I’m excited to see how the nighttime critters like it. We definitely have birds and deer so I’m hoping the deer don’t pull the tree over and the birds find their way to the branches of goodies! The kids have a great time making ornaments after school and have done a pretty good job keeping the tree stocked. I plan to have the ingredients on hand so, if the animals enjoy it, we can keep it decorated all season!
I’m sure there are lots of other fun edible ornaments so if you have any family favorites, leave me a comment so we can try it!