One of my least favorite things about holiday travel is having to take the car seats with us when we fly. Hauling them through the airport is the pits, but reinstalling them on the other side is, I think, best described by Dante in his little-known account of the tenth ring of Hell, in which a smug parent is doomed for eternity to fruitlessly search for the LATCH clip in the cramped backseat of a four-door sedan while contorted such that her spleen is now touching the backs of her front teeth. And it’s snowing outside and her butt is getting cold.
I think we can all agree that the physical installation of car seats is terrible all around, but perhaps the worst part for me was that even when it was all over and done with, I was always left with the sinking feeling that I might not have done it correctly. Did I manage to somehow attach the seat to the car using some clips and straps? Sure. But did I use the correct clips and straps, and did I use them in the right way? Who knows. And here the not knowing was even worse than the doing.
Cue the experts, who not only perform the physical labor of car seat installation with smiles on their faces and at no cost to you but who also recently showed me how to do it all myself, so now I can clip my kids into cars with confidence and know I’ve done my very best to keep them safe.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! ‘Tis the season to roll yourself in glitter, slap a paper star to your forehead, and adopt as your official motto the phrase “All Your Crafts Are Belong to Us.” Work has made me insane in the membrane, so this year I’m not thinking too far outside the box and am instead revisiting craft posts from the past, all of which emphasize getting your gluestick groove on in cheap and easy ways. The TP Tube Turkeys and Borax Crystal Snowflakes are not to be missed, but there are some other gems in there too. (The Starlight Peppermint Cups are pretty awesome, IMO.)
Have fun, pin away, and let me know which are your favorites!
Fall and Thanksgiving
TP Tube Turkeys *crowd favorite!*
Thankfulness Turkey Basket (There’s a surprise on the feathers.)
Winter and Christmas
Borax Crystal Snowflakes *crowd favorite!*
DIY Snowglobe Magnets *crowd favorite!*
These are great, aren’t they?
Now let me show you how to make them for $3.
This post was originally published in December 2012.
Here’s my definition of the perfect craft: quick, easy, inexpensive, endlessly customizable, and goooooood-lookin’. When I came across these simple and modern felt trees (Christmas or otherwise) in the LAnd of Nod catalog (in 2012), I knew I had to at least try to make them. To tell the truth, sometimes my “inspired by something I saw in a catalog” DIY crafts are epic failures, but this one? This one was even easier than I thought it would be, which is why it’s genius for busy families, even ones who think they don’t have crafting skills.
Putting the tree together takes almost no time at all, but there is a fair amount of prep, which makes this a good project to start while kicking back with a cup of tea (or hot toddy) and watching a holiday movie you’ve seen three dozen times. (It doesn’t get better than Love, Actually, yeah?)
What you’ll need:
–papier mache cone
–sheets of felt
–small circle for tracing (I used the rim of a shot glass)
–pen for tracing
–hot glue gun or craft glue
The inspiration models had soft, rounded bottoms, were sewn and stuffed, and would be way too much work to replicate exactly, which is why we’re making some working-mom adjustments, starting with the tree form. I found three sizes of papier mache cones at the craft store, and they were just the thing. They’re inexpensive ($2 to $6), easy to work with, and they stack away when the holidays are over. If you can’t find paper cones, I bet styrofoam would work too.
The cones are 7″, 10.63″, and 13.75″ tall. Here’s my almost-four-year-old holding the medium-sized ones, for scale:
I loved the muted colors of the original trees, but I happened to have a giant sheet of bright green felt already, so that’s what I used for my first attempt. I bought some red felt (the cheap kind that comes in 9″x12″ sheets for $.29) to balance out my collection.
I traced circles onto the felt using a shot glass and a really inky pen (but one that didn’t bleed through the felt to the other side). Each circle measures just under 2″ across; I made them all the same size so I wouldn’t have to do any math. If you have an ink pad, I bet you could even stamp out the circles, which would speed things up even more. (If you’re doing trees in several sizes, it would probably look great to do smaller circles for the smaller trees, and larger for larger, but you certainly don’t have to.)
(You also don’t have to cut your own circles at all, since Etsy sells them in big batches.
The number of circles you need will depend on the size of your tree and how close together you glue your circles. For the medium-sized tree in these photos, I needed 47 circles; for the smaller red tree I used 27. I traced and cut out the circles not while drinking tea and watching a favorite holiday flick but while bouncing my baby in his carrier. So it goes.
Now comes the fun part! Glue the circles onto your cone in rows starting at the bottom. Let this bottom row overlap the base of the cone so you can either flare the ends out onto your table or tuck and glue them under for a finished edge. I worked around the cone from left to right in rows (rather than in a continuous spiral, if that makes sense; basically, go all the way around the bottom, then start a new row above that). You can tuck the edge of the last circle in each row under the first circle from that row for a seamless look.
I used hot glue because it dries almost instantly and makes the process go faster. The only things you need to be careful about with hot glue are (a) not using too much or letting it get too hot that it melts the felt and (b) not gluing your fingers together (ouch). Craft glue (even Elmer’s) is the other option, although you risk the circles sliding around before the glue dries. I’d definitely use craft glue if I were doing this with kids, for obvious reasons.
And there’s not much to it other than that! I glued the circles onto the medium tree in about 15 minutes, which was great because I wanted to make a whole forest of these for my dining room table. (I have small children and naughty cats, so my decorations need to be unbreakable.) If you want to get really fancy, and if you have access to a wide range of felt colors, you could pick shades that would let you do a cool ombre pattern from tip to base. If you have wacky kids who love to make wacky crafts, you could cut out circles in all kinds of crazy colors (do they make neon felt?) and create multicolored trees. I’ve even seen felt stamped with patterns like waves or snakeskin. If you’re into glitz, mist your finished trees with a bit of spray glitter, or glue on something shiny like beads, sequins, or ribbon. Instead of cutting circles, you could cut triangles for a pointy tree. Hey, how about using those zig-zag fabric scissors? Or making these in fall colors for Thanksgiving? So many options. So much fun. Let me know what you come up with!
If you like this, you might also like my other winter/holiday/Christmas crafts. Click for the list!