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Extending Christmas: For the Birds

14 Jan

We had a real Christmas tree this year. We debated much about what was most “green,” and I read several accounts that said a real tree, when recycled after use, is still “greener” than artificial options. Something many people don’t consider is the amount of energy that goes into producing and transporting (usually overseas) artificial trees. Added to that, most people only keep artificial trees for 5-6 years (average), which means the used trees simply end in landfills. Christmas tree farms plant a new tree for the one you cut, and, natural trees can be recycled into mulch when you’re finished. Most of all, we simply love the experience of making a day, as a family, to go out and choose a tree on a farm.

This year, we found another way to extend the life of our tree. Jenna was very upset to see the tree go, but my allergies were flaring up, and we suspected the tree (mold? pine?). In an effort to compromise, I suggested that we set the tree outside the French doors on our patio. Then, inspiration hit, and I suggested that we decorate the tree for the birds with peanut butter and birdseed ornaments. Jenna was sold.

Here’s how our project went:

First, we tied dental floss (any string/yarn would work) through the holes in Saltine crackers to make a loop. (We also decorated one cardboard toilet paper tube that we poked a hole in for hanging. I preferred the crackers because the whole ornament was edible.)

Second, I pulsed chunky peanut butter in my food processor with a little sesame oil to make it thinner and easier to dip. Those lucky critters got some organic peanut butter (Yikes! $$) because that’s all I had on hand. We poured the peanut butter in a glass for dipping.

Next, we dipped the crackers. We pushed them down in with a spoon and sometimes scooped the peanut butter up over the crackers to cover completely. We laid them out on wax paper to wait for the next step.

Then, we dredged the peanut butter crackers through the birdseed. We pushed the seeds in, to make sure they were stuck more securely. This was an EXCELLENT sensory exercise for Jenna, who did NOT like the way the peanut butter and seeds felt on her hands. She wanted to get them done to hang on the tree, so she stuck with it.

The finished product waiting on wax paper.

Next, we strung popcorn on dental floss. This was good fine motor therapy for Jenna, but she didn’t do it long. My needle-phobic girl (too many bad blood work experiences) was too terrified of the threading needle. Especially after this happened to Mommy’s thumb:

Finally, we decorated the tree:

Ta-Da!!

Now, to sit back and wait for the birds to come.  ……..

By that evening, our guests arrived.

They didn’t have wings, but they were still fun to watch. Within a day, we had six at a time climbing all over the tree and trying to pull the popcorn strings out! Within three days, the tree was bare. That’s OK! We can do it all over again. Christmas can last as long as the tree does. Then we’ll recycle it to mulch.

Next year, we’re considering finding a tree at a nursery that we can decorate for a couple weeks and then move outside for planting.

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6 responses to “Extending Christmas: For the Birds

  1. tootsiefarklepants

    January 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    What a really cool idea!!!

     
  2. Barbara

    January 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Grreat idea!!!

    Was wondering if an embroidery needle might work as well – not as sharp, easier to thread. ?

    Dipping the crackers – superb! When I saw the cracker, I thought – I’d be smashing most of them just spreading the peanut butter.

     
  3. PrincessJenn

    January 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I love that idea of making bird feeders as a sensory activity! Totally going to try that with V.

     
  4. jennifer bowen

    January 16, 2012 at 1:03 am

    i recall doing that kind of stuff when i was a kid lots of fun to do if i had a tree by my home i think i would do the same with my little one.

     
  5. Amanda

    February 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Oh, I must try this with my girls. Our tree is sitting just outside our sliding glass door. The saltines, it’s just brilliant. Thank you!

     
  6. Joy

    November 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    what a great idea! We don’t get snow where we live but it is always a treat looking at pictures of those who do. love the pics!

     

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