DIY Christmas Tree Topper Ideas

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The crowning glory of any Christmas tree is the topper. In the old days, a tree topper didn't cost much more than an ordinary ornament, but that's not as true today. Now you can spend almost as much money on the topper as you paid for the tree.

If this seems -- well, a little wasteful, there are plenty of inexpensive do-it-yourself tree topper strategies that will save you money and maybe make a few happy memories along the way. Ask your mom (or grandmother) which ornament she looks forward to seeing year after year. Odds are it isn't the imported blown glass beauty. It's the flour dough, construction paper or papier-mâché ornament you made when you were small that embodies the real spirit of Christmas for her.

Kid Friendly Christmas Tree Toppers

Kid craft projects can be an effective way to keep children occupied during the long evenings and weekends before Christmas. You may already have your children making paper garlands, but they can put their creative energies to use making the tree topper, too.

  • One simple way to deck the top of the tree -- kid style -- is to use a four to six inch section of a wrapping paper roll as an anchoring ring. Invite your child to make a star (dove, angel or other iconic Christmas object) out of cardboard, a paper plate or heavy construction paper. Affix it to the ring with glue or staples. Slip the ring over the top of the tree and you're done. This is a fast, fun project even young kids will enjoy. To make the topper even more special, add glitter and ribbon.

Bedecked with Bows

You may have seen a tree decorating trend in recent years toward using wired ribbon instead of tinsel. Ribbon has some nice advantages:

  • You can use it year after year.
  • It makes a dramatic statement.
  • It fills in any bare spots created by sparse branches.
  • It can make the tree look fully outfitted, even if you don't have a lot of ornaments.

The idea is to create a large, full bow at the top of the tree and then have crimped and artistically draped ribbon cascading down the branches. This sounds hard, but it's actually pretty easy to accomplish. The nice thing about wired ribbon, which has tiny wires along both edges of the ribbon, is that it will hold its shape. It can also be reshaped and restyled very easily.

Rustic Christmas Tree Toppers

Although velvet, crystal, tinsel and lace look beautiful on a Christmas tree, so do raffia ribbons, burlap covered ornaments and other rustic touches. Embracing the "natural" look can make a number of unexpected topper options look charming on a tree. Here are a few:

  • A large birdseed crusted bell (You can find these at retailers that sell wild bird seed. Hollow out the center to install the bell on the top of your tree.)
  • A decorative birdhouse (You'll likely have to wire this one in place or drill a hole through the bottom.)
  • Raffia or burlap bows
  • Hand punched tin stars
  • Starbursts made of pinecones
  • Seeds, nuts and twigs glued to a foam cone

Letters and Monograms

Monogramming your Christmas tree may sound a bit unorthodox, but think about it a second. It's easy to find cardboard and even wooden letters (check the craft aisle of your local variety store). They're big, easy to wire to the top of the tree -- and to one another -- and they make an instant statement. Sure, you can use your initials, or N-O-E-L, but consider the other possibilities first: Think about all those texting terms you've been thumbing to friends and relatives around the country. Doesn't one seem like the perfect holiday sentiment to grace your fun and funky tree?

Simple Stars

In past decades, the classic Christmas tree topper was a simple star. You can make one out of just about anything. Here's a brief list:

  • Cardboard
  • Flour based dough
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tin and other decorative metals
  • Wood
  • Craft foam
  • Plastic
  • Fabric (think quilted fabric stuffed with batting)
  • Heavy Paper

There are lots of locations on the web where you can download star templates. If you have graphic design software, a set of templates for simple shapes may be part of the package you've never had occasion to use before.

Once you have as star form, you can embellish it with:

  • Glitter
  • Jewels
  • Buttons
  • Gold leaf
  • Scrapbooking paper or stamps
  • Ribbon

You can even buy short strings of battery operated Christmas lights to install in or around your star. The only thing left to do is wire your star to the tree, tape it in place or glue a gripper clip (or old style clothespin) to the base.

Last Updated: December 19, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like DiscoveryHealth.com, HowStuffWorks.com, Savvi.com and TLC.com.

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