Umgås goes DIY: Swedish Christmas OrnamentsNovember 30, 2017
Christmas is one of our favorite times of year here at Umgås. It’s a time when we can be festive, spend time with family and friends and drink all the glögg we want. It’s also a time when we start to decorate our Christmas trees, and for one of our Umgås-ers, her holiday tree is decked out with handmade ornaments from her family.
To add a little Swedish flare to her holiday tradition, we’ve put our hands to the test and challenged ourselves to make four Swedish Christmas ornaments: a tomte, Swedish stars, St. Lucia choir singers and a Dala horse. We’ve rated the ease of these DIYs on a scale of one to five Gävle goats – one goat being the easiest to tackle and five goats meaning this project is “going down in flames” – hard.
Swedish Stars (Three Gävle Goats)
These paper stars are impressive! We used this template to get started, but we didn’t get super fancy with cutouts. We also underestimated the amount of work involved. You may think to yourself, “Oh, paper and glue? We got this.” But once we got going, we knew this would be a labor of love.
What we used:
- Scrapbooking paper
- Glue sticks
- Bone folder, or another scoring tool
Take your template, and start tracing it on the paper you want your star to be crafted out of. We prepped all the individual pieces first – scoring and folding everything – so all we had to do at the end was assemble. This definitely helped us get into a groove. Once you have all the individual pieces cut out and folded, take two pieces, and glue them together to form a point. Repeat 6-7 more times (the star we made was a six-point star, but the template instructions were for seven-point stars). Once all of your points are crafted, all you have to do is tape and/or glue together to form your star.
Pro tip: If you’re using a thicker paper, you’ll definitely want to use a bone folder or another scoring tool (we didn’t have a real one on hand so we used the handle of a binder clip). By scoring the paper before you fold, you’ll prevent any unsightly breaking in your paper – especially if you plan on using a patterned paper.
St. Lucia Choir Singers (Three Gävle Goats)
If you can hot glue, you can make a St. Lucia Choir Singer ornament. This ornament had the most components, which is why we gave it three Gävle Goats, but with a little bit of patience, you can create an adorable ornament. These were our favorite ornaments of the day.
What we used:
- Natural wine corks
- Small wooden discs
- Wooden beads
- Wooden “hands”
- Yellow beads
- Metallic pipe cleaners
The first step is to paint the corks and the wooden discs white. These make up the body of your singer. While those dry, heat up that hot glue gun, and start assembling the candles by putting a dab of glue at the sharp end of the thumbtack and mounting the yellow bead on top. When your corks and discs are dry, glue the cork on top of the disc and glue the bead on top of the cork (make sure the bead opening is facing front – this is the singer’s mouth). You now have the main shape of the singer!
The rest is all about the details. Draw eyes on the singer’s head (we did little semi-arcs with eye lashes). Assemble the St. Lucia crowns using pipe cleaners – we found an assorted metallic pack with golden and silver, perfect for forming the crown and candles. Simply cut small pieces and twist the ends together to form a circle. Clip five shorter pieces and mold over the crown, sticking straight up, to form the candles.
Lastly, wrap a piece of ribbon around the back of the cork to the front. Glue on the hands and the thumbtack candle. Secure another loop of ribbon on the bag to act as your ornament’s hanger.
Dala Horses (One Gävle Goat)
This was by far the easiest ornament we took on. If you can replicate a drawing, then you have this in the bag! We opted to go free-hand, but you could easily trace the Dala horse shape and paint from there.
What we used:
- Round wooden discs
We primed the wooden discs with white paint, covering the front and edges with a few layers of paint. From there, we painted the horse with a few layers of red paint, and once that dried, we continued to add detailing.
When everything is dry, paint the back of the ornament white (we only used one coat). Glue a loop of ribbon to the back to act as the ornament’s hanger.
Pro tip: To get perfect dots, dip the back of your paintbrush into your paint instead of using the brush end. Use a practice sheet and play with different width brushes to create different-sized dots. You can also dip once, and do a few dots in a row – the dots will get smaller creating a really neat effect.
Tomte (Five Gävle Goats)
Talk about mischievous, we don’t want to see these tomtes again! Ask the giant hot gun glue welt on the tip of our finger! We thought making these guys would be so cute, and honestly, they ended up looking OK, but after two of these fellas – we were spent. Maybe if we had a pattern, this would have gone better.
What we used:
- Foam eggs
- Felt (red and green)
- Craft fur
We took the foam egg and a strip of red felt and began gluing the felt down (this took some time because we’d glue a side and hold it in place until the glue started to solidify). Once we wrapped the sides and folded the top and bottom down in place, we started crafting a cone out of a green felt. We glued the cone together, then glued it on top of the egg.
From there, we cut a beard shape from the craft fur and glued that down in place. For the finishing touch, we glued down the pom-pom nose and added a ribbon hanger to the back of the tomte.
Lessons learned: This is not one for the kids. Also, when you cut craft fur, it immediately starts shedding and falling apart. For the first tomte, we folded the cut-edge down and glued it into place. For the second tomte, we glued the beard down first – then glued down the cone hat. The first tomte turned out better, but it required a little more glue to keep it from shedding. If we had to do it over, we think we’d consider using a paper mache technique to adhere fabric directly to the foam body. That way, it’d be a little more seamless and less bulky.