I have difficulty thinking of gifts for some of my family, because they seem to have everything they want, and I am too removed from their lives to know what I could get them that they would actually need or like. So, I have taken to making them gifts. Its cost effective, fun to do, and shows the people I love how much I care about them more than buying something random. This year I made several of my family Christmas tree snow globes. They were super fun to make, so I wanted to share how I made them.
Saving on Supplies
I got practically all of the supplies for these at the Dollar Store around Christmas time. When doing crafts in general, I highly recommend checking a thrift store or Dollar Store before heading to a Hobby Lobby or Michaels, as it is far more cost effective. All and all, the materials for all 5 of these snow globes cost me about $10.
The jars are just old spaghetti sauce jars that I washed and removed the labels from with some goo-be-gone. Its a little tedious, but a hobby store will sell mason jars to you for $2-$3 each, which can stack up. I already buy spaghetti sauce, so saving the jars just makes sense.
Its a small touch, but on most of the jars, I wrapped the lids in cloth, to cover up the spaghetti sauce labels. I went to the thrift store on a sale day (a lot of thrift stores do half off sales every other week or every month or so, which can make already affordable prices even more affordable.) I found some Christmas themed dish cloths for $1 each. I bought 2, but only ended up using half of one of them. Way more cost effective than buying cloth from a hobby store.
Keep in mind that not everything that can be a crafting supply is going to be in the crafting section. When I had the idea to make snow globes, I decided I wanted to just sort of do my own thing. I knew I wanted to make little trees, and I assumed I would make them out of pipe cleaners. So when I went to the Dollar Store I loaded up on a bunch of green pipe cleaners. Then as I was wandering around, I came to the cleaning supplies section, and I saw a bunch of green dish cleaning pads. They were perfect for what I wanted to do. I bought 3 packs of 5 for $1 each. I ended up only using about a pad per tree, so I still have plenty left over.
Now lets get down to how I actually made these damn things. For each snow globe you will need:
1 jar to hold your tree. Any jar will do as long as it has an opening wide enough to fit your tree inside once you are done making it. Also make sure you have a lid for the jar to keep the snow in, and to adhere the tree to.
2 gold pipe cleaners for tinsel. Or any other color you desire. Colored string could work well too.
10 – 15 red bells for tree ornaments. I was disappointed to realize you cant hear the bells in the jars (seems obvious in hindsight). So something like beads, little wooden balls, or even red poof balls would be a good substitute. You could do a variety of fun colors instead of just red, but I do recommend making sure they are a different color than your tinsel.
1 red bow for a tree topper. My bows came premade, but you can make them yourself with a ribbon and a twist tie. Instead of bows, little stars or angels would be cute also for tree toppers if you find them.
1-2 green dish cleaning pads. These worked out great for my needs. If you are using a similar sized jar to mine, you’ll probably only need 1 pad.
About 1/4 cup of fake snow. Mine was just little foam balls, and I think I had about 1/2 cup each. I also put about a table spoon of silver glitter in each jar, but it sorta just fell to the bottom. You’ll probably want less snow than you think. I bought a smallish bag, and just divided it among the 5 globes, and I wish I hadn’t filled them up quite as much as I did. Even just the glitter by itself probably would have been fine.
About 1 square foot of Christmas themed cloth to cover the lid. Or just colored cloth. Or you could even just paint the lids. Make sure the cloth is thin, otherwise you won’t be able to close the jars afterwards.
Some thin scrap cardboard for the tree trunks. I just used old toilet paper rolls. But an old cereal box or snack box would work too, as long as one side is brown.
Additional tools you will need:
- Hot glue gun
- Heavy duty scissors (I used my normal crafting scissors to cut the dish pads, and it sorta ruined my scissors.)
- About an hour of spare time
Step 1. Make the branches
The dish washing pads I got were 4 in by 6 in and about 1/4 in thick. I cut the pad in half to make 2 3×4 squares.
One of the 3×4 squares I cut into 2 again, and then each of those halves into 4 strips. The other 3×4 square I cut into 3. And then one strip into 4 strips, and the other two into 5 strips. Make sure your longest strips can fit lengthwise into your jar. Its ok if its a little tiny bit of a squeeze as you can wiggle your tree inside, but make sure its not going to be too tight of a fit or you might have trouble once the tree is all decorated. I found with this size that I had no trouble fitting my trees in with just a little bit of wiggling.
Alternately you can take the pad and cut it lengthwise into one 2.5in by 6in strip, and one 1.5 in by 6in strip. Then you can cut those strips into your branches. Either way works, and I would experiment with what you want for your tree.
Take each strip and cut off the corners to round it out a little.
Then about every 1/8th inch (just guestimate, don’t waste time measuring it out), make a small 1/8th inch deep cut, so you get something like this below. If you accidentally cut one in half, don’t worry about it, you can use it for the top of the tree.
Then twist it around a bit to give it some volume. Don’t worry about making each one look perfect, your going to flatten them out a lot again (especially in the middle) when you get to gluing the tree together.
Do this for all of the branch pieces except for one of the smaller ones. This one, cut in half. Round out the corners of one of the halves so that it is a relative circle. Then make the 1/8th inch cuts around the circumference of the circle, and then ruffle them up a bit to give them volume. Take the over half and cut it into a relative triangle. These will be the top of your tree.
Step 2: Make the Tree
I forgot to take process pictures as I made the original trees, and I don’t feel like making a whole new one just to get pictures, so from here on out, you’ll have to use your imagination a bit more.
Now that you have a bunch of twisty branches, its time to stack them. Fire up your hot glue gun. I would like to note, that I felt like I wasted a lot of hot glue in this project, since I was trying to glue literal sponges together which absorbed the hot glue. There must be a better way to accomplish this, but I don’t know what it would be. Sewing them together might work? But you would need to do at least 2 passes to make sure the branches don’t rotate. Anyway, I used hot glue, and it worked just fine.
You’ll want to stack your branches across each other at 30 degree angles (Mine aren’t twisty, so that you can see the positioning easier). Start with the longest thickest ones at the bottom and work your way up through the thinner ones. Then later, to the shorter ones. Careful as you glue them because again, these are sponges, and the hot glue can seep through and burn your fingers. Stack until you feel your tree is tall enough. You may not end up using all of the smaller ones.
Once you have all your branches stacked, glue the circle piece to the top. Then glue the triangle on top of that, point up, so that your tree has a nice pointy top.
For the trunk of the tree, cut a strip of cardboard to the height you want your trunk, at least 1 inch high so your tree can rest comfortably in the jar. I did mine about 1.5 in tall, and you can’t even see them through the snow. Roll the cardboard strip into a tube between 1/2 in and 3/4 inch in diameter (If your cardboard has stuff on it on one side, put the stuff on the inside). Glue it to secure it. Cut a little piece of cardboard into a circle that is a little bigger than the size of your trunk, so that it can cover either end of the tube. Glue the circles to the trunk. (If your cardboard has stuff on it, have the stuff facing out, not in). Once you have your trunk, glue it to the bottom of your tree.
Step 3: Decorate the Tree
I suggest putting the tinsel on before the ornaments, because its easier to work the ornaments around the tinsel than the other way around, but either way works.
For the tinsel, bend the pipe cleaners to make little loops about every inch or so.
Then, take the two strands of pipe cleaners and attach them end to end to make one long strand of tinsel. You can twist them around each other, but what I did was I took small scrap pieces of the green pad and glued one end of the pipe cleaners to it. Then I glued a small scrap piece to one end, so that I had 2 little green pieces along the line of tinsel, one at one end, and one in the middle.
Twist the free end of the tinsel around the top point of the tree. Then twist the tinsel around the tree as you go down. If you glued a little piece of the green pad to the pipe cleaners, glue it to the tree once you have twisted it around to that part. Continue twisting it down and around until you reach the end. You can either secure it by twisting the free end around one of the bottom branches, or by gluing the little green pad part to the tree.
Now glue on the ornaments! Put them any old place, on the bottom of the branches.
For the final touch, attach your tree topper.
Step 4: The Jar
Take the lid of your jar and cut a piece of cloth that can completely wrap the lid, both sides. Make sure the cloth gets tucked into the crannies of the inner edges and isn’t stretched over them, because you’ll need to be able to put the lid back on the jar. If your cloth is too thick, you may need to just glue a circle on the interior, and a circle on the exterior. Glue down the cloth, I suggest with the edges on the inside.
Glue the base of the tree trunk to the center of the jar lid. Put your snow into the jar.
Lower your tree upside down into the jar. Secure the lid.