Browse Christmas Lights for more articles like this.

HOW TO: Make holiday ornaments the Scandinavian way

Start a family tradition of making these simple Scandinavian crafts to decorate Christmas trees and gifts. Staff photos by Jennifer Greenwell

The idea of an indoor Christmas tree began in Germany around 1605 when a family brought an evergreen into their home and decorated it with handmade paper roses, candles, nuts, and fruits. The idea quickly caught on, becoming popular across the country. Centuries later, German immigrants in America continued the tradition, which many at first thought strange but soon grew to love.

In the late 1800s, as immigration from other countries increased, different cultures began to create their own homemade ornaments, making holiday trees a melting pot of traditions.

In looking for handmade ornaments the whole family can enjoy making, The Picayune Magazine editors came across two Scandinavian specialities: a heart-shaped basket (instructions online) and a Christmas star.

The basket, which became popular around 1860, is believed by some to be the creation of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote “The Little Mermaid,” “The Little Match Girl,” “Ugly Duckling,” “The Princess and the Pea,” and many more classic tales. The Christmas heart, or Julehjerter (yul-e-yet-eh), is usually made of red (symbolizing love) and white (peace) felt or paper. The baskets are often filled with treats before being hung on the tree.

The Christmas star, or Julestjerner (yul-est-jah-na), is made of contrasting fabrics or paper strips. Fun fact: In the 1900s, woven heart baskets and Christmas stars were part of the curriculum for Danish school children to improve fine motor skills and get creative juices flowing.

Christmas heart baskets and Christmas star ornaments are easy to make and fun for all ages. They can be used in festive garlands or as additions to a wreath. Here’s what you need to know to make your own.

Scandinavian Christmas Star

  • Four 10½-inch-by-3-inch strips of contrasting fabrics or paper
  • Iron (for fabric)
  • About 8 inches of ribbon for hanging if desired

Creating a Scandinavian Christmas star takes a lot of steps, but don’t be discouraged. The steps are repetitive and become easier to understand once you get the hang of it.

Fold the strips in half lengthwise to determine the middle of each, then fold the raw fabric edges in toward the mid-line. Iron the folds.

Fold each fabric strip in half, then adjust the fold so one side is 2 inches longer than the other. Form a square with the folded strips, longer sides on bottom. The folded edge will be at the bottom on the left side and the others should be placed likewise. Let the weaving begin.

Start with the left strip. Thread it through the bend of the top strip. Thread the top strip through the bend of the right strip. Thread the right strip through the bend of the bottom strip. Thread the bottom strip through the bend of the left strip.

Bring the pieces together and snug them up. Flip it over. Start on the left, fold the long piece over, laying it flat. Do the same, in order, to the other strips. The last strip tucks under the first strip.

At this point, all strips should be the same length. If they are not, adjust them so they are the same length.

Take one strip and fold it over and out. Flip over the work and fold down the strip, forming a wide triangle. Fold the wide triangle upon itself and tuck in the raw end of the strip. Flip over the work. Repeat the steps until all eight points are made. Once done, thread ribbon through a strip on the back for hanging.

Scandinavian Christmas Heart Basket

  • 2 sheets of felt or paper in contrasting colors if desired
  • Scissors
  • Pen for marking felt or paper
  • Glass or cup to trace around
  • About 8 inches of ribbon and a hole punch, if hanging

Fold both sheets in half. Place the cup at the open edge and trace halfway around the mouth of the cup forming a semi-circle, draw lines from the ends of the semi-circle down to the folded edge. Draw two or three lines from the folded edge to the bottom of the semi-circle. You should have something that resembles the palm of a hand and fingers.

Keep the sheet folded and cut along the lines. Repeat the steps for the second sheet.

Take the two pieces, keeping them folded, and place them one on top of the other in a heart shape. Now, you are ready to weave.

Thread the first finger of the bottom piece through the first finger of the top piece. Thread the second finger of the top piece through the first finger of the bottom piece. Thread the first finger of the bottom piece through the third finger of the top piece. Continue the pattern until all fingers have been woven.

Move on to the second finger of the bottom piece, doing the opposite of what was done for the first finger. Repeat the pattern until all fingers are woven. Snug up and adjust the fingers as needed.

You should be able to open the basket. If desired, punch holes through the top of the heart, string the ribbon through, and tie the ends for hanging.

Find more articles like this in Christmas Lights

Leave a reply