Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor DIY: 3 Birdseed Ornaments

3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

When it comes to sharing DIY posts, we’re often asked to share crafts that are kid-friendly, but still with our usually creativity and style. Immediately, we thought of making traditional birdseed ornaments. But it wouldn’t be a Jojotastic DIY without putting a twist on them… and in typical fashion, I couldn’t stop with just one idea — I had to give you three! When it comes to DIY tutorials, I’m a big fan of anything that is multi-purpose and eco-friendly — and these birdseed ornaments hit ALL the right notes.

3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed

I love that this eco-friendly decor can be used indoors as decor during the holiday season and then transferred outside for the birdies afterward. They also make great “bonus” gifts. Generally speaking, I don’t like to give gift cards and cash, but there are some situations where they’re necessary and/or appropriate (teachers, babysitters, housekeepers, dog walkers, etc). Any of the ideas in this eco-friendly DIY would all make for a nice personalized touch in those situations.

First things first, we have to make the birdseed “shapes.” I’m usually not one to throw shade, but I tried MANY online versions of traditional birdseed shape recipes with very little luck. My kitchen counter quickly turned into a pile of half-formed, broken, brittle birdseed snowflakes and Christmas trees. It was truly painful and frustrating. BUT my pain is 100% your gain, because I came up with a foolproof method for creating the birdseed shapes (pinky-swear)!

3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

Basic Technique for Making Birdseed Ornaments

What you’ll need

  • ¼ cup water
  • Heaping ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup birdseed
  • Non-stick spray
  • Cookie Cutters

This recipe will fill about 3 average size cookie cutter shapes. You can double the recipe to make more, but the mixture dries, gets stickier, and becomes harder to work with the longer it sits. I found it was easier to just make multiple smaller batches vs. trying to rush and fill all the cookie cutters before the mixture got too dry. But if you’re speedy, go for it! Also, keep in mind if you’re doing this with kids, simple cookie cutter shapes will be easier to fill for them than some of the more complicated snowflake or star shapes.

Directions

Coat inside of cookie cutters with non-stick spray. Combine flour and birdseed in a medium-sized bowl. Warm the water and corn syrup in a small pot on the stove (it does not need to come to a boil). Once the mixture is warm, sprinkle gelatin over top. Mix until gelatin is completely dissolved. I heated and stirred mine until I saw bubbles just beginning to dance on the bottom of the pan, but didn’t bring the mixture to a full boil or simmer.

Next, add liquid mixture to the birdseed and flour and mix until completely combined. It will be pretty sticky and should not be runny. Using a spoon or small spatula, fill the cookie cutters with the birdseed mixture. Make sure to get enough of the mixture into all of the crevices. I used the back of the spoon to smooth everything out. If you want to use your hands, coat your fingers with the non-stick spray, otherwise, the mixture will stick to your hands.

This next step is where I differ from most of the other tutorials I found and it is CRITICAL:

While the mixture is still wet (I let mine set for less than 10 minutes, but you’d probably have up to 30 minutes) remove it from the cookie-cutter. Yes, it will still be wet and squishy, so be very careful and just work slowly. For simple shapes, the non-stick spray should allow you to pull the mold right off. For more complicated shapes (like the snowflake) use a straw, chopstick, pencil or similar tool to help press the mixture out of the mold. 

After removing seed mixture from the cookie-cutter use a straw or skewer to create a hole at the top of your shape. You can leave the shapes to dry on your counter, a baking sheet or piece of parchment, but I preferred transferring them to a baking rack so they could dry from all sides. Let them dry for 6-8 hours, or even better, overnight before moving onto the next step.

The beauty of this method is that if anything breaks while removing, you just form it back together while it’s still wet. When I left the mixture in the cookie cutter to dry and then tried to remove, about 90% of my shapes broke or had pieces that didn’t form/stick together properly. The shapes I made from this method looked better and were way sturdier. Plus, none of them broke or fell apart after drying!

Pro Tip: if you want to make more than a couple of these shapes, you don’t have to buy 10 cookie cutters all in the same shape (yep, I made that mistake too)! You can do a couple at a time, remove the mold, and refill. 

Now that you’ve got the shapes and basic technique down, let’s make the actual eco-friendly holiday decor pieces!

3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

Modern Scandinavian Birdseed Tassel Ornament

Materials

  • Wooden beads (I painted one of mine black, but you can do this with all plain wood beads, too)
  • Cotton string
  • Scotch Tape
  • Cardboard
  • Birdseed shape
3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

Directions

Cut a long piece of the cotton string, Fold it in half lining the 2 ends up, then tie a loop knot at the top where the string is folded in half. Tape both ends of your string (kinda like the end of a shoelace) so that it’s easier to thread through beads. Thread both ends of your string through all the beads you’re using at the top of your ornament. Loop the string into another knot to secure the beads in place. Wrap string around a small piece of cardboard about 20 times. This is what will form your tassel. Mine was about 2”, but feel free to adjust the size to your liking. 

Next, slide the string off of the cardboard and then cut one end of the loops. Take the two long pieces of string threaded through your beads and securely tie your bundle of small stings in the middle. Pull the bundle of strings together (similar to how they were positioned on the cardboard) keeping the two long ends you used to tie them together in the middle of the bundle. Cut another piece of string and tightly wrap it around the top of your tassel 2-3 times before tying a knot to secure the strands and create the tassel shape. Put a small dab of super glue on the knot to keep it in place. Once it’s dry, snip the ends of the string close to the knot. 

At this point, you can gather the tassel together and trim the ends with a scissors so all the strings are the same length. IMPORTANT! Do not trim the long pieces that were threaded through the beads and used to tie the tassels strands together. Use these 2 long ends hanging from the bottom of the tassel to tie the birdseed shape onto the ornament. If you can, position the knot in a way that the tassel can cover/ hide it. Done!

3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

Modern Scandinavian Birdseed Ornament Swag with Bell

Materials

  • 3-4” metal or plastic hoop (I upcycled mine from a very ugly decoration I found on clearance, but you can find similar ones here)
  • Chunky bakers twine string
  • Wooden beads (I spray painted some accent beads black)
  • Hot glue
  • Ribbon
  • Super Glue
  • Scotch Tape
  • 3 Birdseed Shapes (2 if using bell)
  • Bell (Optional)
3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

Directions

Secure end of bakers twine to metal hoop with hot glue and then wrap the whole hoop with the twine. Secure the other end with hot glue when finished. Cut 3 lengths of bakers twine to 7”, 8.5”, and 12”. These will be for the pieces that hang from the bottom of the hoop. Put scotch tape on one end of each piece of string to make it firm (like the ends of a shoelace). Thread one end of the string through the 2 beads and then through the hole on the birdseed shape. 

Put a dab of super glue into the hole of the bottom bead. Loop the end of the string back through the bottom of the bead. The scotch tape end should be fully inserted into the bead, but not sticking out the other end. Using the long end of the string (not the cut end inserted into the bead) adjust the length, pushing the beads and birdseed shape together.

Repeat steps for the additional birdseed shapes and/or bell if using. Place the hoop on your table and then line all three of your hanging shapes up underneath; adjusting the length/ positioning to your liking.

Once you’re satisfied with the placement of the 3 shapes, secure them to the hoop: put a dab of hot glue on the bottom and backside of the hoop. Working one at a time, stick the end of the string to the bottom of the hoop, then pull it over the top (securing to the bottom and backside as you go) and through the hoop to hang down the front side of the hoop. You can also use more glue under the string on the front side to make it more secure if you like. 

Tie a scrap of ribbon in a knot and then glue it to the front side of the hoop to cover where the strings are attached. Done!

3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

Modern Scandinavian Birdseed Ornament Garland

Materials

  • Wooden beads (I spray painted some accent beads black)
  • Cotton string
  • Cardboard
  • Super glue
  • 3 Birdseed shapes
3 Ways to Make Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor with Birdseed. Kid-friendly craft tutorial. DIY birdseed ornament, garland, and swag. #DIY #crafts #kidscrafts #birdseed #birdseedornament #ornament #ornamentDIY #garland #swag #holidays #christmas #ecofriendly #sustainability

Directions

Make the birdseed shape hangers:

Cut 3 pieces of string about 6-8” long. Scotch tape the ends so they’re firm like the ends of a shoelace. Take one piece of string, fold it in half, line up the ends and tie a loop knot on the opposite end. Thread both ends of the string through a wooden bead, loop ends into a knot under the bead to secure.

Thread one end through the hole of the birdseed shape and then tie the ends together securing it to the birdseed shape. If you position the bead in front of the hole and tie the knot at the top, once you trim your ends, you’ll be able to spin the knot around and hide it inside the hole of the birdseed shape. Repeat steps for other 2 birdseed shapes.

Make the garland:

Cut a long length of string that will be used to string the beads for the garland. Wrap string around the cardboard about 20 times to make the tassel (this is the same process used to make the ornament above). Slide the string off, cut one set of ends and then tie them together in the middle with the long piece of string you’ll use to make the garland. 

Cut another piece of string, fold the tassels strings together, and then wrap the string around the top to create the tassel shape finishing by securing with a knot. Dab the knot with superglue, then trim ends of knot when dry. Pull the ends of the tassel tightly together and then trim to the same length with a scissors.

String the beads and shapes onto the sting in this order:

  • 12 wood beads
  • 1 black bead
  • 6 wood beads
  • Birdseed shape
  • 6 wood beads
  • Black bead
  • 6 wood beads
  • Birdseed shape
  • 6 wood beads
  • Black bead
  • 6 wood beads
  • Birdseed shape
  • 6 wood beads
  • 1 black bead
  • 12 wood beads

Repeat previous steps to create tassel at the other end of the now strung garland. DONE!

There you have it: 3 ways to upgrade birdseed ornaments into eco-friendly holiday decor. The ornament would make an adorable gift topper, and the garland or mini swag could be incorporated into your outdoor decor right now (hey, birds like holiday treats, too). We hope you enjoy this kid-friendly craft, too.

Photography, styling, & recipes by Sarah Ehlinger for Jojotastic.