Irreverent Instructions for Making Bird Seed Ornaments
As a parent, I both love and loathe doing crafts with my children. I want them to make stuff. I just don’t have anywhere left to put the stuff they make, and my kids don’t want to get rid of anything, ever. This conundrum was solved with the Birdseed Ornament we made with our moms year after year.
Bonus: doing something for backyard wildlife is a nice way to introduce some kindness into a season filled with grabby hands and dreams of material objects. Plus, making something that hangs outdoors is an excellent way to keep your house from getting cluttered with one more holiday craft. Winning.
How to Make Birdseed Ornaments
1. Obtain an assortment of decent-sized pinecones.
Send your children into the wilds of your neighborhood and task them with finding pinecones. Any kind of pinecone will work, but the bigger the better. Sure, you can always buy pinecones, but we’re trying to teach kids something about not buying everything. The money you save by collecting your own pinecones can be spent on something more valuable, like secret Mama chocolate hidden on top of the fridge and only eaten when the kids aren’t looking.
While the beloved children are collecting the pinecones you can take a nap. Winning! Conversely, you could accompany the children on their quest and “help” them collect pinecones, but we all know this means Mama will collect all the pinecones while the beloved children throw pinecones at each other, find the only spot of mud in the neighborhood and roll in it, or collapse on the sidewalk in a heap while they insist that their legs are too tired to go any farther.
If you choose to give up and buy pinecones at this point, not only will I not judge you but I promise not to tell anyone, ever.
2. You will need birdseed.
Preferably the assorted kind that has both sunflower seeds and those teeny-tiny round seeds that will get stuck in the cracks of the floorboards and make rattley noises when you vacuum them out of the carpet, since If you have carpet, it’s a sure bet that birdseed will wind up in it. Birdseed is like glitter—it multiplies and sticks to everything. It’s also slightly less delightful than glitter but healthier for birds.
3. Also, peanut butter.
If you are wondering if birds can eat peanut butter, they can
. I googled it for you before I wrote this article, because it turns out a lot of things we did in the 1970s turned out to be not the best ideas
. I’m looking at you, Lawn Jarts.
I’d recommend buying a new jar for this. Or using your current jar for the craft and have a new jar handy for your personal peanut butter needs, because the seeds will get in the peanut butter no matter how loudly you yell about cleaning off the knife. If you are buying peanut butter just for birds, it can be either crunchy or creamy, but it’s probably better to get the organic, less additive-more-natural kind. We don’t want the birds pecking at your window looking for their next fix of high fructose corn syrup.
4. Some sort of containers.
Like maybe a shallow pan to pour birdseed into, and then dump on their sibling’s head.
5. Children. I assume you already have those.
Let’s be honest, they aren’t actually necessary or even helpful, but since they are roaming around the house anyway, you might as well put them to work.
6. Also, string, yarn, or maybe twist ties.
At some point you will hang these in the yard. If you have read this far and now can’t bear the idea of finding one more thing, just tuck the finished product amongst the branches or set them on a big rock or something. Hooky-type-things are not mandatory.
Hint: You would be wise to tie the string/yarn/twisty on the top of the pinecone before rolling it in peanut butter. If you somehow missed this step, see #6, above.
Step One: Apply the peanut butter to the pinecone. You can use a butter knife, spatula, spoon, whatever. You can also roll the pinecone in peanut butter. Let’s be honest, the kids are going to use their fingers anyway because they are kids and fingers are way more efficient than utensils at a certain age.
Step Two: Roll in birdseed. Or drizzle birdseed over the peanut-buttered pinecone. It’s your vision, I’m not going to boss you.
ThreeFour: I just realized that the helpful hint about the string was actually step one, so that means this is really step four, not three. Hang on a tree/bush outside.
Step Five: Spend the rest of the day cleaning up spilled birdseed and cursing this blog for even suggesting you tackle such a thing. Or blissfully watch the birds out the window while hugging your child in a Norman Rockwell moment. Up to you.
Note: It seems like probably a good idea to hang the birdseed ornaments out of reach of your toddlers, if you don’t want them to grab them off the tree and run around the yard with them.