Pioneer Christmas Workshop


Countree Garland

To make an updated version of an old-fashioned popcorn garland, you will need: scissors; thread; a needle; whole, fresh cranberries; colored miniature marshmallows; and popped popcorn.

  1. 1.

    Cut the thread double the length desired. Thread the needle, double the thread, and tie a large knot at the end.

  2. 2.

    Push the needle through a cranberry, a marshmallow, and a piece of popcorn. Gently push the objects to the end of the thread. Repeat the process until the thread is almost full. Snip the thread from the needle, then tie a large knot. Drape the garland around a tree, hang it over a doorway, or wrap it around a wreath.

“Rope” Friendship Bracelet

One of the skills some pioneer children learned was how to twist or braid rope. To learn this skill and make a friendship bracelet, you will need: scissors; 3 feet (.9 m) each of three different colors of embroidery floss, six strands each; tape; and a pencil (optional).

  1. 1.

    Lay the three lengths of floss on a table next to each other and tie them together in a knot at one end (see illustration). Ask your parents if it’s OK to put tape on the table, then secure the knotted end to the table with the tape.

  2. 2.

    Make sure all the strands of floss are smoothed out (see illustration). Twist all the strands together by rubbing the free ends between your thumb and first finger, always twisting in the same direction (see illustration). This is the quickest way, but if it’s too hard, you can tie the ends of the floss to a pencil and use it to twist the floss. Keep twisting the floss and gently pulling until the strands are so twisted that when you stop pulling, they try to twist into knots. The strands will look like a rope, but don’t let go or they will come apart.

  3. 3.

    While holding the ends with one hand, pinch the middle of the rope with your other hand. Keeping the strands pulled out tight, fold the rope in half. Then let go of the middle and let the rope twist itself together. If there are extra loops or bumps, gently stretch and smooth the rope.

  4. 4.

    Remove the tape and tie another knot that includes all the loose ends and the previous knot (see illustration). Your pioneer rope is now ready to use for a friendship bracelet. Experiment with other materials like yarn or string, or make a longer rope for a necklace or a belt.

Pioneer Pillowcase Doll

To make a pillowcase doll, you will need: an old white bath towel, string, a white pillowcase, an 11″ (28 cm) piece of gathered lace and/or fabric, and ribbon.

  1. 1.

    Fold the towel in half lengthwise and roll it into a body shape (see illustration). Use the string to tie off one end 3″ (8 cm) down from the folded top to form a head (see illustration).

  2. 2.

    Put the doll inside the pillowcase, center the top of the head in the seam at the end of the pillowcase, gather the pillowcase around the neck of the doll, and tie it with string (see illustration).

  3. 3.

    Arrange the piece of lace around the face of the doll, then tie a length of ribbon around the neck, making sure that the lace is tucked underneath the ribbon to hold it in place; then make a bow (see illustration).

  4. 4.

    To make the arms, gather each side at the top of the pillowcase and tie with string at the shoulders (see illustration). To make the hands, pinch the material at the corners and secure it with tied ribbon bows (see illustration).

It’s as easy as that. Your pioneer pillowcase doll is ready to cuddle and love. The face is usually left unpainted. Because there is no cutting, sewing, painting, or gluing, the doll can be easily turned back into a pillowcase. Or, if needed, it can be laundered and retied.

Tin Can Fun

The pioneers used pieces of punched metal to decorate their furniture. You can make a decorative punched container out of a tin can. It could be used to hold a candle, a potted plant, or pencils and pens. To make a punched container, you will need: an empty can with smooth sides, scissors, a piece of paper, a pencil, tape, a towel, a hammer, and a large nail.

  1. 1.

    Make sure that there are no sharp edges near the top of the can. Carefully remove the label (set aside), then clean the can.

  2. 2.

    Fill the can almost to the top with water, then freeze it. While the water is freezing, do step 3.

  3. 3.

    Using the label as a pattern, cut your piece of paper to the same size. Draw a simple design on the paper. When the water is frozen, remove the can from the freezer. Fit the paper around the can and tape it in place.

  4. 4.

    Fold a towel in half and put it on a hard surface that is OK with your parents to work on. Lay the can on its side on the towel.

  5. 5.

    With a hammer and a nail, punch holes in the can, following your design. Remember to leave some space between each hole.

  6. 6.

    When finished with the design, remove the pattern and the ice, turn the can upside down, and let it dry. Be careful—there may be some sharp edges inside the can from the punched holes.

[illustrations] Title art by Patric Gerber; illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki

[photos] Photos by Welden Andersen

[illustration] Tin can illustration by Mark Robison