Chirped by Tina and Cass
Christmas is right around the corner, and our chicks are in their final weeks of the semester at college. Last week we put together a 12 Days of Christmas Hanger Tree for each of them, to add a little holiday spirit to their dorm rooms. Since the accompanying decorations will be wrapped up with little treats, it’ll also make their countdown to winter break more festive and tasty! These three-tiered coat-hanger trees are compact, whimsical, and best of all, easy to assemble in an afternoon. Plus, you can adapt them for different decorative styles if your target audience prefers something a little more rustic, Victorian, or bedazzled. If you’re celebrating a different occasion, coat hangers are very malleable – we can imagine creating a menorah, a twisted Halloween tree, or maybe a birthday-countdown three-layered cake!
You Will Need…
- 3 thin wire coat hangers
- wire snipper
- needle nose or regular pliers
- yarn (two colors), about 20 feet each
- glue gun and glue sticks
- 12 miniature ornaments* (available at Walmart, Target, craft stores, etc…)
- ornament hooks
- tissue or wrapping paper
- small individually-wrapped candies or Christmas trinkets
- bold-tip paint markers or Sharpies
- 12 small jewelry-sized boxes or bags (optional)
- Command Strip for “no-excuses” hanging (optional)
- 6-10′ battery-powered mini light string (optional)
- larger box to fit it all (maybe a shirt box from a clothing or dry cleaning store?)
*Over-the-Top Tip: Instead of buying miniature ornaments, you can spend a bit more time and make your own! For my boys’ trees, I re-purposed old game pieces we’d made together from polymer clay by screwing in tiny hooks. In my opinion, anything with a hook can be an ornament! c(-;
Assembling the Wire Frame…
(This is a little hard to explain, so refer to the photos!)
Step 1 – Top Tier: Use the wire trimmer to remove the original hook from the first hanger. Next, shape a new, smaller hook with your hands or the pliers. About halfway across the bottom, bend the wire upward and over to form a new triangle. Adjust the angles on both sides to make it roughly symmetrical. This forms the top of your tree. Trim the free end about 2″ past the top of the triangle. Use pliers to twist the end one or two times around the neck of the small hook. Trim again close to the neck.
Step 2 – Middle Tier: Remove original hook and line up the next coat hanger about 3″ below the first (as shown) and bend to create a second, wider, middle tier for your tree. Trim the sides about an inch past the overlap with the top triangle. Use the pliers to bend the extra inch down and back to form two small “hooks”. These will allow the second tier to hang off the bottom of the tree’s top.
Step 3 – Bottom Tier: Repeat Step 2 for the last tier of your tree with the third coat hanger. Make it slightly wider than the second tier. Don’t sweat it if the end result is a little lop-sided. These are quirky trees! They’re not supposed to be perfect. And the tiers will stay in place much better once you’ve wrapped them with yarn. At this stage their “sproing-iness” and inability to stay together makes me feel a little spazzy! c(-;
Wrapping the Tree…
While your glue gun is heating up, roll your two yarn strands loosely into a single, center-pull ball. This can be achieved by wrapping the double strand around two fingers a bunch of times, with the short end tucked under your thumb, and then continuing to wrap it in different directions – without losing that short end! Once you’ve formed a ball, tuck the outside ends under a few strands to hold them in place. The added friction of working from the center will save you from the frustration of balls rolling off your lap and down the hall while you’re wrapping your tree!
To start wrapping, make two or three overhand knots in the double strand, one on top of the other. You want a fat “knob” to push the end of the wire hook into. Experiment to find the best cranny to insert the tip into, then dab that spot with hot glue (careful, it’s hot!!) to hold the yarn in place. Wrap the yarn along the length of the wire, keeping the two colors aligned so that they alternate as they cover it. After every inch or two, add a touch of hot glue to the wire and lay the yarn through it, to keep it from springing loose if you lose your grip. Don’t worry if your wrapping doesn’t completely cover the twisted wire section at the neck of the hook – you’ll get a second pass at that area once you’ve worked your way around the triangle. As you come back through the neck, use dabs of glue to ensure that the yarn covers any bare spots. End your wrapping back at the original knot, apply a dab of glue, lay your yarn through it, and trim. (Do the same with the ends of your knot, if you didn’t wind over them.)
Repeat the wrapping process with the other two sections of hanger. When you get to the end of each piece, use hot glue and wraps of yarn to simulate the knot on the other side. The tiers will now be able to hook onto each other securely, but no need to bend the hooks tight. Being able to disassemble the tree to save space is part of the attraction for this care package, dorm room decor!
Pro Tip – You may be able to twist the *wire* instead of wrapping the yarn on the long straightaways. See the video below, with Blog Dog photo bombing. Note: this was filmed before I learned to wind both strands into one ball!
Adding a Light String (Optional)
For a little extra sparkle, attach the battery pack of a short mini light string to the bottom tier of your tree, either by attaching ornament hooks to the back with packing tape or tying it on with yarn like a present. Position it like the “trunk” of your tree. Cass found a 10.9′ light string with a small black battery pack at Target that was perfect. You can let your recipients string the lights on the trees themselves, or do it for them. The trees can still accordion-fold down to a compact size, even with the lights attached.
Putting It All Together…
Attach a hook to each ornament and pair it with a piece (or two) of candy or some other holiday treat.** I have a large collection of small boxes that I used to package my kids’ goodies, but Cass just “free-wrapped” with tissue paper to create her gift packets.
Label each box/bag/parcel in paint marker or Sharpie with the numbers one through twelve, and stow the lot of them in a box with the hanger tree, a note from home, and maybe a command strip and an assembly diagram! Lol. I plan to give them to my boys at Thanksgiving, with instructions to open packet #1 on December 1st. Eat the candy, hang the ornament, repeat on Days 2 through 12! By December 12th, they’ll have fully-decorated trees to enjoy for a few days before they come home for their winter breaks. And they’ll enjoy it more than the mini cut trees I sent them their first year. They took up too much space and they had to water them! >Gasp!< My boy’s dry wit as a freshman: “Mom, did you send me a *pet*??” Come on now, really?!
The great thing about these little hanger trees is that you can totally put one together for your college student or fledgling’s new apartment this afternoon or this weekend! Pick up some ornaments before Thanksgiving, and maybe some little bags or cute boxes if you’re worried about the wrapping time. Heck, make a craft party of it like we did! You can all send the kids back with a little homemade holiday cheer to get them through to the next time you get to shower them with your love! ♥ ♥ ♥
** Before you wrap it all up, take a photo and share it on our Instagram page: TwoFlewOverTheEmptyNest with the hashtag: #TwoFlewOverTheEmptyNest and/or #12DaysOfXmasHangerTree for a chance to be featured in our next “Cheep Trills” post!
Happy Holidays! May your creative juices flow like eggnog and gravy! (-;
– Tina & Cass ♥
- A Remembrance Tree – Or What to Do with 855 Pieces of Costume Jewelry!
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- Halloween Care Package
- Flock Together: Prepping for the Big Easter Gathering!
- Painted Keepsake Eggs for Easter
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