Christmas is a magical time of year. Virginia makes Christmas merry with gifts, decorating, and entertaining.
A Fun Christmas Project
Who wouldn't love a Christmas tree made entirely of cuddly teddy bears? It was an annual tradition at the Butler County History Museum in my hometown. People looked forward to taking their children to see the unique tree each holiday season.
The creator shared with my mother the method for making this. It really isn't that difficult once you make the framework. Store that away to use each year. It does take a little time to attach the bears to the frame but the results are worth it.
If you already have a large collection of teddy bears, then you are ready to make a tree. A quick way to get enough teddies is to visit all the thrift stores nearby. The prices are usually quite reasonable and you will get 5 or 10 at each store. It takes more than 50 bears to fill the tree.
Who Created The Teddy Bear Tree?
Teresa and Lee Grange of El Dorado, Kansas made the unique tree and put it up each Christmas at the historical museum. She said she found most of her teddy bears at yard sales and some were gifts to her.
Two really special bears on the tree are named Bertha Beargartel and Dale Beargartel. These are the creations of her friend, doll collector and craftsperson Bertha Baumgartel of Howard, Kansas.
(photos courtesy of the Butler County Historical Society in El Dorado, Kansas)
Cost: $25 to several hundred dollars
1. Use a large wood circle for the base of the tree. The size depends on your desired end result. This is what you will attach the wood lathe to.
2. A smaller wood disk part way up stabilizes the tree. Use a very small one at the top. Look where her left hand is and you will see the smaller wood disk.
Above her right hand is the smallest disk. That gives you three disks to attach the lathe to.
If you have sufficient storage space, you can leave the framework for the tree assembled and store it whole. Put it in your garage or your attic or basement. That saves you a lot of time when next Christmas rolls around.
All you have to do, is dust it off and put it in place.
3. Attach wood strips or lathe to the base, the center and top. They painted these green but they won't be seen once the teddy bears are added.
4. Wrap chicken wire around the frame you've created. Attach this with a staple gun. Be sure to turn under the sharp ends or trim those off with wire snips.
5. Place the tree-shaped frame where you want (it's best not to try moving it once the bears are attached).
6. Tie the teddy bears to the chicken wire with sturdy twist ties then add a pretty ribbon around the neck (put that through the chicken wire also). Fill the whole tree with bears with the bigger ones at the bottom and smaller bears at the top.
This part is rather time consuming.
7. Put sprigs of evergreen between the bears to fill any gaps. At the museum, they used Kansas cedar boughs. You could use the parts of an old artificial tree or fresh greenery.
Notice how varied the teddy bears are. That adds to the charm of the tree. Here you see white teddy bears, brown ones and all sorts of sizes and expressions on the stuffed animals.
Supplies You'll Need for the Teddy Bear Tree
How Handy Are You?
If you feel you don't have the DIY skills to assemble the base for the teddy bears, find a friend to help you out. As the handy pal constructs the base from the lathe and chicken wire, keep an eye on the process. Maybe next year, you can put that together yourself.
If you have storage space for the base, like a garage, basement or attic, put it away fully-assembled. Next year, just pull it out and start attaching the bears.
Do You Have Lots of Teddy Bears?
Where Can You Display the Tree?
Besides having the tree in your own home, it would be a big hit in public places where more people can see it. How about in the public library or the local museum?
The one shown here was displayed a number of years at the Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado, Kansas.
Helene Malsio's Teddy Bear Tree
How She Made Her Teddy Bear Trees
I had a couple of spare smaller artificial trees, and I didn't do all sorts of wiring or chicken wire bases or any of the usual things that instruction guides tell you to do. I just stuck a couple of broken bricks in a bucket to stabilise the trees, then wrapped the buckets in festive paper.
Then... and I love that I thought of this .... all I did was use a ton of RUBBER BANDS, one around the neck of each bear and just slip the tip of the branch behind the head/neck of each bear.
Worked like a charm. It was flexible as needed but still creates a firm hold/grip, while being invisible at the neck of the bears. It meant the trees could take quite a bit of rough handling and moving around, and the bears stayed with it without dropping off hooks and stuff. There was no need to be untying ribbons and fiddly stuff if the tree concept is to give a group of kids a bear each; the rubber band just releases the bear and off it goes to its new home. Great flexibility, and makes it easy to move each bear around the tree until you have a nice even distribution of bears.
I put tiny ones on the top and graduated the sizes to the biggest ones at the bottom.
And then just picked a color theme of decorator balls and tinsel, with a star on top.
Here's Helene's Learn-How-to-Do-It Site
- Learn How To Do It Yourself With My DIY Guide
It is simple to learn how to do it yourself when you have a great self help guide showing you how! The DIY instructions and free self help downloads HERE will make sure you succeed in your project!
Another Tree Created by Helene Malmsio
Here's How to Decorate a Regular Christmas Tree with Teddy Bears
© 2013 Virginia Allain
Are You Ready to Make a Teddy Bear Tree? I bet you have some teddy bears already on hand.
Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on November 23, 2018:
That is so creative, lol, what a terrific idea and a great way to get use out of all those extra stuffed animals
sierradawn lm on December 27, 2013:
What a delightful idea! Thank you for your clear, user-friendly instructions. Beautiful lens!
PennyHowe on December 08, 2013:
Super idea. Should have kept my teddy bears. Thanks once again for an awesome and unique idea.
archetekt lm on December 08, 2013:
this is an interesting project and saves a tree.
Craftyammy on December 06, 2013:
This is great. I was just given a lot of very gently love Teddies. I have cleaned them, and if necessary, repaired some items. I have also removed all noses and things that little ones could get hurt with, and embroidered them on. Now I have enlisted the help of several service clubs and we are building these for the communities. Every little one should have a teddy. This tree should help us give out the 3000 teddies that we have collected. Thanks for a great way to make Christmas a Christmas for our kids.
RebeccaE on December 06, 2013:
oh lovely, and it is something almost anyone can follow. (even myself)
Rose Jones on December 05, 2013:
I love this so much! Wouldn't this be a lovely project for a boys and girl's club - and when it goes down the kids could take a bear off. Kids of all ages - including grownups love bears. Bookmarked. Another great lens - congrats on the LOTD.
Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on December 05, 2013:
I love teddy bears, so I LOVE this tree! I'd love to have one, but I don't have that many bears. :) Congratulations on LotD!
tonypaull on December 05, 2013:
Congratulations on lens of the day. As a teddy bear lover I intend to give this a try!
PriyabrataSingh on December 04, 2013:
Congratulations on Lens of the Day! Very unique and awesome concepts. I have been through so many types of Christmas trees but it is a wide idea mounting to the top. Thanks for this outlook.
MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose from Washington State on December 04, 2013:
What a cute and unique idea. Very lovely. Alas, I haven't enough teddy bears, yet the idea is one I will for sure pass along. Congratulations on LOTD.
Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on December 04, 2013:
This is so cute. What a great idea.
Ruthi on December 04, 2013:
What a beauty of a teddy bear tree! The directions seem so easy to follow. I won't be doing it this year but you can bet I will use this idea eventually! It would be great at a school classroom Christmas party and let each child pick a teddy bear off the tree to keep!
CrazyHomemaker on December 04, 2013:
This is so cute! Congrats on LOTD. I LOVE this idea!
Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on December 04, 2013:
Hi! This is one unique tree! Thanks for sharing it with us. - Ms. Charito from the Philippines
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on December 04, 2013:
I did have. Thrift shops aren't accepting stuffed animals as gifts anymore because of health regulations. I've got several in really good shape I don't know what to do with. They have hardly ever been used. Congrats on earning LOTD!
MobyD on December 04, 2013:
Congratulations on Lens of the Day! It's a very well done lens with good photos to help explain the process. I hope the lens gets lots of views this month.
jen17 lm on December 04, 2013:
What a great idea! I think I might try that!
Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on December 04, 2013:
Back again to say Congratulations on your Lens of the Day. This is a perfect project for this time of year, and a great lens. Thanks for sharing.
DecoratingEvents on December 04, 2013:
This Teddy Bear tree is adorable! Thanks for the idea and the how to!
Mickie Gee on December 04, 2013:
I do have some teddy bears, but not enough for a big tree. This would be a great project for the lobby of a Children's Hospital. Thank you so much for sharing.
The Satan Records from The Satan Records on December 04, 2013:
great lens and great project. Good to see so many Christmas lenses on this site, it helps you get into the spirit of Christmas :)
KarenCookieJar on December 04, 2013:
My aunt has a lot of snowmen, this would work great for those also!
kamuwela-pupuhi on December 04, 2013:
I have to share this article with my mom - great posting!
Thamisgith on December 04, 2013:
Great idea! Definitely a different spin on tradition - but it works!
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on December 04, 2013:
This is such a beautiful project! Thank you so much for sharing your prize-worthy Lens of the Day!
Mellithorpe on December 04, 2013:
Loved your lens. I collect teddy bears. I don't know why I never thought of this.
Ann Hinds from So Cal on December 04, 2013:
Super cute! I can see me hugging the whole tree. It's a very good idea and if I made a smaller one, I could give it as a gift to a very special child. Congrats on LOTD!
chrisilouwho on December 04, 2013:
Unique! Must be fun for the kiddies. Congrats!
Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on December 04, 2013:
Looks so adorable! I can see kid's eyes light up when they see it! Congrats on the Lens!
Eugene Samuel Monaco from Lakewood New York on December 04, 2013:
For sure a very unique idea, and beautiful when it's finished. Congratulations on LOTD.
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on December 04, 2013:
What a cute idea! Your instructions make it look so easy. Congratulations on your Lens of the Day award. Richly deserved!
Barbara Walton from France on December 03, 2013:
Just when you think they couldn't possibly come up with a new idea! I love your Teddy 'How To' lens.
Marie on December 03, 2013:
What a wonderful idea - a Christmas tree stuffed with teddy bears.
eiramarie on December 03, 2013:
Wow this is amazing...
rainykua on December 03, 2013:
I love teddy bears! My teddy bear would surely nag me to make one if he saw this. :P
AJ from North Carolina on December 03, 2013:
So cute! I like some of these ideas for having one at shelters and hospitals. The bears would then become the gifts, maybe.
Fay Favored from USA on December 03, 2013:
What a fun idea. Thanks for sharing it with us. Congratulations on your win.
tonyleather on December 03, 2013:
Not sure I think this is so great, with that framework and kids around, but I think the idea is quite good!
Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on December 03, 2013:
Congratulations Virginia! It's a wonderful idea to share!
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on December 03, 2013:
This is one of the best Christmas tree ideas I have even seen. Absolutely love it. Makes me want to create one for children at the women's shelter. Congrats on your win! So happy for you.
Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on December 02, 2013:
Cute. It would be great fun in a childrens' hospital at the holidays.
ChristyZ on November 27, 2013:
What a great idea, the tree is so cute!
Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on November 26, 2013:
I do have some already on hand, but I have more of the Beanie Baby Dogs....so I could make a dog tree. A fun idea and your lens looks great. Love the Christmas tree background.
Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on November 26, 2013:
I don't know if I can "bear" how completely adorable this teddy bear tree is! :) ha Excellent!
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on November 26, 2013:
I sure have enough Teddy Bears to create a tree so might have to try this. Great idea.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on November 26, 2013:
Aw Scarlettohairy took my line. That tree is adorable. I have plans for a very creative tree too but I'll share it online next year. I already have my Christmas tree up this year. Fa lalalalala la la la la...
Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on November 26, 2013:
That's beary cute!