A version of this story was published in Dec ’19 by Katie Easton.
Need a new holiday craft idea? Now’s the perfect time to carry on or create traditions with your family. When our first daughter was born in 2013, a friend shared on Facebook a tree skirt that had her children’s handprints on it. I instantly loved the idea, so I got a little crafty and made my own handprint Christmas tree skirt for my family. The first Christmas we had this, my husband and I put our own handprints in the center. Then we added our daughter’s handprint along with our dog’s paw print!
Each Christmas, as we set up the tree and hang all of the ornaments, the final touch is adding our handprint tree skirt underneath. I love stepping back and looking at this wonderful life we have created together as a family.
Every single ornament on the tree tells a story – the year we got married, three different “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornaments, a trip to the Rose Bowl to watch the Iowa Hawkeyes, our first home – plus so many more special moments!
We remember and reflect upon these memories each year just by looking at the ornaments. Underneath it all is our handprint tree skirt that reminds us how much our family has grown year after year. Here’s how you can make your own!
- Solid color tree skirt
- Paint and paintbrushes
- Your children’s cooperation
- A little bit of patience
How to make your own traditional handprint tree skirt:
- Start with a solid color tree skirt so the handprints will easily show up. I sewed this one out of felt and added cotton ruffles around it. I added a layer of batting and fabric underneath to make it more durable. There are also tree skirt kits at craft stores such as Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. They are typically all white if you don’t want to make your own tree skirt from scratch.
- Carefully paint your child’s hand and place it on the tree skirt.
- Add their name and year by the new handprint.
- Cry into your cup of hot cocoa while looking at the growing handprints and wondering where all of the years have gone.
- Repeat every year at Christmas.
Now that we’ve been doing this for a few years, I’ve definitely learned a few tricks along the way!
It can be kind of nerve-wracking using paint because there’s little room for error. For starters, wait until your baby or young toddler is really sound asleep. Babies and toddlers tend to clench their fists until they are completely asleep. If you wait until they’re soundly snoozing, their hands will be more relaxed. Then you will be able to get the best solid handprint. I patiently waited for this moment when my kids were babies and I was able to successfully get their handprints without ever waking them up.
Also, don’t worry if the handprint isn’t a perfect solid print the first time! As long as you have a good outline of the handprint, you can fill it in with more paint later. I’ve found that’s easier to do than trying to repaint a hand and get it lined up again.
Now that our kids are a little bit older, they all look forward to getting their hand painted each year! They giggle with delight as their hand gets loaded up with paint. Then, with my guidance on where to place their hand, they happily add a fresh handprint to the collection. I also help them hold it still so they don’t cause any smears from wiggly fingers!
When people look at Christmas trees, most just see the pretty lights or the presents below. But I look at ours and I see so much more.
There are the stories we share year after year as we set up the tree. The ornaments we hang remind us of special people and occasions from the past. Plus there’s always the anticipation of when we think about the future and what the next year will look like with their growing hands added to the handprint Christmas tree skirt!
I haven’t quite figured out yet how to make time slow down but at least I have a special way to show how much my kids keep growing right before my eyes.
This always reminds me to step back and soak it all in because time really does fly by. The holidays can be a magical and memorable time of year in a variety of big and small ways. In our case, we just happen to be making our small magical moments get bigger and more memorable year after year. No matter what you celebrate or how you celebrate, I hope you embrace the season and cherish each moment by making your own magic!
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