diy project: chickadee tree topper + ornament from the wild unknown

Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown is one of my favorite artists, so I was super excited when she wanted to share a holiday DIY with us. Kim has created a lovely chickadee design that you can simply print, fold, embellish and hang, either as a tree topper or an ornament. I often struggle with how to finish off my tree each year, and I think I’ll definitely replace the simple red bow I’m using now with one of these. The templates for both are available for download below, so if you still need a little trimming on your tree (or a homemade gift idea), these would be a snap to make. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Kim! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • printer
  • scissors
  • chickadee tree topper template and ornament template
  • printable paper of your choosing
  • tape (double-stick is ideal)
  • regular tape
  • string
  • any additional fun art supplies (markers, paints, etc.)


1. Print out the pdfs. If you use regular computer paper, the ornaments will be somewhat flimsy. Use heavyweight paper or cardstock if you want them to keep their shape and look a little nicer. I printed mine on heavyweight Bristol paper so I could make watercolor accents.

2. Cut your shapes out. Then flip them over and work with the drawing side down.

3. This step is for ornaments only: Cut a piece of string about 6 inches long, loop and knot it. Tape it onto the paper as pictured.

4. Begin folding the paper into a three-dimensional shape, as described on your pdf printout.

5. With double-stick tape, assemble the shape using the tabs. It’s easiest if you start with the tab marked with the asterisk (*). As you close up the shape, it will get tricky to get the tape and folded tabs tucked inside . . . but you can do it!

6. To finish the ornament: Put a little roll of double-stick tape inside the tip and pinch. This will help the form stay closed at the bottom.

To finish the tree-topper: The opening at the bottom will allow you extra room to slip it over the top of the tree.

VARIATION 1: Add some color!
The aesthetic of bright white cardstock and computer paper leaves much to be desired, so if you want to add some vibes to these ornaments, print them on a heavyweight paper and add a little color before you cut out the shape. Markers, colored pencils or watercolors will work well. I’ve used a light, rusty watercolor wash to give my ornaments an antiquated look, and then I added some color highlights with red and green. Print out a bunch and have your kids color the birds with markers or crayons, or break out the glitter for really fun holiday times.

VARIATION 2: Forget the chickadees; make your own design!
Print this pattern on any type of decorative paper that will run through your printer. Even brown craft paper would work. Simply fold/assemble the shape so the chickadees are inside the form, and your paper shows on the outside. Decorate as your heart desires! Happy holidays.

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve wanted to make ornaments in this style, but didn’t know how to begin. I cannot manipulate shapes in my mind to get from the end to the beginning, but with this template, now I will have the tool to make these!

  2. Kirsten says:

    This is Super cute! Already Printed and going to begin today! Thanks!

  3. designhund says:

    så lovely,
    i must try it!

  4. Sammy says:

    The link for the Tree Topper Does not work :( I would love to make this for my tree. Please fix the link! Thanks.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      the link works, it just takes a few moments to load. are you getting an error?


  5. Rose says:

    Too cute! Great template and instructions!

  6. vrensen says:

    bird is the word! check out my christmas-tree-post for my birds an tree topper! :D

  7. Jalet says:

    I just wanted to THANK YOU for this adorable ornament.

    I made a revision I thought I would share. I didn’t have double stick tape on hand so closing the last seam was really impossible. I went low tech, and just hole punched where the 4 triangle quadrants come together on the long side (both halves were hole punched), and closed it with a white ribbon. Looks nice. These make pretty gift tags as well, if you curl a bunch of ribbon, and pool it around the edges of the ornament with the birds both facing up and taped to the surface.

  8. great ideas! i just did my own christmass decoration few days ago
    i just posted on my blog …that will be inspiration for next year :)
    if you do check it out hope you will like it ,first try:)

  9. Sammy says:

    grace, yep. it says, “a drawing error occurred.” :( The link for the ornament works though.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      that’s so odd. i can load it on both our computers using all three major browsers. what browser are you using (and version)?


  10. Sammy says:

    firefox and I also tried explorer. I will try safari when I get home. I bet that will work! Hopefully I am the only one having trouble. Thanks for looking into it Grace.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      so sorry about that- i don’t use explorer (this site isn’t optimized for that browser as it doesn’t support a lot of modern web design tools) but firefox and chrome are working fine for me. i’m so sorry :(


  11. Linda says:

    thank you for the adorable chickadee ornament – can’t wait to make it. Chickadee my absolute favorite bird!

  12. Thanks so much for posting this!!!

  13. Andrea says:

    I so wish my family were doing a tree this year. Instead, my mother has decided to paint a tree onto a canvas and lean it on my paint-splattered easel – a lovely idea, but one that doesn’t require ornaments!

  14. amy says:

    I love it! I may use the ornament template as a gift tag/reusable ornament on presents. Chickadee’s are my favorite and our Maine State Bird so will be appreciated. I adjusted the gray scaling so that it is not as contrasting and will hold more color. Thanks so much! Keep them Coming!


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