DIYdiy projects

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

by Kate Pruitt

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.

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