Friendship Bracelet Inspired Balloon Garland

how to make a flower balloon garland

Friendship Bracelet Inspired Balloon Garland

This year, we turned to our friend Wendy who has the most charming old white house (we’ve talked about her before here), which is a dreamy setting for her preschool.  We had aspirations of flowers and we wanted it to be BIG.  That’s when our friends at Anagram stepped in and gave us a hand with some of their balloons. My favorites are the purple/pink ombre ones, how about you? We knew with Wendy’s house and Anagram’s balloons we could pull off something really fun.how to make a flower balloon garland

Midsummer decor idea

Now, Wendy used to live in Sweden, so she was very eager to hop on the idea of Midsummer balloons. Did I also mention that Wendy is a BIG time lover of balloons!  Match made!  With the idea of greenery (read more about Sweden’s Midsummer traditions HERE) and flowers abounding, we got to work making some flowers out of balloons.

Beaded Flower bracelets

We were reminded of these popular bracelets that our friends at HonestlyWTF made and knew what we had to do. With some extra white balloons, we were able to make a chain and string the flowers together making the perfect balloon friendship bracelet.how to make a flower balloon garland

Here’s how to make them!

Materials: 

Make a flower balloon: 

  1. Start by using a gold/yellow balloon for the center.
  2. Blow up 6 “petals” to go around the center. Use packing tape to secure together and to the center.
  3. Blow up 5 white balloons for the garlands. Use balloon tape to hold them together. Use packing tape to secure if necessary.
  4. To adhere the garlands to your structure, use gaffer tape.

Tip: We found that packing tape is AMAZING for balloon to balloon adhesion and gaffer tape is great for balloon to other surfaces.

how to make a flower balloon garland

Recycling foil balloons

Did we mention recycling?  Yes!  Anagram foil balloons can be used year after year. Or you can gift them to friends like we did to give them a second life. It turned out so cute and we can’t wait for her kids to see!  how to make a flower balloon garland

This post is sponsored by Anagram but all opinions are my own! 

All You Need for A Midsummer Party

Even those of us not in Sweden can throw a Midsummer party to celebrate long days, the bounty of beauty in our gardens, and good food. Lucky for us, I have made lots of Midsummer-themed projects so we can have the Midsummer party of our dreams without dishing out for a plane ticket!

Midsummer Parties Past

women dressed in white dance around a DIY maypole in a green park with dappled light. A blonde woman in a white dress holds a small bouquet.

Years ago I celebrated Midsummer by dressing up and dancing around a maypole with my team, and it was truly magical. You can see more photos here.

women dressed in white dance around a DIY maypole in a green park with dappled light.

The next year I teamed up with my friend and designer extraordinaire Meta Coleman, Merrilee of Mer Mag, Sarah of Sarah Jane Studios, Melanie and Alma of Caravan Shoppe, and Eva of Sycamore Co to organize a huge Midsummer party. We called it A Midsummer Mingle and it was epic, if I do say so myself.

Women dressed in white descend stairs in a green space filled with dappled light.women dressed in white eat on a picnic blanket. In the background, a maypole stands in front of some pine trees. It's dusk.

You can find out more about it here, here and here. Wasn’t it beautiful?

Two women in white wearing floral crowns smile at the camera. It's night and the background is distantly lit with warm light. A woman in white wearing a white floral crown hangs up a picture on a clothesline

Now let me level with you. Both of those Midsummer parties were stunning and magical, and you might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed right about now. Take a deep breath. Remember that I had help on both projects, as should all party planners, and you don’t have to be a professional to throw a gorgeous Midsummer party. You can do it! No matter how low-key or extravagant you want your party to be, I have Midsummer tutorials and inspiration to knock your flower crown off.

Women in white wearing flower crowns hold hands and walk in a line in front of some pine trees.

Midsummer Projects

Maypole

Brittany is wearing white and dancing around a DIY maypole with her interns, who are also wearing white.

I made a maypole for the Midsummer Party with my interns, and I know what you’re thinking: “You made a maypole?!” It was a surprisingly simple DIY that I know you can make too.  Once you’ve made a maypole, you’ll have the backbone of your Midsummer celebrations taken care of for years to come! Again, find the tutorial here.

Flower Crowns

Flower crowns are a Midsummer staple, and Amy from Amy Anne Floral made these gorgeous and simple Midsummer Flower Crowns for the Midsummer Mingle. It has a super simple-to-follow tutorial, so check it out!

Goldenrod flower crown from Midsummer Mingle. A woman in a white dress holds it against her side. waxflower and laurel flower crowns are stacked in a pile.

There’s also this Crepe Paper Flower Crown and this one, this Shamrock Flower Crown, these Lady Liberty-inspired Flower Crowns, this Printable Flower Crown, and this tutorial for a Flower Crown Inspired by Art History.

A little girl wears a paper flower crown and smells some little flowers.a floral crown on long, straight brown hairA little girl with brown hair wears a paper shamrock crown and a cream colored floral blouse. The background is bold colored wallpaper.Lady Liberty Flower CrownsA printable flower crown in purple, yellow, pink, white red, and blue being held up by two hands. A woman wearing a lavish flower crown of dahlias and berries and greenery looks at the camera. The background is sky blue.

Midsummer Decorations

You won’t want to skip out flowers for your Midsummer party. Use this tutorial to make gorgeous floral arrangements that you can place around in vases or hold as bouquets.

Pink florals from A Midsummer Mingle

This paper Summer Flower Garland would look lovely draping between the trees or wrapped around your may pole. Because it’s made of paper you can keep it for next year’s Midsummer party.

Summer Paper Flower Garland

Speaking of paper flowers, I’ve compiled lots and lots of paper flower tutorials in one place here. These would be great for arrangements, cake decorations, or to wear.

Paper parrot tulips in cream, yellow, and red.Paper peony bouquet held by a person in a striped dressIcelandic Paper PoppyPaper hydrangeas in a white vase against a floral orange backgroundThe Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations

For a decoration that you’ll want to keep hanging after the season changes, make this Midsummer Dala Horse Mobile. It will remind you of your delightful Midsummer party and be a great conversation starter!

Close up of a colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i A colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i

Finishing Touches

No party is complete without music, and your Midsummer party is no exception. My friend Melissa Leavitt graciously agreed to make this Midsummer playlist, and I think you’ll love it.

Brittany and her friends smile at the camera. It's dark and in the background, there are warm lights.

If you serve cake (and when do we ever not want to serve cake!?) this Midsummer Pole Cake Topper is perfect for the occasion.

Midsummer Pole cake Topper Midsummer Pole cake Topper

Food

Look, you know that I don’t cook. Still, your Midsummer party will need food. Go traditional with pickled herring, boiled potatoes, grilled meat, and strawberries and cream for desert. For those who imbibe, Midsummer is also an opportunity to drink beer and schnapps, but as a non-drinker I’ve found that fizzy lemonade does the trick, too. Smaklig måltid (bon appetit in Swedish)!

strawberry-covered layer cakes on pastel cakestands at an outdoor party

Glad Midsommar!

I would love to see your Midsummer celebrations! Tag me in your photos with #MidsummerWithLars.

women dressed in white dance around a DIY maypole in a green park with dappled light. A graphic that says Midsummer celebration is at the top.

Poppies and Peonies and Posies: Paper Flower Tutorials

Without further ado, here’s a guidebook to all the paper flower tutorials in the Botanical Garden that Lars Built.

Blooms for Bouquets

There are so many things you can do with paper flowers, but you need to make them first! Mix and match these flowers for bouquets or let them stand alone. You can’t go wrong!

Paper parrot tulips in cream, yellow, and red.Paper peony bouquet held by a person in a striped dressIcelandic Paper PoppyPaper hydrangeas in a white vase against a floral orange backgroundThe Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformationspaper daffodil on a cream backgroundA pink and blue space divided down the middle with flower bells in each color

Find paper flower tutorials here: Parrot Tulips, Peonies, Poppies, Morning Glory, Hydrangeas, Eden Rose, Daffodil, Paper Flower Bells.

Lots of flowers have stamens, and here you can make your own floral stamens for paper flowers.

Bouquets

I’m a big fan of paper wedding bouquets because they are long-lasting reminders of your big day. There’s no wilting here! I have loved making these paper flower tutorials for all these bouquets.

close up of a paper bouquet made of dahlias, roses, shamrocks, Mexican jasmine, and foliage.Paper Flower Wedding BouquetRoyal Wedding Inspired BouquetCinco de Mayo Wedding Bouquet

Find tutorials here: Spring Wedding Bouquet, White Peony Bouquet, Royal Wedding Inspired Bouquet, Cinco de Mayo Inspired Bouquet.

Paper Flower Accessories

Flowers add delicacy and magic to your fanciest events (but I’m all for wearing them in between big parties, too)! These paper flower crowns and this corsage will have you searching for events because they’re so fun to wear! Find paper flower tutorials for the accessories below.

A paper shamrock and flower crown on a brunette girl's head against green and white wallpaperPaper Flower Bridal Hair PieceA little girl wears a paper flower crown and smells some little flowers.a floral crown on long, straight brown hairPaper Flower Corsage

Find tutorials here: Shamrock Flower Crown, Paper Flower Bridal Hairpiece, Flower Girl Crown, Spring Paper Flower Crown, Paper Flower Corsage

Home Decor Flowers

Wreaths

When I started adding paper flower wreaths to my doors, I made a huge discovery. Coming home to something beautiful makes a big difference! Add paper flower wreaths to your doors and start feeling OVERJOYED when you get to your home! I promise, it works for me!

Paper daffodil wreath against a pink backgroundCrepe Paper Lemon WreathBrittany holding a wreath with floral accents cut from wallpaper.A hand reaches into frame holding a rainbow floral wreath

Wreath tutorials here: Daffodil Wreath, Lemon and Blossom Wreath, Wallpaper Floral Wreath, Rainbow Flower Wreath

Chandeliers and Mobiles

A maidenhair fern hangs from a wooden hoopA floral upcycled chandelier with paper greenery hangs over a party table. A paper mobile hangs in a white room with a cactusA colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i

Mobile tutorials here: Paper Maidenhair Fern Mobile, Paper Flower Chandelier, Scandinavian Paper Mobile, Midsummer Dala Horse Mobile

Centerpieces

Paper flowers and colorful candles on a branchPaper tulips in an arrangement.

Centerpiece tutorials here: Paper Flower Branch Candelabra,Spring Tulip Centerpiece

Potted Paper Flowers

Brittany holds a paper easter lily in a terracotta pot in front of her facePaper Christmas cactus in a white potPaper Medinilla plant in a grey spaceColorful paper plants in a grey room

Find tutorials here: Paper Foxgloves, Easter Lily, Christmas Cactus, Medinilla Plant, and more Paper House Plants

Parties!

Cakes

Floral Number Birthday Cake TopperPaper Kumquat and Quilled Flower CakeMidsummer Pole cake Topper

Cake topper tutorials here:Floral Number Birthday Cake Topper, Paper Flower and Kumquat Cake Decoration, Midsummer Pole Cake Topper

Backdrops

DIY Crepe Paper Peony tutorialTropical Leaf and Hibiscus BackdropBrittany stands in front of a paper daisy-covered wall wearing a yellow dress.

Backdrop tutorials here: Crepe Paper Peony Backdrop, Tropical Leaf and Hibiscus Backdrop, Paper Daisy Backdrop

Garlands

Paper flower garlandPaper flower garland hangs over a rattan chair

Garland tutorials here: Paper Flower Garland, Summer Flower Garland

DIY Daisy party hat

And don’t forget this Daisy Party Hat tutorial!

Holiday

Valentines Day

Brittany looks over her shoulder at the camera while wearing a pink, red, and white daffodil crown

Wear this Valentine Flower Wreath on your head or decorate your door with it. Either way, you’ll be feeling festive and ready for the spring blooms that will pop up not too long after Valentines Day with this wreath!

Halloween

A mom wearing a paper flower costume and a daughter dressed as a mouse pose in their costumes

Chrysanthemum Mom and Kid Costume

Hannukah

Gold, blue, yellow, and pink paper flower menorah

Paper Flower Menorah

Christmas

This Christmas you can make holly large or small, as well as these really exciting poinsettia blooms.

Paper Poinsettia FlowerDIY Paper Holly boughsGiant paper holly and paper berries hung around a big banister

Poinsettia, Crepe Paper Holly, Giant Paper Holly Decoration

And more!

Find more floral Lars materials on our shop. Here’s our Flowers Coloring Book, this sticker sheet, a whole collection of floral art prints, and more! Plus, keep an eye out for an exciting new paper flower development in the shop, coming soon!

Felix’s New Nursery

Before my first son, Jasper, arrived we raced to get his nursery done and it paid off (you can see it here. I had such a wonderful experience having a fully designated space for him–it felt almost magical. Just him and me having our special place together nursing and me admiring him. We were certainly in a little newborn bubble. I think I even heard choruses of angels around us.

Interior shot of a child's room. Walls are green, A pink checkerboard rug is on the floor. A white rocking chair is central in the image.

With Felix, because of all the new home renovations and normal, if not over, work load, I didn’t get his nursery done, not even close. And I felt the toll! For a while I slept on a mattress downstairs next to his bassinet before transferring up to our bedroom and then we were constantly moving because we’ve been renovating the closet, bathroom, putting baseboards, etc. It’s been wild, uncomfortable…chaotic. Not conducive to a magical experience.

An interior shot featuring a painted green wall with a brightly colored lamp and a toy doll perched on a wicker shelf.

And then we partnered with our friends at Pottery Barn Kids and life got so much better as you might expect when you, well, partner with Pottery Barn Kids. 

Most important to me when creating a space for a baby is figuring out the immediate needs. Number one, especially in the early stages, is nursing. Life kind of revolves around it at this point (you too?): schedules, meals, outings (or lack there of right now, right?!). Everything! I nursed exclusively with Jasper and I’ve done the same with Felix (though I seriously reconsidered that this weekend after my first bout with mastitis–YIKES!).

Interior shot of a nursery. In the foreground, a red toy airplane rests on a white ottoman. In the background is a wooden dresser with a small Danish flag on top and some illustrations on the wall.

Because of my bad back, I like to have a great chair set up in place so I know it will be comfortable and I don’t have to scramble to make something up last minute. Jasper’s rocking chair has almost become a member of our family based on how much we use it. Though I no longer nurse him, we gather around it for stories every day. I knew I needed another one for Felix so we could create the same tradition in his room.

Interior shot of a child's room. Walls are green, A pink checkerboard rug is on the floor. A white rocking chair is central in the image.

Have you searched on Pottery Barn Kids recently? Look at all their nursery chair and ottoman options. I’ll wait….There’s a TON of styles and features. I looked for one that had a shallow back so that it wouldn’t have to strain while nursing. I also wanted one that felt both classic yet modern. I arrived at the Modern Wingback Slipcovered Glider and Ottoman. I got it in their classic white linen, which on first glance seems crazy, but because it’s a slipcover, you can easily take it on and off (velcro!) and wash it. 

Brittany sits in a white rocking chair next to a window and a green wall and snuggles Felix.A white rocking chair against a green wall with a colorful lamp in the background. An orange stuffed fox and a pillow are on the chair. Interior shot of a green nursery. In the foreground is a white rocking chair with a few pillows, toys, and books on it and in the background is a wooden dresser.

It may seem like a funny thing to get excited about, but I need my nursing conditions to be, well, perfect, and their ottoman is the perfect height so I can prop Felix up and be super comfortable. I’m so pleased with my new arrangement I can’t even express it. The magical feelings are starting to reemerge again and none too soon!

A white rocking chair against a green wall with a colorful lamp in the background. An orange stuffed fox and a pillow are on the chair.

But there’s more. Have you seen their collection of cribs and changing stations? There are so many beautiful options. I went all white with Jasper, but I wanted something different for Felix so I got an all wood collection–something to feel deeper. I chose the Dawson Convertible Crib, which is somehow even more beautiful in person than it is on a screen. It will grow with Felix into a toddler bed too so it’s worth the investment (two beds in one!). It’s also GREENGUARD Gold Certified, meaning it meets or exceeds stringent chemical emissions standards and it’s made in a Fair Trade Certified facility. I feel really good about their manufacturing processes and love being able to align myself with them.

A wooden dresser with a clock, changing basket, Danish flag, and blanket on top. The wall has a few illustrations hanging on it.

Then for the changing table/dresser I went with the Dawson dresser. Again, it’s a beautiful blend of traditional and modern with the clean lines and fine detailing on the drawers. It comes in a lovely acorn color with the same ethical standards. Again, even more beautiful and illuminating in person. It looks so good against the green walls! Which brings me to my next point.

Brittany sits in a white rocking chair against a green wall and snuggles Jasper and Felix.

Jasper’s nursery at our old house was more light and airy and again, I wanted something where we played with color more. The room is also acting as Paul’s office so I wanted to take his preferences into consideration. Paul loves BRIGHT colors. I’m talking saturated, BRIGHT colors. We settled on a agreen, but what green was the question! He LOVES a classic Jaguar green but then I got this lovely checkerboard pink/magenta rug (used from Hannah Carpenter as spotted by Meta Coleman) and wanted to merge the two colors together somehow.

A white rocking chair against a green wall with a colorful lamp in the background. An orange stuffed fox and a pillow are on the chair. The floor is covered by a magenta checkerboard rug with a few wooden cars and an airplane on it.

I figured out that the green needed to be a bit more blue so we went with this Palm Frond color. I thought it was going to be too much for me but with the gorgeous wood furniture, it’s MAGICAL. I tried out a contrasting trim in a light blue, the same color we’ll be using for our bathroom, and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it…I like it sometimes and other times I’m not sure. I’m not sure you can see it too well in these photos so maybe you can speak to that quite yet.

Interior shot of a child's room with a green wall, a wicker shelf with a toy on it, and a crib. The crib has a denim-colored quilt hanging over the side.

I accessorized with the cutest bed sheet/comforter set. The sheets are dreamy soft and play well with the green of the walls. I love the chambray look always. It tends to go with most things.

Then I added in some green gingham curtains to play with the color too.

Shot of the inside of a wooden crib, with a few toys and pillows inside it.

With all the other bright color accessories we own, the color works so well and it’s now one of the few rooms in the house that feels GOOD! I’m still calling it a phase one design because we might adjust some things, but in the meantime, I’m spending all my time in there.

Brittany sits in a white rocking chair against a green wall and snuggles Jasper and Felix.Interior shot of a green nursery. In the foreground is a white rocking chair with a few toys on it. In the background is a wooden dresser.on it and in the background is a wooden dresser.

Thank you Pottery Barn Kids for making our nursery dreams come true and for sponsoring this post!

DIY Paper Honeycomb Ornaments

We love the mid-century modern vibe of paper ornaments, and the jewel-toned colors complement any Christmas tree. We especially like that they’re non-breakable—if you have a toddler in your house, you understand.

Plus everyone loves a handmade ornament. They are sweet and sentimental, just like Christmas should be. Though these DIY paper ornaments are quite the level up from popsicle stick reindeers and laminated school photos, ha!

How to Make your DIY Paper Honeycomb Ornaments

These DIY paper honeycomb ornaments are easy to make, you’ll get the hang of it super quick. And like all of our paper crafts, you can reuse them next year! Just make sure to store them in a box where they won’t get crushed by heavier objects.

Materials:

DIY paper honeycomb ornaments

Instructions:

Read all instructions before beginning your project!
  1. Download our ornament templates here
  2. Use your cutting machine or scissors to cut out 66 pieces for each ornament.
  3. Once all of your pieces are cut, you will start glueing them together.
  4. Carefully place 2 thin lines of super glue separate from each other, and perpendicular to the flat edge of the shape. Take care not to spread the glue anywhere else. Your line of glue does not need to go all the way to both edges of the paper, start and end in a little bit to avoid glue spilling over the edges.
  5. Place the next shape on top of the one with glue, carefully lining up all the edges.
  6. On top of this new piece, carefully place one line a super glue, in the middle of where you placed the 2 lines on the last piece.
  7. Place a next pieces on top of top of that, again aligning all edges.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7, alternating between 1 line of glue and 2 until all of your cut shapes are stacked on top of each other.
  9. Now you will seal the flat edges of your ornaments shapes together using bookbinding glue or any other flexible glue.
  10. While holding the shapes together tightly, use a small paintbrush with a flat edge to spread flexible glue along the entire flat edge of your stack of paper shapes.
  11. Before the flexible glue has dried, use it to attach a ribbon to the flat edge, on the side you want as the top of your ornament. This is what you will use to hang it up later.
  12. Let your work sit until all of the glue is completely dry. Now it is time to open your ornament!
  13. Starting at one side, start to carefully open the individual shapes in your stack, carefully unsticking any edges where the super glue might have spilled over if needed.
  14. Your paper shapes should open up to form your ornament, meeting on the opposite side. You’ll see the ribbon is now tucked in in the center of the ornament.
  15. Carefully align and glue together the 2 sides that meet when the ornament is open. Ta da!

Extra Tips

Here are some extra notes that will help you avoid mistakes your first time around!

If you are having a hard time opening your ornaments that is most likely because glue spilled over the edges in places it shouldn’t be. That is why it is important to take care to make your lines of super glue and thin and straight as possible. And avoid glueing all the way to the edge of your paper. Just take your time!

You may experiment with where you places you lines of glue to achieve different end looks – as long as you use the same pattern for one entire ornament. These lines of glue effect where the “honeycomb” effect shows up on finished ornaments. For all of the shapes included in our templates, I still used 2 lines of glue alternating with 1 line between them.

DIY paper honeycomb ornaments

More Paper Ornament Ideas

Need more DIY ornament ideas? Check out our tutorial for printable retro ornaments, paper candle ornaments, or a head to toe Swedish Christmas tree.

If you’re not in the mood for a DIY, browse through our whimsical Christmas ornament selection, introduced in this post from a few weeks ago.

Paper Ornaments Available For Purchase

 

DIY Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Christmas Traditions We Love

I always love hearing about different holiday traditions! Some of these Christmas traditions seem like such normal things nowadays, but you may be surprised to learn where they originated!

A few years ago, I created a series called “My Scandinavian Christmas.” This series had contributors write about their traditions. You can check out all of the posts here. I’ve included some Scandinavian traditions below as well as traditions from other countries!

Learn the traditions of your family members

 

As Christmas is a time to gather with family and loved ones, it is also a special time to remember our ancestors. For our Heirloom Ornament Project I collected some photos of my family members, including great-grandparents, parents. Then we figured out an awesome way to transfer images onto fabric, then added a touch of love with embroidery, and turned them into ornaments! I absolutely love how they turned out. It’s literally a family tree! And a family Christmas tree at that!

Every year these ornaments start the best conversations about memories of our family members and Christmases past. Click here to download instructions on how to make your own!

Christmas Traditions in Germany

Christmas Trees

Many people all over the world decorate Christmas trees for the holiday season. The tradition of bringing decorated trees into the home originated in Germany! It was said that Christmas trees didn’t become popular in the U.S. until the 1800s, but now they’re a Christmas staple in many homes! 

Whether you want a more traditionally decorated tree or opt for decorations out of the ordinary, we’ve curated all kinds of Christmas tree inspiration! Check out some of our favorite Christmas tree ideas here!

Dresden Wreaths

Dresden Ornament wreaths were originally made out of old candy molds or ornaments in Germany beginning in the late 1800’s. The brass figurines represent seasons and holidays throughout the year, making it a piece you can keep up all the time. There is space in between the trinkets so you can weave garlands, florals, or lights in it depending on the time of year. I love the stunning quality of it just as is.

They happen to cost a pretty penny, so we decided to make our own Paper Dresden Ornament Wreath (of course!) We created the files you can use on your craft cutter machine to expedite the process or you can hand cut them, because we know shopping, baking, and decorating are in full swing!

Christmas Traditions in Norway

St Lucia’s Day

If you’ve been following the blog, you know my love for all things Scandinavian. In the tradition of St. Lucia or St. Lucy’s Day, celebrated on the 13th of December, a procession of girls in white dresses and red sashes (symbolizing Saint Lucia) carry candles and sweets. The lead girl wears a candlelit crown on her head, as this is what Saint Lucia wore to light her way and serve the persecuted Christians.

We’ve created a couple of different St. Lucia crown tutorials here at Lars. You can view our classic DIY candle and leaf crown here. If you’re looking for something a bit easier and kid-friendly, you can get the printable crown version here.

Christmas Traditions in England

Candy Crackers

Christmas Crackers originate from British Christmas traditions, where these individual candy-filled poppers are set at each place at the dinner table, and playfully popped open before dinner. Fill these up with all of your favorite goodies for all of your favorite friends and make the giving experience all that much more fun when you pop these bad boys open to find anything from treats to tiny trinkets, the options are endless!

Christmas Traditions in Sweden

Dala Horses

A couple of years ago, we made Christmas decorations created entirely from paper. We incorporated traditional Swedish Christmas decor. This included straw ornaments, Dala horses, and advent stars. You can take a look at our head to toe Swedish Christmas here.

If you are any bit familiar with The House That Lars Built, or you’re good at reading in between the lines, we are a design company with a strong adoration for Scandinavian aesthetic. I went to design school in Copenhagen, married a Dane, and continued to live there until 2014. There is just something about Scandinavian design, culture, and lifestyle that I can’t quit. One item of Swedish culture I fell in love with are the Dala Horses!

The Dala Horse (or Dala Häst as it’s pronounced in Swedish) is a traditional icon of Sweden. It’s a carved and painted wooden horse, most commonly red, with intricate hand-painted details. They are utterly charming and come in a rainbow of colors. Because we’re such big fans, we decided it was high-time we created a DIY Dala Horse. You can also find our tutorial on how to paint your own traditional dala horse here.

Candles on Christmas Trees

It’s a very common Scandinavian tradition to decorate your tree with candles. However to avoid any fire hazards, we made this Paper Candle Christmas Tree Ornament instead. All you need is small baking liners, paper, and glitter and you’ll have a tree all aglow in no time!

Christmas Traditions in Mexico

Poinsettias

Poinsettias are one of the most common flowers around the Christmas holiday. The origin of these flowers comes from Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico. The flowers became a Christmas holiday staple due to their (typically) red and green colors. A few years ago, we created a tutorial for how to make your own paper poinsettia flowers for a more long lasting and sustainable version! You can read the full instructions here.

Piñatas

Piñatas are now widely used for birthdays and other celebrations, but Mexico celebrates the Christmas holiday with piñatas! Traditionally, the piñata is in the shape of a 7-point star, like theseWe’ve got fun piñata tutorials for you here at Lars, including this sunshine piñata and post-it heart piñata!  

Christmas Traditions in Denmark

Paper Stars

These magical stars have are a common sight during the Christmas season in Scandinavian countries and have recently gained popularity in the United States and Canada. Traditionally hung in the window and filled with string lights, the stars would welcome visitors during the long and dark winters. Click here to see how to make your own!

Christmas Traditions in Finland

Himmeli

Himmeli are Finnish Christmas ornaments or mobiles, typically made from straw. We created a post about Himmeli geometric home decor a few years ago. Most importantly, these mobiles can be hung during any time of the year! The design ideas for this are endless. In the ‘My Scandinavian Christmas’ series, we talked with Rilla of the blog Kotipalapeli about Himmeli mobiles. You can find the original post here. We also included another post with Pinja of Pinjacolada on Himmeli Christmas tree garlands.

What are the Christmas Traditions where you’re from? I would love to hear below!

DIY Family Photo Heirloom Ornaments

Find the tutorial e-book here.

I mentioned about a month ago that I sent in my 23andMe kit and that I was anxiously awaiting the results. (see the post here if you missed it!) Well, I got my reports back and I want to share my findings with you. The 23andMe DNA service makes the most amazing Christmas gifts if you’re still struggling to find the perfect thing! I got these for my parents, and they absolutely loved them!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

If you’re new to 23andMe, it is a service that helps you understand more about your DNA. It allows you to see which regions your ancestors come from and how your DNA can influence facial features, taste, smell and other traits. In other words, it provides some amazing insight into who you are! Some of which proved to be very surprising for me. Just receiving the email with the word “results” in the subject was cause for nerves. What was I going to find out! Give me something spicy, please!

I’ve been a long-time fan of family history, ever since discovering a 7-inch thick family tree book. I would spend hours flipping through it looking at every name and location. I found it fascinating. Now that it’s so much easier to know EXACTLY where our ancestors are from and how much of them lives in us (isn’t that a crazy thought!). Well, the results I’m in and I’m…

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

…100% European. Ha! I wasn’t super surprised there, although it’s always a fun idea to think that there’s something out of the blue in my background. Nope! I’m 65% British/Irish. I’d LOVE to find out exactly what that means because my grandmother is from Ireland but I’m sure with a name like Watson, it’s a mix of Scottish and English too.

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

I had hoped I’d be a bit more Scandinavian than I am. I’m 15% percent. I had gifted these tests to both my parents in the past and I knew that theirs was also slightly lower than expected so I was prepared for something lower than I thought. So, right on point!

My husband also took the 23andMe test, and surprisingly he is somehow only 22% Scandinavian? Yup. I don’t quite know what happened there, but he’s 26% French/German, which is a lot stronger than I thought. His mom is from Canada, so we had assumed that there would be some French there, but I didn’t realize it would be that much.

As I mentioned in my last post, using the 23andMe service has gotten me even more interested in my family history and past relatives. This time of year always tends to be a bit nostalgic and I wanted to create something by my recent findings concerning my ancestry. These Heirloom Family Photo Ornaments were the result. I collected some photos of my family members, including great-grandparents, parents, and even Jasper as it would be his first official ornament! Then we figured out an awesome way to transfer images onto fabric. I wanted a little something extra on the ornaments and I’ve been spotting the technique of adding embroidery onto photos so we decided to try it out on these plush ornaments. I absolutely love how they turned out! It’s literally…a family tree!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

On a more sentimental note, I love that the ornaments serve as a reminder of those I love throughout the holiday season! These are perfect heirlooms to pass down each generation, and I’m planning on making new additions each year.

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

My Christmas tree becomes a literal family tree, decorated with all my ancestors!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

Family Photo Heirloom Ornaments tutorial

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

If you haven’t tried 23andMe yet, be sure to check out their kits! Go to 23andMe.com/HouseLarsBuilt to learn more about their Holiday promotion! They make wonderful Christmas Gifts, are easy to use, and the results are so fascinating and make great conversation starters! My family and I end up talking about our reports for hours on end! Just the type of thing you want for holiday gatherings.  

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

You can find the tutorial for this project as an e-book in our shop here.

This post was sponsored by 23andMe. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Lars thriving!

Photography by Jane Merritt

Celebrating Santa Lucia

To celebrate Santa Lucia, I teamed up with the magical forces of photograph Ciara Richardson and floral designer Ashley Beyer of Tinge Floral, the ladies with whom I did the Midsummer shoot. These ladies are a pure joy to work with and soak in their beautiful aura. We simplified our DIY Santa Lucia crown with a beautiful bay leaf crown made by me and Ashley (I describe how to make it below).
Read how to make the crown and some behind the scene photos below:

DIY Santa Lucia Crown

I looked everywhere for a pre-made crown form online and alas, they were all sold out. You can find some pretty over the top forms like this or this, but they’re not as available as they are in Scandinavia. SO, I had to create my own. Not so much a problem when you’re a DIY blog. First, I tried a styrofoam wreath form like this one and I just stuck the candles directly in it and it worked like a charm. BUT, it was too clunky for the garland wrapped around so I had to come up with an alternative.
What I ended up with was using an embroidery hoop, wire, and floral tape. With the wire, I created a spiral slightly smaller than the bottom of the candle then I wired it A LOT to the embroidery hoop over and over and over. You don’t want to have flimsy candle holders. If you really want to be safe, add metal cups into the bottom of the spirals. After I placed all four around the hoop, I secured them with white floral tape (again, A LOT) for extra measure. The candles were very secure in the end.
Then Ashley worked her magic and used bay leaves in small clumps wired to the hoop. So pretty huh?!

Thank you to Jenny Bradley for being such a beautiful model. You are magic. And Jessica Peterson for your gorgeous studio. Thank you to Audrey Ellsworth for helping last minute!

And of course, Ashley and Ciara. I don’t know how you do it.

Happy (belated) Santa Lucia! You can also check out the printable Santa Lucia crown in the Lars shop!

24 Days of Scandinavian Christmas finale & giveaway winner announced!

Well, happy Christmas Eve! I hope you are all spending it with loved ones. To end this wonderful series of My Scandinavian Christmas, I thought I’d recap all the wonderful projects that all the guest bloggers contributed. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who participated. I’m so grateful for your creativity and time! Also, a big thank you to everyone who participated in the Danish Design Giveaways. I wish I could give something to everyone, but for now the (random) winner of the Royal Copenhagen, Ferm Living, Lucky Boy Sunday, and Herb Lester products is………Jenny from Museum Diary. Congrats!
We kicked off the series with Maiju from My Second Life’s Christmas treeDay 2 was given to Mette from Bureau of Betterment and a bird mobile she made based on a childhood toy.
Swede Hilda Grahnat showed us how to make Swedish orange pomanders on day 3 while Pinja from Pinjacolada decorated her Christmas tree with Finnish himmeli for day 4.
Tina Fussell or Traveling Mama, made a traditional edible Christmas tree for day 5 and Annika Backstrom made an ingenious gingerbread playhouse for her nieces and nephews for day 6.
For day 7 Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press designed an exclusive “god jul” Christmas ornament to download and Mette from Ungt Blod showed us winter in the Danish countryside for day 8.
Photographer Camilla Jørvad gave us a glimpse to her winter in Western Denmark for day 9 while Rilla showed how she displays her Finnish himmeli for day 10.
Julia of Vintage Hausfrau described her experience of picking out a tree and decorating it with vintage ornaments for day 11 and Gina of Willowday made ice lanterns for day 12.
Heidi of Wool Rocks displayed her Norwegian knitted Christmas ornaments for day 13 and Charlotte Schmidt Olsen made a beautiful paper bird for day 14.
I showed how to make oversized holly and ivy out of balloons for day 15 and Sarah Goldschadt (author of Craft-a-day) made an owlies Christmas tree for day 16
The most awesome nativity set from Dos Family for day 17 and Danish nisser from Elise from Eliseenvoyage for day 18
Photographer Tine Hvolby dressed up her daughter as an angel for day 19 and Elaina of Fog and Cedar described a lovely walk to find materials to make an advent candle for day 20.
Jennifer Hagler of A Merry Mishap made the ultra delicious æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) for day 21 and Lina Anoff showed us her friend’s childhood discovering a gingerbread house for day 22.

I finished off the series with my family’s Scandinavian-inspired decorations around our house for day 23.

With that, I’m off! Merry Christmas! I’m taking the next couple of weeks off. Next time you’ll hear from me will be from our new place in Utah!  

My Scandinavian Christmas day 23

If you’re just joining The House That Lars Built, for the 24 days leading up to Christmas I asked my favorite Scandinavian bloggers how they celebrate Christmas in their respective countries. We’ve had such tremendously beautiful responses (see here). Today I’m happy to show off my talented family. 
So, all throughout this “My Scandinavian Christmas” journey, you might have asked…well, how do you, Brittany, bring in the Scandinavian-ness to the holidays? Good question. This year is a bit different because we moved to America last week. Needless to say, packing took priority over decorating (how rude!) so I don’t have much to show. HOWEVER, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Scandinavia had in fact infiltrated a bit into the Watson household when we arrived to my parent’s place in Southern California (notice the Mexican paver tiles). My sister had painted these faux Christmas boxes with some Scandinavian-inspired folk patterns in white and then topped them with candy-cane striped wire ribbon.

Not particularly Scandinavian, but very clever, my mom used painting paper from Lowe’s for all her wrapping paper this year, including the bows. My mom’s a very clever one.

Paul showed me how to make some Danish paper hearts to top off the tree.

One more day left of My Scandinavian Christmas! And don’t forget to enter the last Danish Design giveaway (today is the last day!).

My Scandinavian Christmas day 22

Don’t you love these last few days leading up to Christmas? I hope the stress is low and you’re able to enjoy it all. I’m pleased to announced day 22 of My Scandinavian Christmas, photographer Lina Ahnoff. Lina is one of my favorite people. She was kind enough to let me share part of her studio space  the last 6 months I was in Copenhagen, and I got to know her talent and kindness. Welcome, Lina! 
Every year we celebrate the holidays by making a gingerbread house with the kids. This year my friend, Pia Lindgaard, came over and I photographed her niece exploring her creation. I think she was highly tempted by all the candy!

Thank you so much, Lina! Check out her wonderful photography site and blog. Stay tuned for the last 2 days! 

My Scandinavian Christmas day 21

I’m thrilled to announce Jennifer Hagler from the impeccable A Merry Mishap as day 21 of My Scandinavian Christmas. If you’re just joining us, My Scandinavian Christmas is a series of guest posts from my favorite Scandinavian bloggers sharing how they celebrate the holiday season. A Merry Mishap is Jennifer’s blog and shop where she sells her beautiful, geometric and Scandinavian-inspired jewelry. Welcome, Jennifer!
I wanted to share one of our Christmas traditions, something we look forward to making every Christmas morning. For the last few years I’ve made Aebelskivers for Christmas breakfast after my husband and I decided we needed to start a holiday tradition for our new little family of 3. We are not from Scandinavia but have a fondness for the culture and design so this just seemed like a natural solution.
Of course Aebelskivers are great with fruit preserves and Nutella but you can also stuff them with ham & cheese or even bacon, I love that they are so versatile. I prefer the buttermilk version of this recipe, this one works fine!

They’re easy to make and delicious but more importantly remind us that Christmas is here. I hope you give them a try, and of course you can make them any time of the year, not only in December!

Thank you, Jennifer for participating in My Scandinavian Christmas. Check out her lovely blog and shop. Check out more of My Scandinavian Christmas here.