Christmas Bird Feeders – Our Handy, Festive Guide!

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The holidays are a great time to visit with friends, enjoy your family, and partake in your favorite traditions! One of the traditions that many people enjoy at this time of year is crafting!

Whether you’re crafting on your own or organizing crafting activities for your family, there are plenty of DIY bird feeders to try.

Even though the birds in your backyard won’t really care whether or not your birdfeeder is festively decorated for Christmas, you get the benefit of an aesthetically pleasing feeder in your yard or garden!

As long as you get an early start, creating a Christmas birdfeeder is a great addition to your holiday traditions this year!

Imagine this:

It’s Christmas morning, and your home is decorated for the holiday. Gifts are under the tree, but it’s still early. Before your busy day begins, you sit down with a cup of coffee or tea. Look outside, and what do you see?

All of your backyard birds as they enjoy the fun treats that you prepared for them!

They may not care whether or not the suet balls have a sprig of holly attached, or if the feeder is decorated with a pretty plaid bow, but you do! What a delightful way to start your holiday!

Creating a Christmas feeder – or several! – is about giving you some additional joy during the Christmas season, which can often feel a bit overwhelming.

This is your opportunity to transform your outdoor space into an extension of your warm and cozy indoor space.

We’ve got some great ideas coming your way so that you can enjoy a magical moment just like the one I’ve described.

Let’s take a look at some ways that you can make seed feeders, bird treats, Christmas cakes, and more!

But first, why are homemade feeders such a great idea, anyway?

Benefits of Making Your Own DIY Christmas Bird Feeders

There are plenty of store-bought feeders on the market. You can buy feeders for just about every kind of bird seed and bird food, plus feeders that target different kinds of birds.

Birdfeeders and birdfeeder accessories are a big business these days! You can buy feeder poles, cleaning supplies, bird seed, birdbaths, and so much more.

With all of these options, what is the point of making your own? Well, there are several factors here to take advantage of.

  • You get total control over the appearance of your feeder.
  • You can also choose your materials and create specifications exactly to your preference.
  • You can create a ton of feeders for a fraction of the cost.
  • In addition to being great for your own yard, DIY birdfeeders make great Christmas gifts for family and friends!
  • Many designs are simple enough for kids to make and give to their loved ones as gifts.
Homemade birdseed dumplings

How to Make Seed Feeders for The Holidays

These cute seed feeders are easy to make and can be quite festive! You can make several of these, freeze some of them, just put out a few, and then replace them as they are eaten.

These are great Christmas gifts for kids to give to their family members, such as parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Like outdoor Christmas tree decorations, these mini-feeders add a bit of color to your yard, while filling the bellies of your neighborhood birds.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Necessary ingredients and materials: Christmas-shaped cookie cutters, several slices of whole wheat bread, cookie sheet, wire Christmas ornament hooks, paper or “real” plate, wild bird seed, and peanut butter.

Step 1:

Using the cookie cutters, cut Christmas shapes like Christmas trees, gingerbread people, bells, round ornaments, etc. out of slices of whole wheat bread.

Step 2:

Lay the cutout shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Step 3:

Insert a wire Christmas ornament hook into the bread shape, near the top.

Step 4:

Toast the bread shapes in the oven at 300 degrees until they are dried out and hard. You do not need to turn the bread over. Feel free to use a toaster oven.

Step 5:

Remove the cut-outs from the oven and let them cool.

Step 6:

Spread peanut butter onto one or both sides of the bread cut-out.

Step 7:

Pour bird seed onto a plate and then dip the peanut-butter-covered shape into the bird seed. If you have different kinds of bird seed in a variety of colors, you can experiment with colorful designs.

Step 8:

Hang these festive little feeders around your yard from trees, shrubs, or any other bushes. The bird seed-coated shapes look great, and the birds are grateful for the delicious snack.

Again, you can freeze the extras and save them for later. These are easy enough to make the night before you travel to see family for the holidays, creating fresh and pretty snacks for your loved ones’ birds as well!

How to Make Festive Gardlands as Bird Treats

Decorative garlands are both pretty and tasty!

You’ll only need a few ingredients: Several 5-6′ pieces of thread or fishing line, a medium-sized needle, and your preferred garland ingredients.

Ingredient Options for your Garlands

There are so many options for your garlands! Some of our favorite ingredients are:

  • peanuts in the shell
  • cheerios
  • shreddies
  • fruit loops
  • fresh or dried fruit
  • cranberries
  • apples
  • raisins
  • dates
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • pineapple pieces
  • popcorn

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1:

Cut your thread or fishing line into 5-6′ strands.

Step 2:

Double-thread your string or fishing line through a medium-sized needle. (A fishing line may require a larger needle.)

Step 3:

Tie a large knot at the end of the double-threaded string.

Step 4:

Now it’s time to thread the treats onto the string or line! You can create interesting patterns from your ingredients.

A Few Tips for Making Your Garlands

I’ve got a few things for you to remember as you make your garlands.

  • Be careful when allowing children to handle needles and thread. You may need to provide hands-on guidance. Very young children should stick to other crafts.
  • If you use popcorn (a classic ingredient in decorative holiday garlands!), don’t be surprised if it starts to break. Use the largest pops you can find, and handle them very carefully as you thread them onto your string.
  • If you coat the thread with wax or fat, your ingredients will slide more easily along the slippery thread. You can do this by running the thread along the side of a candle or between buttered fingers.
  • Wipe the needle clean regularly as you put the ingredients on your string. Otherwise, the needle gets gunked up, and you won’t be able to keep stringing items.
  • If you pack the snack items too tightly onto the thread, it can cause everything to be too heavy, too time-consuming, or too fragile.

Once you are done, hang your newly-created garlands on your outdoor trees and bushes!

If you’re making these as a gift, you can make them several days in advance.

My favorite pattern looks like this: popcorn-popcorn-popcorn-cranberry-popcorn-cranberry-popcorn-popcorn-popcorn, and then repeat!

You will have many hours of pleasure watching your feathered friends enjoy their festive treat!

How to Make “Christmas Trees” for Your Backyard Visitors

I love this cute and simple birdfeeder design.

You’re going to use the same method as the cookie cut-out bread with peanut butter and bird seed, but the finished product is cone-shaped and reminiscent of a Christmas tree!

Ingredients and supplies: You’ll need a pencil, a sugar ice cream cone, pipe cleaner or metal ornament hook, a table knife, a jar of peanut butter, large cereal (like Cheerios!), and wild bird seed.

Step-by-Step Instructions

The original instructions are online at the Betty Crocker website, but I’ve re-written them with some important additional information!

Step 1:

Take your sugar cone and poke a hole through the pointed end, using your sharpened pencil or some other similar utensil. A Philip’s screwdriver can work but don’t get too enthusiastic or you’ll destroy your cone!

Step 2:

The original instructions say to knot one end of a pipe cleaner and put the other end through the hole, creating a hanging hook. However, you could also use a metal ornament hook if you have those available instead.

Step 3:

Spread peanut butter all over the outside of the cone. Smooth peanut butter likely works best, but you could give crunchy a try. These don’t have to be perfect!

Step 4:

Press large pieces of cereal into the peanut butter. Then, sprinkle the bird seed all over the cone. You may get a little messy for this part, especially if you need to push the bird seed into the peanut butter with your fingers.

I like this cute birdfeeder option because there is no baking, cooling, or waiting! Just make your feeders and hang them out immediately!

Christmas Cakes For Wild Birds!

Do you make cakes for the holidays? Whether you make a box mix covered in frosting or a fruitcake that you spend weeks on, you can always make an extra for your birds!

Homemade hanging star cakes as a bird feeder

You don’t need to decorate the cake, of course. It’s as easy as putting out a cake on a platter on the ground or on a temporary platter. You can put it in a suet feeder, or simply place it on a platform feeder.

Want to make it last longer? Crumble the cake into a bowl and then mix in some softened suet. (We’ve published a number of homemade suet recipes, by the way!) Half suet + half a Christmas cake make a pretty great combination! The birds will definitely love it.

If you make them a fruitcake, your birds will love the fruits and nuts. It will serve to warm up your feathered friends during the cold Christmas days and weeks.

Pro-tip: this is also a great way to use up a Christmas cake or pudding that doesn’t come out quite right, or doesn’t please your taste buds. Birds typically aren’t as picky about what kinds of snacks they eat!

A Few More DIY Feeders!

Before we wrap up, here are a few final DIY feeder ideas!

  • Free DIY Windowsill Bird Feeder: There are many different ways to make a windowsill or bird feeding shelf. Here is one that is easy and straightforward.
  • Ice Bowl Feeder: This is a unique way to feed wild birds during the long cold winter season. It will bring interest and flair to your bird-feeding fun! Kids love this DIY project.
  • Free Bird Feeder Plans: There is something so very satisfying in making something for your backyard birds to feed from. Free bird feeder plans offer you a variety of ways to do it.

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Liz Ranfeld

Liz Boltz Ranfeld is an independent educator and writer from Indiana. She lives on the edge of the woods with her husband, 2 kids, dogs, chickens, and hedgehog. One of the best things of living in rural Indiana is spotting hawks, pileated woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and other wild creatures. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, and gardening, and one of her personal heroes is the conservationist and birdwatcher Rosalie Barrow Edge, who paved the way for the protection of birds around the globe.