In today’s post: Learn how to turn a Christmas tree skirt into a keepsake by adding family handprints.
I know it might be too early to be talking Christmas, but it SNOWED at my house this week. SNOW. So we did what you do when it snows in October: we turned on Christmas music and put up our Christmas tree! I figure this is as good a year as any to start the holiday season a little early, right?
Last year I saw a photo of a handprint Christmas tree skirt on FB and I’ve had the idea floating around in my head ever since. It’s a pretty cute project, right? I wanted to figure out the best way to make one so I could share instructions with you guys. And I’m sharing this project early in the season so you can have one ready when you get your tree up!
How to Make a Handprint Christmas Tree Skirt
I originally planned to make my own tree skirt – it’s not very hard to cut out a circle with an opening in the back after all. But then I decided I’d want it to be double layered, and probably finished with bias tape. And when I headed to the fabric store to buy supplies, I realized it was going to be nearly as expensive to make my own Christmas tree skirt as it would be to buy one!
So I headed to Amazon to find a plain white Christmas tree skirt that would work for adding handprints. Surprisingly, finding the right tree skirt was harder than I thought it would be. I looked through about a hundred skirts and ordered 5 to check out it person. Luckily, one of them was perfect! I used this Christmas tree skirt from Amazon (please note that I added the red pom pom trim – you can see what the tree skirt looks like without it in the photo below).
Here’s what you need to look for in a Christmas tree skirt that you plan to put handprints on:
- The handprints will show up best on a white skirt. I ordered a couple of burlap skirts that looked fairly light online but were pretty dark in person, so I don’t think they would work as well.
- Many white tree skirts are made out of faux fur, which will not work for handprints. However, this faux fur tree skirt has a felt backing – so I think you could flip it over and add the handprints to the underside.
- It’s best to choose a fabric that is not slippery to the touch, or the handprints may smear. A cotton, canvas, or felt skirt should work well. The tree skirt I ordered is just slightly fuzzy to the touch with lines of quilting running through it and it worked just fine!
Handprint Christmas Tree Skirt Supplies
To make a handprint Christmas tree, you’ll need the following supplies:
First, you’ll need a white Christmas tree skirt. (This is the one I used.)
Next, you will need something to protect your table/work area with, like a disposable tablecloth.
Then you will want paint in as many colors as you’d like. I used inexpensive acrylic craft paint in red, green, gold, and turquoise. NOTE: If you plan to add handprints year after year, keep the bottles of paint that you use in a sealed ziplock – they should stay good for a few years!
You will also need a small foam paintbrush and a small plastic or paper plate for EACH color of paint you plan to use. The small foam brushes that are only about an inch wide are the easiest to use.
To add names and dates you will need a black fine point Sharpie.
OPTIONAL SUPPLY: You can also add trim to the edge of your tree skirt if you’d like. I’m a sucker for pom poms, so I added red pom pom trim. Trim can get pretty pricey, especially considering that for a large tree skirt like the one I used you’ll need nearly 5 yards. With a 50% off coupon, the large pom pom trim I purchased was about $25, but Jo-Ann also carries a smaller pom pom trim which is half the cost. To add trim, you’ll either want to sew it on with matching thread, or glue it on with fabric glue such as Liquid Stitch.
Tips for Success
There are a few things to think about before you start:
First, cover your table with butcher paper or a disposable tablecloth – this will protect your table if paint bleeds through the tree skirt.
Next, be sure that there is a sink easily accessible for people to wash their hands after they have made their handprints. The acrylic paint will come off of hands pretty easily as long as they are washed with water and soap soon after making handprints.
Finally, if you will be having multiple children adding handprints to the tree skirt, be sure you have other adults around to help. Anyone under 12 will definitely need an adult helper, and if you will be having small children add handprints you will probably want 2 adults helping to ensure that paint doesn’t go anywhere it shouldn’t. Also, plan to only do one set of handprints at a time. Do not call all the kids to the table to add their handprints at once or you will definitely end up with paint somewhere you don’t want it. Instead, plan to have one child at a time come and make handprints (while the other kids are busy doing something else). The handprints will dry fairly quickly, so you can let each set dry before moving on to the next person.
Please know that if you are working with children, there is a good chance you will get a drop or smudge of paint somewhere on the tree skirt that you don’t want. Trying to wipe it off will likely lead to a larger smudge, so my advice is to accept that any “kid-made” project is going to include some imperfections. You might want to try a sample handprint at the very back of the Christmas tree skirt first. Additionally, you can use a second plastic tablecloth to cover the rest of the tree skirt and protect it from drips (just made sure not to cover any prints until they are completely dry).
Handprint Christmas Tree Skirt Instructions
Handprint Christmas Tree Skirt
- White Christmas tree skirt
- Acrylic Craft paint
- 1 Small foam paintbrush for each color of paint
- 1 Small plastic plate for each color of paint
- Plastic tablecloth
- Black Fine Point Sharpie
- Pom Pom trim
- Liquid Stitch or matching thread to add trim
- Step 1: Prepare your area. Before you begin, place a plastic tablecloth over the table you will be using. Spread the tree skirt out over it. (If the tree skirt is wrinkled from the packaging, iron it from the wrong side beforehand). Make sure you have ready access to a sink for people to wash their hands.
- Step 2: Squeeze out paint onto the first plastic plate, and then paint one hand. (Be sure the hand that's getting painted is above the plastic plate, NOT above the tree skirt in case any paint drips.) Put 2 coats of paint on the hand; the hand should feel quite wet in order to get a good handprint.
- Step 3: Working quickly, help the child place their hand down on the tree skirt where you want the print to be. Hold the hand down, pressing firmly on each finger and in the middle of the palm. Hold the hand down on the tree skirt about 15 seconds to get a good print.
- Step 4: Carefully lift the hand from the tree skirt, while using a clean hand to hold the tree skirt steady. If enough paint did not transfer you have two options. You can repaint the hand and place it down in the same place again OR you can use the paintbrush or a q-tip to dab extra paint down on any bare spots.
- Step 5: Repeat with the other hand. Continue making handprints, moving around the tree skirt. The paint will dry fairly quickly, so you can wait for each set of prints to dry before making the next if desired.
- Step 6: Once the paint is completely dry, you can heat set the handprints with an iron. Working one set of handprints at a time, place a thin cloth over the tree skirt and iron over the handprints, constantly moving the iron around (you must have a cloth between the painted handprints and the iron). This will help the paint to stay set for years. However, machine washing the tree skirt is not recommended.
- Step 7: Write the name and date next to each handprint set using a Sharpie.
- Step 8: If desired, add pom pom trim around the outer edge of the tree skirt. You can sew the trim on using a zig zag stitch in a matching thread, OR you can glue the trim on using fabric glue such as Liquid Stitch.
More Christmas crafts
Looking for more Christmas crafts? Visit these posts: