Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

Christmas Miniatures by Christine Hayward

Victorian Feather Tree

Christmas trees were so popular in Germany in the 19th century that a law was passed forbidding families more than one tree in an effort to save the pine forests. Ever resourceful, the Germans began making artificial trees from dyed ostrich feathers which became popular through the world, and original trees are of increasing value today.



Tacky glue
Green Chenille stick / pipe cleaner
Green cotton






Step 1: Cut 3 pieces of chenille stick 1 ¾ inches, 3 pieces 1 ¼ inches and one piece ¾ inch. Trim the fluffiness back for a sparse Victorian look. (Save the flock - it looks useful for moss.)

Step 2: Trim the toothpick to approximately 2 inches and glue into the bead. Mark ½ inch intervals above the bead.


Step 3: Fold the 1 ¾ inch pieces, 2 of the 1 ¼ inch pieces and the ¾ inch piece in the middle to the angles shown in the 2nd picture. The 3rd 1 ¼ inch piece can be folded at 3/8 inches- the long leg will be the top of the tree. 


Step 4: Tie a length of green cotton around the bottom ½ inch mark leaving generous tails. Taking a 1 ¾ inch chenille stick piece, dab some tacky glue onto the outside of the bend and press against the bottom ½ inch mark. Secure to the ‘trunk’ with a couple of wraps of cotton. Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd 1 ¾ pieces securing to the trunk and the other branches. Tie the cotton off and trim closely, hiding ends in glue. Leave to dry and repeat with cotton and the two 1 ¼ inch chenille stick pieces on the middle mark. 


Step 5: Tie your cotton to the top mark and take the last chenille stick piece. Dabbing glue on the outside edge of the long side glue to trunk so that the long side forms the top of the tree. Secure with cotton. Add final chenille stick piece (3/4 inch) the same way as the other branches. Leave to dry, bend to shape and trim where necessary. Embellish! 



Alternative: To decorate with candles, cut all the chenille sticks ½ inch longer to allow to for a ¼ inch bend on each branch to hold candles. ‘Screw’ a sequin onto the bent end and top with a 3/8 inch piece of plastic hollow cotton bud stem and a twist of yellow cellophane. 

Advent Wreath

In a traditional advent wreath the candles are lit in increasing order with the 1st to be lit the 1st Sunday of Advent. On the second Sunday the 1st candle is relit and a 2nd candle is lit and so on until the Sunday before Christmas. Some advent wreaths include a 5th candle and this wreath can be adapted to include this. For a more symbolic Christian advent wreath the candles can be painted: Three purple candles for the coming of the King and signifying Hope, Love and Peace, one rose candle to signify Joy and a white central candle to be lit on Christmas Day for Christ.


Requirements for basic wreath:

Pipe cleaner/chenille stick

2 cotton buds – the type with hollow plastic stems

yellow cellophane

(optional red glass paint)

red ribbon




Step 1: Bending the end a little less than ½ inch at right angles to the rest of the chenille stick, wind the chenille stick 1 ¼ times loosely around your thumb. Bend stick again at right angles and trim to same length as other bend end, hooking the stick into a circle as shown. (green) 


Step 2: Bend again as before, curve approx. ¼ way around the circle and bend and trim as in step 1. (Shown here in pink for clarity)


Step 3: Wind the remainder of the chenille stick (shown in blue) around the circle to add fullness and secure. If you want to add a 5th candle, after winding, bend into centre and bend at right angles. Trim if necessary to match other ends.  By now you will probably have used all your chenille stick.


Step 4: Trim 4 (or5) ½ to ¾ lengths of cotton bud stem (don’t throw tips away- they can be used for another project) and slide over the sticking up ends of the chenille stick to make candles. Trim to a length you find pleasing.


Step 5: Cut yellow cellophane into a ½ inch square for each candle, fold into thirds on the angle (nappy style) and holding the top wide section between thumb and forefinger, twist the remainder tightly to fit into the top of the cotton bud candle. Add a drop of red glass paint if desired. If you are having trouble fitting the flame in, twist more tightly and trim chenille sticks if necessary.



Step 6: Wrap your ribbon around the wreath and tie a bow. Embellish as desired. 



Robin Redbreast

“Another old tale tells about the robin and how he got his red breast,” said Daddy. “How did he?” asked Peter, looking at a robin who had flown down nearby, hoping for a crumb or two. “Well, a robin saw Jesus on the cross,” said Daddy, “and he noticed his crown of thorns. The little bird saw how the thorns pricked Christ’s brow, and he flew down to try and peck them out. He stained his breast in the blood of Jesus, and made it red - and as you see, it is still red to this day.” ‘The Christmas Book’ by Enid Blyton, 1944.



tacky or craft glue


Black and brown acrylic paint

Red colouring pencil

Cotton bud (with hollow plastic stem)

Felt, preferably brown, but it will be painted.



Step 1: From the felt, cut a roughly ¼ inch circle which will then be cut in 2 halves (wings) and a wedge about ½ inch long and 1/8 inch at one end tapering to a point at the other (tail). Cut a shallow triangle from the wide end. Paint these and the cotton bud (see photos) brown – do not add water to the paint or it will seep through the cotton bud.


Step 2: When the paint is dry, colour the cotton bud’s ‘chest’ in with the colouring pencil. Cut stem of cotton bud off leaving about 3/8 inch for the bird’s body. 



Step 3: Push the narrow end of the tail wedge into the hole left from the stem in the cotton bud end and glue the wings in place. Touch up paint at tail if necessary.



Step 4: Using a toothpick and black paint, dot each eye. Use a little more paint for the beak and draw it out to a small peak if you can. 



Glue your little Robin Redbreast where the tail meets the body into his setting. 



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