Merry Terrariums

One of the problems with crafting Christmas gifts is the amount of time it takes to lovingly render something for friends and family with your own two hands.  We all have to-do lists a mile long, so unless you are one of those rare exotic types who has had your shopping done since early fall and now has nothing else to do but bake complicated cookies and knit tiny mittens for your nativity scene figures, we have reached the point in December where “easy” trumps “amazing.”  With that in mind, you could go two routes with this craft —  if you happen to have a free afternoon this weekend, you could easily knock out a dozen of these lovely and unique terrarium ornaments … or if you only have an hour to spare, you can make a simpler version using dried moss, little twigs, small shells, or anything other tiny natural thing you might have around the house.  Either way, you’ll have a pretty gift you can claim as your own!

What you need:
Clear glass ornaments (I found mine at Michael’s)
potting soil
water-storing crystals
tiny plants (see note below)
small funnel
pair of tweezers
optional: moss/shells/other dried organic stuff

Before you get started: The plants I used were a variety of Sedum; at the small nursery I went to, they actually had a partially dead flat that they gave me for free. You need to find something very small that you can push through the neck of your ornaments– tell a nursery employee what you’re making and they should be able to direct you to something that will work.  You could also look around your yard for types of moss to use!  The nursery should also carry water-storing crystals.  If you’re foregoing the plants and making the easier version, you can skip most of these steps — just grab a chopstick and fill the ornaments with your shells, sand, moss, etc.!

1. Carefully remove the caps from your ornaments and set aside. Be very careful with the openings of these ornaments as there may be sharp edges. You may want to wear gloves. Using the funnel, drop a pinch of water crystals into the bottom of each ornament. (Don’t use too many of these, they get bigger when soaked with water!)

2. Put some potting soil in a pot or bucket and chop up any big chunks. Use the spoon and the funnel to add soil to each ornament. Just add a little at a time and use the chopstick if the funnel gets clogged. Again, be careful — the glass is very delicate and you don’t want to break the necks of the ornaments getting too crazy with the chopstick! Fill about halfway with soil.

3. Using the chopstick, make a hole in the soil where you want your first plant.  Pick a small plant and gently remove from its container, carefully teasing away excess soil from the roots. Use the chopstick to push the plant into the ornament.

4. Using tweezers if necessary, position the plant where you want it.  The chopstick is your new best friend — use it to position the plant and push down in the soil around it.

5. Add more plants if you wish, or shells, moss, or any other decorative little thing you may have on hand.  If your soil is pretty moist, you probably don’t need to add water at this point … if you do, use a spoon and add just a few drops at a time. Do not over water! Use a q-tip to remove any dirt or water crystals clinging to the inside.

6. Put the cap back on the ornament and tie a length of ribbon very securely through the top.  You may want to make a tag with care instructions … they’re not very complicated!  If the soil looks dry, add a few drops of water, and if they want to keep their little plant going after the holidays are over, they can put it in a paper grocery bag and smash the ornament to jailbreak it for replanting.

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