Day 2 of the 24 Days of Christmas Crafting!
The goal for these 24 days is to give you ideas for hand-crafted Christmas decorations for your tree and home. Come back each day to try the next craft. 24 Days of Christmas Crafting!
These shrink plastic Christmas trees are a fun craft to do with the kids in your life! You can use them as decorations for your tree, as gift tags on presents, wine charms, earrings, and so on. The shrink plastic is durable so you can use them every year.
Materials and Supplies
(This post contains affiliate links to some of the items I used in this project. It just means that you will help to support my blog if you make a purchase after clicking the links. There is no added cost to you!)
To make the trees you will need:
- Sheets of shrink plastic such as Shrinky Dinks® – Each sheet will make 4 trees
- Markers, colored pencils, etc. to pre-decorate the trees before shrinking
- Pattern (available in my Resource Library)
- Optional: Scissors if you plan to cut them out by hand
About the Pattern
You can cut these by hand by tracing the design onto the plastic and cutting with scissors. You can also cut the plastic on your craft machine from the design in my Resource Library. I cut mine on my Cricut with the deep point blade.
About the Shrink Plastic
There are a few brands of shrink plastic. The most famous is Shrinky Dink® and they all basically work the same. Whichever brand you buy, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for heating/shrinking the plastic.
If you are interested, Wikipedia has information about the history of Shrinky Dinks®. It was invented by two moms for their sons. Go moms!
Cutting the Trees
If you are cutting by hand, print the pattern onto paper, trace the design onto the shrink plastic sheets, then cut the sheets with scissors.
If you are cutting with a craft machine, upload the .SVG file to your design software and cut as many sheets as you need for all the fun you want to have making trees!
Custom Material Settings for Craft Machines
For my Cricut Maker, there is no setting specifically for shrink plastics (polystyrene). I created a custom material after some trial and error with my machine and the shrink plastic I bought. The settings are shown below but you may need to adjust for your own machine and the specific shrink plastic you bought.
- Cut Pressure: 350
- Multicut: On – 3 Passes
- Blade: Deep Point Blade
Before I eject the mat from my Cricut, I test-lift a corner to be sure the cuts worked. If it doesn’t release everything in that corner I lifted, I let it cut again. I have only had to re-cut when a blade was getting dull. Otherwise, the settings above work for my machine.
Let the Fun Begin!
This is where you can have fun with kids. Give them each one (or more trees) and lay out all the markers and colored pencils. Make it a tree decorating party on a miniature scale.
For this batch of trees, we used Sharpie® markers and Sharpie® paint pens. The paint pens turned out great!
Be sure to make some for yourself.
Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for shrinking the plastic. I made a few sets of these and have the following tips to help you you out.
- Baking Surface: Lay the plastic trees on parchment paper on your baking trays. I sometimes have issues with the plastic sticking to my baking sheets. Now that I use parchment paper, I never have this issue.
- Reduce Curling: This took me a few tries to find a way to reduce curling. This tree shape can sometime curl too much to recover. This is what I do now: Lay another sheet of parchment paper on top of the plastic. That little bit of weight helps to keep the curling from getting too severe. It requires some additional baking time. When the plastic has shrunk to half its original size, you can remove the top parchment paper for the rest of the baking.
- Flatten: As is the nature of shrink plastics, many items come out with a bit of a concave shape. I found that increasing the temperature in the oven by 25 degrees (F) for another 5 minutes tends to take most of that concave shaping out of the finished product — assuming you don’t want it there.
In this picture, you can see how much the trees shrink. They are now almost one-third their original size.
Finish the Project
After the pieces have cooled, it’s time to finish your project.
- Add a string and hang them from your tree
- Hang them from greenery-garland over the mantle
- Attach to earring findings and wear to holiday parties
- Attach to wine charm findings, each kid gets their own sparking juice stemware marked with their own tree
- If you write names on the trees before shrinking, you can use them as gift tags
Remember to come back each day for a new project in the 24 Days of Christmas Crafting!