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Make a Teddy Bear Tree

Updated on December 8, 2015
Here's what a teddy bear tree looks like.
Here's what a teddy bear tree looks like. | Source

A Fun Christmas Project

Who wouldn't love a Christmas tree made entirely of cuddly teddy bears? It was an annual tradition at the Butler County History Museum in my hometown. People looked forward to taking their children to see the unique tree each holiday season.

The creator shared with my mother the method for making this. It really isn't that difficult once you make the framework. Store that away to use each year. It does take a little time to attach the bears to the frame but the results are worth it.

If you already have a large collection of teddy bears, then you are ready to make a tree. A quick way to get enough teddies is to visit all the thrift stores nearby. The prices are usually quite reasonable and you will get 5 or 10 at each store. It takes more than 50 bears to fill the tree.

Who Created The Teddy Bear Tree?

Teresa and Lee Grange of El Dorado, Kansas made the unique tree and put it up each Christmas at the historical museum. She said she found most of her teddy bears at yard sales and some were gifts to her.

Two really special bears on the tree are named Bertha Beargartel and Dale Beargartel. These are the creations of her friend, doll collector and craftsperson Bertha Baumgartel of Howard, Kansas.

(photos courtesy of the Butler County Historical Society in El Dorado, Kansas)

Difficulty: medium

Cost: $25 to several hundred dollars

Base for the teddy bear tree.
Base for the teddy bear tree. | Source

Instructions:

1. Use a large wood circle for the base of the tree. The size depends on your desired end result. This is what you will attach the wood lathe to.

2. A smaller wood disk part way up stabilizes the tree. Use a very small one at the top. Look where her left hand is and you will see the smaller wood disk.

Above her right hand is the smallest disk. That gives you three disks to attach the lathe to.

If you have sufficient storage space, you can leave the framework for the tree assembled and store it whole. Put it in your garage or your attic or basement. That saves you a lot of time when next Christmas rolls around.

All you have to do, is dust it off and put it in place.

Start adding the teddy bears.
Start adding the teddy bears.

3. Attach wood strips or lathe to the base, the center and top. They painted these green but they won't be seen once the teddy bears are added.

4. Wrap chicken wire around the frame you've created. Attach this with a staple gun. Be sure to turn under the sharp ends or trim those off with wire snips.

5. Place the tree-shaped frame where you want (it's best not to try moving it once the bears are attached).

6. Tie the teddy bears to the chicken wire with sturdy twist ties then add a pretty ribbon around the neck (put that through the chicken wire also). Fill the whole tree with bears with the bigger ones at the bottom and smaller bears at the top.

This part is rather time consuming.

7. Put sprigs of evergreen between the bears to fill any gaps. At the museum, they used Kansas cedar boughs. You could use the parts of an old artificial tree or fresh greenery.

Notice how varied the teddy bears are. That adds to the charm of the tree. Here you see white teddy bears, brown ones and all sorts of sizes and expressions on the stuffed animals.

Supplies You'll Need for the Teddy Bear Tree

Chicken Wire

YARDGARD 308476B 4 Foot X 50 Foot 2 Inch Mesh Poultry Netting
YARDGARD 308476B 4 Foot X 50 Foot 2 Inch Mesh Poultry Netting

This goes around the lathe frame to support the bears. You can find this at a farm supply store or order it from Amazon.

 

How Handy Are You?

If you feel you don't have the DIY skills to assemble the base for the teddy bears, find a friend to help you out. As the handy pal constructs the base from the lathe and chicken wire, keep an eye on the process. Maybe next year, you can put that together yourself.

If you have storage space for the base, like a garage, basement or attic, put it away fully-assembled. Next year, just pull it out and start attaching the bears.

Staple Gun

Stanley TR45K Light Duty Staple Gun Kit
Stanley TR45K Light Duty Staple Gun Kit

Many household already have one of these on hand. Make sure you have plenty of staples for it.

 

Do You Have Lots of Teddy Bears?

Vote in the Poll

See results

You'll Need Lots of Teddy Bears

Harmony- Animated Plush Singing White Christmas Holiday Teddy Bear With Color Changing Fiber Optic Wings And Violin Animation Plays Silent Night
Harmony- Animated Plush Singing White Christmas Holiday Teddy Bear With Color Changing Fiber Optic Wings And Violin Animation Plays Silent Night

This one is pretty fancy and you could feature it on top of the tree. It changes colors in the wings and even plays a Christmas tune, Silent Night.

 

Where Can You Display the Tree?

Besides having the tree in your own home, it would be a big hit in public places where more people can see it. How about in the public library or the local museum?

The one shown here was displayed a number of years at the Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado, Kansas.

Helene Malsio's Teddy Bear Tree

Here's a variation on the teddy bear tree. She made these for a charity.
Here's a variation on the teddy bear tree. She made these for a charity. | Source

How She Made Her Teddy Bear Trees

I had a couple of spare smaller artificial trees, and I didn't do all sorts of wiring or chicken wire bases or any of the usual things that instruction guides tell you to do. I just stuck a couple of broken bricks in a bucket to stabilise the trees, then wrapped the buckets in festive paper.

Then... and I love that I thought of this .... all I did was use a ton of RUBBER BANDS, one around the neck of each bear and just slip the tip of the branch behind the head/neck of each bear.


Worked like a charm. It was flexible as needed but still creates a firm hold/grip, while being invisible at the neck of the bears. It meant the trees could take quite a bit of rough handling and moving around, and the bears stayed with it without dropping off hooks and stuff. There was no need to be untying ribbons and fiddly stuff if the tree concept is to give a group of kids a bear each; the rubber band just releases the bear and off it goes to its new home. Great flexibility, and makes it easy to move each bear around the tree until you have a nice even distribution of bears.

I put tiny ones on the top and graduated the sizes to the biggest ones at the bottom.

And then just picked a color theme of decorator balls and tinsel, with a star on top.

Another Tree Created by Helene Malmsio

Source

Here's How to Decorate a Regular Christmas Tree with Teddy Bears

© 2013 Virginia Allain

Are You Ready to Make a Teddy Bear Tree? I bet you have some teddy bears already on hand.

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    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 3 years ago

      What a delightful idea! Thank you for your clear, user-friendly instructions. Beautiful lens!

    • PennyHowe profile image

      PennyHowe 3 years ago

      Super idea. Should have kept my teddy bears. Thanks once again for an awesome and unique idea.

      Feliz Navidad!

    • archetekt lm profile image

      archetekt lm 3 years ago

      this is an interesting project and saves a tree.

    • profile image

      Craftyammy 3 years ago

      This is great. I was just given a lot of very gently love Teddies. I have cleaned them, and if necessary, repaired some items. I have also removed all noses and things that little ones could get hurt with, and embroidered them on. Now I have enlisted the help of several service clubs and we are building these for the communities. Every little one should have a teddy. This tree should help us give out the 3000 teddies that we have collected. Thanks for a great way to make Christmas a Christmas for our kids.

    • profile image

      RebeccaE 3 years ago

      oh lovely, and it is something almost anyone can follow. (even myself)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      I love this so much! Wouldn't this be a lovely project for a boys and girl's club - and when it goes down the kids could take a bear off. Kids of all ages - including grownups love bears. Bookmarked. Another great lens - congrats on the LOTD.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 3 years ago from Concord VA

      I love teddy bears, so I LOVE this tree! I'd love to have one, but I don't have that many bears. :) Congratulations on LotD!

    • tonypaull profile image

      tonypaull 3 years ago

      Congratulations on lens of the day. As a teddy bear lover I intend to give this a try!

    • profile image

      PriyabrataSingh 3 years ago

      Congratulations on Lens of the Day! Very unique and awesome concepts. I have been through so many types of Christmas trees but it is a wide idea mounting to the top. Thanks for this outlook.

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      What a cute and unique idea. Very lovely. Alas, I haven't enough teddy bears, yet the idea is one I will for sure pass along. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is so cute. What a great idea.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      What a beauty of a teddy bear tree! The directions seem so easy to follow. I won't be doing it this year but you can bet I will use this idea eventually! It would be great at a school classroom Christmas party and let each child pick a teddy bear off the tree to keep!

    • CrazyHomemaker profile image

      CrazyHomemaker 3 years ago

      This is so cute! Congrats on LOTD. I LOVE this idea!

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hi! This is one unique tree! Thanks for sharing it with us. - Ms. Charito from the Philippines

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I did have. Thrift shops aren't accepting stuffed animals as gifts anymore because of health regulations. I've got several in really good shape I don't know what to do with. They have hardly ever been used. Congrats on earning LOTD!

    • profile image

      MobyD 3 years ago

      Congratulations on Lens of the Day! It's a very well done lens with good photos to help explain the process. I hope the lens gets lots of views this month.

    • jen17 lm profile image

      jen17 lm 3 years ago

      What a great idea! I think I might try that!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Back again to say Congratulations on your Lens of the Day. This is a perfect project for this time of year, and a great lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 3 years ago

      This Teddy Bear tree is adorable! Thanks for the idea and the how to!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 3 years ago

      I do have some teddy bears, but not enough for a big tree. This would be a great project for the lobby of a Children's Hospital. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • thesatanrecords profile image

      The Satan Records 3 years ago from The Satan Records

      great lens and great project. Good to see so many Christmas lenses on this site, it helps you get into the spirit of Christmas :)

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 3 years ago

      My aunt has a lot of snowmen, this would work great for those also!

    • profile image

      kamuwela-pupuhi 3 years ago

      I have to share this article with my mom - great posting!

    • profile image

      Thamisgith 3 years ago

      Great idea! Definitely a different spin on tradition - but it works!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      This is such a beautiful project! Thank you so much for sharing your prize-worthy Lens of the Day!

    • Mellithorpe profile image

      Mellithorpe 3 years ago

      Loved your lens. I collect teddy bears. I don't know why I never thought of this.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 3 years ago from So Cal

      Super cute! I can see me hugging the whole tree. It's a very good idea and if I made a smaller one, I could give it as a gift to a very special child. Congrats on LOTD!

    • chrisilouwho profile image

      chrisilouwho 3 years ago

      Unique! Must be fun for the kiddies. Congrats!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Looks so adorable! I can see kid's eyes light up when they see it! Congrats on the Lens!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      For sure a very unique idea, and beautiful when it's finished. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      What a cute idea! Your instructions make it look so easy. Congratulations on your Lens of the Day award. Richly deserved!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      Just when you think they couldn't possibly come up with a new idea! I love your Teddy 'How To' lens.

    • Craftymarie profile image

      Marie 3 years ago

      What a wonderful idea - a Christmas tree stuffed with teddy bears.

    • eiramarie profile image

      eiramarie 3 years ago

      Wow this is amazing...

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 3 years ago

      I love teddy bears! My teddy bear would surely nag me to make one if he saw this. :P

    • ajtyne profile image

      AJ 3 years ago from North Carolina

      So cute! I like some of these ideas for having one at shelters and hospitals. The bears would then become the gifts, maybe.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      What a fun idea. Thanks for sharing it with us. Congratulations on your win.

    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Not sure I think this is so great, with that framework and kids around, but I think the idea is quite good!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 3 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Congratulations Virginia! It's a wonderful idea to share!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      This is one of the best Christmas tree ideas I have even seen. Absolutely love it. Makes me want to create one for children at the women's shelter. Congrats on your win! So happy for you.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 3 years ago from Northern California

      Cute. It would be great fun in a childrens' hospital at the holidays.

    • profile image

      ChristyZ 3 years ago

      What a great idea, the tree is so cute!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I do have some already on hand, but I have more of the Beanie Baby Dogs....so I could make a dog tree. A fun idea and your lens looks great. Love the Christmas tree background.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 3 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I don't know if I can "bear" how completely adorable this teddy bear tree is! :) ha Excellent!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I sure have enough Teddy Bears to create a tree so might have to try this. Great idea.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      Aw Scarlettohairy took my line. That tree is adorable. I have plans for a very creative tree too but I'll share it online next year. I already have my Christmas tree up this year. Fa lalalalala la la la la...

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 3 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      That's beary cute!

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