Having lived in Virginia for 21 years of my life, I have grown very fond of the ocean and its bounty. I started collecting seashells with my children when they were very little. I always held on to them, vowing one day we would find a use for them.
Oddly enough, it was during my 10-year return to Oklahoma that I found how I wanted to use those shells. Because I missed the sounds and smells of the water I had come to love, I wanted to recognize that part of my life somehow.
Decorating one room in a beach theme didn’t fulfill my deep need to honor those Virginia roots. It wasn’t until I started putting a Christmas tree in every room of my house, that a lightning bolt struck and gave the answer I wanted for all those lovely shells.
While it may seem odd, I have to say that a Christmas tree decorated in seashells is quite beautiful. My volunteers at work loved it so much that I made seashell ornaments for all of them over the years. They loved proudly displaying them on their own Christmas trees.
To make a seashell Christmas tree you will need several items.
Fake coral (optional),
Glitter ribbon netting,
Sand color faux granite spray,
Pipe cleaners (preferably glittery white),
Hot glue gun,
Glue sticks and
Follow these steps to complete your seashell Christmas tree:
Step 1. Decide the size of the tree you want to use. This will be crucial in order to gage the number of seashells you need to make. I generally use a 3′ to 4′ tree.
Step 2. Determine how you want to decorate your shells. I traditionally use sand colored faux granite spray to give some of the shells a gentle spray of what looks like real sand. They look remarkably authentic if you don’t overdo the granite.
For starfish, I like to keep them as pristine as possible. However, I do sometimes add a thin coat of gold spray glitter to make them shimmer without changing their natural color.
For oyster shells, I like to add a patina of pearl spray over the back, leaving the inside shell in tact as is. Then I glue one or more pearls inside. If you choose to use this procedure, it is important to vary the size of the pearl to fit the size of the shell so that it looks well balanced.
For conch shells, I sometimes add pearl or glitter spray in a light coat. However, most of them are beautiful enough to stand on their own. It is also fun to add a bit of fake coral into the fold to make it look like it got caught within the shell.
I like leaving many shells au natural so that my guests will appreciate the beauty bestowed by the sea.
Step 3. Complete the decorations as outlined in your plan established in Step 2 above. Using glitter spray is better than using loose glitter because you can control the amount of product used. That is also true of the faux granite. Too much of anything will actually detract from the ornaments. Keep it simple.
Step 4. Attach a piece of pipe cleaner to each shell to serve as its hook for hanging the ornament on the tree. You can use wire if you so desire but glittery white pipe cleaners actually add more pizzazz and look better overall.
I recommend using a glue gun for this purpose, as it is easier to control the amount of glue used and it holds well once dry.
Step 5. Cut fish netting, which can be purchased at any craft store, into strips to use as tinsel on the tree. The size of the strips will depend on the size of the tree being used, but I don’t recommend strips larger than 5″ in width.
Sometimes I prefer to use wired glitter netting, which can also be purchased at any craft store. It usually comes in white, gold, silver and copper or bronze. I like the white myself because it is in keeping with the lightness of the tree.
Truthfully, glitter ribbon netting is more versatile because the wire edges allow you to twist and turn the netting to suit your design. Fish netting can be a little lightweight and usually just lies in the position it is put into.
Step 6. Decorate your tree with the seashell ornaments you prepared. Be sure to choose different shapes and sizes in the same way you would choose bulbs for a traditional Christmas tree.
Step 7. (Optional) Use faux coral to fill in the open spaces between branches.
Step 8. (Optional) Add some fish ornaments to the tree if you want more of an overall sea theme.
Step 9. Attach a starfish to the top of the tree.
Step 10. Apply fish netting around the base of the tree as a skirt.
That is all there is to it. It’s simple, fun and a great conversation starter during your holiday parties.