DIY Birdseed Ornaments (Make it for Christmas)

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on December 14, 2010

When I heard about making birdseed cakes / ornaments I knew I just had to try it out for myself.

You see, I’ve always wanted to decorate a tree for the birds in our backyard.  I would love to string popcorn, raisins and cranberries into a garland to drape on the branches, and then add frugal edible avian ornaments just like these!

Just imagine making a batch and wrapping them up as gifts for bird loving friends & neighbors.  It’s homemade, inexpensive and useful!  Now on to the tutorial.

Materials:

1 package of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup of hot water
3/4 cup of flour
3 TBSP of corn syrup
4 cups of birdseed
Molds (silicon or regular muffin tins work well)
Straws

Directions:

1.  In the microwave (or on the stove) heat the water.

2.  Dissolve the unflavored gelatin in the hot water.

3.  Add corn syrup and stir till dissolved.

4.  Pour flour into birdseed and mix well.

5.  Pour water/gelatin/cornsyrup mixture into the birdseed/flour and stir well.  It will start to get “clumpy”.

6.  Cut some straws in half.7.  Fill molds with birdseed mixture and poke a hole through the middle with a chopstick.  Then place a straw in the hole.  Where the straw is will be where you can place a string through your ornament!

8.  Place the whole thing in the fridge to dry/set.  Overnight at a minimum.  Mine wound up sitting in the basement fridge for a week because I got busy.

9.  Pop the completed birdseed ornaments out of the molds and thread a string through the hole.  Hang on a handy tree.

I’ve had these hanging for a few days now, and the birds have not found them yet.  I can’t wait until I see some little feathered friends enjoying their treat!

Although I’ve posted this as a possible Christmas gift, they really can be used any time of year.  I think that a good heavy rain would eventually melt through the gelatin/cornsyrup/flour glue. . . but we already had a drizzle that melted all the snow and the birdseed ornament is still holding together.

If you really wanted to give the birds a feast to remember, you could add some nuts, dried fruit and/or popcorn to the mix!

Don’t miss the rest of the “Make it for Christmas” posts!

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy December 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm

This is a great school or Girl Scout troop activity. With all the peanut butter allergies these days, you can’t make the traditional PB on a bagel with birdseed smooshed on top. This would be a great alternative.

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Lisa December 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

I just made up 3 dozen of these. My kids helped. We’ll give these away as Christmas gifts to relatives. Great idea – thanks for sharing! When I post about this on my blog in the next few days I’ll be linking back. ;-)

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate December 22, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Nancy-Good point about this being safer than peanut butter

Lisa-Great! I’m so glad you enjoyed the tutorial. Can’t wait to see what you write up. . .

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Karen January 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I am making 150 of these as a wedding favor for my daughter. I am using a heart shaped cookie cutter with holes drilled in the top for the hanging string. By the way she is marrying a man whose last name is Bird and getting married in a bird sanctuary.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate January 5, 2011 at 8:59 am

Karen-what a fabulous wedding favor! If you would like to send me a picture when you are done I’d love to post it.

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jami January 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

How long with these last sitting at room temperature? (Stored.)

Thank you!!!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate January 31, 2011 at 7:20 am

Honestly I’m not sure. I think that as long as they stayed dry & weren’t exposed to a lot of humidity they’d last quite a while. Especially if you sealed them in a zippered baggie etc.

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Wendi Mulvey November 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Love this idea! My daughter and I are making a bunch of homemade Christmas gifts today and I’m posting photos as we go on my Facebook page. Messy but fun!

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Barb Hershey December 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I tried your recipe today. I researched several different recipes, yours seemed to be the A) easiest and B) the most sticky to hold the seed together! I made lots of ornaments, hoping they will be suitable as gifts! I used twine, molding the twine into the center of each ornament…hopefully, they will hold together! Thanks!

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Diana December 9, 2011 at 9:59 am

How did it go, does this recipe hold up? I’m looking to make these this weekend, but am concerned about them holding together – a common problem on other sites.

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Barb Hershey December 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I pressed the mixture into cookie cutters and let it dry for several days in the fridge…seems to work…I don’t know yet how they will hold up in NE Ohio weather, but I plan to give them out at an Ornament Exchange Brunch! Thanks!!!

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Ellie Emond December 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I’m having my 6 and 3 year old nephews over tomorrow to make the oranments, and I am even more excited after reading the comments above. It is only 8 degrees here in MN, so I’m going to set them in a sealed container outside to set. Thank you!

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jillian February 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm

i tried this today. i have a baby shower i’m making them for april 14th. do you think they will be ok to stay in a tub out in the cold until then? or when do you recommend making them? how early before the event? I’m super excited to see how they turned out!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Jillian-What a great idea to use them for Baby Shower favors! Moisture will not be good for these if they are just sitting out-but I would think inside of a tub (maybe in a garage or a shed) in the cold I would think they would be ok. . .

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Josephine A. Geiger December 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm

What a great idea!
I am going to try it this week, but I plan on molding them the same size as the suet cakes – then there shouldn’t be any worry about the string holding or not.
thanks :D

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Kathleen December 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm

If you put the mixture on a baking sheet and let it set for a few hours then use Christmas shaped cookie cutters placing your “cookies” on another baking sheet with the straw inserted to finish the curing time you can decorate your outside tree in style.

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Gloria December 11, 2012 at 7:30 am

I made them in rather large cookie cutters. The recipe makes about 8 if you push the mixture into the cookie cutters about an inch thick. One thing I did that I would change, is that I put the straw in a little too close to the top. Should have put it more in the center. I was thinking ornament more than how it would hold up. But they were easy and look darling. They were a little messy as the seed sticks to your hands. With kids, I would recommend doing it in an area that is easy to sweep up.

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karen December 11, 2012 at 7:53 am

Has anyone tried these adding peanut butter to the gelatin mix instead of the surup?

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Lor December 11, 2012 at 8:42 am

Just a suggestion: for hanging the bird seed mixture… I have some outdated tahini & almond butter (organic too, shame, but not a waste) that Iwill mix with seed etc.
and tho I have not tried it yet …I have collected produce netted bags , I’ll use the ones with the smallest holes to fill & hang. I think that could work and also be easy to hang.

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Sue February 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Pinned this over Christmas and finally got a chance to make these! Had all the ingredients – so easy!!! It is messy but worth it. I had been saving juice box straws and used them. I have a lot of feeders but am excited to see the birds in new locations! I highly recommend making this with children and it is a gift I would love receiving myself!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Sue-so glad you enjoyed the project and had fun! I’m sure the birds in your yard will thank you :)

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Jen October 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Has anyone put them in the freezer, I wonder if that would be an ok place to have them set for a while…..

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate October 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I haven’t tried the freezer. you could try a few there. But they will set up just in the air, it just takes longer :)

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