11 Bell Crafts Guaranteed to Jingle All Through the Holidays
Do you hear what we hear? Only "Jingle Bells" will do when it is time for making spirits bright just about anywhere in North America during the month of December. This holiday, add the silvery peal of a bell—or better yet, a bunch of bells—to your decorations and gifts.
Bells make a charming accent to wreaths, door chimes, cozy hats, scarves and gloves, jewelry, and even wreaths. Wrap a ribbon with small jingle bells at the base of a snow globe or a glittered snowman for some extra holiday cheer. Or, dangle them in a cluster from the doorknob so that your guests who come and go are bid a chiming hello and farewell. Knit hats, scarves, and gloves this holiday are customized in style with colorful jingle bells. You can use larger bells to embellish a spray of evergreens and hang it on your front door. And even the tiniest of bells bring a festive jingle to your tablecloths or a linen runner.
Historically, they would ring on Christmas morning and so it became happily associated with the holiday season. But it isn't just the sound of cheerful church bells that remind people of Christmas. People used to travel by horse-drawn sleighs in snow-covered areas, and the bells provided a way to be heard even if visibility was low. And, of course, legend has it that you can hear the jingle bells on Santa's sleigh as he travels across the world delivering presents.
A little jingle here or there, as you go about your day, can't help but make you stop, smile, and savor a magical time of year before it goes dashing past.
Jingle Bell Boughs
Ring in the season with a simple-to-make take on the classic evergreen wreath. A few blue spruce boughs are tied with twine and adorned with dozens of little bells for a pretty sound on otherwise silent nights. The satin bow comes together without fuss—loops of ribbon are wired in place, no tying required. We dressed the display with two large mercury-glass bells and hung it from monofilament secured to the back of the door.
Cross the cut ends of two or three evergreen boughs (we used blue spruce). Bind ends with twine, and knot to secure. Attach a loop of fine-gauge green floral wire to the back for hanging. To add jingle bells, cut floral wire into 6-inch lengths and thread one bell onto one wire. Repeat for all bells (we used about 50 jingle bells, in 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch, 7/8-inch, and 11/16- inch size). Attach bells to boughs, twisting wires to secure and distributing them throughout the greenery. To attach a bow, cut 5-inch-wide wired satin ribbon into nine 7-inch-long pieces. Bend 1 ribbon in half; using a floral pick attached to wire, wrap ribbon ends with the wire to form a loop with a point. Repeat with remaining ribbons and more picks. Insert picks near tied ends of boughs to form a large bow; secure with wire as needed. We added large mercury-glass bells, securing them with floral wire, but they are optional. (You could use large Christmas balls or other ornaments instead.)
Ombré Bells Swag
New York City floral-design team Putnam & Putnam turned what's essentially throwaway material—a clipping from the base of a Christmas tree—into this modern masterpiece. They inverted the triangular branch and wired on clusters of jingle bells in muted shades of green, gold, and red. Top the mini tree with a broad satin bow; its wide tails will protect your door from any possible scratches.
Cedar and Brass Door Chime
Everyone will receive a merry greeting—and a cheerful goodbye—when you hang a few brass-plated bells on your doorknob. We used natural twine to attach them to a spray of cedar, which ups the pretty factor and buffers the door to keep the chime gentle (not jarring). Wrap the stem and twine with grosgrain ribbon, leaving a loop at the top for hanging, and tie it above the bells in a no-fuss knot.
Shop Now: Viva Terra Temple Bells, in Small and Extra Small, $9 and $19 each, vivaterra.com. Viva Terra Mini Hanging Temple-Bell Ornaments, $25 for 6, vivaterra.com. Ashland Natural Wired Twine, $4 for 10', michaels.com.
Glittered Ombré Jingle Bells
Glitter in an ombré pattern—with one color blending gradually into another—makes simple bells sparkle with sophistication.
Prime the bells, inside and out, with white acrylic paint; let dry. Add a little water to white craft glue to thin it slightly. Glitter the inside of the bell with silver glitter by brushing the thinned glue inside the bell and using a spoon to sprinkle silver glitter generously over the glue; roll the glitter inside the bell to coat. Gently shake off excess and let dry, about one hour. For the ombré pattern, select two colors of glitter. Mix them in varying proportions to form several gradations; we used pink and silver and made four blends, for a range of six colors. Brush the thinned glue onto the top of the bell, "feathering" it at the bottom of the glued area so you don't have a straight line; this will allow for a more gradual transition between colors. Use a spoon to sprinkle the glued area with glitter, starting with a shade at one end of your color range. Gently shake off excess. Continue applying glue and glitter in sections (no drying time is required), applying the final color in your range to the bottom of the bell. Let dry, about one hour.
To add a jingle-bell clapper to the bell: Use 200-grit sandpaper to roughen the surface of a 1 3/8-size metal jingle bell (this will help the glitter adhere). Thread a length of wire through the hanging loop at the top of the jingle bell, and hold the wire while you brush the bell with the thinned glue; then spoon glitter over it. Gently shake off excess, and suspend the bell to dry, about one hour. Remove it from wire.
To hang the clapper, cut 1/4-inch-wide metallic ribbon a few inches longer than twice the height of your ombré bell. Fold the ribbon in half at its midpoint; slip the folded end through the hanger on the jingle bell, and slip the loose ends through the loop formed by the folded end. Pull the ribbon snug. Tie the loose ends to the hanger on the inside of the ombré bell so the clapper hangs about an inch higher than the bottom of the bell and the knot is hidden inside.
To hang the bell, we used a 2-inch-wide metallic ribbon: Fold the ribbon in half at its midpoint, slip the folded end through the hanger on the bell, and slip the loose ends through the loop formed by the folded end. Pull the ribbon snug. Hang as desired.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Mixed Texture Glitter, $23.44 for 24, amazon.com.
Dainty crepe paper bells are a charming addition to a festive holiday table. Cut a 2 1/2-by-3 1/2-inch rectangle from crepe paper. Brush craft glue along one short side of rectangle. Starting at opposite side, roll the rectangle into a tube. Press along seam to seal, and let dry. Brush craft glue along inner edge of one end of the tube. Pinch edge together; let dry. Gently stretch open end of tube to create a bell shape, flaring the base slightly. String a jingle bell halfway onto a 7-inch length of thin silver cord; knot at the top of the bell. Thread the ends of cord through the top of the paper bell (poke a tiny hole if necessary), until the bell sits even with base of paper bell. With a pencil, mark cord at top of paper bell. Remove cord; knot ends together at mark. Rethread the ends through the top of the paper bell. Thread a sequin onto both ends; affix it to top of paper bell with craft glue. Tie cord onto a decorative ribbon. Trim excess cord.
Jingle Bell Dog Collar
It's the time of year for everyone—canines included—to don finery. In this regal, easy-to-sew collar, worn by Martha's French bulldog Francesca, two rows of silk-taffeta ribbon are pressed into box pleats and stitched in place. Narrower satin ribbon serves as a tie, and its ends are embellished with tiny bells, putting a jingle into the wearer's step.
Before you begin, print our diagram to help you construct the collar. To determine ribbon lengths, measure the circumference of your dog's neck. For the 3-inch-wide ribbon, multiply the neck measurement by 2 1/2, and cut a piece of ribbon that length. For the 1-inch-wide ribbon, add 1 foot to the neck measurement, and cut a piece of ribbon that length; set aside. Cut the 3-inch-wide ribbon into two equal lengths. With a disappearing-ink pen, mark alternating intervals of 1 inch and 1/2 inch along one side of each ribbon piece (see the top illustration in the diagram). Set iron to steam. Using the marked intervals as guides, fold and press a series of box pleats (1 inch wide, 1/2 inch deep) along the length of each ribbon piece (see diagram: inset); pin each box pleat to secure. Lay both pleated pieces flat, overlapping by about 1/4 inch and aligning pleats. Pin the overlapping area to secure. Machine-stitch pleated pieces together (diagram, second from top). Remove pins from overlapping area; leave pleats pinned. Lay the 1-inch-wide ribbon on top of the stitch on the pleated piece, aligning the stitches, centering it so there is about a 5-inch tail of narrow ribbon at each end. Pin ribbon to secure. Machine-stitch along the bottom edge of narrow ribbon (diagram, third from top); remove pins from ribbon. Flip the pleated piece (the back side should be face up, and the stitching should now run along the top edge of narrow ribbon). Fold down the top row of pleats where it meets the narrow ribbon (diagram, second from bottom), leaving ribbon flat along back of collar. Press with an iron. Unpin the pleats. Hand-stitch three bells onto each ribbon tail, sewing them in a straight line or staggering slightly (diagram, bottom).
To make comings and goings much more festive, gather a variety of crafts-store bells (these are red, gold, and silver), and string them onto two loops of wire. Mold them into a cluster shape, twist the ends of the loops together, and tie on a big bow. Hang the ornament from a doorknob with a piece of cord.
Shop Now: Creatology Jingle Bells, 16 mm, 20 mm, and 30 mm, starting from $4.50, michaels.com.
Jingle Bell Wreaths
The wonderfully familiar sounds of the holidays often get shut out while we're keeping warm indoors. Hang this wreath where it will be heard (on a door, for instance), and bring the ring of sleigh bells to all the rooms in the house. Form 16-gauge wire into a circle. Make a closed loop at one end with needle-nose pliers. Thread jingle bells onto the open end in any size and color combination. When the wire is full, join its ends by twisting the unlooped end into a hook, and fasten it onto the closed loop. Tie a piece of ribbon into a bow; secure it to the bottom of the wreath with 24-gauge wire.
Mistletoe Gift Seals
Embellish holiday parcels with two favorite symbols of the season: mistletoe and jingle bells.
Holly Tablecloth and Napkin Rings
Dress up the dinner table with tiny bells that bring a festive jingle to your tablecloth or runner. Start with a linen cloth that has an openwork hem, weave ribbon through the holes, and tie bells to ends. The embellishments are removable, so you can still wash the linens easily.
Shop Now: Threadart Embroidery Ribbon, in Kiwi Green, 7 mm, $9.25 for 11 yds., amazon.com. Art Cove Green Jingle Bells, 1/2", $3.25 for 19, artcove.com. Pottery Barn Linen Hemstitched Table Runner, in Flax, $79, potterybarn.com.
Bell Scarves, Hats, and Mittens
Oh, what fun it is to play in jingling winter wear. Make kids' spirits brighter by sewing bells to the cuffs of hats, the backs of mittens, and the ends of scarves. Rows of bells in two colors and sizes are sewn in a repeating pattern to the cuff of the hat. Silver bells sewn to the backs of basic red mittens will help a young owner identify them; the wool scarf is similarly trimmed, with little jingle bells in an icy blue. You can even add pairs of bells to elastic hair bands, and make pigtails ring.
Shop Now: iKammo Jingle Bells, in Colorful, 14mm, $9.59 for 50, amazon.com.