Looking for an inexpensive and unique Christmas decoration that will delight your local wildlife? Build a tomato cage Christmas tree using fresh greenery, and trim it with popcorn and cranberries, peanut butter pine cones, and fresh or dried fruit. A star-shaped suet feeder tops off this wintertime DIY bird feeder project. Birds will flock to it, and you can re-trim it every few days as they eat up the tasty treats. Here’s how to make it.
- Tomato Cage
- Green garden twine
- Fresh-cut greenery
- Popped popcorn (unsalted and unbutttered)
- Fresh cranberries
- Strong thread
- Pine cones
- Peanut butter
- Red and white baker's twine
- Bird seed of your choice
- Star-shaped suet feeder
- Floral wire
- Other treats your birds will enjoy (see step 4)
- Wire snips
- Long needle
Build the Tomato Cage Christmas Tree
- Turn the tomato cage upside down to rest on its circular top. Bend the wire spokes together and tie tightly with green gardening twine as shown.
- Starting toward the bottom of the cage, begin bunching fresh greens and tying into place with twine. Work on both the upright supports and the horizontal sections. Don't worry about whether the twine shows, since the additional layers will cover it as you work upward.
- Work your way around upward and in a circle, adding more greens as needed to cover the cage completely.
- When you reach the top, trim any stems and use only sections of greens covered in needles. Attach carefully with twine, trimming and tucking the twine out of sight.
- Arrange greens and trim as needed. Add more greens to any place that seems sparse.
- Mist the whole tree well with water to help keep it fresh.
Make the Popcorn and Cranberry Garland
- Rinse and drain fresh cranberries.
- Cut a six foot length of strong thread. Tie a large knot at one end. Thread the other end onto the needle.
- Push the needle through one cranberry and down to the bottom of the thread. Ensure the knot will hold firm.
- Using unsalted, unbuttered popcorn (microwave popcorn is fine as long as it is plain) that has been allowed to cool, thread 3 kernels onto the thread down to the cranberry.
- Repeat with alternating cranberry and popcorn until your garland is complete. Tie a knot to finish.
- Tie one end of the popcorn cranberry garland to one of the wire spoke ends at the top of the tree. Wrap the garland around the tree as desired and tie the other end to part of the cage or a strong branch of greens.
Prepare the Peanut Butter Birdseed Pine Cones
- Tie a piece of baker's twine around the top of each pine cone to use as a hanger.
- On a protected surface, spread peanut butter on each pine cone to cover the sides and bottom.
- Roll each pine cone in a shallow dish of bird seed until completely covered.
- Tie the birdseed pine cones onto the tree using the baker's twine.
Tip: If using natural peanut butter that is a bit more runny, put the birdseed-covered pine cones in the freezer for a few minutes to set before hanging.
Add More Treats for the Birds
Add any other snacks your local birds and wildlife will enjoy. Some suggestions:
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Strings of peanuts in the shell
- Suet balls
- Bird seed ornaments (learn to make them here)
- Dried millet or other grains
- Chains of unsweetened breakfast cereal like Cheerios
- Sprigs of native berries, including holly, juniper, or bayberry
Attach the Suet Feeder Star
- Place the unwrapped suet cake into the feeder and close the door firmly.
- Settle the suet feeder on the top of the tree, pushing in into place among the spoke ends.
- Use floral wire to secure the feeder firmly in place. Ensure all sharp wire ends are trimmed or tucked inside the tree to avoid injuring the birds.
Place Your Tomato Cage Christmas Tree for Birds
- Find a good location for your tree so you can watch the birds visit it.
- If setting the tree on the ground, you may want to use metal lawn staples to hold it in place.
- If setting it on a table or railing, use heavy bricks or stones to keep it from tipping over.