Yule Craft Projects for the Winter Solstice

There are so many great ways you can decorate your home for the Yule season. Adapt store-bought Christmas decorations, or make your own Pagan-themed home decor for the season. Here's how you can put together a Yule log of your own, some fun and simple ornaments, some seasonally-scented potpourri and incense, and more!

Patti Wigington

If you want to bring the spirit of the Yule season into your home, there are few better ways than by making your own holiday ornaments! Monotheistic religions don't have a monopoly on winter celebrations, so if you've got a tree to decorate, you can make some simple ornaments to help you rejoice in the winter solstice season.

Make salt dough decorations in Pagan friendly shapes like suns, moons, and stars. You can use cinnamon and applesauce to make spell ornaments for healing, prosperity, or love. Want to keep an earth-friendly theme to your Yule decorating? Why not use the elements found in nature as part of your decor? Decorate a pine cone with simple things such as seeds, acorns, feathers, and other found items - all of which are easy to make into ornaments and other decorations. Bend a few chenille stems together to make a simple pipecleaner pentacle, or fill an empty glass ornament with magical items to create a spell bottle that you can hang right there on your Yule tree! More »

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Yule Smudge Sticks

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Make seasonal smudge sticks for your Yule celebrations. Patti Wigington 2015

When Yule rolls around – December if you’re in the northern hemisphere, or in June for our readers below the equator – one of the most notable aspects of the season is that of the scents and smells. There’s something about our olfactory system triggering certain memories and recollections, and the Yule season is no exception. Aromas like pine needles, cinnamon, mulled spices, frankincense – all of these are reminders of the winter holidays for many of us.

Smudging is a great way to cleanse a sacred space, and most people use smudge sticks made of sweetgrass or sage for this purpose, but why not use more seasonally appropriate plants at Yule?

Some types of plants definitely work better than others. For instance, certain members of the fir family begin to drop their needles as soon as they begin to dry, which means you’ll end up with needles all over your floor, and not in your smudge stick if you use them. On the other hand, the trees with the longer, softer needles seem to work really well, and lend themselves nicely to a project like this.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Scissors or garden clippers
  • Cotton string
  • Seasonal plants such as evergreens (pine, fir, juniper, balsam, and cedar), as well as other scents you find appealing - try using rosemary in addition to the pine, fir, and juniper.

Trim your clippings down to a manageable length, between six and ten inches, but if you’d like to make shorter smudge sticks, go right ahead. Cut a length of string about five feet long. Put several branches together, and wind the string tightly around the stems of the bundle, leaving two inches of loose string where you began. Tie a knot when you get to the end, and leave a loop so you can hang them for drying. Depending on how fresh your branches are – and how much sap is in them – it can take a few weeks to dry them out. Once they’re done, burn them in Yule rituals and ceremonies, or use them for cleansing a sacred space.

 

Use dried juniper berries, along with cedar and pine, to make a Yule incense blend. Ed Reschke / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Scents have a way of making time stand still for us sometimes, and the aromas of the winter holidays are no exception. For many people, re-creating the smells and emotions of our childhood, or even of some distant ancestral memory, is part of the magic of the Yule season.

To make your own magical winter night's incense, first determine what form you’d like to make. You can make incense with sticks and in cones, but the easiest kind uses loose ingredients, which are then burned on top of a charcoal disc or tossed into a fire. This recipe is for loose incense.

If you have friends who might enjoy making incense with you, invite everyone over for an incense blending party. Ask each guest to bring an herb or spice of their choice, and stock up on spoons, bowls, and small jars - baby food jars are perfect for this - ahead of time. Once everyone has combined their ingredients, divide them up evenly and spread the love! More »

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Make a magical gingerbread poppet for yourself or a friend!. Image by PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images

As Yule rolls around, many of us get into crafting mode – and that is as good a time as any to work a little holiday magic. Why not take the holiday tradition of gingerbread men, and turn it into a practical poppet working?

poppet is essentially a magical doll, designed to represent a person – traditionally, they’re made from cloth or some other sort of fabric. Because we’re not going to eat these, we’ll simply be making them from felt and other craft materials, and stuffing them with magical ingredients.

Then you can give them as gifts, hang them on your holiday tree, or put them around your house.

Here are just a few ideas for magical gingerbread poppets that are appropriate for the holiday season:

Love poppet: Make a poppet to represent the object of your affection -- remember that in some magical traditions it's frowned upon to make a specific person the target of your working. If you are simply trying to attract love to yourself, but you don’t have a specific person in mind, focus on all the desirable qualities you want to see in a potential lover. Stuff your poppet with small bits of rose quartz, rose petals, parsley and peppermint.

Prosperity poppet: The holiday season is a good time to focus on prosperity. Fill the poppet with a bit of cinnamon, orange, or ginger, and maybe even a small coin to get the message across.

Healing poppet: When you make this poppet, be sure to indicate what - and whom - you are trying to heal. Focus all of your energy on the ailment in question. Fill with lemon balm, feverfew, ivy, and pine, as well as bits of turquoise and bloodstone.

Protection poppet: Create poppets that represent each member of the family, blending herbs and stones into the clay. Use hematite and amethyst, as well as basil, patchouli, and coffee for filling.

Finally, decorate your gingerbread poppet with craft paint, fabric scraps, buttons, or other embellishments. Stitch a loop of ribbon into the head so you can hang him or her on your Yule tree – or give it to a friend! More »

Herbal Sachet
Patti Wigington

Herbal sachets are a great way to use up bits of scrap fabric, and they have the added bonus of making your home smell amazing! A sachet is simply a cloth pouch or bag stuffed with aromatic blends of herbs, flowers, or other goodies. Believe it or not, there's a rich history behind the use of herbal sachets. You can place herbal sachets in your dresser drawers to give your clothing a soft seasonal scent, or tuck them under your pillow, so you can breathe in the aromas of Yule as you fall asleep.  More »

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Yule Simmering Potpourri

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Make a batch of potpourri to simmer on your stovetop. sozaijiten / Datacraft / Getty Images

Bring the scents of Yule into your home by blending up your own batch of potpourri. Keep it in a Mason jar so it will stay fresh. To use, simply scoop a half cup of mix into a small pot, and cover with a few inches of water. Allow to simmer on low heat on your stovetop, adding water as the potpourri reduces down. You can also use a small potpourri-sized crock pot. 

Blend together:

  • 3 Cups dried orange peel
  • 1 Cup dried lemon zest
  • 4 Cinnamon sticks, snapped into thirds
  • 1/4 Cup whole cloves
  • 1/4 Cup pine needles
  • A pinch of allspice
  • 10 juniper berries

Mix in a bowl and then keep in a tightly sealed jar until you're ready to use it. If you're feeling really crafty, make a big batch, divide into several jars, and then tie with a decorative ribbon or piece of raffia. Add a note card, and give as gifts for your friends at Yule!

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Make handcrafted cards to celebrate Yule. Donald Iain Smith / Moment / Getty Images

It's hard to find Yule greeting cards commercially, and often when you do locate one you like, they can be expensive. Because there's not a huge market for Pagan greeting cards, even during the Yule season sometimes it's just easier to make your own. With a little imagination—and a couple of kids to help out if possible—it's really easy to make stylish Yule cards that your friends will love. You can make a couple of different kinds of cards, depending on how much time you have, and your level of craftiness.

Before you get started, make sure you have craft supplies on hand. Things like card stock in a variety of colors, stamps, paint, ink pads, and markers will all make it easy to create your own cards. Glue, paste and glitter are useful too.

RUBBER STAMP GREETING CARDS

You'll need card stock in the colors of your choice, an ink pad, a rubber stamp with some sort of Yule theme to it—a blazing sun, pinecones, a stag, even Stonehenge—and a paint marker or calligraphy pen. One the front of your card, use the rubber stamp and ink pad to create a Yule design. On the inside, use the paint marker or calligraphy pen to write a simple Yule greeting, such as Solstice blessings from our family to yours or May the light of the Sun shine on your family this Yule season.

SNOWFLAKE CARDS

This is a lot of fun if you have small children. Get a pile of cardstock in different colors, and some white paper and scissors. Fold the white paper into eighths, and have your kids cut out snowflakes. Then glue the white snowflakes onto the front of the cardstock. Use your paint marker or calligraphy pen to write a Yule greeting on the inside. Remember, snow can be magical!

SILLY SUN CARDS

Cut out circles of yellow construction paper, and thin strips in yellow and orange. Paste a circle in the center of the front of a card, with the strips radiating out from behind it like the rays of the sun. Once the glue has dried, have your kids draw funny faces on the suns. Write a greeting on the inside of the card.

STAINED-GLASS CARDS

You'll need black card stock for this one, as well as a variety of bright colors to create your design. Create a sun or other design by cutting small pieces in bright colored paper. Place them on the black card stock, leaving black lines between the colored pieces, creating a mosaic or stained-glass effect. On the inside, paste a light-colored strip of paper for the written greeting.

KRAMPUS CARDS

The legend of the Krampus has become part of pop culture in the past few years, so why not send out a Krampus card? Find an image of the Krampus that you like, attach it to the front of a blank greeting card, and mail them out to your friends!

COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE CARDS

Although you probably can't find too many options when it comes to Pagan greeting cards in the big-box discount stores, with a little digging, you can find a lot of independent artists who have created Yule cards. Another great place to check? Your favorite metaphysical or witchy shop - and don't rule out the clever, creative folks on Etsy!  More »

08
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Winter Solstice Oil Blend

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Blend some winter solstice oil for your Yule rituals. Studio Paggy / IZA Stock / Getty Images

This is a fairly simple blend of oils, and is designed to evoke the scents and smells of the winter holiday season. As you're mixing it, picture what it must have been like for your ancestors, seeing the sunlight burst onto the horizon on the winter solstice, hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Consider how cold they must have been, with only the glow of a fire to warm them, on the longest, darkest night of the year - and the relief they must have felt at the return of the sun.

To make Winter Solstice Oil, use 1/8 Cup grapeseed oil or other base oil of your choice. Add the following:

  • 4 drops pine oil
  • 2 drops orange oil
  • 2 drops cedar oil
  • 2 drops juniper oil
  • 2 - 3 small lumps of frankincense, finely ground

As you blend the oils, visualize your intent, and take in the aroma. Know that this oil is sacred and magical. Label, date, and store in a cool, dark place. Use during your Yule celebrations to anoint participants or tools, or simmer on an aromatherapy burner.

09
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Make a Tree Topper from Found Natural Items

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Use natural found items to top your holiday tree. Village9991 / Moment / Getty Images

If your family puts up a holiday tree, it can sometimes be hard to find just the right tree topper. After all, you may not be into angels, Santa Claus might not be your thing, and some of those gold stars are pretty floppy. So why not celebrate the natural aspect of the season, and make a tree topper out of the gifts the earth provides?

Collect an assortment of the following:

  • Sticks - try to find five with a similar diameter
  • Nuts, berries or acorns
  • Small pinecones, dried fruits or cinnamon sticks
  • Feathers
  • Vines, bark or dried moss

You'll also need some raffia or cotton string and a hot glue gun.

Cross the sticks over one another to form a star. Use a dab of hot glue to hold them in place while you wrap the raffia or string around the intersections of the five sticks.

Add nuts and berries, pinecones, feathers or pieces of bark to embellish your star. Tie a piece of raffia or string into a loop at the top, and hang your star on the top of your tree.