Last updated on November 12th, 2023 at 12:34 am
How to make recycled Christmas card bird houses to decorate your Christmas tree.
by Jane Lake
I made this free printable template to recycle some of my smaller used Christmas cards and decorate a Norfolk pine tree that sits inside my front picture window.
The little bird houses are just enough decoration for this time of year, which is early November. I’m not ready to go full-tilt Christmas yet, but the stores are already filling up with everything Christmas and these little bird houses were tweeting at me.
If you’d like to reuse Christmas cards to make bird house ornaments, just download and print the template, then follow the easy instructions below.
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» Free Printable Bird House Template (downloadable PDF file, 236kb)
» one sheet of computer paper; computer, printer, and ink
» assorted Christmas cards, approximately 6½ by 5½ inches or larger for the main bird house template, plus another strip for the roof
» pencil and sharp-nosed scissors
» straight edge (ruler or the edge of a stiff card)
» small hole paper punch (such as Fiskars 1/8″ hand punch – Amazon link)
» about six inches of metallic elastic cord, string, yarn or narrow ribbon
» glue stick or tacky glue (Amazon link)
»Optional decorations: wee bit of evergreen sprig; small artificial birds; adhesive rhinestones.
Create the Template
Download and print the the bird house template. Its actual size is about 6½ by 5½ inches.
If you print the template on card stock, you can skip the following instructions and go on with making the bird house.
If you are printing on paper, proceed as follows to first make a paper template, then a stronger one of thin card.
Cut out both the template pieces – the main bird house and the roof strip. Cut out the bird house entrance hole with fine, sharp scissors. Temporarily fold the gluing tabs toward the back to get them out of the way, then use a pencil to trace around the main bird house outline on scrap card (the back of a Christmas card is perfect). Don’t forget to trace the bird hole circle.
Unfold the tabs on the paper template, then position it back on the card, directly over the outline that you just created, and trace around the template one more time. Now carefully cut this out to make a re-usable card stock bird house template complete with glue tabs.
Also trace and cut out a thin card stock rectangle of the roof.
Make the Bird House
Fold the tabs on the card template toward the back, just as you did before with the paper template. Now trace the bird house outline onto the front of a suitable Christmas card to create the bird house box.
Unfold the gluing tabs on the template and redraw the outline on the card to include the tabs. Trace around the inside circle of the entrance hole in pencil.
Cut out your completed Christmas card bird house template then use a ruler to lightly score all the fold lines with the tips of the scissors. This includes all the glue tab folds and inside wall folds.
Begin folding the bird house into its final shape. Apply a line of glue, either by glue stick or using tacky glue, to each of the folding tabs on the base and the side walls and press into place.
Cut a suitable roof rectangle from the same Christmas card or from another card with contrasting or complementary colors. If you would like a long roof overhang (the eaves area), then make the rectangle a little longer than the current template.
Fold the roof in half. To add a hanger, use a hole punch to make a small hole in the middle of the roof, midway along the center fold line. Cut about five inches of metallic cord, or other hanging cord, and knot the ends. Push a tiny bit of the cord from the back of the roof through the round hole that you have punched in the middle. Catch hold of the cord and pull it through the hole until it is stopped by the knot.
Apply glue to the top tabs of the bird house and position the roof firmly in place. It should overlap the side walls by a little bit but otherwise sit squarely on top of the bird house. Hold the roof in place with your fingers until the glue sticks and holds the roof by itself.
Decorating the Bird House:
Have some fun adding a little greenery and little birds to your Christmas card bird house. You can buy a package of tiny little fake birds at discount or craft stores. For the greenery, just snip a small section of evergreen garland or steal a little bunch of fake pine needles from another decoration and glue them in place under the bird box entrance hole. Add a generous dollop of tacky glue behind the bird and add it to the top of the greenery.
For a bling effect, add glitter paint or self-adhesive rhinestones around the entrance, skip the greenery and perch the bird on the edge of the entrance hole.