More than any time of the year, the December holidays always bring back reminders of childhood traditions. Growing up in a family heavily influenced by European customs, I remember doing and making things my classmates did not. As a child it made me feel like an odd bird when I really just wanted to fit in. As an adult, however, fitting in isn’t something I strive for and those childhood habits really define who I am today (which is still pretty much an odd bird). One consistent thread that has traveled through my entire life is an appreciation for natural things over artificial. Growing up it was important for us to have a real tree even though an artificial one would have been more convenient. As an adult I love selecting a living tree that I can later plant in my yard.
Holiday decorations were also often made from things that could be found around the house. Wreaths made of juniper or whatever evergreen was growing at the time or holiday window ornaments out of sliced dried citrus were favored over store bought ornaments.
So when I opened a package I received from home today, I was pleased to see some gorgeous deep red Arkansas Black apples. The almost burgundy-red color made me immediately think of the apple Santas we made as a children. So rather than eat one of the apples, I sacrificed it for a little bit of holiday decoration which I hope you will enjoy. These are easy to make with children and can last for several weeks if kept in a cooler location.
What you will need for each apple Santa.
- One large apple
- Some fluff for beard and hat trim (can be polyfill or even some cotton balls)
- A whole walnut for the head
- Two walnut halves for feet
- A couple of peppercorns for eyes
- A couple of twigs for arms
- Some cranberries or white chocolate chips for jacket buttons (depending on apple color)
- Skewers to hold head in place and poke pilot holes for arms
- Some red paper to make a hat
- Some glue and a pair of scissors (I would recommend hot glue for putting the feet on. When working with kids, parents should do this part)
To prep the walnuts place a couple in a baking pan and bake in a 250° oven for 35 minutes. Baking the walnuts makes it easier to split and insert a skewer. After the required time, remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. For the feet you will need two walnuts halves. Take one of the walnuts and insert a sharp knife into the flat end, along the seam. Carefully push the knife through the center until the walnut splits in half. Remove the flesh and set aside. For the head, insert a skewer into a walnut about 1/4 inch (go too far and you risk splitting the shell). Trim skewer so that about 1″ sticks out of the walnut and push this into the bottom of the apple. Inverting the apple give Santa a wider, more classic, shape. Glue feet to the other end of the apple, using photo of the completed Santa as reference for placement.
Take another skewer and make pilot holes into the apple to insert the arms/twigs. Insert one on each side. To make the hat trace a circle (I used a canister lid that had a diameter of about 5 ” and then just kept twisting to the desired width.) and cut it in half. Roll one half into a cone shape. You can find detail instruction here. You will just be making one on a smaller scale. Glue hat together and also glue some fluff around the bottom. Use a bit more glue to attach hat to Santa’s head. Finish Santa’s face by gluing on some peppercorns for eyes a raisin or cranberry for a nose and some fluff for his beard. Glue a couple of more raisins/white chocolate chips down the from of his body for buttons and your Santa is ready to take his place amongst your holiday decorations.