Edible ornaments for our outside friends

As I wandered around the tree lot last year looking for my tree, I saw many friends, but it was a conversation with Betsy and her daughter that has stuck with me all year. 

This dynamic mother-daughter duo was searching for a misfit tree to add to their outside seating area. Get this: it was for the birds. Yes, they planned to use this tree as a festive birdfeeder. What a great idea!

Fast forward 12 months, and I am doing the same thing. Well – almost. Instead of a tree, I will decorate my iron trellis.

First, I will add an edible garland. I will need string, a needle, and music. Yes, I need Christmas tunes to do my Christmas crafts. I have gathered unsalted, unbuttered popcorn, fresh uncooked cranberries, red grapes, and a few cups of Cheerios. 

Just like a Hallmark movie, we sat around the table and strung the garland. Here is where you can have some fun and create a pattern – 2 cranberries, 2 popcorns, and a red grape- or alternate cranberries and cheerios, then mix in the popcorn. I guess you could even do one all cranberries and one all popcorn.

Add in a few pieces of dried fruits or in-shell, no salt or no added flavoring, peanuts, or blueberries for variety.  

One long garland strand is tempting, but smaller strands provide decorating options and are also easier to replace when needed. Once the garland is strung and hung on your tree, trellis, fence, or deck railing, it is time to add edible ornaments.

You can usually find seasonal ornaments or maybe a wreath near the birdseed when you shop. You might also find a small bird feeder you could add to your tree.  

Of course, if you are still in the crafting mood, you can create your own edible ornaments.  

Start with gathering a few pinecones from a walk through the neighborhood. Next, grab a jar of peanut butter and birdseed. Use a small spoon to mush the peanut butter in all the crevices of the cones, then roll the cones in a shallow dish filled with birdseed. You may need to use your hands to get the seed in all areas. Add string to the cones, and you’re done. 

Garland and pinecones will make a festive tree, but why not go all out and make your own edible ornaments in holiday shapes? The instructions look intense, but it really is like an outside birdseed version of rice crispy treats.

The trick is to use nonstick spray on your tools, wax paper, and even your hands (just like when making human treats). Follow the steps and make substitutions where needed. You know the food your birds like best – go ahead and mix in a few of their favorites. 

If Christmas bells and stars are not your thing, use other shapes. Why not hearts and circles – they would work through Valentine’s Day and help provide food through the deep winter.

Outdoor edible ornaments are fun for all ages to make. Get the kids, friends, and garden club involved. When you’re finished place your tree in a spot where you can watch the feasting. The only rule is to keep the ingredients healthy, so the animals stay healthy.  

Edible Birdseed ornament recipe


½ cup water

¾ cup flour

3 Tablespoons corn syrup

2 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin

4 cups birdseed

You will also need nonstick cooking spray, wax paper, string cut into 8-inch strips., and cookie cutters.

  1. Spray cookie cutters with nonstick spray. What the heck? Spray the wax paper and your hands too.
  2. Bring the water and corn syrup to a slight boil, then reduce the heat.
  3. Add gelatin, stirring until it is dissolved.
  4. Transfer to a mixing bowl, then add flour. This will be quite thick but stir until the lumps are gone.
  5. Add birdseed and mix thoroughly. Expect the texture to be thick but make sure all the birdseed is coated. 
  6. With the cookie cutters on the wax paper, fill them with birdseed. The mix will dry quickly, so keep the bowl covered as you work with the shapes.
  7. Make a hole ½ from the top – a skewer will do the trick. Make sure the hole is big enough for the twine to fit through.
  8. Move them to a wire rack to cool and dry overnight. 

9. Remove from the cutters and add the twine for hanging.

10. Hang ornaments and watch your tree become a festive feeding spot for all    to enjoy.