Victorian Christmas: Gilded Walnut Ornaments
The Victorian Era has held my fascination since I was a little girl. Many girls dream of becoming princesses or superheroes—I dreamt of being a High-Society Victorian Lady and an Astronaut (yeah, I know those don’t exactly match, haha)!
That being said, I obsessively pored over books, movies, characters, crafts, and recipes from that time period. The elegance, the industrial advances, the fashion, the “modern” women who pushed forward in a time of great sexism and conservatism, all held a mesmerizing pull on my interest.
Many of our modern Christmas traditions we owe to the Victorians, both British and American. I’ve been brushing up on my research and wanted to do a “Victorian Christmas” series for you to share some wonderful Old Fashioned traditions with your family.
The first are homemade ornaments. Although factories began turning out glittering options for Christmas trees and toy stores alike, the moral compass of the time (turned deftly by Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria) pointed toward consumer conservatism and kind deeds to others. Many Christmas decorations, toys, ornaments, and food were made at home to offer time together as a family, show off crafting skills, and offer some beautiful treats to the less fortunate. An expanding middle class suddenly felt great responsibility in sharing their wealth at Christmastime to celebrate the renewal that Christmas and the winter solstice brings.
These Gilded Walnuts are the first of the handmade decorations and gifts in my series. Walnuts say “Christmas” just as sure as a Douglas Fir. Once they are cracked and cleaned out, they make the perfect little parcel for tiny gifts, fortunes, and candies. Make them ahead of Christmas, then open them on New Year’s day for a traditional “fortune telling,” or fill them with goodies for Christmas morning.
This is an easy craft for kids, once they are opened by an adult. I actually remembered this craft from the American Girl: Samantha’s Craft Book when I came across this treasure, while cleaning out some childhood boxes. My crafting skills have improved a bit from my 7 year-old self, and I still haven’t found the tiny teddy bear that is supposed to live in it, but this was one of my favorite homemade toys.
I hope you and your kids will have just as much fun making these! Let’s get started!
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- Whole Walnuts (most grocers are carrying a la carte nuts by now, but I liked having a whole bag to work with, and there were only two “bad nuts” in the whole bag of this brand)
- Strong Paring Knife
- Imitation Gold Leaf or Krylon Gold Spray Paint
- Red Satin Ribbon 1/8 inch
- Mod Podge
- Tacky Glue
- Tiny Pinecone Charms, Gold Bells, fortunes, or other embellishments and fillers
- Butter Knife (to clean out the walnut once open)
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! For more information about Victorian Christmas Traditions, I recommend these books (they’re where I found the lion’s share of my research):
Merry Christmas and happy crafting! Don’t forget to subscribe to be notified about the rest of the series! What are some Christmas traditions from your family?