Birdseed Ornaments

By Ann Fulton

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It’s hard to come up with the perfect gift for parents, teachers, neighbors, aunt and uncles, and family friends.  Birdseed ornaments are fun to make and economical, too — and your feathered friends will thank you! 🐦


At first glance, a recipe featuring birdseed might suggest that I’m dishing up unappetizing diet fare as punishment for overloaded Thanksgiving plates and a few too many turkey sandwiches. Rest assured. I would never do that!

Conversely, after long hours spent preparing a holiday feast, the cook has earned the right to coast on leftovers for a while. And while it may be a little early for gingerbread men and sand tarts, those cookie cutters can be put to good use with a fun project that pulls double duty as a thoughtful gift or present topper.

When my sons were little, we began what became an annual ritual of making homemade gifts for relatives and teachers. The boys always felt a sense of pride giving a little something in which they invested their time and effort, and we always had fun in the process.

Over the years, we chose projects with the hopes that the items could be readily used, consumed, or tucked away with the holiday decorations to be revisited in future years as a special keepsake. Visions of the gift recipients’ closets and drawers always lurked in the back of my mind. Space is always at a premium—no need to contribute clutter!

The first time we made these ornaments, I was certain the relentless invaders of our backyard birdfeeders would make quick work of them. To my surprise, the squirrels largely ignored them. They hold up quite well and, topped with a colorful ribbon, look pretty amidst the leafless trees.

On that note, I recently read that mixing some cayenne pepper with the birdseed destined for traditional feeders will keep the squirrels at bay without bothering the birds. Though we haven’t yet put this tip to use, I thought it worth mentioning for those who end up watching more squirrels than birds.

It’s hard to come up with the perfect gift for parents, teachers, neighbors, aunt and uncles, and family friends.  Birdseed ornaments are fun to make and economical, too -- and your feathered friends will thank you! 🐦

Birdseed ornaments are fun to make, economical, and can be a thoughtful gift for parents, teachers, neighbors, aunt and uncles, and family friends.

Birdseed Ornaments
Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 8 hours
Yield: 3-4 ornaments made from standard-size cookie cutters
If you’d like to make additional ornaments, I recommend doing them in separate batches. That way, the mixture won’t start to dry out as the ornaments are being made. You want the birdseed to be wet when going into the cookie cutters for maximum stick factor once dried, and prepping individual batches takes just a minute or two.
  • ¾ to 1 cup birdseed
  • 1 packet (.25 ounce or 7 grams) of gelatin (unflavored—I use Knox)
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • Cookie cutters, lightly greased*
  • Twine and/or ribbon
  • Parchment or waxed paper
  1. Combine the gelatin and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for one minute. Stir in ¾ cup birdseed, adding extra as needed until all the liquid is absorbed. (You won’t want to add much more than 1 cup, otherwise there won’t be enough “glue” to bind the birdseed once dried.)
  2. Place the cookie cutters on a parchment or waxed paper on a baking sheet. (You can make the ornaments right on the counter, but a baking sheet allows for them to be easily moved aside later.) Fill each ornament halfway with the birdseed mixture. Lay a piece of twine down the length of the cookie cutter. Fill the cookie cutter to the top with remaining birdseed mixture, making sure to pack it down firmly. Allow the ornaments to dry for several hours or overnight. Once completely dried, gently press the ornaments out of the cookie cutters. If desired, add a decorative ribbon and hang on a tree branch for the birds to enjoy!
  3. STORAGE: If not hanging the ornaments outside right away, they may be stored in an airtight container for a day or two in a cool, dry place. For longer storage, it’s best to freeze them. Once moisture is introduced, seed is prone to mold and sprouting, which can still develop in the refrigerator. Additionally, seed moths or their larvae are sometimes already present in birdseed. Although this doesn’t mean the seed has gone bad, moisture and humid conditions will hasten their development.

*The cookie cutters do not have to be greased, but lightly greasing them will make for extra easy removal once dry, especially when using ornaments with small angles like stars. Younger children may be better off using ornaments without tight corners, as these are slightly harder to pack with the birdseed. We use a very small spoon for this.

The key to ornaments that are sturdy and stick together is to press firmly on the birdseed mixture as you pack it into the molds.


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  1. Tammy

    I wish I could post a picture.
    We took our Christmas decorations down on New Year’s Day. Our tree is now in our backyard tied to a pole with a bunch of birdseed ornaments now decorating it.
    The recipe was easy and didn’t take very long at all. We doubled the recipe (made it twice) and put a little oil around the cookie cutters for easy removal.
    The doubled recipe made 6 to 7 ornaments, depending on the size of the cookie cutter, so we made 13 ornaments.
    They are so cute!

    1. Ann Post author

      I wish you could too, Tammy! (If you’re on Instagram or Facebook, post there and tag Fountain Avenue Kitchen!) Thank you for your wonderful feedback. I’m delighted the ornaments were a success and love that you hung them on your now-outside, tied-up Christmas tree. Genius!