A couple of Danish school friends of mine invited me over once for Christmas. Their mother showed me how to make some traditional Danish decorations and I was hooked. Ever since, I've made these little woven baskets for our Christmas Tree they are so much fun to make, almost addictive and look great. You can even put little presents inside them.
I started with some pretty basic templates and then moved on to more complex designs. They all start off with the same basic paper shape and are all woven together which I think is the fun part. It's up to you if you cut them out first, or if your kids are older and are safe to use scissors. No one will miss out though because the fun part is weaving them together and watching these unassuming shapes turn into intricate decorations.
Let's start with a simple template. As you can see in the picture you have what looks like a squid or octopus with 4 legs. A semi circle at the top and a rectangle beneath, the height of the rectangle is pretty much equal to the diameter of the semicircle. I will post a a bunch of templates for you to use, but if you know the ins and outs then you can make your own. Then you can make them as big or small as you like.
You will need 2 pieces of paper of contrasting colours. Red and white I think are traditional, we use red and gold. Purple is another colour that seems to go well, pick whatever 2 colours you like. It's fine if the paper is only coloured on one side, you only get to see one side anyway. You can use the other side to draw out your template.
I've taken one of last years decorations to pieces and taken pictures to show in reverse order to help illustrate the build. It's a little crumpled because it has been pulled about so much. So you should have 2 pieces of paper of contrasting colour, you will need each piece to be at least as wide as the template and at least twice the height of the template. Fold each piece in half giving you space to draw around the template, the fold is at the short straight edge of the template.
You can either cut around a cardboard template or actually draw the template onto your paper. If you are drawing it on you will need to fold the paper with the side that won't be seen facing out and draw on that surface. Then cut out the shape, and cut along the lines that make out the legs. The picture shows what you should end up with, 2 little different coloured squid.
If you have the surface you don't want to see facing out, now is the time to reverse your fold. Otherwise you can move straight onto the weaving. The next picture shows the 2 pieces of paper folded out just so you can check you have the same shape, cuts, and folds as we have.
That is all the cutting and drawing over with and time for my favourite part. You are going to put the 2 pieces of folded paper together at 90 degrees to make a heart shape. You then weave together the strips you have cut out. You weave the strips of one piece over the strips of the other piece and you also weave them through each other. You are able to weave them through each other because of the fold you put into each piece.
This set of 4 images should get you started. You have the 2 pieces at 90 degrees ready to make the heart shape. The first image shows the first red strip passing through the first folded gold strip. It is important to note it doesn't go under the gold strip but through the fold. The other red strips are folded away so you can see the action better, there is no need to do that to your set-up.
In the next image the first red strip has been pulled through the first gold strip further. This has allowed room for the second gold strip to be slipped through the first red strip.
Next the first red strip is pulled further through and passes through the third gold strip in much the same way as it went through the first.
In the next image the first red strip has been pulled through as far as it will go, and the fourth gold strip has been passed through it to hold everything in place.
Just to ensure you understand exactly what's going on. Each piece of paper is actually 2 layers because of the fold at the end of each strip. This makes each leg into a kind of loop, and it is this loop that we use to weave the 2 sets of strips together. Alternately passing strip through loop.
You could probably go on now by yourself to complete the decoration but I'll show more images just in case.