butler county museum teddy bear tree

A Fun Christmas Project

Who wouldn't love a Christmas tree made entirely of cuddly teddy bears? It was an annual tradition at the Butler County History Museum in my hometown. People looked forward to taking their children to see the unique tree each holiday season.

The creator shared with my mother the method for making this. It really isn't that difficult once you make the framework. Store that away to use each year. It does take a little time to attach the bears to the frame but the results are worth it.

If you already have a large collection of teddy bears, then you are ready to make a tree. A quick way to get enough teddies is to visit all the thrift stores nearby. The prices are usually quite reasonable and you will get 5 or 10 at each store. It takes more than 50 bears to fill the tree.

Who Created The Teddy Bear Tree?

Teresa and Lee Grange of El Dorado, Kansas made the unique tree and put it up each Christmas at the historical museum. She said she found most of her teddy bears at yard sales and some were gifts to her.

Two really special bears on the tree are named Bertha Beargartel and Dale Beargartel. These are the creations of her friend, doll collector and craftsperson Bertha Baumgartel of Howard, Kansas.

(photos courtesy of the Baltimore County Historical Society)

Step 1

Use a large wood circle for the base of the tree. The size depends on your desired end result.

Step 2

A smaller wood disk part way up stabilizes the tree. Use a very small one at the top.

Step 3

Attach wood strips or lathe to the base, the center and top. They painted these green but they won't be seen once the teddy bears are added.

Step 4

Wrap chicken wire around the frame you've created. Attach this with a staple gun. Be sure to turn under the sharp ends or trim those off with wire snips.

Step 5

Place the tree-shaped frame where you want (it's best not to try moving it once the bears are attached).

Step 6

Tie the teddy bears to the chicken wire with sturdy twist ties then add a pretty ribbon around the neck (put that through the chicken wire also). Fill the whole tree with bears with the bigger ones at the bottom and smaller bears at the top.

Step 7

Put sprigs of evergreen between the bears to fill any gaps. At the museum, they used Kansas cedar boughs. You could use the parts of an old artificial tree or fresh greenery.

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Are You Ready to Make a Teddy Bear Tree?

I bet you have some teddy bears already on hand.

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  • sierradawn Dec 28, 2013 @ 12:25 am
    What a delightful idea! Thank you for your clear, user-friendly instructions. Beautiful lens!
  • Centavo Dec 08, 2013 @ 7:02 pm
    Super idea. Should have kept my teddy bears. Thanks once again for an awesome and unique idea.
    Feliz Navidad!
  • archetekt Dec 08, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
    this is an interesting project and saves a tree.
  • IreneL11 Dec 07, 2013 @ 7:55 am
    great idea :)
  • Craftyammy Dec 06, 2013 @ 8:22 pm
    This is great. I was just given a lot of very gently love Teddies. I have cleaned them, and if necessary, repaired some items. I have also removed all noses and things that little ones could get hurt with, and embroidered them on. Now I have enlisted the help of several service clubs and we are building these for the communities. Every little one should have a teddy. This tree should help us give out the 3000 teddies that we have collected. Thanks for a great way to make Christmas a Christmas for our kids.
  • RebeccaE Dec 06, 2013 @ 10:14 am
    oh lovely, and it is something almost anyone can follow. (even myself)
  • bloomingrose Dec 05, 2013 @ 11:10 am
    I love this so much! Wouldn't this be a lovely project for a boys and girl's club - and when it goes down the kids could take a bear off. Kids of all ages - including grownups love bears. Bookmarked. Another great lens - congrats on the LOTD.
  • partybuzz Dec 05, 2013 @ 8:34 am
    I love teddy bears, so I LOVE this tree! I'd love to have one, but I don't have that many bears. :) Congratulations on LotD!
  • weakbond Dec 05, 2013 @ 6:03 am
    Very interesting idea , great lens , thanks for sharing
  • tonypaull Dec 05, 2013 @ 5:27 am
    Congratulations on lens of the day. As a teddy bear lover I intend to give this a try!
  • discountcopiercenter Dec 04, 2013 @ 11:42 pm
    Congratulations on Lens of the Day! Very unique and awesome concepts. I have been through so many types of Christmas trees but it is a wide idea mounting to the top. Thanks for this outlook.
  • RubyHRose Dec 04, 2013 @ 11:25 pm
    What a cute and unique idea. Very lovely. Alas, I haven't enough teddy bears, yet the idea is one I will for sure pass along. Congratulations on LOTD.
  • aredey Dec 04, 2013 @ 10:27 pm
    i love Christma day .love teddy bears tree
  • Steve_Kaye Dec 04, 2013 @ 10:10 pm
    I have only a cat. And she refused to stay still long enough to serve as a tree.
  • LiteraryMind Dec 04, 2013 @ 8:27 pm
    This is so cute. What a great idea.
  • foodstoragegal Dec 04, 2013 @ 8:09 pm
    nice tree
  • Ruthi Dec 04, 2013 @ 8:03 pm
    What a beauty of a teddy bear tree! The directions seem so easy to follow. I won't be doing it this year but you can bet I will use this idea eventually! It would be great at a school classroom Christmas party and let each child pick a teddy bear off the tree to keep!
  • rauspitz Dec 04, 2013 @ 7:56 pm
    Great idea, congratulations on getting LotD!
  • CrazyHomemaker Dec 04, 2013 @ 7:08 pm
    This is so cute! Congrats on LOTD. I LOVE this idea!
  • Charito1962 Dec 04, 2013 @ 6:50 pm
    Hi! This is one unique tree! Thanks for sharing it with us. - Ms. Charito from the Philippines
  • BarbRad Dec 04, 2013 @ 6:48 pm
    I did have. Thrift shops aren't accepting stuffed animals as gifts anymore because of health regulations. I've got several in really good shape I don't know what to do with. They have hardly ever been used. Congrats on earning LOTD!
  • MobyD Dec 04, 2013 @ 3:10 pm
    Congratulations on Lens of the Day! It's a very well done lens with good photos to help explain the process. I hope the lens gets lots of views this month.
  • Dec 04, 2013 @ 2:00 pm
    What a great idea!
  • pawpaw911 Dec 04, 2013 @ 1:57 pm
    Congratulations on LOTD.
  • jen17 Dec 04, 2013 @ 12:50 pm
    What a great idea! I think I might try that!
  • nancycarol Dec 04, 2013 @ 12:45 pm
    Back again to say Congratulations on your Lens of the Day. This is a perfect project for this time of year, and a great lens. Thanks for sharing.
  • DecoratingforEvents Dec 04, 2013 @ 12:27 pm
    This Teddy Bear tree is adorable! Thanks for the idea and the how to!
  • Mickie_G Dec 04, 2013 @ 12:08 pm
    I do have some teddy bears, but not enough for a big tree. This would be a great project for the lobby of a Children's Hospital. Thank you so much for sharing.
  • thesatanrecords Dec 04, 2013 @ 11:39 am
    great lens and great project. Good to see so many Christmas lenses on this site, it helps you get into the spirit of Christmas :)
  • KarenCookieJar Dec 04, 2013 @ 10:37 am
    My aunt has a lot of snowmen, this would work great for those also!
  • kamuwela-pupuhi Dec 04, 2013 @ 10:27 am
    I have to share this article with my mom - great posting!
  • Thamisgith Dec 04, 2013 @ 10:06 am
    Great idea! Definitely a different spin on tradition - but it works!
  • Susan52 Dec 04, 2013 @ 9:46 am
    This is such a beautiful project! Thank you so much for sharing your prize-worthy Lens of the Day!
  • Mellithorpe Dec 04, 2013 @ 9:28 am
    Loved your lens. I collect teddy bears. I don't know why I never thought of this.
  • wordstock Dec 04, 2013 @ 9:20 am
    Super cute! I can see me hugging the whole tree. It's a very good idea and if I made a smaller one, I could give it as a gift to a very special child. Congrats on LOTD!
  • susan-zutautas Dec 04, 2013 @ 8:48 am
    Love this idea!
  • chrisilouhoo Dec 04, 2013 @ 8:24 am
    Unique! Must be fun for the kiddies. Congrats!
  • Merrci Dec 04, 2013 @ 7:59 am
    Looks so adorable! I can see kid's eyes light up when they see it! Congrats on the Lens!
  • esmonaco Dec 04, 2013 @ 5:14 am
    For sure a very unique idea, and beautiful when it's finished. Congratulations on LOTD.
  • Graceonline Dec 04, 2013 @ 5:11 am
    What a cute idea! Your instructions make it look so easy. Congratulations on your Lens of the Day award. Richly deserved!
  • Dec 04, 2013 @ 4:49 am
    very cute, especially when they are up there
  • HappyTom Dec 04, 2013 @ 4:13 am
    That is a very funny idea…congrats to LOTD…
  • pkmcr Dec 04, 2013 @ 2:37 am
    Looks like great fun and congratulations on LOTD!
  • ayannavenus Dec 04, 2013 @ 2:23 am
    Congrats on lotd ;)
  • lestroischenes Dec 04, 2013 @ 1:58 am
    PS Congratulations on a well-deserved LOTD!
  • lestroischenes Dec 04, 2013 @ 1:58 am
    Just when you think they couldn't possibly come up with a new idea! I love your Teddy 'How To' lens.
  • kinworm Dec 04, 2013 @ 1:56 am
    What a wonderful idea - a Christmas tree stuffed with teddy bears.
  • eiramarie_0726 Dec 04, 2013 @ 1:22 am
    Wow this is amazing...
  • cheerfulnuts Dec 04, 2013 @ 12:55 am
    I love teddy bears! My teddy bear would surely nag me to make one if he saw this. :P
  • AJTyne Dec 03, 2013 @ 11:17 pm
    So cute! I like some of these ideas for having one at shelters and hospitals. The bears would then become the gifts, maybe.
  • favored1 Dec 03, 2013 @ 4:00 pm
    What a fun idea. Thanks for sharing it with us. Congratulations on your win.
  • tonyleather Dec 03, 2013 @ 11:26 am
    Not sure I think this is so great, with that framework and kids around, but I think the idea is quite good!
  • veryirie Dec 03, 2013 @ 11:25 am
    Congratulations Virginia! It's a wonderful idea to share!
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Dec 03, 2013 @ 10:41 am
    This is one of the best Christmas tree ideas I have even seen. Absolutely love it. Makes me want to create one for children at the women's shelter. Congrats on your win! So happy for you.
  • Comfortdoc Dec 02, 2013 @ 8:28 pm
    Cute. It would be great fun in a childrens' hospital at the holidays.
  • christy_rose Nov 27, 2013 @ 11:25 am
    What a great idea, the tree is so cute!
  • nancycarol Nov 26, 2013 @ 10:10 pm
    I do have some already on hand, but I have more of the Beanie Baby Dogs....so I could make a dog tree. A fun idea and your lens looks great. Love the Christmas tree background.
  • veryirie Nov 26, 2013 @ 10:05 pm
    I don't know if I can "bear" how completely adorable this teddy bear tree is! :) ha Excellent!
  • OhMe Nov 26, 2013 @ 7:39 pm
    I sure have enough Teddy Bears to create a tree so might have to try this. Great idea.
  • Ladymermaid Nov 26, 2013 @ 4:29 pm
    Aw Scarlettohairy took my line. That tree is adorable. I have plans for a very creative tree too but I'll share it online next year. I already have my Christmas tree up this year. Fa lalalalala la la la la...
  • scarlettohairy Nov 26, 2013 @ 2:46 pm
    That's beary cute!