Gingerbread houses are a timeless Christmas tradition, especially in our home. We make them every year. However, if you’re looking for a smaller and easier option for creating a special Christmas treat with kids, Christmas Tree Cones are an excellent alternative.
This quickly became one of the most requested family traditions in our home, and it works excellent in the classroom for holiday parties, too. It’s a bit easier for kids to decorate individual trees, and it’s definitely easier for adults to prep. Less mess, and a whole bunch of fun make this one of our go-to holiday traditions!
GET A FULL WEEK OF CHRISTMAS THEME ACTIVITIES IN OUR PRINTABLE PRESCHOOL CHRISTMAS LESSON PLANS.
Making Christmas Tree Cones at Home
Nearly every year my kids request making Christmas tree cones as part of our activity-based advent calendar.
I personally love it, because I simply have to buy a few items and place them out on plates, and we are ready to get creative!
You can get as detailed as you’d like or keep it super simple.
We usually make Christmas trees using sugar cones, green frosting, and assorted candies. Over the years we’ve added long pull apart licorice strips not pictured below. The kids love using them as strings of garland.
Often we include neighbors and friends in our Christmas Tree Cone decorating day, and I let the kids decorate as long as they want. It does still get a bit messy, but nothing we can’t wipe down in a couple of minutes. And the kids are always SO happy with their creations!
I don’t think I have ever gotten them to smile at the same time this quickly. They were very eager to get started.
We usually start by letting the kids try to frost their own cones. We quickly realized it took a lot of frosting to cover those cones.
If you are working with preschoolers as shown here, I would let them work until they tire of it and asked for help. Then give them a hand in finishing up if there are too many dry spaces for candies to adhere too.
As you do this over the years kids will find new techniques for covering the cones and you’ll notice their fine motor skills improving along the way.
I’m always amazed year after year how they spend a lot of time placing their decorations ever so carefully paying close attention to detail and planning out their creations.
They almost always ask to decorate at least two cones.
By the end we always have a beautiful Christmas tree forest when they’ve finished! If you decorated a gingerbread house as well, these trees make a great addition to that scene.
Making Christmas Tree Cones in the Classroom
Over the years many teachers have realized these Christmas Tree Cones make the perfect combo craft and treat for holiday parties.
After years of trying to teach young kids to assemble individual gingerbread houses and then watching the sides ooze off and the houses crumble, many are shifting to creating Christmas Tree Cones for holiday parties.
For the most part the directions are exactly the same. However, these tips can help the decorating process go even more smoothly in the classroom…
- Provide individual plates or work spaces for each child.
- Consider adding the frosting to pre-filled zip top bags or pastry bags to help make the frosting process a tad bit easier (personally I’m on the fence with this strategy as often my kids squish the frosting out of the top of the bags, so we typically just go for the traditional approach)
- If you feel kids will be a little overzealous with the candies, you can provide a bag or small cup of items pre-sorted so each child gets relatively the same amount of candies to use.
- If you eat them in the classroom, then that keeps things quick and easy. However, if you’d prefer to send them home things get a bit tricky. You might consider making a carrying case out of an inverted plastic cup. See this tutorial for putting these carrying cases.
More Christmas Tree Cone Decorating Ideas
As you do this year after year it is fun to add in some new twists and decor options. Here are some more ideas for decorating Christmas tree cones from other sites. There are lots of great ideas!
These Candy Cookie Cones from Coupon Clipping Cook are the most colorful and crazy cones you can make! Kids will love all the fun colors and different types of candy!
Cupcake Filled Christmas Tree Cones from Tasty Kitchen are so much more than just pretty cones. They are filled with real cake!
These classic Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees from The Hungry Housewife are a beautiful edible rendition of a traditional Christmas tree!
Go crazy with these Ice-Cream Cone Christmas Trees from Chasing Cheerios! The wacky combinations of candy and sweets will unleash your creativity!
Why stop at just trees? This Christmas Treat Cones recipe from We-Made-That gets extra creative by making a santa hat too!
Do you have any other suggestions for decorating these sugar cone Christmas trees? Have you ever made them with your kids?
Non-Edible Cone Decorating Ideas
Looking for something with less sugar this holiday season? Check out these non-edible Christmas cone decorating ideas!
These adorable Paper Cone Christmas Decorations from Picklebums are a less messy way to make some cones with your family!
This Decorate the Felt Christmas Tree Activity from Buggy and Buddy is not only fun to put together, but it also works as a fun DIY centerpiece your kids can make!
These Easy Pine Cone Christmas Tree Ornaments from Feels Like Home are a fun way to incorporate some nature into your crafting! If you’re lucky enough to have them, you could use a pine cone from your own yard!
Continue the Fun
After you’re done with your Christmas tree cone decorating, share a story together while kids enjoy admiring or eating their creations. These are some of our favorite stories about Christmas trees.
Making Christmas Tree Cones with Kids
- Sugar cones
- Green frosting
- Assorted candies
- Pull apart licorice strips if desired
- Prepare your workspace by laying out your sugar cones and green frosting.
- Start by letting the kids try to frost their own cones, but give them a hand in finishing up if there are too many dry spaces for candies to adhere to.
- Gather any assorted candies you'd like to use as decoration. If you feel kids will be a little overzealous with the candies, you can provide a bag or small cup of items pre-sorted so each child gets relatively the same amount of candies to use.
- Let your kids get creative! They'll love putting candies on their trees, and making something all their own.
- Once they're done decorating, allow the cones to dry.
- Done! These cone trees make awesome decorations for a gingerbread house, or are perfect as a delicious snack!
GET A FULL SET OF CHRISTMAS THEME ACTIVITIES
Explore the symbols and traditions of Christmas and incorporate reading, math, science and more in this 169-page preschool secular Christmas lesson plan set full of fun and playful Christmas learning activities for preschool. Watch this short video to see just a few examples of the types of activities and printables included in this set:
The 169-page Christmas Lesson Plan Set includes hands-on activities and these additional printables:
1) Beginning Letters Gift Sorting Game (in color and b/w)
2) Reindeer Math Mats (2 versions in color and b/w)
3) My Christmas Senses Activity Book Making Pieces
4) 0-35 Christmas Number Cards (2 versions in color and b/w)
5) Christmas Counting Syllables Sorting Game (in color and b/w)
6) Christmas Picture-Word Cards (in color and b/w)
7) Ornament Play Dough Mats
8) Candy Cane Play Dough Writing Task Cards (shapes, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, number 0-20)
9) Christmas Light Patterns Activity Pieces (in color and b/w)
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.