If your fondness for wine has left you with an accumulation of corks, use them to make cute reindeer ornaments. You can adapt the design to suit your Christmas decor style, whether it's country or contemporary. Adults should perform any cutting, hot-gluing or drilling involved in the assembly process; children can help when it's time to decorate the ornaments.
Prepare the Corks
The first step in creating your reindeer ornaments is selecting the right corks for the project. Choose natural corks -- not synthetic ones, which are harder to work with -- that are in good condition. Wash the corks to remove wine odors and stains. Scrub them gently in warm water with dish detergent and let them dry thoroughly. Red wine stains may be stubborn. If you can't remove the stains completely, you can paint over them later. When you make cork ornaments with children, especially in a school setting, you may want to use new, unmarked corks from a craft- or wine-supply store. You'll get the same end result and avoid the alcohol issue altogether.
Assemble the Reindeer
To make a simple cork reindeer, hot-glue four cork "legs" to a cork "body," and glue another cork to the front of the torso for the head. You can also cut a cork in half and glue it between the torso and head to make a neck. When you cut wine corks, use a sharp knife and protect your fingers. To give the ornament a tall, graceful shape, use wire for the legs and neck. Make four small leg holes on one side of a cork with a craft drill and insert a piece of heavy-gauge craft wire into each hole. Twist the cut end of the wire into a small loop to conceal the sharp edge. Use the same process to create a wire neck for the reindeer. For a more rustic ornament, substitute twigs for the wires.
Decorate the Ornaments
Use acrylic craft paint and embellishments to give your reindeer personality. For a traditional look, paint the ornament light brown and add white details. Shape antlers from brown chenille stems and wind them in place around the reindeer's head. To create a more modern ornament, paint the reindeer white or silver and add matching wire antlers. For a rustic reindeer, leave the cork in its natural state and decorate it with twig antlers. Choose eyes that suit your reindeer's style. Glue on wiggle eyes or beads, or simply paint eyes on with a fine artist's paintbrush. Use a button or pompom for the reindeer's nose. Accessorize the ornament with seasonal trims, such as a tiny wreath or a Christmas ribbon tied in a bow around its neck.
Display the Ornaments
If you plan to hang your reindeer ornament on your Christmas tree, attach a small screw eye to its back. Position the eye so the ornament hangs evenly, and then tie a loop of ribbon or twine onto the hook. To make a garland, string a herd of reindeer ornaments onto a long piece of ribbon or twine, tying them in place at equal intervals. If you'd like to display your cork reindeer on a tabletop or mantel, adjust the legs of the ornaments so they stand firmly. Arrange them in pairs and rein them to a small decorative sleigh or place them in a woodland scene created with miniature trees and artificial snow.
Kathleen Berlew has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years. Her work has appeared in "Crafts 'n Things," “KidsCrafts” and “Crayola Kids” magazines. Berlew’s proofreading and editing credits include the books “A Gardener’s Craft Companion,” “Christmas with Mary Engelbreit” and “The Embroidered Home.”