How to Make a Handprint Memory Christmas Tree Skirt

Capture the memories of Christmas with this simple handprint tree skirt. Add handprints every year to create a practical and beautiful heirloom that spotlights your family!

Handprint Memory Tree Skirt | Homan at Home

Believe it or not, I didn’t own a tree skirt until about 2 years ago. I know, I know. I just never got around to buying one, and it didn’t seem that important. Two years ago, my mom finally decided that enough was enough and sent me one, along with an idea that I absolutely loved. She suggested that I let the kids put their handprints on it each year, and that’s the story of how I started my handprint memory tree skirt.

This is now one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Last year was the first Christmas we did the handprints, and when we pulled the skirt out this year, it was adorable to watch the kids match their hands to their old prints to see how they’ve grown. I loved the walk down memory lane — it’s hard to believe how small they were last year!

This is one of those crafts that is super easy, but the result is awesome, and it just gets better every year. I can’t wait for the day when my entire skirt is covered with bigger and bigger handprints. I hope the kids never get tired of matching their bigger hands to the old prints. It’s magical, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Why you want this craft: 

  • great keepsake craft
  • requires almost no crafting skill
  • practical and adorable
  • super simple
  • a family heirloom in the making!
Handprint Memory Tree Skirt | Homan at Home

Materials For Your Handprint Christmas Tree Skirt

Tree skirt 

A key secret for this craft is picking the right tree skirt. Basically, you want something that will be timeless, has room for lots of hand prints, and is made from a fabric that will take paint well. Cotton, linen, burlap, and denim are all great options. As per colors, pick something that the paint will stand out against. I chose light tan, which makes the different colors we use pop. A white tree skirt would also work with bright primary colors. You could do darker colors as well, as long as you choose a paint that will show up well against it. Gray with little white handprints would be adorable!

If you’re going for a look like the one in the pictures, I used a store-bought burlap tree skirt from Walmart. This one* is similar to the one I have. 

You could also make your own tree skirt, if you’re feeling up to that. I love this simple tutorial from Mary Martha Mama is super easy if you’re up to sew. If you’re not, A Beautiful Mess has 2 different options for no-sew skirts that would be fantastic (I don’t recommend the faux fur option in the post, but the other two would work beautifully!)

Cardboard or Trash Bag

It’s never a great idea to paint directly on the kitchen table or your floor. Instead, use a piece of cardboard or a trash bag to cover your area and make sure you don’t get any bleed-through onto your surfaces. A drop cloth from Home Depot will also work really well to contain mess!

Paper Plate

​This is for putting the paint on so you can paint those squirmy little hands. 

Acrylic Paint + Fabric Medium OR Fabric Paint

Acrylic or fabric paint is a must for this project. Do NOT use finger paints or oils. They will not adhere and will make a mess of your skirt! While fabric paint can be used on its own, if you choose to use acrylic paint, add a drop or two of fabric medium to the paint. It transforms the acrylic into fabric paint, and helps it adhere and last. You can get fabric medium at your local craft store, at Walmart, or here from Amazon*. 

Foam Paintbrush

​I recommend a foam paintbrush for painting your child’s hands. It easiest for getting a nice even layer. These are the ones I use.*

Puff Paint

This is for writing the names and the year. Make sure to get puff paint that is approved for use on fabric.* You want those names and years to stick around for a while!

*Disclaimer: This is a an affiliate link. I do get a small commission if you purchase from this link.

Handprint Memory Tree Skirt | Homan at Home

How to Make your Keepsake Tree Skirt

​Step 1 | Prep Your Space

Start by placing your cardboard or trash bag on a hard surface. This is to protect your floor or table from the paint.

Next, spread your tree skirt out over the cardboard or trash bag. Try to get it as smooth as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do want to try not to put hands on obvious creases. The paint doesn’t adhere as well, and we’re looking to keep this around for a while!

Step 2 | Paint the Hands

Put some paint on your paper plate, then use the foam paintbrush to paint your child’s hands. Babies and younger kids can be hard, but I use these tips to get good prints! Also, remember that you’re not looking for perfection. When your child’s 18 years old and off to college, you’ll look back and that child’s handprint and love it, even if it’s a little imperfect. 

Now for the fun part: make the handprint on the tree skirt! I placed the children’s handprints around the outside edge of the skirt, and as we go, we’re going to spiral towards the inside. 

I do both hands with my kids, but if you have a larger family, you might only do one hand each to save space. 

Step 3 | Names and Years

Once you’ve got the handprints on you, you can send the kids off to wash their hands, then use the puff paint to write the child’s name and the year. Before using the puff paint directly on the skirt, I like to do a test run on the paper plate. If your paint is new or hasn’t been used in a while, it can get air bubbles in it. Those will splatter and pop when you try to write with it. Doing a test run helps get that air out of the bottle so that your paint goes on smoothly!

Step 4 | Allow to Dry

Allow at least 2 hours for the puff paint to dry. Do NOT use your tree skirt during this time! I know you want to, but waiting will keep your gorgeous prints and names intact.

Step 5 | Enjoy!

Put your tree skirt around the tree and admire your handiwork. Its so fun to have meaningful things around you — little memories of your life and beautiful things you made with your own hands. 

And I’ve got some more good news: next year, you can do it all over again!

How to Protect Your Tree Skirt

Protecting the Color

To protect the color of the handprints, avoid putting your skirt in direct sunlight. Where I live, this isn’t a huge problem, but if you live somewhere sunny, you might want to consider where you store and display your tree skirt. Extended exposure to sunlight will fade the colors over time. 

Storing the Skirt

In order to keep your skirt in tip-top shape, store it in a waterproof container with a secure lid. You don’t want water or critters to destroy your little one’s memories! Also, keep it out of the sunlight in order to keep those colors bright and vivid for years to come.

Washing and Drying Your Tree Skirt

Honestly, the idea of washing my precious keepsake scares the living daylights out of me. It doesn’t get dirty enough for me to worry about it during the month that its out. I have only carefully spot washed mine using gentle laundry detergent and cold water when absolutely necessary.

That said, if you used fabric paint or added fabric medium to your acrylic paint, you should be able to wash the paint as normal after 72 hours. As for the tree skirt, read the tag and follow the washing instructions to the T. 

If you have any concerns at all, I would recommend spot washing very gently and only when needed.

Do NOT put your tree skirt through the dryer. The heat can melt the puffy paint and crack the handprints. Hang your tree skirt to dry.

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