Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Great Fall Activity: Waxing Leaves

I posted this last year and it was such a hit I thought I'd remind you all again...

We did this every year when we were young and it was so much fun. It’s a simple tradition but one kids love. First you need to gather leaves…go on a nature walk, find the most beautiful, colorful, perfect leaves. OR just zip your mouth, let the kids pick up the ones they want, no matter what they look like...there is no better way to ruin a creative endeavor with your kids than by being bossy and controlling!

Pick some of this up at your grocery store in the canning section. It’s a couple dollars and one box should be enough.
Don’t forget to buy a disposal pan like this one…if you don’t you will have to use a good pan, and you will ruin it.
Melt the wax over low heat.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be careful…hot wax is HOT. Place it on a back burner and guard it with your life if your children are little.  I don't want to feel awful if you tell me one of your little ones got burned because of me and my cute little autumn activity.

I know I have done this with kids as young as 2, but you have to be vigilant!
Have them hold the stem, dip the leave in melted wax and then set the leave on wax paper. Cover your counter with newspaper, then the wax paper, to make clean up easy, because it’s NO fun scraping wax drippings off counters.
Let each leaf cool completely…once they are totally cool they will lift off easily. If the wax starts to harden in the pan, just warm it up on the burner again.
You can put them in a big glass bowl, or tie them up with string to form a garland. They are beautiful and a perfectly simple (and almost free) autumn decoration.


Some tips:
Make sure the leaves are completely dry when you start. 
Lots of people asked me how long they last.  It really depends.  The way I hang these in the window in direct sunlight and over 2 heat ducts makes them last till I am ready to get up the Christmas decorations...around December 1. (They start to get curly and shrinky looking.)
If you keep them in a darker, cooler place I'd bet they'd last longer.

I hung my leaves from thread that I tied around each stem to create a garland.

If you drip wax on your floor or counters, a reader sent in this tip:
Just lay down a paper towel or newspaper on the wax spill and iron it (cotton setting). It even works on CARPET, yes really.  I have cleaned up some doozies with this method. I would not use this method on fine wood furniture, there are ice methods for that.


  1. Yes! We did this last year after you posted it and it was awesome. Sophia actually asked this year, we just haven't gotten around to it.

  2. How pretty! I love this idea. Thanks!

  3. This year when I pulled out my fall decorations, I also pulled out the Gulf Wax I bought after your post last year. So every time I've gone into the craft closet this fall, I've thought of you! Our first fall in Illinois, and sadly, despite looking all over, I didnt' find any leaves worth waxing. Too wet a spring and too dry a summer, so the locals say. I celebrated National Pajama Day too yesterday, so the wax is already back in the Rubbermaid bin, ready to go next year!

  4. I remember this from last year, but with a newborn in the house we didn't get around to it. Its most certainly fall around here and my oldest son has started a leaf collection...this looks like the perfect way to preserve all of his hard work. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Sarah, I was planning on doing this Friday as we don't have school that day, and I was trying to think of something to do with the kids. I wasn't sure what to use to heat up the wax... now I know! And you said it perfectly with "zip your mouth!" Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Loved this Sarah! And I love your Halloween post. I'm so over it too! This last weekend almost killed me. Fun, but like you, I'm done. Ready to put away the candy and the Halloween decor. On to Christmas...right!?

  7. So doing this this weekend!! thank you!!

  8. I'll have to try that next year. This year I used Modge Podge, which preserved the leaves but made them curl up.

  9. FANTASTIC idea, I think I'll do this craft this week! Thanks Sarah!

  10. Oh, I LOVE THIS! If only we had such beautiful colored leaves down here in Texas...

  11. Great idea! How did you get the leaves to stay on your window?

  12. I have seen this before just recently and I really want to try it. We live in Southern Alabama and leaves don't turn such dramatic colors around here. We have to really search for dramatic trees. But we are all over this project..soon! Thanks for sharing. And I love your new header..so cute!! You have changed my header life forever..I am so grateful for that...

  13. that was a great tip for getting out wax but please remember, be very careful using an iron to get out wax from carpet (even if there is a newspaper or paper towel in between)... carpet MELTS under heat from an iron, so it is very easy to melt carpet fibers this way. So if you DO have wax on carpet, and want to use an iron to get it out, use a very low setting and be so so careful! my family owned a carpet cleaning company and we saw many a carpets ruined with people trying to get out wax this way.

  14. Cute idea, love it! Thanks Sarah.

  15. Sarah- We did this EVERY year when I was a kid. One year my mother couldn't find wax and we took wax paper and put the leaves in between sheets of wax paper and ironed it. It was okay but not nearly as much fun...nor did the leaves come out as good as dipping. I have always loved this but hesitated to do it with my own kids because of the hot wax...maybe I should try it now that they are just a bit older. Hugs-Diana

  16. Oh man I wish we HAD some HINT of colored leaves around here instead of constant 90 degree temps because truly, not much is more beautiful to me than those gorgeous leaves in your window. I'll just have to remember this idea in January when our leaves start to get some color here in the desert. They are gorgeous.

  17. Thanks for the great idea. I'm off to buy wax.

  18. Such a neat idea and one what we will certainly be trying next fall

  19. This sounds like so much fun, the girls will love it!
    Enjoy the day Sarah

  20. Oh.... I love love love it... but not sure i have it in me to do it... but it would make Fall last a little longer... especially here in WA where all the leaves will blow off in the wind and rain that we were supposed to have this week... only instead we are blessed with sun... ah!! anyway... Fun!! glad you shared! now where will I find that wax these days?? ;)

  21. Just beautiful. What a gorgeous light filled garland. I'll have to try and remember to do this NEXT year. I know myself...it's not going to happen now. Hopefully you'll repost it again.

  22. Sarah - Thanks for posting this. I loved the idea so much, we picked up leaves and made a wreath with them this afternoon. You can see the pic at the link below, and I linked back to your post.


  23. My kiddos all had the day off school, so we went hiking in the back yard and did this project! They all loved it so. Thanks so much! I posted a photo on my blog and linked back to yours for the "how to".
    Thanks a bunch.
    Blessings, Amy

  24. AHHH, sorry, the link to my blog is http://4ourkiddos.blogspot.com/2010/11/school-candy-fun-project.html

  25. Thank you so much! I have been picking up leaves for weeks now only to have them wilt and fade. I was wondering how to "preserve" them. We'll see if I get to it :)

  26. This is so absolutely awesome, I just wished we had some leaves left... I will remember this for next year though

  27. These are AMAZING! So they keep their color for the weeks that they hang? Im not sure where we'd find that wax in London - but im going to have a look online! Thanks for the great idea!

  28. I am so going to try this with my kids, they would LOVE it!!! And with plenty of fallen leaves to pick from it should be easy to pick a great selection!! Thanks for the tip!!

  29. Just did this today! My daughter loved it. Fun activity and one we'll do again!

  30. Thanks for your great instructions for this simple activity!
    I linked back to your blog on my post and wanted to let you know :)

    You have a beautiful family and I have enjoyed my time visiting your blog. I will be back!

    Take care,