How to Transform Trees Into Enchanted Gnome Homes With Your Kids

Do your kids like magical or fantasy characters?

Want to spend more creative time outdoors?

Create enchanted gnome homes for local garden gnomes and fairies!

It’s a fun project that promotes creativity and imagination, while using simple craft materials you already have lying around.

In this article I’ll explain how to build an enchanted tree home in your yard.

Do your garden gnomes run for cover when the kids go outside? Make them a place to live! Gnome homes are a creative outdoor project to grow kids' imaginations.

Why Make an Enchanted Tree Home?

When you create a home for neighborhood gnomes and fairies, you open the door to endless creative play.

Children love to use their imaginations to see magical characters come to life. So why not bring a little mythological folklore into your yard, and create an enchanted tree home for the neighborhood gnomes. You can invite some fairies to stop by too!

Being earth dwellers, gnomes appear to prefer living in a natural environment like the base of a tree. Trees make the perfect backdrop to build a fantasy home for magical friends.

Everyone needs a little magic in their life, not just children.

gnome home in library

Trees make the perfect base for a gnome home. I found this one hiding in the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.

Overland Park, Kansas experienced an influx of gnome activity in local parks and the visitors were delighted to have something nice to look at on the trails.

kansas gnome home

Visitors to Overland Park, Kansas were greeted with adorable gnome homes.

The imagination explodes when the whimsical little doors to a gnome home open. Wouldn’t you love to happen upon one of these little homes while strolling through a park? Once you create a gnome home, you’ll inspire others to feel that way!

All About Gnomes

Gnomes were first introduced in the 16th century by Paracelsus, a German Swiss Renaissance astrologer, physician, botanist, alchemist and astrologer. Paracelsus defined gnomes as mythological spirits of the earth.

giggling garden gnome

Gnomes are mythological spirits of the earth. Giggling Garden Gnome Courtesy of flickr – thatgrrl.

According to Wikipedia:

“After World War II (with early references, in ironical use, from the late 1930s) the diminutive figurines introduced as lawn ornaments during the 19th century came to be known as garden gnomes.

The image of the gnome changed further during the 1960s to 1970s, when the first plastic garden gnomes were manufactured. These gnomes followed the style of the 1937 depiction of the seven dwarves in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Disney.

This ‘Disneyfied‘ image of the gnome was built upon by the illustrated children’s book classic, The Secret Book of Gnomes (1976), in the original Dutch, Leven en werken van de Kabouter.

Garden gnomes share a resemblance to the Scandinavian tomte and nisse, and the Swedish term ‘tomte’ can be translated to ‘gnome’ in English.”

garden gnomes

The diminutive lawn ornaments came to be known as garden gnomes after World War II. Little Gnomes Courtesy of flickr – toymaster.

Gnomes have become iconic figurines in gardens and yards throughout the world.

Has your family seen Gnomeo & Juliet? This animated movie puts a modern twist on the classical folklore of gnomes with Shakespearean flavor.

gnomeo and juliet movie poster

“Gnomeo & Juliet” was a gnome-themed movie released in 2011.

Gnomes are very popular in modern fantasy movies and literature too. Usually they’re depicted as imaginary human-like creatures that live underground. Their characteristics vary, depending on the storyteller.

Popular authors who have written about gnomes include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series.

Who’s your favorite fictional gnome? Which gnome does your child like best? It may be one that already exists, but it’s likely the gnome who lives in your enchanted home.

Ready to construct a gnome home with your kids? You can make yours as simple or complex as you’d like. The examples below from Squidoo on the left and Crafts Unleashed on the right are very different, but the gnomes will love either one of them!

A gnome home opens the doors to creativity, no matter how simple or complex you make it. Image sources: Squidoo (left), Crafts Unleashed (right).

The basis for any gnome home is to attach a little door to a tree. Once you’ve done that, you can add as many details as you like.

Include windows, construct a walkway or give your little gnome friends some landscaping to make their home more inviting.

You Will Need

  • Craft sticks (popsicle sticks can also be used)
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Paper and pencil
  • Brush (small hairbrush or large paintbrush) to clear debris off tree
  • Decorative stones and pebbles (optional)
  • Miniature items and craft supplies to personalize your gnome home (optional)
  • Acrylic paint and paintbrushes or markers (optional)

    supplies for gnome home

    Here are the supplies you’ll need for this adventure.

Preparation Time

Activity Time

30 minutes+, depending on the intricacy of your design

Location

  • Gnome home construction: inside or outside on any table or flat surface
  • Installation: outside in your front- or backyard on the tree of your choice

Before you build your gnome home, sit with your child and talk about the gnomes who may live in your yard. Use your imaginations: Who are they? Is it a gnome family? Perhaps it’s a gnome who shares his home with some small animals.

Whatever the backstory, write it down. You can also draw pictures to better visualize your gnomes.

Once you have an idea of whom you’re building for, decide what to build.

#1: Plan Your Gnome Home

Gather your supplies, then head outside.

Walk around your yard and look for a tree to use as the backdrop for you gnome home. Find a cozy spot that your neighborhood gnomes would love.

tree with rocks

Look around your yard and scout out different places that would be perfect for your gnomes.

Once you find the perfect location for your gnome home, start making plans.

Decide what to include in your home construction. You may want to add some input, but let your child lead the conversation.

Make a list and/or draw a picture (like blueprints) of what it should look like. Your gnome home can be as simple as a single door or have many doors and windows, as well as outside décor, landscaping and so on.

drawing gnome home

Visualize what you’d like your gnome home to look like and draw it.

When you take a few minutes to decide what to build and plan it out, it will give your child a clear direction for his or her creative process. Let your child know that ideas can change. This is just a starting point. It’s also a skill that will help them considerably in the future.

#2: Build Your Basic Gnome Décor

Leave the craft sticks their natural color or paint them. If you decide to paint the sticks, use outdoor or acrylic paint, so they’re weather-resistant. Do not use tempera or any other water-soluble paint.

Using the craft sticks and hot glue, assemble windows and doors for the gnome home. Build as many windows and doors as you’d like. We thought it might be nice to include space for neighboring fairies. We made an extra door so they had their own entrance, and gave them an extra window too.

For windows, place the sticks in a square, and glue them together on the ends. For doors, place sticks horizontally next to each other, and then glue them together by attaching one stick flat against the tops and another to the bottoms. Add a small button or something similar to use as a doorknob.

assembling door and window

Carefully use hot glue to assemble craft sticks into door and window shapes.

Safety Note for Parents: Please show your older children how to properly use the hot glue gun or handle the glue gun for small children. The tip can get quite hot and burn you easily. Not only is the gun hot, but the glue will be hot also.

Be creative with your craft sticks. See what other items you can make. How about a park bench or steps leading up to their doorway? Throw out a couple of ideas, but encourage your kids to use their imaginations.

adding items to gnome home

Be creative when you construct your craft décor. Consider adding a park bench or tabletop.

Since your kids may need help with the construction of more complicated pieces, it’s a perfect opportunity to work together as a team.

Once you construct the elements, find a way to decorate them. For example, to make curtains for the windows, cut out fabric and glue it on.

making curtains

Since gnomes need their privacy, you can create simple curtains for their windows, using small scraps of fabric and the glue gun.

Another option: use markers or paint to color craft sticks after construction.

#3: Create Landscape Elements

Create decorative details for the landscaping if you’d like. We put together some miniature terracotta pots and silk flowers.

Place a small piece of Styrofoam inside a mini terracotta pot. Then stick in a silk flower. Add some silk leaves too or cover the Styrofoam with rocks.

flower pot

Put a small piece of Styrofoam inside a mini terracotta pot, then insert a flower.

Once you have your flower placement just right, glue it in place.

glue flowers in pot

Secure the flowers inside the pots with hot glue. You can also glue the pots to a stone or previously created tabletop for additional stability.

Raid your craft drawer and see what elements you have to work with. Have fun and be creative!

#4: Assemble Your Gnome Home and Landscape

Take your decorative elements outside to the chosen tree.

Using a brush, remove any excess dirt and debris from your tree. Since we don’t want to hurt our trees, we won’t use nails. Instead, connect your gnome décor to the tree using hot glue.

One at a time, put a large amount of hot glue onto the back of your doors and windows, and then attach them to the tree. Hold the pieces in place for a few seconds while the glue cools and sets. Be careful to keep little fingers clear from hot glue!

attach pieces to tree

Attach your pieces to the tree with hot glue, one at a time.

Once you have the house looking its best, start on the landscaping.

Use small stones and pebbles to create a path to the gnome home. Then add whatever details and personal touches you created, like benches and flower pots, to make your gnome home unique.

completed gnome home

Create a cozy home, and your gnome friends will never want to leave!

Tap into your creativity, as you set out décor. Plus, if there’s a detail you missed, go back and make it. Then add it to the house.

personalized gnome home

Special touches enhance and personalize your child’s vision of the gnome home.

Remember the gnome story you made up at the beginning? See how it matches what you created. Now that your gnomes have a home, write stories, poems or songs about their adventures whenever you want.

Some Final Thoughts

Once you have one gnome home location, don’t stop there! When you look around your yard, you’ll likely discover other places fitting for gnome or fairy homes.

This adventure’s the perfect way for a family to work together creatively outdoors. You can collaborate on one gnome home. Or make a village, where everyone creates his or her own gnome home.

Hot glue, some craft supplies and a little magic are all you need to creatively work with your kids and bring their imaginations to life. Plus, you’ve made a charming home where any wandering gnome would love to live. It’s “gnome sweet gnome.”

What do you think? Did you have fun building your gnome home? What story did your kids create for their enchanted tree? Can you think of any other places gnomes would like to live? Please share your gnome stories and pictures below.

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About the Author, Crystal Foth

Crystal Foth is a mom and artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She manages 19 Southern California art studios and spends her free time enjoying creative adventures with her daughter. Other posts by »


  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    We even brought our gnomes a “welcome” dinner their first night in their new home.

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ KJ Ammerman

    So cute, Crystal! (and great pic of a little hand setting it out :)

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ KJ Ammerman

    Whimsical idea, Crystal! I’ve seen several fairy or gnome home ideas on Pinterest, but this one is much simpler and I love how you broke it down into easy step-by-step instructions!

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks Crystal! This is so fun and imaginative. I think everybody likes to build. My son built this little house recently. It’s not in a tree, but it’s a similar idea. He put a lot of thought into it…

  • Scott

    Oh … My … Gosh! These are soooo cute.

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    I loved the hand for scale! I hand carved those burgers and buns, cut out the plates – it’s real food!

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    Thanks KJ! So amazing what you can do with craft sticks and some imagination. It’s holding up strong too – still hanging on the tree!

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    I love it! Encouraging our kids to be creative no matter the environment is what’s important! Thank you for sharing the pic! Imagination is everything.

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    Thank you Scott! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Gaelle

    Hi Crystal
    I love the idea of making the garden a magical place with just a few gnome touches here and there! I’ll pinch this idea for my daughter’s next birthday party, I’m sure I’ll have little girls running everywhere to spot gnome houses!

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    Hi Gaelle! I love the idea of using it for a birthday party, how creative! Think of all the little unsuspecting places that would make the perfect gnome home! It’s so much fun to use our imaginations and create stories about our neighboring gnomes!

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