Handmade Tomten

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My Facebook newsfeed has been lit up over the past few weeks with photos of an elf named Jingles. From what I understand, Jingles is one of Santa’s spies, contracted by parents to sway their children into being good rather than bad as Christmas approaches.

Facebook is showing me a darker side to Mr. Jingles, however; he apparently likes to indulge in tequila, climb the Christmas tree, and phone in pizza orders late at night while the children are asleep. Well, that is what I can gather from photos that some miffed parents are posting to their Facebook walls, anyway.

Did you know that there is a sweeter elf that you could keep on your mantle this year? An elf that doesn’t spy on children, but protects them from harm? An elf that also stays up all night, but does so to make sure that your home, animals, and garden stay safe?

Move over, Jingles… make way for the Tomten!


Oddly, I had never heard of these little creatures until recently, although their history can be traced back for at least five centuries in Scandanavian folklore. Every family has a Tomte as a protector, who works especially hard at night while everyone is asleep. Tomten are happy to provide these services, requiring only good behavior from the family all year and a bowl of porridge on Christmas Eve in return. Rudeness or uncleanliness invoke a gentle reminder in the form of a prank from your Tomte. And don’t pull the cat’s tail! All Tomten are particularly affectionate toward animals, and will even bring misfortune to the family that mistreats their pets and livestock. With these kinds of repercussions for bad behavior, who’s worried about presents?

I have Carolyn Binder at Cowlick Cottage Farm to thank for making me aware of our family’s Tomte. At her suggestion, I purchased Astrid Lindgren’s sweet and beautifully-illustrated story, “The Tomten,” (affiliate link) for my daughters. It quickly has become one of our favorites.

Also thanks to Carolyn, I’ve been smitten with finding Tomten for our mantle. Cowlick Cottage Farm is currently hosting a fabulous gardening giveaway, with items such as original botanical illustrations, gardening tools, and books. Each day, Carolyn announces the daily prize by using a picture of her own cute little Tomtens, handmade in Sweden. I have been bitten by the Tomten bug… bad!

Visit Cowlick Cottage Farm for more Tomten photos. While you are there, enter Carolyn’s Giveaways for Gardeners!


So yesterday, while I suffered from a different type of bug that made our entire family sick, I decided to take our mind off of illness and create some Tomten of our own. Since I was under the weather and unable to leave the house, I used simple craft materials that were leftover from some of my daughter’s projects.

Last night, as we snuggled up and read from “The Tomten,” my daughters kept glancing at our Tomten family on the mantle. Bo Peep squealed with delight, “Me see one peeking at me!”

This is an easy and fun holiday craft that you can do with your family. What’s more, you’ll be creating something that you and your family can treasure for years to come.



How to Create Handmade Tomten


  • felt
  • cotton balls
  • glue
  • cardboard tubing
  • miniature pom-poms
  • needle and thread

Cut cardboard tubing into desired lengths for Tomten body height. Cut enough felt to wrap around cardboard tubing.

Glue felt around cardboard tubing.

Cut additional felt to width used for body; length can vary, depending on your preference for the height of the Tomten’s hat. Create a taper to the hat by cutting off edges at 30 to 45 degree angles from the bottom corner.

Sew bottom corners of hat together, and continue weaving thread across edges of the hat until you reach the top.


Cut a length of felt for the Tomten’s scarf. To make frayed scarf ends, make short parallel cuts into both ends of the felt, pulling gently on each cut.

Glue the scarf around the felt body of the Tomten. Stuff a large cotton ball into the top for the head.

Carefully unwind a ball of cotton, creating a beard for the Tomten to his desired length and fullness.

A new Tomte for the family! Although traditionally one Tomte guards the homestead, we created a Tomte for each of us using our favorite colors. This additional Tomte will protect our ducks and bees.


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