Historians estimate that corn husk dolls have been around as long as corn itself. Native Americans would create the dolls to entertain their children while they were doing chores. (Photo by Leslie Milby)

When I wrote this, Halloween hadn’t even passed and I’ve been asked quite a few times what I’ll get my kids for Christmas.
Lucy is at the “baby doll” stage and every time I go to look at dolls, it’s overwhelming — some that spit up, some that wet their diapers, and other real-life things that I didn’t particularly enjoy with my actual baby or others have more accessories than my own kids.
It’s all a bit much, for sure.
As you are reading this, Halloween has passed and it’s still not Christmas, but it is harvest time and so I was inspired to do a very old fashioned corn husk doll.
Historians estimate that corn husk dolls have been around as long as corn itself.
Native Americans, of course, called it “maize,” and would create the dolls to entertain their children while they were doing chores.
If you are doing this project with older kids, be sure to have them research (Google counts) on why the dolls traditionally do not have a face on them.
Creating our dolls was much easier than I anticipated and the kids really enjoyed them.
We grabbed a few ears of corn missed by the combine and removed the husk part, mainly going after the inner ones that were a bit cleaner.
If you don’t have a cornfield out your back door, local garden centers are stocked with corn stalks for fall decoration and the ears on them will work great.
Don’t worry if they seem a bit dry — the first step is to soak them in water for about an hour.
We put a large rock (that might look familiar from our earlier tadpole project) to hold them down.
After a bit of soaking, stack up four of your husks, with point sides up and aligned. Use rafetta, twine, or whatever you prefer to tie a tight knot about an inch down from the point around all four pieces.
Then take your top two husks and flip them over the other side so the knot is inside.
You can either use the filling from the points to create a head, or we used an acorn in ours to make the head.
You’ll then tie about an inch down, or under the acorn if you chose to use one.
Next, roll up an additional husk and lay it between the layers to create your arms before tying another string around your doll below it.
If you are making a girl doll, leave it this way to make a little dress.
You can trim up the ends so she’ll stand up. You can also add an apron, create a little bonnet, or whatever unique touches you can think of.
If you are making a boy doll, cut your husk down the middle and tie near the bottom of your “pants legs.”
From there, trim up all your loose strings.
We left our knot longer on my son Landon’s to make a mohawk, and on Lucy’s, we fashioned a little bow.
Landon was pretty inspired and wanted to make one of our dog Zander, so we did our best to form some legs and a tail and it surely entertained the pet as he snatched it to run around with outside.
I waited for my kids to want to decorate with markers or want to put stickers or something to dress them up, but they went straight to playing and pretending, which made me smile.
After we recovered our dog doll, he morphed into a horse for the two dolls to “ride” on.
As always, use your imagination.
Some folks chose to create angels by making some husk wings, or have their dolls holding flowers or acorns.
You’ll be surprised at how these simple supplies can make quite the project.
Try making them when extended family is over, as they are fairly tidy to make and watch how everyone makes theirs differently.