12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas for 2018: Seven Swans-a-Swimming Succulent Planter

Teacup succulent planter that looks like a swan - swan craft

A partridge in a pear tree? Four calling birds? Seven swans-a-swimming?

Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to give all the gifts from the 12 Days of Christmas?

Today I am partnering with PNC to bring you this post and the 2018 PNC Christmas Price Index® to help you find out!

This year, PNC is also partnering with bloggers to bring you modern takes on the classic 12 Days of Christmas gifts.

For today's craft, PNC asked me to come up with a fresh take on seven swans-a-swimming that used upcycled materials and incorporated greenery.

This is what I came up with:

Succulent planters and plants on a fireplace mantle - how to make a succulent planter out of a teacup to look like a swan

My swans-a-swimming inspired craft transforms a lonely tea cup into an upcycled succulent planter that will fit right in any time of year.

Even if you didn't have any of these supplies on hand, you'd still spend much less than the cost of a swan to buy them!

The main supplies needed are:
TOTAL = $35.98

Of course, if you already have any of these supplies on hand, you'd spend even less to bring this project to life.

I don't know about you, but I would much prefer some succulents over the stress of trying to keep such an expensive animal that lives outside alive anyway.

Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts Craft Tutorial:
How to Make a Swans-a-Swimming Inspired Succulent Planter

A modern, fun twist on the 12 Days of Christmas' seven swans-a-swimming.

How to make a succulent planter that looks like a swan


Some of the links below may be affiliate links.
Pro tip: While I will show you step-by-step how I sculpted the swan so you can follow along at home, you will likely find it helpful to do a Google image search for swans to have a real image to base your sculpture on!


Swans-a-Swimming succulent planter Step 1: 

Break off a chunk of modeling clay. Knead it until it is soft and pliable. Roll it into a log shape as shown.
cost plus world market tea cup

To help transform the clay log into the head and neck of the swan, line up the bottom edge of the log with the bottom of the tea cup. 

Bring the log up the side, allowing the top to bend swan neck style.
swan craft instructions - how to make a swan out of clay

To form the face, take the neck piece off the teacup for now and lay it on the table in front of you.

Pinch the front down to start to form the bill. Squish the front of the bill together a bit to help it be narrower on the point.

swan craft ideas

Make a small ball of clay and add it to the area where the bill meets to head to add the iconic swan "knob" (that's really what it's called!).

How to use clay to make a swan

Make two very small balls and add them now as eyes on either side of the head.

Swan craft example - how to sculpt a swan face and neck from air dry clay

Press the neck and head back up against the tea cup. Bend the head down more if needed to get the classic swan neck curve.

how to make a swan succulent planter

To allow the neck to dry in the correct position without bending too much from the weight of the head, I rolled up two zip top plastic bags and tucked them inside the neck curve.

If your swan sculpture won't hold the bags up on their own, find a small household object like a mug or a small toy to help hold the bag in the right position while the clay dries.
how to sculpt a swan from air dry clay to make a succulent planter

Swans-a-Swimming succulent planter Step 2: 

To form the swan's wings, form three balls of clay in graduated sizes.

how to make a swan from air dry clay

Roll each ball into a small log. The largest log will be fatter and longer. The next, will be skinnier and shorter and the final one will also be both more slender and shorter.

how to form wings with clay

Line the three logs up against each other. Use your fingers to pinch the top and bottom logs together as shown.
how to make wings from air dry clay

Press down on the top of the wing to flatten it and help smooth out the joins.

How to form the wings for a seven swans a swimming craft idea

Repeat this procedure so that you have two wings that are approximately the same size and shape.

swan wings made from air dry clay

Swans-a-Swimming succulent planter Step 3: 

To help the wings dry with the correct curvature that matches the tea cup, use packing tape to help them stick while drying.

To do this, pull off a piece of clear packing tape about twice the length of the wing. Fold it back onto itself to form a loop.

Lay the loop on the wing.
how to attach swan wings to tea cup to make a succulent planter

Place the wings in their correct positions on the sides of the tea cup. Fold down any tape that extends above the rim of the tea cup to help anchor it in place while the swan is drying.
Tea cup turned into a succulent planter - seven swans a swimming christmas craft idea

Allow your swan to dry in a warm place for 24-48 hours before moving on to step 4. Check the swan occasionally to be sure everything is still in place as intended while it is drying.

Swans-a-Swimming succulent planter Step 4: 

After 24-48 hours, the clay should be mostly dry. The area under the neck will likely still be a bit wet and pliable from having rested on plastic bags.

To help your swan finish drying, remove the bags from under the neck but prop up the head to allow air to circulate freely.

I used a small, eight-ounce mason jar to rest my swan's bill and support its head while the rest of the neck dried.
How to make a succulent tea cup garden

Allow the swan to rest for another 24 - 48 hours to allow the clay to completely dry.

Swans-a-Swimming succulent planter Step 5: 

Once all the pieces of your swan are dry, adhere them to the teacup with hot glue.

Carefully remove the wings and the tape from the tea cup. Spread hot glue on the inside of the dry wing piece and adhere it to the side of the tea cup.
how to attach the swan wings to the tea cup

If the head of your swan is loose or you feel like it needs additional support, add glue to the back of the head and neck as well.

Learn how to turn a tea cup into a succulent planter or container garden with air dry clay. #creativegrenliving #succulents #succulentplanterideas #upcycled #teacup

Swans-a-Swimming succulent planter Step 6: 

Now it's time for the fun part - planting something in it!

If you have a brown thumb or don't have a lot of sunshine in your house, there are plenty of fake succulents that look realistic available at your local craft store.

To plant real plants, add a handful of pea gravel in the bottom for drainage before adding potting soil and a live plant.
This is such a creative idea for a DIY succulent planter. Learn how to turn a plain white tea cup into an indoor succulent garden. This would make such a unique gift idea. #creativegreenliving #creativegreenchristmas #sevenswansaswimming #12daysofchristmas #succulents #succulentplanters

That's it!
I hope you enjoyed my take on seven swans-a-swimming! I think this upcycled succulent planter would make a lovely gift for anyone.

This is such a creative idea for a DIY succulent planter. Learn how to turn a plain white tea cup into an indoor succulent garden. This would make such a unique gift idea. #creativegreenliving #creativegreenchristmas #sevenswansaswimming #12daysofchristmas #succulents #succulentplanters

Succulent planter that looks like a swan made from a large tea cup and air dry clay

This is such a creative idea for a DIY succulent planter. Learn how to turn a plain white tea cup into an indoor succulent garden. This would make such a unique gift idea. #creativegreenliving #creativegreenchristmas #sevenswansaswimming #12daysofchristmas #succulents #succulentplanters

If you love this 12 Days of Christmas gift idea, be sure to pin it to save it for later!

A modern take on the 12 Days of Christmas gift ideas! Instead of buying real swans, make your own DIY upcycled succulent planter from a tea cup! It's the perfect unique gift and a creative spin on the 12 Days of Christmas gift ideas. It's a fun way to do 12 Days of Christmas gifts for teachers or for friends. (created in partnership with @PNC) #DIY #ChristmasPriceIndex #creativegreenliving #creativegreenchristmas #christmasgifts #swan #succulents #succulove

Don't forget to check out the Christmas Price Index® from PNC for more information about the cost of Christmas and to find all the 12 days of Christmas crafts you can make to save money.

This is such a creative idea for a DIY succulent planter. Learn how to turn a plain white tea cup into an indoor succulent garden. This would make such a unique gift idea. #creativegreenliving #creativegreenchristmas #sevenswansaswimming #12daysofchristmas #succulents #succulentplanters

About the Author:

Carissa Bonham is a lifelong crafter and mom of two creative boys. The owner and lead writer at Creative Green Living, she won the Craftys Award for the "Best Craft Blogger" category in 2016 and the ShiftCon award for "Best DIY Blogger" in 2018.

Her goal is to empower families to make easy projects and healthier choices that are beautiful and delicious! She is also the author of the hardcover cookbook, Beautiful Smoothie Bowls (Skyhorse, 2017) and Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens (Skyhorse, 2018).

Her projects have been featured in magazines like Kids Crafts 1-2-3, Capper's Farmer and Urban Farm Magazine. Follow her on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or join the Creative Green Living Tribe on Facebook.
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Sponsored post disclosure: This post was sponsored by PNC Financial Services Group, the creators of the Christmas Price Index®. All opinions expressed are 100% mine. I only recommend products I personally enjoy and think my readers will as well. For more information, see my full sponsored post and review policy.


  1. Oh wow!! You are so clever to turn the tea cup into a succulent planter! It's beautiful!

  2. What a fun idea! Even without the swan head it's a great Christmas gift. :)

  3. Really cute idea! I love using air dry clay and have a tub of it in the closet now. I could make this!


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