Make: 10-Minute DIY Kid-Safe Stem Vases

Ah, August! With the kids already back in school and the summer-like days waning, it has us all longing to gather up and surround ourselves with every last bit of the season. Our wood block stem vases were born out of the desire to bring the last of summer inside, while using up some bits & pieces of past crafts I had laying around. This versatile activity is a perfect afternoon project for kids and great way to get them engaged with nature after a long day sitting at a desk. As an added bonus, the plastic test tubes make these 100% kid-safe and durable enough for continued use season after season.

barley and birch diy stem vase materials


  • Wooden Blocks or Wood Scraps
  • Plastic Test Tubes
  • Drill
  • Spade Bit (same diameter as the Test Tube – mine was 5/8″)
  • Fine Sand Paper
  • Paint or Stain (Optional)
  • Flowers, Branches or Other Seasonal Clippings


Drill a hole through the center of your wooden block with a spade bit that’s the same diameter as the test tubes you have (mine had a 5/8″ diameter). Make sure you either have the block clamped while you drill, or are safely holding the block in place – and don’t forget the protective eyewear! Check to be sure you’re holding the drill upright so the test tube will sit straight in the block, and drill about 3/4 of the way through. Finish up by sanding around the edges with a fine grain sandpaper.

bandb-2016-diy-stem-vases-drill1   bandb-2016-diy-stem-vases-drill2

barley and birch diy stem vase paints

Once your blocks are drilled and sanded, grab some sponges or paintbrushes and let the the kids go to town! These can even just be dipped and dried. I used some acrylic paint I had sitting around and wanted to use up, but you can also use stamps, a stain, markers, washi tape or stickers to decorate – get creative! Let these fully dry, then just slip the test tube in. If the test tube has a little wobble, you can use some candle wax or a dot of glue to hold the tube in place. Voila! These are ready to be filled with a little water and some seasonal snips from the garden – or…anything really!

bandb-2016-diy-stem-vases-2    10-minute kid+parent DIY bud vase

Half the fun of these is that they can be stacked up, arranged, and rearranged for all different kinds of fun looks – these are really so versatile! Here are a few more ideas:

  • Put different letter on each side of each block and spell the name of the flowers collected or the season.
  • Cover the blocks with different faces and fill the test tube with some “hair” from the garden.
  •  Play with different colors and patterns to create fun, ever-changing arrangements.
  • Paint with a magnetic paint for stem vases that can double as picture or note holders.
  • Use some different sizes and shapes of blocks to create a cityscape of stem vases.

The sky’s the limit with these! Have a great idea of your own? Share in the comments, and be sure to tag us in pics of your own creations (@barleyandbirch). For more DIYs like this, check out our Rainy Day Pinterest Board or some of our other super easy, super fun scrap wood DIYs here.