Homemade Christmas Ornaments to Give and Keep
Originally published Dec. 2020
I’ve made Christmas ornaments for years. I often give handmade clay ornaments as gifts to friends each year. When I put up the tree and hang the decorations, those kid-made, slightly off-kilter ornaments ornaments are my favorites.
I’ll start with the super-easy. With a little help, even toddlers can do this one.
Clear Plastic Painted Ornaments
- Clear plastic ornaments
- Acrylic paint in your favorite colors, preferably with “squirt-able” tops or transfer paint to small squirt bottles
- Gold, red or green paint pen, optional
Let kids pick their colors and squirt a small amount of each into the ornament. Put the top back on the ornament and roll around to create a fun look. Glittery paint is a good choice, or just opt for the classic read and green
Write the child’s name and date on the outside for a keepsake, or if you’re giving it as a gift, write a message such as Happy Holidays! along with the date.
Wine Cork Ornaments
- Wine corks
- Acrylic paint
- Small eye screw
- Pens or Sharpies
- Decorative items such as chenille craft sticks (pipe cleaners), small sticks, google eyes, ribbon, felt, tiny pompons, etc.
To make Rudolph, no need to paint the cork — just glue on eyes and red pompon nose. Use brown pipe cleaners for antlers. Draw a smiling mouth if you want. Screw the eye screw into the top of his head and you’re done.
If you want to make a cork reindeer with a whole body, I’ve included an image of that one. Just use sticks for legs, neck and antlers.
To make a snowman or an angel, paint the cork white with acrylic paint and use your imagination to dress them up!
Chenille Craft Sticks and Bead Ornaments
- Chenille craft pipe cleaners
- Red and white beads for candy canes
- Small red beads and star-shaped green beads for Christmas wreaths
Note: make sure the beads have large enough openings for the pipe cleaners.
Wrap one end of the pipe cleaner around a bead to keep the others from coming off. For the candy cane, alternate red and white beads, leaving enough pipe cleaner at the end to create a knot to keep the beads in place. Bend into a candy cane shape.
For the wreaths, secure one end to keep beads in place. Thread several green beads and then add one red bead. When the wreath is full, bend into a circle and twist ends together. Add a bow at the top.
This project is best of elementary school-aged kids and older. TulsaKids did this project years ago at Philbrook’s Festival of Trees Children’s Christmas Party.
Tooled Aluminum Ornaments
These ornaments are inspired by Mexican Folk Art.
- Tooling aluminum, which is available online or at craft stores. A roll is around $10, depending on where you get it.
- Stick such as a wooden kabob skewer (end dulled) or dull pencil.
- Permanent felt-tipped markers in different colors
- Hole punch
- Ribbon for hanging
Choose a shape for your ornament. It could be a star, a tree (simple triangle), round ornament or old-fashioned ornament shape.
Cut a piece of aluminum the shape of your ornament and place on newspapers to create a soft workspace. Using the dull pencil or similar tool, press the design onto the foil. You may want to draw your design on a piece of paper and tape it over the aluminum shape, or find a template online. Trace over the design on your paper, pressing into the aluminum. Turn the shape over and you may leave it silver or color in the design with markers.
Use a hole punch to make a hole at the top and put a ribbon or string through to hang the ornament.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cups water
- cookie cutters (optional)
- baking pan
- parchment paper
- Acrylic paint
- Other decorative items such as beads, jewels, glitter, etc.
Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Add water. Don’t pour it all in at once. You may not need it all or you may need a little more. Mix with fork until dough comes together. Fold and knead the dough on a flat surface until it is throroughly mixed. If it cracks and feels too dry, add more water. If you’re using cookie cutters for shapes, roll out dough between ¼” and ½” thick (if there are a lot of cracks, you may need to knead in more water). Cut out shapes. Or create your own shapes, but remember that if dough is very thick it may not dry well. Use a straw or other utensil to make a hole at the top. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake two to three hours at 200 degrees F until firm. Let them cool and paint. Protect with a coat of varnish.