Retailers are selling practically every conceivable Christmas ornament you can think of, from the sweetly sacred to the oddly amusing, but chances are you won’t remember where or when you got each one in a year or two. But if you make your tree ornaments yourself, you can create memories as you craft personalized ornaments by hand. Whether you’re looking for a craft to do with your kids or simply want to create some themed tree decorations without breaking the bank, here are some ideas for Christmas ornaments you can make at home.
German star ornament
The Japanese didn’t corner the market on the art of paper-folding with origami. Germans have been folding strips of paper into intricate shapes to form German star ornaments, also called Moravian stars, since the 1800s. These stars were originally created from strips of durable waxed paper, or when regular-strength paper was used, the ornaments were dipped in hot wax once completed. Today, crafters use everything from wrapping paper to ribbons, as in this example by Martha Stewart.
Sometimes you just can’t do better than the decorations mother nature originally “decked” evergreen trees with — pine cones! Pine cones are perfect if you’re going for a rustic, country-style tree — however, sticking unadorned pine cones on your tree isn’t very festive. Add some holiday shine to your pine cone ornaments with a little paint or glitter. While you can handpaint the pinecones, as in these instructions from HGTV, we recommend gold or silver spray paint as the best option to get an even coating and avoid visible brushstrokes.
If glitter is more your thing, Martha Stewart recommends painting glue on the pine cone scale with a brush before adding the glitter. For a faster option, we recommend filling a long, shallow pan with a glue mixture that’s one part water to two parts glue. Then you can quickly roll your pine cones in the glue mixture, sprinkle on the glitter, shake it off, hang them to dry and voila — a bunch of glittery pine cone ornaments in no-time flat!
For an ornament craft that gives more freedom in the finished look, consider investing in a hot wire cutter to create your own Styrofoam ornaments. Two-dimensional ornaments in any shape and size you can imagine can be cut out of sheets of Styrofoam as long as it’s one continuous shape, such as this angel template from Folk Art Life.
Simply draw the pattern onto the Styrofoam sheet with a permanent marker, then follow the line as you run it along the hot wire to cut or “melt” out your ornament shape. Just don’t hesitate or stop once you start or the hot wire will melt a hole into your ornament.
To finish off the ornament, paint it with a coat of watered-down glue and sprinkle it with glitter. If the foam is in good condition without any marks, you might also consider leaving the majority of the ornament unadorned and simply outline the shape with a bead of glue sprinkled with glitter.
If you’d rather paint your Styrofoam ornaments, you can apply acrylic paint directly to the foam with a brush. Don’t use spray paint — it will eat into the foam and destroy the ornament. To achieve the finished look that spray paint provides, you must first give the Styrofoam ornament a coat of gesso or some other protective material to prevent the spray paint from destroying the foam.