Ideally, every Christmas tree should reflect your personal taste and creativity. That's sometimes difficult, because stores all sell more or less the same selection of ornaments and decorative pieces. One way to cut through the clutter of the "same old, same old" and have unique pieces to make the tree definitively your own, is to turn out some DIY tree ornaments. There are options out there for every skill level, so don't fret if you're craft-challenged. One of these carefully curated ornament ideas is sure to be just what you need.
DIY Wood Transfer Christmas Ornaments
You don't need any drawing or painting skill to turn plain wood ornaments, or even craft-store wood slices, into personalized picture ornaments. Instead of free-handing your design, print it out on your printer and use this image transfer technique to apply it to the wood. You can use any printable image, from royalty-free clip art to your own family photos.
Handmade Glitter Ornaments
Glitter ornaments are appropriate on almost any tree, and they're surprisingly easy to make at home. You'll need to visit a craft store for a supply of clear tree decorations in plastic or glass, several colors of glitter and specialized adhesive to make the glitter stick to the ball's interior. This easy DIY gives you the option of building a completely customized color scheme for your tree, if you really want to push your decor to the limit.
DIY Cinnamon Scented Fabric Tree Ornaments
Tree ornaments in general are skewed heavily to hard and shiny surfaces, from traditional glass balls to plastic figurines to bells and angels in real or faux metals. Adding different textures to the mix is a quick way to make your tree stand out. One simple option, for those with even modest sewing skills, is to turn out a batch of these cinnamon-scented fabric tree ornaments. The textures and colors of your chosen fabric, and the organic look — and signature scent — of the cinnamon stick will all bring a pleasing contrast to your tree.
Miniature Sunburst Mirror Ornaments
A rustic, handmade appearance is often the whole idea of DIY ornaments, especially when you make them with the kids, but there's also room for handmade ornaments with a more polished appearance. That's what you get with these surprisingly elegant, sophisticated-looking mirrored sunburst ornaments. They're a scaled-down version of the striking sunburst mirrors you'll often see as a design element on a wall, and they're easier to make than you'd think. As long as you have a glue gun and a bit of patience, you're good to go.
DIY Gingerbread Christmas Ornaments
Gingerbread cookies are a much-loved part of the holidays for a lot of families, with spices and molasses giving them a seasonally-appropriate fragrance and flavor. You may never have realized it, but you can use those cookies to make gingerbread Christmas tree ornaments as well. Just make a hole near the top of the cookie before it's baked, for the string or ribbon to go through. Most standard recipes will work fine for a cookie that will hang on the tree for a while before it's eaten. If you want heirloom decorations that will last for years, look up a recipe for "structural" gingerbread that's not intended to be eaten.
Make a Snowman Ornament Out of Glue
Glue is an essential component in many DIY crafts, but did you know it can be used as a crafting material in its own right? Ordinary white craft glue dries to a hard, translucent plastic-like substance, so you can use it as a sort of low-tech version of 3D printing for decorations like this kid-friendly glue snowman ornament. Just draw out your shape on wax paper, then fill it in with the liquid glue. Apply any necessary details or decorative elements while the glue is still wet, then just wait a day or two until it's fully set and dry.
Wooden Bead Christmas Wreath
Most Christmas trees are all about over-the-top excess, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. When it comes to decorations and ornaments, more is usually better. That's not necessarily the case, though, if your personal style and the style of your home lean more to Scandinavian minimalism. If that's the case, try these miniature wreath ornaments made with simple wooden beads. The natural wood tone brings a simple, effective element to a fresh tree, but it's especially effective when paired with a white artificial tree.
DIY Chinoiserie Ornaments
Some words act as a sort of code for "expensive" and one of those is chinoiserie. Its literal meaning translates more or less as, "in the Chinese style," and for centuries it was reserved for the kind of upscale pieces that wealthy and aristocratic collectors would accumulate. When you're talking about Christmas tree ornaments, it means balls painted in the white-on-blue style of classic Chinese porcelain. Those are often costly to buy, but they're a surprisingly simple DIY project. At least some modest drawing skill is helpful, but mostly all you need is a steady hand.
Sand Dollars Make Beautiful, Natural Decorations
Some DIY ornaments don't require a whole lot of actual "doing." The simplest ones of all come down to finding something that's already decorative, and hanging it on your tree. If you live near the coast, sand dollars are exactly that kind of completely natural ornament. The disc-shaped sea creatures are simple to collect and easy to hang, since they come complete with a suitable hole for your ribbon or twine to pass through. Their distinctive pattern even has a rich history of religious symbolism, making them doubly appropriate.
DIY Photo Ornaments
There are lots of ways to personalize your tree ornaments, but few are as intensely personal as family photos. Whether they're intended for gifting or for your own tree, photographic ornaments make a one-of-a-kind, custom element. They're surprisingly simple to make, too. All you need is clear glass or plastic decorations from the craft store, a pair of scissors, and some suitable photos. Cut your printed photo to fit the ornament, then roll it up and slide it into the globe-shaped ornament through the hole in its top.
DIY Holiday Ornaments From Dough
Edible cookies make fine tree ornaments are aromatic and seasonal, but they're not your only option for BIY (Bake It Yourself) decorations. Cookies made for eating generally don't last well because they usually include ingredients such as eggs and baking powder to give them an enjoyable texture. Baked tree ornaments made from a salt-based dough are much more durable because of their salt content and lack of leavenings and eggs. Even better, because the base recipe has such a neutral color, you can easily tint the decorations with food coloring or other ingredients.
No-Bake Salt Dough Ornaments
There's one minor issue with baked tree decorations: The closer it gets to the holidays, the more likely your oven will already be in use with holiday meals or seasonal baked goods. That's why no-bake salt dough ornaments can be an especially appealing option. Make up the dough, roll it and cut it just as you would for baked ornaments; but then leave the shapes out uncovered on a cookie sheet to dry. Turn them every day for 3 or 4 days until they're completely dry and hard, then decorate them with stamps and ink, paint, glitter or anything else that appeals to you.
Birdseed Christmas Ornaments
It's not written in stone anywhere that you can only decorate the tree in your living room. A lot of people also decorate an outdoor tree, in conventional or unconventional fashion. One "unconventional" approach is to hang birdseed tree decorations on suitable branches around your yard. You and your kids will have fun making them, the birds will love eating them, and your feathered friends themselves become a kind of living decoration you can enjoy through your windows. Everybody wins!
Hand-Painted Glass Ball Ornaments
Hand-painted glass ball ornaments aren't the sole preserve of the artistically gifted. The truly skilled can churn out a jovial Santa or a realistic reindeer with a few paints and some fine brushes, but that's not the only path to a charmingly personalized decoration. Instead, pick up a handful of clear glass balls from the craft store and create these evocative, eye-catching and colorful ornaments.
Natural Starfish Ornament
Stars are a traditional ornament for Christmas trees, especially at the very top. But what about a naturally occurring star? Starfish, or sea stars, are commonly cleaned and dried for sale as beach-side souvenirs. Those same sea stars make a striking and natural tree ornament. The most basic approach is to simply glue a bead cap to the starfish and hang it from the tree in its natural state, where its pale hue will provide a pleasing contrast to the tree and other colorful decorations. Alternatively, you can brush it with craft glue and decorate it to your heart's content with glitter, sequins or any number of other colorful elements.