Sand dollars feature natural, organic patterns that appear to be embossed on their white surface, making them attractive for craft projects. They usually have one or more long, irregular holes through them, which is perfect for adding a hanging loop when you make sand dollar Christmas ornaments.
Because sand dollars are suitable for painting, gluing and other forms of decoration, making DIY sand dollar ornaments is easy for all ages and inspires countless creative ideas.
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You can hang your sand dollar ornaments on a Christmas tree, add them to a wreath, or string a series of them together as a festive garland to enhance your Christmas home decor. Learn how to make these seashell Christmas ornaments with this easy tutorial.
Preparing sand dollars for crafts
If you've gathered your sand dollars from the beach (check local regulations before doing so), you should wash them before making ornaments.
When using sand dollars gathered from the beach, wash them thoroughly, soaking them in cold water for at least two days.
Soak the sand dollars in cold water for at least two days, changing the water a few times a day, and then scrub them with a toothbrush to remove any remaining debris. If you want the sand dollars to be bright white, soak them in a solution of four parts water to one part bleach for about an hour. Rinse the sand dollars under cold running water and then place them on a towel to dry.
Alternatively, buy sand dollars in bulk from a craft store. These sand dollars will be ready to use without the need for washing or bleaching. If you're preparing to make sand dollar Christmas ornaments with children, advise them to handle the sand dollars carefully, as they are brittle and easily broken.
How to paint sand dollars
Once your sand dollars are clean, bleached and dry, they're ready for painting. There are no unusual instructions for how to paint sand dollars. Apply your choice of paint with a suitable brush in the same way you would on any other surface. After the paint is dry, apply a sealant to preserve the ornaments.
You can use acrylic paints for a bolder effect or watercolor paints for a lighter, washed-out effect. Paint markers and permanent markers are also suitable for sand dollar ornaments and are great for adding fine details.
The star shape that naturally occurs in the center of a sand dollar is a great inspiration for beach decor-related designs. Some fun ideas include:
- Poinsettia. Paint the petal-like shapes in the center of a sand dollar a deep red color with green leaf shapes between them and a yellow circle in the center. Add veins to the leaves with a black marker.
- Snowflake. With light blue or silver metallic paint, draw lines down the center of each petal shape and then add symmetrical details to resemble a snowflake, like lines, zigzags and dots.
- Santa. Paint an irregular pink rectangle in the center of a sand dollar for Santa's face and add a little round nose and eyes with a marker or add beaded eyes. A red painted stripe across the top creates Santa's hat, while the white of the sand dollar stands in for Santa's beard, hair and hat trim.
- Reindeer. A red circle for a nose in the center with two round eyes and twig-like antlers above are all you need to paint to make a reindeer sand dollar Christmas ornament.
- Personalized. Add your name, initials, a holiday message or a word like "joy" or "merry" in your fanciest handwriting. Don't forget to add the year that you made the ornament.
Glitter and gold for sand dollar ornaments
An easy way to make a sand dollar ornament shiny and festive is to cover it in glitter or gold leaf. With glitter, paint white glue all over the sand dollar or in a design and pour glitter all over the glue. Shake off the excess, let the glue dry and repeat on the other side.
For a super-fancy sand dollar Christmas ornament, use gold leaf along with gilding size, which is a special glue for use with metallic leaf. Apply the size with a brush wherever you want the gold leaf to adhere. Press the leaf onto the glued areas, burnish it with a soft cloth, and then brush away the excess with a stiff brush.
Sand Dollar Snowman Ornaments
To make Christmas tree ornaments, hot glue three sand dollars together to resemble a snowman, with a larger sand dollar at the bottom and a smaller one at the top. Draw or paint a carrot nose, coal eyes and a smile on the top sand dollar and glue a piece of ribbon around the "neck" as a scarf.
Sand dollar tree decorations, or any other seashells or starfish ornaments, lend a coastal decor flair to your house during the holiday season. Anyone for a beach Christmas?
Don’t forget the hanging loop
Adding a hanging loop to a sand dollar Christmas ornament couldn't be easier, thanks to the holes that naturally form in them. Remember when you're planning your design to position one of the holes at the top for straight hanging. Cut a length of ribbon, string or yarn, thread it through the chosen hole, and knot the ends together.