Christmas decorating can be super stressful; it’s time consuming, takes out a lot of energy and if you’re on a tight budget, it can be really expensive. I finally figured out how to cut corners on decorating my tree, and I think it’s time to let you in on the “not a big secret” secret - DIY ornaments.
DIY ornaments are personal, unique and each ornament comes with its own story. You can't really do that with an ornament set you got from the store - "I spent fifteen minutes trying to make up my mind about this particular ornament". If you spent each year of your childhood making your own ornaments at home/school, you probably get where I'm going with this. But if you’re like me, and you’re starting new traditions with very little to spare in your pockets, DIY ornaments can be a whole new and unexplored territory.
I spent almost 5 days conducting my own lab trials with these different decorations, but each one won’t take more than 20 minutes - unless you intend on counting glitter cleanup. Glitter cleanup is a whole other story, but that’s for another day.
Anyway, here's a list of materials and tools you’ll need to have in order to make some fantastic looking ornaments:
For the crochet lace glass ornaments, chop up your lace trimmings in rough lengths between 1-3 inches. You’ll want to have a ratio of 3:1 for long and short lengths respectively. Sadly I don't have any photos of the process with glass ornaments, sorry!
Next, ensure your glass ornament is clean - use isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle to clean off any dirt. Brush on some white glue on on end of your ornament. Stick on your longer pieces of lace at various angles to each other as you please. Keep glueing your pieces till you have covered most of your ornament. I used the 1 inch pieces to only cover up spots that had big gaps after I’d completed sticking on the bigger pieces. Thread your ornament to hang.
Fill 90% of your bottle with “snow balls” from the card making kit, or fake snow, or epsom salt. Cap your mini bottle shut with the cork.If you want, you can also fill your bottles with shiny sequins to make a tiny Christmas scene. Take a few beads - anywhere between 1-4 and thread them with the thread you plan on hanging your ornament with. Tie both ends of the thread together and reposition the knot inside the beads to make the knot invisible.
Using a hot glue gun, place a bead of hot glue on the cork of the bottle and promptly stick 1 bead from the previous step on the cork. Let dry and hang.
For this ornament, start off with a clean ornament surface using isopropyl alcohol. Use a paint brush in a size between 2-5 and paint a little squiggle with a thin coat of white acrylic paint. I did not think about the fact that my design could easily be rubbed off, and once I realized this, I didn’t feel like redoing my work with glass paints.
If you want a more permanent finish, use white glass paint instead of white acrylic paint.
Keep painting squiggles, each new row at an indent, until you almost reach the beginning.
If you’re worried about smearing your design, let the paint dry before continuing on a new patch.
Add some dots in between the squiggles - makes for a less monotonous design, and also fills in awkward gaps in between your squiggles!
Let dry for a couple hours before handling. Thread ornament and hang. I'll probably have to redo my squiggles in certain areas because I decided the best place to hang my ornaments was in the bathroom, against a wall. Silly old me...
Start by locating the diameter of the ball, most likely marked by a faint line.
Using your brush, glue on one sequin/bead/stone at a time. With the star ornaments, I followed a strict row pattern as I continued sticking. You can choose to stick your stones/beads/sequins section by section instead, which makes it easier to handle the styrofoam ball as you work.
For tiny beads or vase fillers - paint on a thin layer of glue and dip your styrofoam ball into a plate filled with beads/fillers. Let dry, and continue section by section till the ball is completely covered. Avoid moving these until they’re completely dry because the beads are more prone to sliding around before they dry.
A good trick to keeping your fingers off the styrofoam ball is to insert a toothpick or a cross-stitch needle. In my experience, a sewing needle will only cause the styrofoam ball to keep rotating. With the reflective sticky stones, I was lucky enough to be able to just stick on the stones directly on the styrofoam balls. I just went with random patterns in this case. When taking a break, or resting your ornament on any surface, keep in mind that your ornament has a good chance of rolling till the section you've worked on is hitting the surface - it's not magic, just good ol' gravity giving you a hard time. Try resting your ornament over something like a shot glass to prevent your ornament from rolling around.
Now I’ve only ever made salt dough ornaments once before, and it was at a ornament making party with pre-made dough, so I decided to look around for recipes.
Check out Giustina’s white salt dough recipe at Domestically Blissful for the recipe and instructions.
The best results come from using stamping tools, but since I didn’t want to spend money for a tool I’d only use once or twice a year, I just used things I found at home to make impressions. The key is to roll, make a strong impression and then gently cut your dough with the cookie cutter. If you roll your dough out thin enough, these ornaments will dry in about an hour and a half.
Ensure your dough is well spread out on a flat surface to prevent them from curling.
And there you have it! 5 different DIY ornament tutorials to spruce up your Christmas tree! You’ll definitely have something to talk about this holiday season! How have you decorated your tree this year? Share photos of ornaments you're proud of on instagram by tagging me @meandering.paths, or post your DIY ornament hacks in the comments below!
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