I posted this photo on my personal Facebook page the other day and lots of people were curious about our yearly ornament-making tradition.
Oh you guys…you have no idea how many traditions we have for the various holidays.
It’s probably to the point of compulsion.
My son is already conditioned to expect them, and if they don’t happen, I definitely hear about it.
However, this one is one he would happily skip. He’s a self-declared craft hater. But it’s probably one of my favorite traditions, so I thought I would share it with you.
We make several handmade ornaments each year!
There are two categories of ornaments we make: ones just for our tree and gift ones for close family. We always keep one of the gift ornaments too, so, as you can imagine, our tree is very full!
“Just For Us” Ornaments
First up: the ornaments we make just for our tree. There are three types that we do each year.
Ornament 1: Self Portrait
For these, I trace around the embroidery hoop onto a piece of paper and have my son draw a self-portrait.
That’s easier said than done because of his craft-hating tendancies. So there’s some threatening involved, but we eventually get something adorable.
After he draws the picture, I trace it onto white muslin fabric with an extra fine-tipped Sharpie.
Then, he uses a dry brush and acrylic paint to fill in the colors. I usually help with the eyes and smoothing everything out. Sometimes, I go over the black lines again so they stand out.
After it dries, we throw it into a small embroidery hoop and cut off the extra fabrib and add a ribbon.
We started this tradition three years ago when I found the idea on Pinterest, but I wish we would have started when he was old enough to draw. I love these drawings so much!
Ornament 2: Christmas List
Each year, I take my son’s list to Santa and transcribe it onto these little scroll ornaments.
I cannot describe how much I love these! We have a permanent record of his list, and it’s super fun to look over past lists as we decorate the tree each year.
The spools are from Michaels (Hobby Lobby has some too, but I like the style at Michaels better). I paint them with red acrylic paint.
Each year, I take a slip of stiff watercolor paper and use an extra fine Sharpie to write out the list. This then gets hot glued to spool with a little overhanging to make it look like a scroll.
I take some green florist wire and thread it through the spool hole to make a hanger, and add a cute ribbon and a little cardstock flag with his name and the year.
And yes, he did ask Santa for socks this year.
Ornament 3: Vacation maps
We usually go on vacation to fairly nearby places and, for some reason, I can never find a Christmas ornament to commemorate the trip.
So, we make one.
Using a map, or a printout from Google maps, or a theme park map, I glue it to one side of a flat wooden heart (again, Michaels).
On the other side, I put a label with the name of the trip and the dates.
These labels were from the Martha Stewart collection at Staples. I stocked up on them a few years back, so I don’t know if they still carry them.
The next batch of ornaments are the ones we gift to close family each year.
I’ve done my best to try to incorporate a photo or a handprint each year, but sometimes, I’m lucky if they get the year on them.
Full disclosure, it is entirely likely that I missed a couple and/or I show more than 8 ornaments (this is my son’s 8th Christmas)…some years, we’ve done more than one.
Also, half of these don’t have the years on them because I forgot half the time.
Maybe I’ll work on that backdating project when I take down the tree.
The first one here is my favorite. We rolled out a thin layer of air dry clay and cut out his handprint. I think I painted it (wow, my strength does not lie in the painting arts).
My next favorite was another handprint-related one. This time, I painted his hand with white acrylic pain and had him wrap his hand around a bulb. I added the accents later.
This one was a kit and we added a photo. It’s super fragile because basically nothing sticks to those foam sheets. Not recommended.
The next one is from a foam sheet too and part of another kit. This was one of the early ones, so I’m pretty sure the only thing my son had to do with this was sitting still for a handprint. I did the rest.
The next one is definitely one of my favorites too. We made this one from scratch.
I used a flat, wooden oval (Michaels) and added scrapbook paper, then cut a silhouette of my son out of silver scrapbook paper.
The other side has a picture. And I glued cording around the edge to finish it off.
Look at how tiny he looks!
The next one was probably legitimately my son’s handiwork. Popsicle sticks, acrylic paint, and sequins. You can’t go wrong.
By the way, I recommend using Elmer’s Glue All or tacky glue, rather than the school glue for these projects. Both are more permanent than the crappy school glue.
Did I mention I’m an adhesive snob?
There are two in this next photo. The star is just painted Popsicle sticks and glitter.
The candy cane is one of those using beads and a pipe cleaner. I’m pretty sure this was a kit, but you can easily find these beads in any craft store.
Judging from the details on this next ornament, I’m pretty sure I played a big role in making this nativity scene happen. But I include it here because it’s cute and we definitely passed it off as Andrew-created a couple years back.
This next one was one from Andrew’s early years and it’s super fun and easy for them to do.
Have them string pony beads onto a pipe cleaner. Twist to make a wreath, add a bow.
This one uses the same concept, but uses different type of beads (and straws!).
Not gonna lie, this looks like I may have micro-managed the bead stringing process.
Here’s another easy one for little fingers. Wreath is foamcore, dot tacky glue all around, then they can add buttons.
Now, this last one looks like the most easy one ever, but I’m pretty sure this was our ornament from last year. I think I gave up most of the control and just let my son do his thing here. And this is what his 7-year-old mind came up with:
I’m purposely not sharing this year’s gift ornament because my mom definitely reads my blog and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But they are super cute and I let Andrew just do his thing.
I’ll share it on Facebook after Christmas.
Hope this gives you some ideas if you’d like to incorporate yearly oraments into your Christmas too!