Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

homemade ornament cutouts

Are you looking for a great way to spend some time with family and get creative this holiday season? Spend an afternoon crafting these easy homemade Christmas ornaments.

Mom’s Ornament Recipe

I honestly don’t remember where my mother got the recipe, perhaps from her mother. These are, however, my favorite homemade ornaments. They are very inexpensive to make, you can be as simple or fancy as you like, and they are wonderful for all ages.

Homemade ornaments hang on the Christmas tree.
Homemade ornaments hanging on the Christmas tree. You can paint the shapes and then use paint or markers to add details.

And as an added bonus, they seem to last forever. I have several ornaments that my children made nearly 20 years ago. They still hang on the tree each year alongside one my mother saved that’s currently over 40 years old.

You’ll want to start with the recipe for the ornament. It uses just three ingredients. They are inexpensive and you likely have them already in your house: water, baking soda, and corn starch. 

A dog pawprint ornament hangs on a Christmas tree.
Our dog Pumpkin had his print immortalized in play clay and preserved on our Christmas tree.

Click through to the ornaments page for the recipe. Use Christmas cookie cutters to cut out holiday shapes. Don’t forget to use a straw to poke a hole at the top of each ornament for hanging.

When you’re done with your cutouts and sculptures, they’ll need to dry for at least 48 hours in a warm dry place. If they appear dry on top, flip them over to be certain they are dry all the way through.

Colorful Creations

When the ornaments are dry look them over. If there are rough spots or bumps, you can use a small piece of sandpaper to carefully sand them smooth.

Snowmen and tree clay craft.
You can use extra dough to make small sculptures. Then you or your children can use them to create wintry scenes.

After that, you’re all set to decorate. Little ones can use washable markers or paint. Adults would probably prefer to use craft paints, spray paints or permanent markers.  You may choose to add glitter or even glue on this year’s school photo.

Handprint and Pawprint Ornaments

If you’re preserving hand, foot, or even paw prints there are a few special notes. To begin with, it’s best to use a round cookie cutter to start the shape. This will give you a better finished project. If you don’t have a cookie cutter of the right size, you can use a lid, jar, or any circular object to make your shape.

Handprint and footprint Christmas ornaments.
Our children’s hand (left, approximate age 1 1/2) and foot (right, approximate age 6 months) prints decorate our Christmas tree.

Then you’ll want to press your subject’s hand or foot into the dough. Luckily corn starch and baking soda are non-toxic so there are no worries there. With very small babies, you might want to make a foot print and save a hand print creation for the toddler years.

When they are dry, you’ll want to brush them with a coat of white paint. Though the dough itself is white, this will give them a more finished appearance.

Markings on the back of hand, foot and pawprint ornaments to preserve the information.
Use a Sharpie to include the name and date on the back of hand, foot or paw print ornaments.

Don’t forget to add the subject’s name on the back. You can also choose to add the date of birth (as we did with our dog Pumpkin) or the year in which you made the ornament.

A Finishing Touch

When you’re done decorating, you’ll want to give it a spray of polyurethane or shellac. I prefer the glossy to matte as it gives it a nice shine. This will help preserve your creation over the years. Then you’ll add a string and it’s ready to hang.

I have found these ornaments to be very versatile. In addition to gracing the boughs of our Christmas tree, I have used them as gift tags and package decor. I have used them to cast prints of my children’s hands and feet and most recently of our dog’s paw.

Brown paper bags adorned with ribbon and clay ornament.
In addition to using the ornaments as traditional “to” and “from” tags on Christmas gifts, I make these small decorations for brown bags. They are great for party favor bags, bags of cookies for neighbors, or any type of small gift.

Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Try your hand at these very easy and inexpensive crafts. Truth be told, I am neither very crafty or artistic. I enjoy photography and writing and that is where my creativity stops. I still enjoy making these with my children every year. They remind me of good times spent around the kitchen table with my own mother, making Christmas decorations.

If you give these a try, please share photos of your creation in the comments.  I would love to see where someone else’s skill and creativity could take these simple ornaments and I’m always looking to share ideas.

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