Making Christmas Ornaments with the Kids

One of my favorite family traditions is getting a few new Christmas tree ornaments every year.  For the last couple years, I have had my kids helping me make ornaments for our tree.  Most are very easy to cut out with simple hand tools, and the children love to paint them.

Materials

No need to buy wood for these ornaments.  I use hardwood scraps and offcuts that I’ve been saving all year.  I prefer split-resistant woods like hard maple and pecan, since the ornaments can be delicate.

This piece of pecan has some ugly blue-gray staining from a natural fungus. The finished product will be painted, so the color doesn't matter.

We paint most of our ornaments, but it’s also fun to use figured woods or woods with interesting natural colors.  For these ornaments, wood about 1/4″ thick works well.  Plane down both sides before cutting out the shapes.

Shapes

Where do you find templates for different shapes?  You could draw them freehand, or you could find some Christmas cookie cutters and trace out the designs.

Christmas trees, stars, candy canes, and bells are fun shapes.

I use a dovetail saw to cut the straight lines and a coping saw to cut curved lines.  Shapes can be as simple or as complicated as you like.

I use a file to smooth the edges.  A small child can easily handle that task.

Color

We paint the ornaments with craft paint.  You might want yellow, forest green, and red, as well as brown, silver, or gold. Bright colors will make the ornaments stand out against the dark foliage of your tree.  Natural finishes will tend to make the ornaments blend in.

Shapes are limited only by your imagination. In addition to 2-D shapes, we have carved some miniature wooden utensils.

Small children love to paint these.  You probably can tell which one my 3-year-old daughter painted. I use a fine-tip permanent marker to write the child’s name and the year on the edge of the ornament.

I used a couple of small carving tools to put a face on this cherry teddy bear.

These simple ornaments quickly become treasured heirlooms, and each year the Christmas tree is full of memories from years gone by.

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One Response to Making Christmas Ornaments with the Kids

  1. Pingback: Cleaning Shop, Saving Scraps: A Photo Essay | The Literary Workshop Blog

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