How to Make Inexpensive Personalized Christmas Ornaments

Our Christmas Tree 2010

Our Christmas Tree
Our Christmas Tree | Source

Some people decorate their Christmas trees with expensive and fragile ornaments. In our house, ornaments for the Christmas tree are much more casual and personalized. They include discarded costume jewelry, small toys that no longer see any use, and old pictures that represent family members in different periods of their lives. We like to mark our progress and development and see old images in a new light each year.

My favorite types of ornaments are the ones we make ourselves from old photographs. Today, Bow and I are going to make a new ornament from a picture of Sword.

A Christmas Card Ornament

This was a Christmas Card we sent out one year
This was a Christmas Card we sent out one year | Source
This was an image that we took for the Christmas Card that year, but later discarded
This was an image that we took for the Christmas Card that year, but later discarded | Source

An Old Christmas Card as an Ornament

One of of my favorite ornaments on our tree is really just an old Christmas card from 2005 with a picture of Sword and Bow sitting outside next to a pine tree decorated for Christmas. It's not laminated, and it hangs from a tree by a rubber band strung through the hole in the round card, but I treasure it, anyway.

I remember that I laid out a blue tarp on the ground, dressed the kids in holiday attire, and we set about decorating the tree for the photo session. It was still in November. My fall interns had just left, but I had to take the shot in time so that I could order the personalized Christmas cards. It started raining just as I took the pictures, and we had to break it up pretty fast.

I no longer order personalized Christmas cards. We are trying to keep to a tighter budget these days. But that card hanging from our tree will always remind me of those times when Sword and Bow and I were free to roam outside together.

The Image We Used for the Christmas Card

This is the image I used for the 2005 Christmas card
This is the image I used for the 2005 Christmas card | Source

Other Favorite Ornaments

Other favorite ornaments are completely hand made. There is the one brought home by Sword from school one year, and there is the laminated baby picture of Bow that hangs by a ribbon. They didn't cost anything, but they were fun to make, and they will last a lifetime.

Today, I've decided to add a new ornament to our collection. I'm using a defective passport photo of Sword's. The other item we will need, besides construction paper, is a laminating sheet.

Self-laminating sheets are something that we are oversupplied with now, so I don't have to go out and buy any. We used to have to laminate all of Bow's lexigram menus, but since he began to spell, we just post the letters on the glass and there is no need to print out new words and then laminate them. If Bow hears a new word now, he can spell it.

An Ornament based on a photo of Sword

Sword made this ornament at school one year
Sword made this ornament at school one year | Source

An Old Ornament of Bow

This is an old baby picture of Bow that I laminated
This is an old baby picture of Bow that I laminated | Source

Our Supplies for Making This Ornament

Bow looks over our art supplies: colored paper and laminating sheets
Bow looks over our art supplies: colored paper and laminating sheets | Source

Current Picture of Sword

This is a passport sized photo of Sword that we are using for the new 2010 ornament
This is a passport sized photo of Sword that we are using for the new 2010 ornament | Source

The New 2010 Ornament

The new 2010 ornament is framed in red construction paper, laminated and hung by an inexpensive rubber band.
The new 2010 ornament is framed in red construction paper, laminated and hung by an inexpensive rubber band. | Source

Instructions for Making an Inexpensive Ornament

You will need:

  • a photo of a family member
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • self-laminating paper
  • a hole punch
  • a rubber band

What to do with the construction paper

Fold the construction paper in half, and then cut into a half-circle or some other shape of your choice. Then cut a half-shape to fit your picture in the middle of the folded paper. Open up the paper. If you used a circular shape, then there should be a circular piece of construction paper with a circular hole in it.

Positioning the photo and construction paper on the laminating sheet

The self-laminating sheet is made of one part that is simply transparent, and the other side, which is sticky and transparent. The sticky side is covered up with a paper that you later peel off.

Place your construction paper on top of the transparent-but-not-sticky side of the laminating paper. Arrange everything face down. Place the photo on top of the construction paper so the face shows through the hole. (You won't be able to see the face at this point, but you should be able to tell that it fits through the hole in the construction paper). Then -- and this is the tricky part-- remove the paper covering from the sticky part of the laminating paper and smoothly pat the sticky part to make it cover the items you have laid out on the transparent side. Do not let any air bubbles form as the sticky side settles down. Use a sort of patting motion with one hand over the sticky side as it falls into place to make sure that no air pockets form.

What to do with the scissors, the hole punch and the rubber band

After the laminating process is done, cut the laminating sheet around the construction paper, leaving plenty of transparency past where the construction paper ends. You do not want the transparency and the construction paper to be coterminous, because then the laminating paper will fall apart. Leave plenty of edge past the contruction paper so the sticky and non-sticky parts of the laminating sheet can stay together. (The construction paper prevents them from sticking.)

Use the hole punch to punch a hole at the top of the laminating sheet in an area above where the construction paper is. String the rubber band through the hole and loop it, so you can hang the ornament from your tree.

The New Ornament Hanging on the Tree

The new ornament on the tree
The new ornament on the tree | Source

When Sword Met Bow

Now hang your new ornament on the tree, and see how it blends in with everything else!


(c) 2010 Aya Katz

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Comments 6 comments

Kind Regards profile image

Kind Regards 5 years ago from Missouri Ozarks - Table Rock Lake

Aya Katz, It's so nice to see these photos. In her most recent picture, Sword reminds me of my best friend from high school's daughter. They're in that same age group. You've made a very homey and personalized holiday for your family. Kind Regards


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Kind Regards! I like that newer photo of Sword, too. It was too small to do much else with, though, than turn it into a keepsake ornament. Sometimes it's the small things that help us get into the holiday mood.


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Love the ideas, I will try some of them out and see how it works, I am a klutz when it comes to crafts, but I might be able to do this one.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, SteveoMc! I think this is a craft anyone can do. The results are really nice, but it doesn't require any special skills.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 3 years ago from Southern California, USA

I enjoyed seeing all the ornaments your family made over the years.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 3 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, SweetiePie! I can't believe how fast time passes, and these ornaments do remind me of that.

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