Kids’ How to Make Christmas Ornaments with Clothespins
Christmas Toy Soldiers / Band Members
Family Bonding Activity
This is an easy project which can be done over the course of one or two days. My childhood family made these clothespin people and it was quite a bonding activity. Additionally, it was a real-life assembly line experience, with each of us having a specific job. I found it to be so enjoyable that I repeated the project with my own children when they were elementary school age. It warms my heart to look at the Christmas tree and see the fruits of our community creative effort.
Pick Your Own Theme
My parents called these clothespin people “Christmas toy soldiers.”
I am more comfortable calling them Christmas band members (as in playing instruments and marching to music).
Your family can choose a name and perhaps even a theme: Christmas clowns? Christmas community helpers? Or, do you have enough talent to make replicas of your own family members? Create what you find beneficial and rewarding. Whatever you make, they will become sentimental treasures.
Basic One-Piece Wooden Clothespin
Supplies to Make 20 Ornaments
6 or more people – child and adult mix
Paper to protect work surface and paper towels and water for cleaning fingers
20 Wooden one-piece clothespins
12 feet of Embroidery floss, string, fishing line or dental floss cut into 20 7-inch pieces
Red watercolor or poster paint and 1 or 2 paint brushes
Royal or navy blue poster paint and 1 or 2 paintbrushes
2 or 3 navy, black, or brown fountain pens or gel pens
Red pipe cleaners cut into 20 5.5- to 6- inch pieces
Elmer’s or other clear-drying glue
20 red fabric pompom balls the same diameter as the clothespin heads
(I think that many markers could be substituted for the paints, however, I can’t begin to estimate how many one would use.)
Highly recommended: paper clips or official Christmas tree hanging hooks and a clothesline.
Suggested extra supply:
Christmas music or other favorite tunes plying to encourage the “workers.” But, I'm a musician, so adding music is always good in my life.
This truly works well as an assembly line. Some of the stations could be staffed by two workers. As you read through the procedure, you will see that some steps do better preceding others in the interest of not smudging or smearing wet paint or ink.
1. Use red watercolor paint (or watered down poster paint, or marker) to paint the shirt portion of the clothespin person. Let dry for a few minutes.
2. Make the hanging loop: Tie the floss around the neck so that 2 equal lengths of string hang from the neck, then double-knot it in the back. Take remaining strings and knot together at the ends to make the largest loop possible.
3. Use blue paint to paint the pants of the person. The blue should color inside and outside the “legs” and just a little bit above the legs. This part requires the longest drying time. This is where hanging the wet-pant people on a clothesline can be a great way to save the paint job.
4. Fold a pipe cleaner piece in half. Re-open it and place the halfway bump on the front neck of the dry clothespin person. Use a finger to hold it in place at that spot while you wrap on side around the back of the neck and return to the front, then the same with the other side. This secures the arms. Also, they can be bent into any natural position desired.
5. Use pen to draw a face. Pirate eye patches, facial hair, and false eyelashes all are welcome in my world. You decide upon the rules for your family and your Christmas tree.
6. Put one drop of glue on the top of the clothespin and affix one pompom. After this, more drying time on the clothesline may be needed.
For some reason, my sons and I felt the need to name especially unique faced people. That added to the fun and the creativity.
Faces as Special as You
When these are totally put together and dry, hang on the tree. To store, I recommend placing them in layers on acid-free tissue paper. If you just jumble them all into a box without tissue separating them, they tend to get into fights. ; P
Wonderful memories. Memories of having one’s artistic creativity recognized and valued. Memories of a time when all worked together without fighting, teasing, bullying, or other disharmonious interaction. Perhaps memories of a few silly moments. And for the adults who, if lucky, are permitted to keep all or some of these ornaments – the gift of time travel. You get to return to that wonderful day when you made these with your kids.
© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan