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Repainting Christmas Ornaments

Updated on December 8, 2013

Transform A Set Of Cheap Wooden Ornaments Into Treasured Personalized Keepsakes

I have lived in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and these cheap wooden ornament sets (in various incarnations) have been readily available in both locations every Christmas as far back as my memory will take me.

You know the ones, they are usually glued together a bit skewed and the eyes are never painted on straight, in fact, the paint in general is rarely painted on straight. Some people might find them charming in their imperfections, but I just see them as a big, fat, giddy crafting opportunity.

This particular type of ornament provides a perfect base for repainting and creating your own unique decorations. This is also a really flexible craft in that it is perfect for both adults and children to engage in. They can be as simple or complex as you like, the possibilities are endless.

The set that I've shown below using before and after photos came about one year when we were having Christmas dinner at my sister-in-law's house and she asked me to do the place cards. I made name cards and attached a repainted festive ornament to each to help contribute to a very unique table setting where the guests could retain the ornaments as individual keepsakes.

Underneath the photos I have also outlined the process I used to repaint the ornaments as well as the materials used.

Materials Used - (not exact brands)

DecoArt DASK268 Dazzling Metallics Sample Pack
DecoArt DASK268 Dazzling Metallics Sample Pack

I love playing with metallic paints for all sorts of things. In this project combining metallics with glitter makes for a very shimmery and sparkly ornament which will reach its maximum potential when hung on the tree with the lights.

Martha Stewart Crafts Scandinavian Christmas Glitter Set
Martha Stewart Crafts Scandinavian Christmas Glitter Set

Glitter is dirt cheap and fun, albeit messy, to use. I've never tried Martha Stewart's glitter myself so I can't say whether it's better or worse than the stuff that costs you a buck for 6 shakers.

Reeves 24-Pack Acrylic Colour Tube Set, 10ml
Reeves 24-Pack Acrylic Colour Tube Set, 10ml

Acrylic paint is something I use almost every day in my crafts because it's so versatile. My christmas palate for t his project isn't very diverse so a set with 24 mixed colors is a touch excessive for this project but getting a set this large does have its benefits in the long run for sure!


Priming Is Essential

In order to repaint these types of ornaments you really should make them a uniform color as a starting point. I primed all ornaments with white acrylic paint, which I allowed to dry completely before I repainted them.

Angel Receives A Shimmer Makeover

As with all of the ornaments below I repainted this ornament using metallic paint and glitter pens. The glitter pens are best used as a final embellishment added after the acrylic paint is completely dry.

If you have never used them before you might be disappointed at how they dry because as you lay down the glitter goo it looks much different than it will once all of the clear goo has evaporated. The best thing do do is ensure that you lay it down very very thick and remember, if you don't like the way it looks when it's dry you can always add more, or pull it off or paint over it to try again!

Drab Archway Becomes Super Festive

On this ornament the red glitter pen sort of failed me so I just sort of spread it around. Mistakes can look like intentionals as long as you don't let the cat out of the bag! :)

Boring Bell Shines With The Application Of Metallic Paint

I admit, this one looks a bit like a fetal Dalek but my husband thought it was great for that reason and so it became his!

To get the silver with bronze overlay effect I first painted the whole thing silver. Then after it was completely dry I took my brush and tipped it in the bronze. Then I wiped off most of the paint on a paper towel back and forth until the brush looked dry-ish... at this point i brushed it lightly over the silver. This technique can be used in a plethora of applications to achieve some pretty cool effects. It's especially useful if you're doing it over something bumpy.

Splotchy Choo Choo Converts To Sparkly Engine

The train is my favorite ornament from this whole set. It almost wouldn't have even needed a repaint (aside for my predisposition toward glitter) except that it had those ugly paint smudges on the wheels like it got stuck to another ornament when it was painted the first time. I used acrylic paint, glitter pens and metallic paint.

Tip: if you have silver paint, you can add it into any other paint to give it a metallic sheen!

Jack Acquires An Abundance Of Bling

This is the first one where I used some shake on glitter (hat). If you want a really thick coat it's best to just go for the dry stuff.

Glitter is of course usually applied with white school glue which drys clear, however since the glitter pens are basically the same stuff, I just used it as i would have the glue for the same effect.

Unfortunately I wasn't terribly patient and didn't let everything dry before I went nuts with the glitter so it is also in places I didn't really intend it to go... but ... happy accidents :D

I also managed to straighten out his eyes somewhat.

Boring Holiday Shopper Transforms Into Festive Stylish Granny

It took me a while to figure out what the rectangular thing stuck to her hip was. I figured eventually that it was supposed to be a present or a handbag and then decided on handbag painting on a strap for it. This was a really fun repaint, I love her long coat and glittery cap.

Rocking Horse Boy Receives Minor Surgery

You can see in the before and after photos that the boys leg isn't in the same place. That's because I pulled it off and glued it back on. It was at a funny angle and though you can't really see in the "before" photo it looked really awkward. That's another great thing about these ornaments, if they are glued together really skewed, it's pretty easy to pop bits off and put them where you want because they're made so cheaply!

Fat Little Elf Is Now Chunky Bearded Santa

I had some pillow stuffing laying around which became a Santa beard. Just applied it with a little bit of white glue after he was all painted and he looked perfectly festive.

Father Christmas Also Grows A Fluffy Beard And Puts On A Fur Trimmed Coat

I could have had one elf and one Santa but they both looked really cute as Santas so that's what I made! This one had a weird satchel glued to his back which I could have pulled off or relocated, but instead I made it fit the Santa theme by painting a strap over the shoulder

Snowman Gets The Glitter Treatment

This is another one which didn't really need a repaint at all because he was already perfectly adorable. I did however want him to match the theme I had created with the others so I jazzed him up with a pile of green glitter and gave him some mittens. The hat glitter was dry glitter applied to glitter pen goo so that it was really, thick. Glitter pens are wonderful for doing details like the buttons, however, I wish I had thought to stick some rhinestones on there instead!

Suggested Additional Embellishments

CJESLNA Rhinestones 2400 Piece 12 Color Nail Art Nailart Manicure Wheels
CJESLNA Rhinestones 2400 Piece 12 Color Nail Art Nailart Manicure Wheels

Rhinestones are fantastic to have on hand for any crafting projects. I use them at every opportunity and one pack lasts for YEARS.


Have You Ever Tried Repainting Christmas Ornaments?

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    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      These are darling! My kids had a beloved Advent calendar when they were little that had these types of ornaments inside - eventually they each fell apart. Maybe if I'd shown them some more attention they would have survived.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Oh! This is wonderful. I love your Santa!

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      I never tried repainting ornaments, but you did a great job. Some of your changed ornaments are great, and the rest are excellent, after the makeover.

    • profile image

      Scott A McCray 4 years ago

      Same here...reglued legs and the like, but have never dressed 'em up. Cool idea...

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've recycled a few but not repainted. Good job!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      No, but I might this year as I have tons of wooden ornaments that are getting a little old and chipped.