Before you have kids, you dream of a nice Christmas tree with themed ornaments, artistically placed garland and lights, and an overall peaceful aura. Once you have kids, your Christmas tree quickly fills up with homemade ornaments scattered haphazardly near the bottom where their little arms can reach to hang them.
Making ornaments and decorating the Christmas tree with your kids is a great way to make memories and celebrate the Christmas season without having to spend a lot of money. These do it yourself Christmas ornaments are easy, fun, and made with everyday materials that are not difficult to locate. The 16 ideas listed here are for varying ages so that you can have fun with your kids no matter their skill level.
Twig Focused Ornament
This Christmas ornament starts with a walk to find some twigs. Snap or cut the twigs in varying lengths and use hot glue to attach them to a construction paper or cardboard triangle. Glue brightly colored mini poms onto the twigs to form the ornaments, although you could adapt this step to use beads or bits of colored tissue paper instead. A gold star made from construction paper or painted cardboard is glued to the top and a circle of ribble attaches the ornament to the tree. With hot glue supervision, this craft is easy enough for a first or second grader to do almost completely on their own. It can be adapted for younger children with adult help.
Peppermint Candy Christmas Ornament
This Christmas craft involves the oven, so it might be better suited for older children. It can be adapted for younger children but the craft is so simple that there isn’t much hands on activity for a child to do. All you need to do is line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a metal cookie cutter on top. Unwrap peppermint candies and place them inside the cookie cutter. By melting them in the oven, the candies form the shape of the cookie cutter and hold that shape once cooled.
Glitter ornaments are very simple and pretty. When your Christmas tree is covered with pom poms and construction paper, these glitter ornaments are a breath of class but still so simple that your preschooler could make them. You’ll need clear plastic ornaments, white school glue, and loose glitter. You can choose glass ornaments if you’d rather, but they are more expensive and very easy to break, which makes them less than ideal for using with young children. Simply mix the glue and glitter and scoop into the ornament. Roll the ornament around to completely coat the inside, and let it dry. You could use a sharpie marker to write the year or a special message on the outside.
Marshmallow Snowman Ornament
Another option involving clear plastic ornaments, this snowman is a fun craft for kids of all ages. Even a preschool aged child can stuff an ornament with mini marshmallows, although it may take some adults supervision to paint or glue on the “coal” eyes and “carrot” nose.
Salt dough ornaments are surprisingly easy and really fun. Let your kids help you knead, roll, and cut out the shapes. They can stamp the stamps or use fabric like lace to imprint a pattern on the dough before it goes into the over. After, keep them white for a faux-porcelain finish or paint them for extra pop. Spray them with a clear sealer to keep the paint from chipping. They are fragile, but can last a long time if you handle them gently.
Mini Wreath Ornament
Mini wreaths are made with something shaped like an O and yarn. A mason jar lid works well as the frame of this wreath, but there could be a lot of other things around your house that would work as well. This craft is actually a little more difficult for younger hands, because the yarn is a little tricky to sit just right on the lid. Wrap the yarn until the whole circle is covered, and tie or glue a bow at the top. If you feel extra ambitious, you could use this technique to wrap a big wreath frame for a cute and unconventional front door wreath.
Pasta Snowflake Ornament
It hard to make macaroni look classy, but these pasta snowflakes are pretty neat. Glue the macaroni into the shape of a snowflake and dip them in glitter for a quick and easy ornament. This picture and the tutorial in the link uses these pinwheels, but pasta comes in a lot of different shapes. Rigatoni could be interesting.
Pipe Cleaner Ornament
Pipe cleaners and pony beads make this candy cane ornament perfect for preschoolers to create all by themselves. All you need is red and white pony beads and green pipe cleaners. Thread the beads alternating between colors and fold the ends of the pipe cleaner over to secure the beads.
Crystal Start Ornament
Borax crystals are easy to grow and make for an educational and interesting craft with your kids. The shape is formed with a pipe cleaner, so you could adapt this craft with different shapes and colors for different times of the year. It only takes a few minutes to set up this craft, but it takes overnight for the crystals to grow. Children need adults supervisor because this craft involves Borax, which is an abrasive chemical. The solution also needs to be heated up, although you could probably accomplish that part in the microwave.
For the untraditional Christmas ornament, this aquarium goldfish makes quite a splash. Painting the goldfish looks very nice, but if that part makes you nervous you could always substitute a sticker or even dangle a goldfish charm inside. The best part about this craft is that you don’t have to restrict it to Christmas time. This would make a cute decoration for the garden, as pictured in the image above.
Yarn Wrapped Ornament
A yarn wrapped Christmas tree is an easy craft that you can adapt with the materials that you have on hand. The tutorial above uses cardboard, yarn, and poms, but you make it a more difficult and interesting craft for older kids by using beads, wire, or other materials. Cut a triangle to act as the base and wrap the yarn around it until it’s nearly covered, then add the ornaments. This might be tricky for very young fingers, but it’s a good independent activity for older elementary kids.
Pom Pom Ornament
Here’s another example of a very adaptable craft that you can do with a small child. The shiny poms make for an interesting finish, but you can put any material you’d like into the ornament. Remember that if you’re completing this craft with a small child, plastic is a better choice for clear ornament. Glass ornaments are very nice, but they are more expensive and easy to break both when putting the craft together and trying to store for next year.
Twiggy Stars Ornament
These twiggy stars are a great craft for older kids or teenagers. All you need is some twigs, colored raffia, and hot glue. For younger kids, make the star “frame” beforehand and let your children wrap with strands of raffia. You could place these on your Christmas tree, or remove the tag on top and use a bunch of them in a centerpiece. Another thing I like about this craft is that you could easily swap the raffia for patriotic colors and use this as a 4th of July or Memorial Day craft as well.
Button Wreath Ornament
Another craft from Happy Hooligans is this easy button wreath. Threading buttons on a pipe cleaner and finishing with a bow and tree tag makes this craft as easy as pie, but different shapes, sizes, and colored buttons make it a more interesting craft to engage older children as well. The craft also takes a little bit longer because each button needs to be individually threaded onto the pipe cleaner, but not so long that your child will lose interest before it’s complete.
Melting pony beads inside cookie cutters makes fairly durable plastic ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree. Since you’ll have to use the oven, this is not an independent craft for small children. Pony beads are inexpensive and easy to find at craft stores. Younger kids will have fun picking through the colors you have and adding the colors they like, while older kids might enjoy trying more elements of design.
Wood Slice String Ornament
This wood slice string ornament is an inspiration idea because the concept could be applied to so many different types of crafts. In this design, however, you need coaster-sized slices of wood. These can usually be found at a craft store, especially close to winter time. Or you can make your own. Take some small nails and hammer them into the slice securely leaving space for the string to be wrapped. Then, simply wrap the string any way you like. A random pattern will have a different overall effect than a more symmetrical approach.