How to Make a Keepsake Ornament

If you’re like me, you hold onto Christmas cards from prior years, either because they have meaning to you, or because they are too cute or beautiful to toss into the recycling. Or both. Below is an excerpt from my craft book, 12 Days of Christmas Projects, showing you how to recycle those Christmas cards into keepsake ornaments.

In this example, I used a card that had a cutout along the top edge, so added glitter to the background behind the bears’ heads.

Supplies

  • old Christmas cards   
  • white cardstock
  • glue stick
  • safety scissors
  • pencil
  • ribbon or yarn
  • glitter
  • hole punch
  • something round to trace around (about 3” to 3.5” across, such as a large glass or coffee mug),  or a large circle punch (usually cuts a circle about 3.5” across)
  • gold or silver glitter pen
  • Mod Podge or similar water-based sealer/decoupage glue (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gather all your supplies. Cover the area where you are planning to work.  
  2. Look through your Christmas cards for the ones you would like to use. Place the glass upside down on the card(s) and position it until you find the area you think would look best on your ornament. Trace around the glass with a pencil. Repeat this on each card for as many ornaments as you plan to make.

Note:   If you would like to make a keepsake ornament for a particular card, also place the glass over the area containing the signature and/or sentiment written by the sender and cut that out as well. This will be used on the back of the ornament.

3. Cut out the circles you have traced. If you have a circle lever punch, use that instead. The card illustrations or photos will be the front of your ornament. The signature or sentiment, if you choose to use one, will be the back.

4. Next, trace the same size circles onto the white cardstock, twelve circles for each ornament you plan to make. Cut or punch them out. These will make up the interior layers of your ornament(s).

5. Take the circle made from the Christmas card, locate the top of the illustration and then take your small punch and punch a hole about a ½” from the edge. Line up your ten layer circles one at a time beneath the top circle and line up the punch in the existing hole, punching a hole in the layer beneath. Repeat with all layers. This is done to ensure the holes are all in the same place. Make sure you do the same to any signature/sentiment circle, if you are using one.

6. With your glue stick, place an even coat of glue on a circle, making certain not to miss the edges. Line up the next blank layer and press firmly into place. Repeat until you have all layers glued together. Place an even coat of glue on the last layer and line up your card/ornament front and press firmly into place. If you are making a keepsake ornament, place an even coat of glue on the back side of your ornament and line up the signature sentiment facing out and press firmly into place.

7. Once your ornaments have dried, sprinkle glitter onto a paper plate, a piece of foil, or the baking parchment. Run the glue stick around the outer edge of your ornament and roll the ornaments edgewise through the glitter. Lay the ornament(s) aside in a clean space to dry once again.

8. On the blank backs of the ornament(s), write a fun holiday sentiment or personalize with the name of someone you plan to give the ornament to as a gift for their own tree.

9. Cut your yarn or ribbon into lengths about twelve 15” long.  Cut as many lengths as you need so you have one for each ornament you’ve made. Slip the ribbon or yarn through the hole at the top of each ornament and tie a knot about 3” above the ornament, then tie the remaining length into a bow.

10. Your ornaments are ready to hang!

12 Days of Christmas Projects (How to Make Twelve Simple & Delightful Holiday Projects to Inspire, Enjoy & Give) is available at the following on-line retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, (as well as others) and can be ordered from your local bookstore.

Wreath-Making 101, Part 1 – Gathering Your Material

It may seem a bit early for this type of blog, but honestly, Christmas will be upon us sooner than we can blink. In addition, you will need to start gathering some of the materials for your wreath now with the onset of Autumn.

I don’t purport to be an expert at wreath-making, but I have been making them (and selling them) for more than fifteen years. In the beginning, I drove about forty-five minutes to an auction where I bid on greens which, if won, I would then load onto the tarp-covered back seat of my car, drive them home and unload them outside my studio (as they are best kept in the cold).  To make the wreaths, I cut each bough to size, laid them out on the metal ring, clamped them all into place, after which I decorated each one with further greens, dried flowers, pine cones, etc.

Now, however, I start with plain wreaths purchased at various local nurseries, saving time and back-breaking work. I would suggest you do the same, although you certainly don’t have to—still, that is where I am beginning my instructions: with the “blank” pre-made wreath.

List of Things to Gather before Starting (material, tools)

  1. Wreath, of course;
  2. Hand pruner (or, in lieu thereof, an old steak knife you don’t plan to use at your dinner table or for any other reasonable task again);
  3. Green florist wire and (or) hot-glue gun and glue sticks;
  4. Dried flowers (I often use Queen Anne’s Lace, cut while fresh and hung upside down to dry), seed heads, dried grasses, and various weeds gathered after Autumn sets in;
  5. Pine cones;
  6. Greens, such as arborvitae, holly, cedar, boxwood, long-needle pine;
  7. White and gold acrylic craft paint and a cheap paint brush;
  8. Ribbon and other decoration;
  9. Newspaper, if you plan to work indoors.

Always make sure the wreath you buy is fresh, ensuring that it will last through the season and beyond. Quite often, the wreath I make on Thanksgiving weekend still hangs on my door in March. To check for freshness, pinch the needles between thumb and forefinger. They should feel slightly moist if not sticky and leave a residue of scent on your skin. Also, the color should be bright.  If the needles feel dry, fall off at the touch, have started to pale or, worse, are brown, move on until you find the right wreath for you. Before you begin shopping for your wreath, make sure you have already prepared your embellishments.

Queen Anne’s Lace has a creamy hue when dried

Queen Anne’s Lace:  This wildflower grows just about everywhere here in the Northeast, blooming in late June/early July and can still be found blooming into the Fall.  Cut the flowers several weeks after blooming, with about a seven-inch stem attached. Wrap a rubber band around the stems and hang the bunches upside down in a dry place until wreath-making time.  The white blossoms turn a lovely color.

Black-eyed Susan seed heads with their painted crown of white have a dramatic appeal.

Seed heads/weeds: The gathering of these items takes place in Autumn, when everything has naturally died back. I have an abundance of Rudbeckia (common name: Black- or Brown-Eyed Susan) growing in my yard. The goldfinches and other birds love the seeds, so I leave about two-thirds of the seed heads in place for them. I also shake the cut heads out before bringing inside, to permit lose seeds to fall back to the earth where the plants have been growing. Leave about seven inches of stem attached to the heads.

Once inside, I place them all in a tall container (usually a glass) in preparation of painting them.  The same goes for various other seeded specimens I find. If they stay together well and are attractive, I’ll cut some for my wreaths and set them aside for painting as well.  I do not paint the seeded grasses. The delicate fronds would be weighted down.

You don’t need to saturate the seed head with paint. Just dab it on so that it looks like snow.
While walking outside in search of plant matter, I caught sight of these lovely, burst seed pods. A touch of gold paint gave them this handsome look.

If you are giving the wreath to someone, make sure you shake loose seeds from every plant you gather.  You wouldn’t want something you find perfectly acceptable on your property deciding to set up residence with your neighbor.

If you have access to arborvitae, you can clip from the underside at the bottom of the tree/bush to avoid defacing the shape of the plant. Cut back to the second joint. You will trim each clipping for your wreath. If you don’t have access, you can usually purchase at your local nursery.
I purchased these greens at a craft fair – boxwood, winterberry, holly, long-needle pine.
You may be lucky enough to find pine cones in your yard, a gracious neighbor’s yard, or a park. If not, you can purchase pine cones at a nursery or your local craft store. If from a craft store, be forewarned, they are often highly scented with fragrance.

Next: It All Comes Together. Check back on Thursday for Wreath-Making 101, Part 2!

Wreath Making 101, Part 1 and Wreath Making 101, Part 2 are the copyrighted product of Robin Maderich and will be part of an upcoming book on Christmas crafts.