Friday, December 4, 2009

Cheap Homemade Ornaments

Years ago when I was in college, I didn't have a great deal of money to spend on Christmas gifts. A friend showed me how to make homemade ornaments with potpourri. I bought a box of glass ornaments - red, I think. Back then you couldn't buy clear glass ornaments. So I soaked the ornaments in water and bleach so the outside paint would come off.

Those plain old glass ornaments had a silver coating on the inside to make them shiny. Sometimes the coating would come off with the bleach, but more often than not had to be scraped out with a Q-tip. It took a great deal of time just to get the color off, plus the smell of bleach wasn't all that pleasant. I would crush up some potpourri so it was small enough to fit through the opening at the top and fill the ornament up. Then I would tie a matching ribbon around the neck of it and attach a hanger. Beautiful! And those ornaments smelled nice too.

Then about 10 years ago someone came up with the idea of selling clear glass ornaments. Do-it-yourself ornaments. Where were these things 10 years earlier when I needed them?

I remember my delight at finding those clear ornaments. Hubby and I were just married and didn't have a great deal of money for Christmas decorations. But we saw all kinds of possibilities with those ornaments! I'll give credit to Charles, because he is much more creative than I am.

Here are a few of the things we did.

By far, the easiest and cheapest! We bought a roll of multi-colored iridescent ribbon, cut off small lengths and curled them with scissors. Then we stuffed them into the ornaments until we thought it was full enough. Boy, oh boy! Do the lights from the tree reflect so prettily from that ribbon! We've nicknamed it "fire ribbon" because it's so colorful and bright.

We've even used the fire ribbon ornaments to decorate our chandelier!

We also made some stained glass ornaments. These were the most expensive to make, but were really fun. Make a pattern on the ornament with liquid leading (this contains no real lead). Let this dry completely. Fill in with your desired stained glass paint colors and allow to dry.

When Charles and I made the stained glass ornaments below, the liquid leading was much more expensive, so we chose to use lead strips (again, no real lead) to make our patterns. The liquid stuff is much easier for intricate designs. We liked using a more traditional "chunky" stained glass look.

This is Charles' ornament. Notice how he glued on rhinestones at the intersections of the lead strips. Very crafty, this husband of mine.

Here's mine. I wasn't as heavy-handed with the paint, so you can see through it better.

Here's an ornament with shiny red, green, and gold ribbons.

And one with shredded iridescent paper, the kind you would use for baskets or packages. How's that for re-purposing?

The fire ribbon ornaments are my favorites, even after all these years. Of course, you can fill your clear ornaments with just about anything - potpourri, beads (although that can get heavy), strips of scrapbook paper curled with scissors, tinsel.
Anything that is small enough to fit through the opening at the top.

Happy Ornament Making!

This post in linked to Life as Mom's Frugal Friday.
Also, head over to Works for Me Wednesday to get some great holiday tips.


  1. Your ornaments are beautiful! What a wonderful idea. Thanks!

  2. What a cute idea! I love homemade! IT rocks!

  3. We have some clear balls filled with shiny red shred sitting in a trifle bowl on our kitchen table for Christmas. My mom always did this and I loved it, so I of course copied it!

    They are really nice and you've got the memories of making them with hubby...great job!

  4. I like the ones with the ribbons (both kinds). I remember my mom making these when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure she scraped paint, too. :)

  5. Marsha, I still have some that you made me when I was your prayer pal.....nice to see you blogging!

  6. Oh my goodness! That's been a LONG time ago.