A Yearly Tradition: Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments

I know I’ve said it before, but becoming a mama has given me an overwhelming urge to create special traditions with our little family of three.  Things that we look forward to each year…  Memories Gracen will hold onto for a lifetime.  The holidays are extra special when looked at through the eyes of your child, aren’t they?

Looking back on my own childhood, the holidays were filled with special traditions I still remember vividly now as an adult.  Trudging through the snow out at Imperial Oil (where my Dad worked) in the freezing cold and selecting the perfect tree to cut down and take home…  Having a special evening dedicated to decorating the tree together…  Visiting ALL of my grandparents’ houses over the course of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day… Staying up as late as we wanted on Christmas Eve with our cousins…  It all seemed so magical. The thing is, the times I remember most have nothing to do with wish lists, Santa visits, or presents received.  All of the memories that stick out in my mind are about doing things as a family…  Just us spending time together.

And that’s my hope for Gracen when it comes to the holidays…  That she’ll come to cherish the time we spent doing things together more that any of the material indulgence that inevitably comes with Christmas.

Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments

This past weekend, we carried on a tradition that we began last year… An afternoon filled with holiday music and handcrafted ornaments. The hope is that one day we’ll have a giant tree filled with beautifully mismatched homemade ornaments that mean more to us than store bought ones ever could.

Here are this year’s additions…

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First up are some very simple, but very beautiful beaded candy cane ornaments.

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To make these, we used sparkly pipe cleaners cut in half and colourful iridescent pony beads Miss G selected at the store herself.

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To get started, I simply folded over one end of the pipe cleaner to create a little nub to hold the beads on, and Grae began adding beads.

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The wonderful thing about making these ornaments is that little ones get to sneak in a ton of fine motor skill practice while making them.

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Once the pipe cleaner is nearly full, just flip over the open end to create a nub on the opposite side.

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Then gently bend your beaded pipe cleaner to form a candy cane shape. (This is the one that Gracen made – start to finish – by herself).

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Next, we did a remake of an ornament we made last year… A glass bulb decorated with a family of thumbprint reindeer. To make this one, select a solid-coloured glass bulb (one with a matte finish will photograph much better – duh!), then cover your thumb with a thick layer of brown crafter’s acrylic.

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Carefully press your thumb onto the glass ball.

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Hang your ball somewhere or carefully set it on a small cup and allow it to dry completely.

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Once dry, use red crafter’s acrylic to add noses and a black paint pen or Sharpie to add eyes and antlers. Easy peasy!

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The last batch of ornaments we made were out of cinnamon dough (2 cups of applesauce, 3 cups of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla mixed like mad by hand ).  With these ones, we used extra cinnamon to prevent sticking, assorted cookie cutters, stamps, straws to create ribbon holes, a rolling pin, and parchment paper.

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This dough was quite tough and much easier to work with than last weekend’s baking soda clay.

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It could easily be rolled, handled, and stamped without sticking at all, which was nice.

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On the downside, handprints and thumbprints were out of the question.  The dough just simply didn’t have enough give to it.

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Once we’d filled our baking sheet, we popped the ornaments into the oven on the lowest setting and let them stay in there for several hours, flipping them once and a while.

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I wish I could somehow bottle the smell of our house while they baked and share it with you all here… It was divine.

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Before going to bed, I turned off the oven and let the ornaments sit in there overnight, just like I did with the baking soda clay ones.

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When we awoke, they were fully dry and hard as a rock, but still smelled delicious.  (These are a few of the ones G made all by herself).  We added small loops of baker’s twine, and voila – they’re ready for hanging.

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And how sweet is this little initial bunting Bradley made for Gracen?

Now we just have to get a tree so that we’ll have somewhere to hang all of these beautiful new ornaments.

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I am so thrilled to be sharing this family tradition as a part of ‘12 Days of Christmas Traditions with Vancouver’s Top Mommy Bloggers‘.  If you haven’t already, please pop over to JulieNowell.com to read her post about carrying out traditions in a new home, and be sure to pop over to The Write Mama tomorrow to read all about Lori’s Christmas Village tradition.  Enjoy!

12 thoughts on “A Yearly Tradition: Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments

  1. LOVE these ideas! Cant wait to do them with Elle! I really love your thought about having a Christams tree filled with years of handmade ornaments instead of store bought ones. It would be cool to include the year with each ornament so you will remember when they were made =)

  2. Oh goodness, I’ll have to try that cinnamon dough. Thanks for struggling through all the random salt dough recipes on the interweb for me! Though I don’t think I’ve ever used a whole cup of cinnamon in anything in my entire life. You will have such a lovely collection of ornaments to look back on too.

  3. This recipe is just what I was looking for–thank you for sharing it. I wanted some darker dough, and you’ve added the ingredients to make this happen! I can’t wait to smell what I create!

  4. Do these stand up over time? My daughter is 16 months old and if we make these this year, do you think in 30 years that they will still be ok? Or a crumbling mess?

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