When you open that box of Christmas tree decorations, memories of all the delights of the season spring to mind. All of your decorations, especially the handmade ones, can embody warm personal messages. Who doesn’t have a special collection: their child’s handprint in plaster, a glued-on macaroon star, or an elegant hand-stitched Santa Claus? Making your own ornaments gives you the pleasure of creating long-lasting decorations for your tree and treasured gifts for your friends.
All ages, from children to grandmothers, will find pleasure in making their own decorations. Children like to use quick and easy materials and techniques to make decorations. Artists use their most technical skills to make them from blown, cast, or stained glass; engraved gold or silver metals; modeled and fired clay; or carved wood. The skill level required for most of the projects in this book falls somewhere in the middle. They focus on readily available materials and show feasible techniques.
Christmas is celebrated in many countries and in many ways. Knowing something about this tradition makes the theme of each Christmas decoration more interesting. Some of these traditions are ancient and include icons such as evergreens, wreaths, mistletoe, candles, bells, and holly. Some feature religious symbols such as creches, angels, and guiding stars. Others feature more recent themes such as Santa Claus, stockings, toys, gingerbread houses, and elves. No form of ornament is more durable than colored balls in many styles, and none symbolizes Christmas more than a star at the top of the tree.
Along with these snippets of traditional knowledge, you’ll find full-color photos of each ornament, material lists, patterns, illustrations, and instructions for making them. So gather up your box of supplies (beads, ribbons, fabrics, chenille stems, sequins, and glitter papers) and let’s get started.
Tips for making ornaments.
Ornaments, by their nature, are fragile. In our house, some of those exquisite crystal balls explode every year on the hard floor. The brittle ones are like flowers, destined to bloom for a short time and then wither. However, when stored carefully, even fragile ornaments, including handmade treasures, can last for years and years.
Choose lightweight but strong materials to build your decorations. Heavy ornaments will cause tree branches to sag. Ornaments that are too fragile won’t survive into the next season. For example, the folded Christmas tree can be made from a variety of papers, thin sheets of plastic, or even stiff fabric.
Store your decorations in sturdy boxes. If you can find them, use special boxes with dividers. Wrap fragile decorations in tissue paper and store them in these separate compartments. During the summer, make sure your decorations are stored away from extreme heat or humidity.
You can leave the lights and decorations on an artificial tree, if you have a place to store it. If so, be sure to fold the hooks closed, both on the ornaments and the branches, and wrap the tree in a large plastic bag for storage (available for discarding live trees). Put the tree back in its place next year and add a few new touches, like a wire-edged ribbon or special new ornaments. New ideas hit store shelves every holiday season.
Select the correct types of glue and paint for the materials you are working with (product labels will include this information). For example, some beads will require jewelry hot glue, and plastic shrink dinks need waterproof paint or pencils. For your embellishment-making session, collect embellishment materials from far and wide: candy ribbons, costume jewelry, art papers, and craft store safaris.
Include family and friends in making these little decorative projects. Part of the joy of Christmas is being with the people you love. Another part is giving gifts; and the decorations you make will be beautiful gifts.