L.M. Reid is an Irish writer who has published many DIY articles online. Learn how to make the numerous crafts she creates from home.
Homemade Christmas Tree Decorations
Making decorations from air-dry modeling clay is easy, fun, and cheap. There are step-by-step instructions with videos and photos as I show you how to make them. This clay is safe for the children to use so they can get involved in this holiday activity too. You can let them make their own awesome decorations that will be just as good or even better than what you can buy in the shops and stores.
- Childhood Memories: When I was kid we knew Christmas was very close when the tree went up in the house. There were five of us children in the family with the eldest being only seven years old when the youngest was born. So you can imagine the excitement and chaos we created around this holiday time.
- Tradition: When we were very young mum started a tradition which I am sure many children in the 1950’s and 60’s enjoyed too. We always made one Christmas tree decoration each every year. Our names and the year were also put on the decorations we made.
- For Prosperity: It is nice to see the child-like scrawl we thought was so neat back then and to remember our innocence and anticipation of Christmas morning. A lot of them have been lost because we started making these decorations over fifty years ago, but some still exist and go on my parents' Christmas tree every year.
Items You'll Need
Equipment required to make decorations from modeling clay.
- Modeling Clay: You can get clay that will dry hard in a few hours when it is left in the air. You can also buy the clay in different colors. The one I use all the time is Das Air-Dry Clay. I buy the white because I like to paint the decorations on a clear surface.
- Cookie Cutter Shapes: The plastic shapes I use here were bought very cheaply. There were eight different shapes in the one packet. They all have the sharp edge needed to cut into the clay, but not too sharp to harm the children.
- Paints and Brushes: I used acrylic paints here, but other paints you already have that are used by children are also just as good. The same goes for paint brushes. If you have children, you are bound to already have these in your house.
- String: You can use any kind of string or thin wool to make the hanger for the decorations.
- Roller/Rolling Pin: You will more than likely have one of these in the house too.
Preparing the Clay
- Open the packet and cut off the amount of clay you will need to work on.
- Immediately wrap up the remainder of the packet airtight. I close the protective packaging and then also wrap around another layer of tin foil to keep the air out. If you do not close it properly then the next time you go to use the clay, it will be rock hard and useless.
- Cut the piece of clay in to small manageable pieces for the children to mold in their hands. They will love this messy part of the process.
- Once it is soft enough, which will only take about a minute, then get the children to lay it on a flat surface. This can be the kitchen table or as I use here a tray.
- Let them roll out the clay, making sure they pick it up and turn it around a few times to stop it from sticking to the surface. They can each have their own small piece to play with. It is also a good idea to get a much larger piece of modeling clay yourself so you can cut out a lot more shapes.
- The kids will want to paint more than one decoration, so make a batch of about five for each child. That way they can have a lot more painting fun for the day.
Cutting Out the Shapes: Step-By-Step
- Get the children to place whatever their favorite shape that you have onto the rolled out clay.
- Make sure they press the plastic shape down as hard as they can without moving it around too much. This will cut the shape into the clay for them. Then either yourself or an older child should hold down the shape as the child peels away the access clay.
- Then get them to gently push out the clay shape from the plastic. Use the other end of a small paint brush to make the hole in the top of the shape where the string or wool will be threaded later.
- If the child is very young and unable to write, then you can put their name, age, and the year on the bottom of one side of the decoration. But if the child is older, they can do this themselves. In years to come, they will be delighted to see how childish their writing was!
While You Wait for the Clay to Dry
- Place the clay decorations on a tray or plate to dry in the air. If you have a lot of them, make sure to spread them out so that they will dry quicker. I find turning them over every half hour speeds up the drying process. A warm room in the winter or a sunny window also helps.
- The children will be impatient, so let them either use the time to paint some Christmas cards or pictures, or they could also use more clay to make their own little creations.
- The clay does not have to be completely dry for the kids to paint them. This is quite a messy part of the days activities but hey, kids love to paint and make a mess!
- Get them to use whatever colors they want and to only paint on one side. The paint will dry in a matter of minutes, and then they can paint the other side.
Stringing the Ornaments
Once the decorations are dry, then the children can thread the string or wool into the hole they made earlier. Then they will be able to hang their home made decorations on the Christmas Tree. That is it! The children have had a lot of fun. They have made their own Christmas Tree decorations that can be added to the tree every year.
A Christmas Tradition
It would be a great tradition to start and they will thank you when they grow up and are able to still see their own homemade decorations on the tree when they visit for the holidays. We did not have clay like when I was young but there were two things my mother always let us do every year. She would get us to cut out different coloured card into shapes and let us glue a photo of us taken that year,
We then put a hole in the card and threaded some wool through it. We also used cardboard to paint pictures and did the same thing. I hope you enjoyed these ideas for making Christmas tree decorations with the kids.
All About Christmas
- How to Make Christmas Ornaments With Decoupage Rocks
- How to Make a Homemade Christmas Tree With Branches
- My Traditional Christmas Cake Recipe
- Recipe for Turkey Legs With Stuffing
- How to Make a Christmas Plum Pudding Recipe
How to Make Christmas Tree Decorations
L M Reid (author) from Ireland on July 02, 2012:
Making these ornaments is a great fun activity with the kids.
They are something that can become a family tradition. A great way for the kids to have a good time too.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to leave a comment I do appreciate it
Shasta Matova from USA on January 03, 2012:
These are so cute! Voted up. I have a lot of different cookie cutters and they would be just perfect for this. And I am sure that your children will always remember the time you spent with them making these decorations.
Lilly May Rose from Australia on December 11, 2011:
Wow. These are beautiful. Your photos are great. One day I might get around to making some decorations myself!
Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on December 05, 2011:
Very interesting hub I am sure the kids will love making these.
Stephanie from New York on December 02, 2011:
I love the photos in this hub. I consider myself a bit crafty and I love the idea of making christmas ornaments. Great tips and directions. In a household with 3 children, I'm sure this will be a hit. Thanks for sharing!
Super Single Mom on December 01, 2011:
Those are really cute! We make them with just flour, water and a bit of salt. I bake them in the oven on a low temp for about an hour, let them cool and we paint them.
ciranoushj on November 30, 2011:
This is what I call a great hub. I just do not know why I didn't think of this idea myself. My two little ones are going to be enjoying your excellent suggestions this Xmas making our own decorations.
diana on November 30, 2011:
mariale2003 on November 30, 2011:
Lovely idea....thank you very much!!! I pretty sure my kids will love this activity :)
L M Reid (author) from Ireland on November 29, 2011:
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment everyone.
Diana. No it is not regular clay that the kids play with, this is called plastersine, play dough or mauler in different countries.
You will get this modelling clay in craft shops. It dries in the air after about 4 hours depending on how much you use.
diana on November 29, 2011:
hi, I'm from Mexico and I'm trying to figure out what modelling clay is... is it regular clay for children? but, how do you let it dry?
I love the idea but I want to make sure what kind of clay is°!
TroyM on November 28, 2011:
Wow! Interesting creativity with kids.I will use some tips of making decorations with my daughter...
Trudy Chappell from Gloucestershire UK on November 24, 2011:
What a lovely hub. I love to make things with my grandchildren and now that Christmas is just around the corner we will be starting ours tomorrow. I think we will be making some of these beautiful tree decorations too.
VengefulArt from Las Vegas on November 23, 2011:
its funny because i didn't even think of cookie cutters and clay for ornaments. I'll definitely be using this idea!
heart4theword from hub on November 12, 2011:
Allot of fun, when I was a kid...we loved to paint ornaments:) Making crafts, is a good bonding time with your kids for sure.
carriethomson from United Kingdom on November 11, 2011:
hey these seem to fun to make... and they look great!!
must try these out... these easy and beautiful decorations need a shout... :))
A.CreativeThinker on November 10, 2011:
I think your decorations are great. Can't wait to try it.
Nice hub, thanks for sharing. Take Care. :)
arusho from University Place, Wa. on November 09, 2011:
wow, those are beautiful!
L M Reid (author) from Ireland on November 07, 2011:
Thank you Eiddwen and Simone for reading and for taking the time to comment. It is much appreciated.
They are great fun to make if a little messy but sure the kids love it!
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on November 07, 2011:
Oh my goodness, these look great! What a fabulous Hub! I WANT TO MAKE SOME!!!
Eiddwen from Wales on November 07, 2011:
Wow I love your hubs and another to bookmark and try out with my grand children.
Thank you for sharing.
Take care and have a greatday.
L M Reid (author) from Ireland on October 26, 2011:
Thanks for reading and your comment. Good to see you back on HubPages too!
Christine from Dublin on October 25, 2011:
Great idea Viking and well explained..
Garlic Angel :-)
JT Walters from Florida on October 16, 2011:
This is a fantstic hub. I plan on doing this with my son this holiday season.
L M Reid (author) from Ireland on October 14, 2011:
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
Wendy, Yes I have seen dough ornaments on the internet too. I keep telling myself I will try them some day. Sounds like more fun!
Jay, I think it is great making Christmas Decorations too because you have a fun day with the kids. And then like you say there are the great memories for them when they grow up too.
Stephanie, I agree that the older kids, me included lol, would also have fun because they could spend time making really creative tree decorations. That's a great idea about giving them as presents to the Grandparents. The older generation always appreciates hand made gifts.
Carcro, yes it does make Christmas so much better with these childhood memories. It's great that you kept all the things your children made and can enjoy them now!
Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on October 13, 2011:
We did this with our kids when they were young, we made homemade baked dough ornaments, painted glass balls, painted xmas dinner place matts, you name it. We still have most of the xmas crafts, they really make xmas even more special now that the kids are getting older. Great hub, really good to do with your kids while they're little. Thanks for sharing!
Stephanie Henkel from USA on October 13, 2011:
These look like a lot of fun to make with kids of any age. I can see that more creative children might enjoy painting designs on the ornaments, and they'd certainly be nice gifts to give to grandparents or other family members. Loved your step-by-step photographs! They really added to your hub and made the directions easy to understand.
Voted up, useful and interesting!
Jaypyramid on October 13, 2011:
One of the things I love about putting up the Christmass Tree every year is seeing my children's homemade deco's. As each year goes by and the children are no longer children they get more precious! And these are wonderful ones and so easy to make. Your hubs are always so practical Viking and the photos make it so easy to follow. I shall be trying these out with my nephews and nieces. They will love making them and will hopefully enjoy and treasure the memories
Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on October 13, 2011:
We made dough ornaments as kids. But I forgot the recipe. Thanks for sharing. I may just have to make some this Christmas.
L M Reid (author) from Ireland on October 13, 2011:
Thanks for reading Arlene and your comment. I must admit I love painting as well and had great fun making these Christmas tree decorations
Arlene V. Poma on October 12, 2011:
Voted up, useful, interesting and AWESOME. This would be a great project for the kids. But since I'm childless, I've made plenty of these ornaments on my own. Way too fun.
L M Reid (author) from Ireland on October 12, 2011:
Thanks for reading Virginia and your comments. The kids would have great fun making the decorations too and they make a lovely keepsake for years to come.
Virginia Kearney from United States on October 12, 2011:
I have five kids who are just about the same ages as you were with your siblings. We love making ornaments. These are simple ones and a bunch of them would look lovely on a tree. Great photos!