Friday, December 12, 2014

How to Make a Homemade Photo Ornament

Personalized and Inexpensive, These Delightful Tree Ornaments Are Easy to Make! 

A Christmas tree photo-ornament can be a treasured gift for a group of friends or that special person on your list. Today I'm providing directions to easily create a photo ornament. 

Homemade ornaments 
The personalized photo ornaments I have purchased in the past were beautiful. Last year, I realized I had a photo that would make a perfect keepsake ornament for some of my daughter's college friends. It was too late though, for an order to be processed and arrive to campus before they all went home for the holidays. I decided to make the ornaments instead. 

My handmade ornaments were ready in less than a day, and turned out perfectly! Making photo ornaments this way is easy, and costs a fraction of what it would to purchase them.

I had blurred this photo intentionally for another use, but it shows the background and captions that I used.

Directions for Making Photo Ornaments:

Supplies needed:
  • Mod Podge (glossy or luster), available at craft stores
  • Disposable 2 inch foam brush
  • A thin, very stiff piece of cardboard (or any sturdy and easy to cut material; or a piece of wood or other material already pre-cut to the desired shape and size.)
  • pencil, hole punch, regular scissors
  • notched scissors (I used pinking shears)
  • photo(s) - wallet-size works best, place a one-hour photo order or print your own if in a hurry! Be sure the photo can be trimmed to fit your chosen backing.
  • paper
  • 8 inches of thin ribbon
  1. Select photo(s) in the quantity / size you desire. Pay attention to crop guidelines so all parts of the photo will all be visible on your completed ornament.
  2. Trim your photos as desired. (I like to fill one side of the ornament with a photo, and on the other side, paste a colored background and then a smaller photo with a caption.)
  3. Cut the cardboard to fit your largest photo. (Remember, you will be punching a hole in the top; be sure there will be enough space either in or above the photo so you won't have to put a hole in someone's head!
  4. Cut colored paper to use as a background on either front or back of cardboard, if photo will not cover it completely.
  5. Write or print out a caption. (e.g. date, event, place or whatever) - either on the photo itself, the background paper or a separate slip of paper.
  6. Shake Mod Podge well. Using the foam brush, apply a layer to completely cover one side of the cardboard.
  7. Center background paper (if using it) onto glued cardboard, then apply a layer of Mod Podge over this, painting with strokes all going one direction. 
  8. Layer on the photo next, centering it as desired, and paint over it with Mod Podge. Don't Worry! The photo will appear opaque and milky, but it will dry clear!
  9. Repeat with caption slip, if using it, finishing with a layer of Mod Podge.
  10. Let dry for about 20 minutes.
  11. Repeat step 6 and 7, using remaining background, photo and caption on back of ornament.
  12. Let dry for 8 hours or overnight.
  13. Punch a hole in the top of the ornament.
  14. Using decorative scissors, cut a tiny amount off the edges, just enough to make them pretty.
  15. Tie a ribbon through the hole, to be used as a hanger.

That's it! Give them away, or hang them on your tree!

My first batch turned out so cute that I made a bunch more last year, for other family and friends (top photo). With just a few supplies, a few hours and no artistic talent necessary, this is an easy craft project.

This year I created some more ornaments, for another group of friends. Instead of using cardboard like last year, though, I purchased some wooden cutouts from the craft store. They had a variety of shapes - the ones I selected resembled round ornaments and stars.  The round shapes already had holes for hangers; the stars required using a drill to put a hole the top.  After a quick coating with spray paint, these wooden shapes were a great backdrop for my photos.  Mod Podge worked just as well on the wood as it did the cardboard last year. 

Sorry - I can't show you the whole ornament, because it might ruin the surprise for the people who will be receiving these. ;)
I may never purchase another photo ornament again! 

Do you have any homemade ornaments on your tree?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

ALSO - Just a reminder:

Be sure to visit my blog on Monday and enter the give-away sweepstake I will be hosting -- one lucky blogger will win a wonderful gift!  I am so excited to be giving it away!


  1. Hey! I think I could even do this! Great idea!

    1. Thanks Diane! You are more talented than you give yourself credit!

  2. So not only can you take wonderful pictures you can make ornaments out of them too? You over achiever hahahaha! Love this idea though I want to do something with my grandbabies handprints I made some of my childrens so I need to add these to the group! Great idea.

    1. You definitely need to preserve an imprint of those teeny-tiny handprints Rena - which are hopefully growing bigger every day!

  3. Love these Susan. I have never used Mod Poge (I have no idea how that's possible), but these are so cute and look pretty easy. Have a great weekend!

    1. I hadn't used mod lodge either until a few years ago Lana - but it is amazing stuff! Would be great for science fair boards - by the way, but I discovered that quite a few years too late!

  4. Susan, I love these personal, homemade gifts!

  5. This is an AWESOME idea!!! I haven't made homemade ornaments since I was a kid. I forgot how fun it is!


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