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5 Easy-to-Make Christmas Ornaments

Cooking and gift-wrapping are great creative outlets at the end of the year, but all that labor ultimately evaporates into intangible good memories. This year, channel that energy into a longer-lasting result by making your own ornaments. After the holidays are over, you can pack your diminutive masterpieces away for next year and the next. You'll need a few hours on a snowy afternoon (a rainy, windy or dry one will do, too), some inexpensive basic and specialty craft supplies and a few good ideas. Here are five, easy-to-make ornament ideas. Make them your own by bringing in themes from your family's life and any bits of brilliance that come along as you work.

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Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Salt Dough Cookie Ornaments

Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Salt Dough Cookie Ornaments

The smell of baking bread is a sure indicator of happy holidays. Mix up a batch of salt dough and use your favorite cutters and paints to make a set of colorful and durable ornaments with a DIY flair. If you can't bear to throw out those old cookie sheets, then repurpose them by doing this.

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Make the Salt Dough

Make the Salt Dough

To make the salt dough, mix four cups of all-purpose flour with one cup salt. Add one and one-half cup warm water. Knead, roll onto a lightly floured surface, and cut your shapes. Use a dowel or toothpick to create a hole in the top. Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes to an hour, flipping once.

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Decorate with Gouache or Paint

Decorate with Gouache or Paint

After the ornaments have dried and cooled, use gouache or acrylic paint to decorate them. The dough might get a little soft, so make sure to dry completely between coats. Add beads, sequins, and other embellishments. Coat the ornaments with sealer such as polyurethane or clear acrylic. Insert a string at the top of each ornament and hang.

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Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Bit of Birch Ornaments

Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Bit of Birch Ornaments

Bring the outside in with a slice of birch. Use festive rubber stamps, a wire hanger, and ribbon embellishment to convert a bit of wood into a long-lasting slice of woodsy memorabilia. Try putting these super cool coasters out for guests too.

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Cut and Drill

Cut a few slices of birch on your own, drill a small hole in the top, or buy the bare ornaments from a craft store. Gather rubber stamps, colorful stamp pads, beads and other light-catchers. Experiment with designs on a sheet of paper before creating your masterpiece on the birch itself. Hang it from one of these 12 alternative Christmas tree ideas.

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Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches

Cut several inches of colored craft wire and loop it into the drilled hole. Shape one end into a second loop and wrap the other end around it at the base. If you wish, tie a ribbon around the base to hide the end of the wire wrap.

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Simple Christmas Decorations: Victorian Image Transfer Ornaments

Simple Christmas Decorations: Victorian Image Transfer Ornaments

Evoke a 19th-century feel with a homemade ornament using image transfer paper, muslin, lace, and a miniature embroidery hoop. This vision of Christmas past looks lovely hanging among your blinking lights. Make sure you know these Christmas ornament storage tips when it comes time to tear down.

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Print Your Image

Print Your Image

Print a reverse view of a Victorian image onto your favorite brand of iron-on image transfer paper (we used Leslie Riley's TAP paper). Follow the provided directions to iron the image onto a square of muslin or other plain fabric.

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Don't Forget Lace

Don't Forget Lace

Glue a length of lace to the outside of a three-inch wood embroidery hoop. Cut your image transfer with generous space around it and glue it to the inside hoop. After the glue is dry, trim the fabric three-quarters of an inch from the wooden edge. Place the lace-edged hoop over the inner hoop and secure with the screw. Use wire, ribbon, or both to create a loop for hanging.

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Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Translucent Painted Christmas Bulbs

Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Translucent Painted Christmas Bulbs

The classic Christmas bulb is more memorable when you make it yourself. With a clear glass or plastic bulb, glue, and food coloring, you can make a set of dreamy, translucent balls for your tree or windows. Try expanding your DIY decorations to every room with these outstanding tips.

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Mix Your Colors

Mix Your Colors

Pour one-half cup of craft glue into a plastic cup. Add one-quarter teaspoon of food coloring and stir. Add more food coloring for a deeper shade.

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Coat the Outside

Coat the Outside

Use a disposable foam brush to completely cover the outside of a clear glass or plastic bulb. Allow it to air dry or use a hair dryer for faster results. The glue will dry clear. Add additional coats to create tonality or experiment with beads, glitter, and sequins. For another take on the same project, pour the glue inside the bulb and give it a few days to dry.

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Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Fun Faux Leather Ornaments

Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Fun Faux Leather Ornaments

Faux leather is a strong material that can endure through multiple craft processes. Cut, glue, sew, and stamp it into an interesting conversation piece that could become a family tradition.

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Break Out the Cookie Cutters

Break Out the Cookie Cutters

Cut a sheet of faux leather (we used Kraft-Tex by C & T Publishing) and decorate with stamps, markers, or paints. Try using a cookie cutter to trace a Christmas shape. Design the ornament in layers so that each one has a front and back. Don't forget to add a hole for hanging.

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Assemble and Sew

Assemble and Sew

Assemble your shapes and sew them together. Use a tiny punch to create holes around the edge. With your pieces connected, add finishing touches like beads, sequins, embroidery, or trim. Add a string and hang.