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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Handmade Christmas Tree Ornaments.

I love the holiday season! I love Christmas! The house gets decked out for Christmas with my Santa Claus collection on the coffee table, Christmas wreaths on the front doors and the outside of the house decorated with bright, colorful Christmas lights. We are actually practicing Muslims, but Christmas or more like the holiday season is just such a festive time of the year that it doesn't matter what religion you practice, we can all participate in the joy and cheer and goodwill of the season. The tradition is that after Thanksgiving we put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house with the garlands, red ribbons and bows along the staircase banister. And of course let's not forget the beautiful twinkly lights that are adorn the banister, and everywhere else possible. 

But this year, because I knew I was going to be away the day after Thanksgiving on a cruise with the family, I decided to go ahead and put the Christmas tree up a week before Thanksgiving. 

We use to get real trees when growing up in Chicago. The ritual of going with my dad to go pick out the tree, then bringing it home and placing it in the tree stand filled with water. And because the trees had been sitting outside in the frigid parking lot somewhere, we couldn't start decorating the tree the same day or even the day after we brought it home.  We had to wait a couple of days at the least to let the tree thaw out and open up. Since living in Florida for the last 14 years I've given up on buying real trees. Due to the extreme heat we don't have to worry about thawing out the tree once we bring it home. Our problem instead is ensuring that we keep the tree hydrated to avoid fires. Also living in Florida, I haven't had carpets in any of the homes I've lived in. Instead I've had marble or wood floors. And the idea of sweeping up the pins every day was enough to drive me straight to the store to pick up a nice artificial tree. I've had this tree for the past eight years now. Although the original lights don't work, I simply wrap a couple of strings of the bright twinkly lights and we're good to go. 
The advantage of having a real tree is that the whole house smells christmasy like the pine. But I've compensated by picking up these pine sticks which  make the home smell Christmasy. 

My favorite part about putting up the tree is unpacking all the many handmade ornaments from when the boys were in pre-K and-kindergarten. Our tree is a very simple tree but it is absolutely beautiful to me because every ornament has some kind of memory or significance to it. I've picked up ornaments over the years every time I've traveled around the world. I've also picked up ornaments from the different Broadway shows that we've seen. And have made a few over the years. But I realized this year that I haven't updated or added any new personalized ornaments in a year or two so I vowed  to make up for that this year. I simply change the ribbon on the tree and it has a new look every year. 

I had a few choices of customizable ornaments available to me at my local arts and crafts supply store. They have these clear glass balls which open up from the top. One can use those to fill up with different things or even squeeze a picture if you'd like. I knew for sure that I didn't want to use glass but instead was delighted to find these circular acrylic ornaments which open up in half,  making it extremely easy to work with. The first batch that I worked on our gifts for my sister-in-law and brother and their new baby who are celebrating their first Christmas in their new home. They have a beautiful tree with a few store-bought ornaments and I promised them that Iwould make  them a small collection of personalized ornaments to add to their tree. Unfortunately due to the busy time of the year and studying for my LCSW exams , which, thank God I passed on December 6 of this year, I wasn't able to get them done until the day after Christmas which happens to be today. 
So here are a few pictures with basic instructions of how I made them. 

I opened up the ornament and removed the center circular paper and placed it aside. Next I painted on a thin layer of Modge Podge  on the inside part of one half. I next sprinkled glitter, carefully ensuring it covered the entire surface. I chose Christmasy colors of red, green and gold. But you may choose any color glitter to coordinate your tree theme. I let them all sit out for couple of hours to dry. 

This is what it look like when the Modge Podge was still wet. A few hours later after the Modge podge had dried, this is what they looked like. 

Well these were drying, I used my Creative Memories cutting system from 16 years ago to trace out the circular shape.  I just happen to have one of the stencils that fit the size perfectly but you can also simply use the inserts that comes in the ornament to trace on the picture and then simply cut with a pair of scissors. After I had cut all the photographs, I use the double-sided scrapbooking tape applicator, and taped the circular pictures to the circular inserts.

Next I carefully wiped away any glitter on the inside of the other side. Then I closed the ornament and used a little bit of hot glue gun to seal the ornament. 
I used ribbons that had kind of a Christmas feel to it, to decorate the outside of the ornament. I simply used a piece of ribbon and glued it to the top part of the ornament. This served two purposes which included covering the top part where it joins together and adding a decorative touch. 

I hand wrote "2014" on each picture using a simple black pen. 

Here are the first batch of Christmas ornaments for my sweetheart's tree. 

And this is what one of the ornaments look like hanging on my Christmas tree. 

The other ornaments you see hanging toward the bottom of the picture are little notes that the teachers had sent home or the kids had written when they were in pre-K or kindergarten. 

I intend on making another batch of the circular ones along with a few others sometime this weekend for our tree. 

Here's another picture of our Christmas tree at home. 

Supply list:
Acrylic ornaments that open up in half
Mod Podge
Disposable paint brush
Circular cutter or scissors
Tape runner or double sided tape or glue stick 
Festive ribbon of your choice
Glue gun/ glue sticks
Your photographs

Merry Christmas and wishing you all a very happy new year. 

Love, light, and blessings.

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