Unique Homemade Christmas Ornaments That Will Evoke Nostalgic Memories

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

There’s no doubt the events of 2020 have been unlike anything we’ve seen before. It seams as though everything has been disrupted; work, school, social and sporting events, shopping, travel, everything we do is different now.

To name a few, we use social media differently, communicate with others differently, attend church meetings differently, holidays and family traditions will even look different this year.

Clearly, as this year is coming to an end we’re feeling nostalgia for Christmases past.We strive to make this a Christmas to remember, to relish with sentimental longing for the past, the way we knew life to be just months ago.

Although this worldwide pandemic has affected all of us, we can choose to experience life and express gratitude for all that we have. As our Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, President Russel M. Nelson has said “Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems. No matter our situation, showing our gratitude for our privileges is a fast acting and long lasting spiritual prescription. Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief and pain? No, but it does sooth our feelings. It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life!”

Nostalgic Homemade Christmas Ornament Keepsakes

To express our gratitude for our blessings, this year, we’ve decided to create meaningful nostalgic homemade Christmas ornament keepsakes. These ornaments will evoke fond memories of those loved ones we’ve lost, and cherished Christmases past.

With this in mind, we hope you’ll follow along to learn how to transfer photos onto an ordinary ceramic tile to create these cherished keepsakes.

Truly, we are grateful to have you here, following along on our blogging journey! In fact, reading your comments and engaging with you excites us.

We wish the very best to each of you and your families as we enter this Holiday season of Thanksgiving and celebrating Christ’s birth. We hope you’ll experience peace, joy and good health and join us in sharing our gratitude for all that we have been blessed with. #GiveThanks

Before we dive into the tutorial, you may also like to see how we made these vintage doorplate ornaments using my Great Grandmas jewelry last year. We’ve also been busy working on creating a cozy and warm Christmas in our homes this year with DIY Pillow Covers and Cozy Finger Knit Trees. (Tap an image below to learn more.)

Supplies Needed

To create these unique handmade Christmas ornaments you’ll need:

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. As an Amazon affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases. See our disclosure for details.)

Ornament Base

homemade christmas ornaments
homemade christmas ornaments

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you know that we like to use things we already have on hand. My Mom had some of these arabesque ceramic tiles left over and we thought they’d be a darling base for our homemade Christmas ornaments!

In order to have plenty of ornaments, we bought a couple more sheets of tiles from Lowe’s. The tiles come 15  to a sheet for $6, so that’s pretty reasonable per ornament.

To begin, we pulled each tile from the mesh tile backing.

Customizing Homemade Christmas Ornaments

homemade christmas ornaments
homemade christmas ornaments

To create a warm and cozy nostalgic feel this Christmas season, we gathered many old family photos from Christmases past. Using a digital program, we scanned the images and sized them each to a 2 1/2″ square.

Once sized, we printed them in black and white with a laser printer  on regular printer paper. It should be noted, the images can then be cut to any shape or size. Most of ours were cut in a circle with a paper punch.

NOTE: The images must be printed with toner for the photo transfer medium to work properly. If you don’t have access to a laser printer, you can have your photos copied at your local print shop. Images can be black & white OR color.

How To Transfer Photos onto Ceramic Tile

homemade christmas ornaments
homemade christmas ornaments
homemade christmas ornaments

After each of the images have been cut to size, we used photo transfer medium by Mod Podge to apply the images to the ceramic tile.

First, apply a layer of photo transfer medium onto the front surface of an image, then press it into place onto the ceramic tile.

Rub the surface to release any air bubbles and wipe off any excess product that may squish out. Then allow to sit for 24 hours.

Unveiling The Photos

homemade christmas ornaments
homemade christmas ornaments
homemade christmas ornaments

These handmade Christmas ornaments really start to come to life with this next step.

After they have dried for 24 hours, take a wet sponge and ring out as much water as you can. Then firmly press the sponge in a dabbing motion to penetrate the paper.

Allow to sit for 2 minutes. Then take the sponge, again removing any excess water, gently rub the paper surface in a circular motion. The paper will start to pull up and peel off of the ceramic tile.

For best results, this step may need to be repeated a few times, removing thin layers of paper at a time. After working on the first layer, we’d let ours sit for another minute or so, then again dab the tile with the sponge, then using our fingers, we were able to rub the excess paper off of the tile surface.

NOTE: This process may be easier to see in our video tutorial. Through trial and error we found that the less wet the paper is in this step we achieved better results. If the paper was too wet, some of our ornaments resulted in a few torn looking edges. Which in our case does look kind of cool seeing that we’re going for a vintage feel.

Attaching Hooks to Handmade Christmas Ornaments

homemade christmas ornaments

After each image has been revealed on the front surface of each tile, the hooks for the homemade Christmas ornaments can be attached.

We used a large paperclip cut in half to create a loop on the top edge for ribbon. Initially we used gorilla glue to attach each paperclip, but that didn’t adhere well enough to hold the weight of the tile.

We then used E6000, which worked much better! Finally, allow it each to dry for 24 hours.

Embellishing Homemade Christmas Ornaments

homemade christmas ornaments

Last but not least we embellish our homemade Christmas ornaments, we tied a piece of white satin cord to the paperclip to create a hanging loop. Then we embellished each with a little red ribbon.

Perfect Sentimental Homemade Christmas Ornaments

homemade christmas ornaments

Overall creating these homemade Christmas ornaments are really pretty simple. They do require a bit of time because the photo transfer medium and glue for the hooks need time to cure. Overall, we’re very pleased with the way they turned out!

homemade christmas ornaments

We can’t wait to add them to the Christmas tree and share stories with family about each of our ancestors on the ornaments.

homemade christmas ornaments

They really are the perfect sentimental Christmas ornament keepsake!

Thanks for spending some time with us today!

We hope you’ve been inspired to create your own homemade Christmas ornaments this year! Let us know if you’ve tried this method before and what tips you’d suggest.

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Say hi in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you. You can also learn more about us here.

Thanks for spending some time with us today!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design


Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for even more home decor and DIY ideas.

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You can also find our video tutorials on our YouTube channel. 

This we are participating in a “All About Home” link party. Thanks to our hosts Common Ground Follow The Yellow Brick Home.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Family is what Christmas is all about…I love finding ways to include family photos into my Christmas decor. This is a great tutorial and your ornaments are beautiful. ~Kristi

    1. Thank you Kristi! It has been so fun to include these ornaments on my tree this year. They have been the highlight to our tree this year. From my grandkids to my 83 year old dad, they were the highlight to my tree.

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