You are currently viewing How to Make Personalized Christmas Ornaments with Nostalgic Memories


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 may even look different again this year.

Clearly, as this year is coming to an end we’re feeling nostalgia for Christmases past.

As we strive to make this a Christmas to remember, to relish with sentimental longing for the past, the way we knew life not so long 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 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!”

Certainly, gratitude for family is top on my list.

And what better way to honor and remember them with unique, personalized Christmas ornaments on your tree this year.

Reduce Christmas Stress

Do you always feel that you’re running around with your head cut off during the holiday season?

There’s always so much to do!

Not only are there gifts to buy, parties to plan, and Christmas baking on your to do list, but you also want to enjoy the season.

After all it is the most wonderful time of the year.

To help you stay organized this Christmas we’ve put together a FREE printable Christmas planner.

Just click on the button below to download you planner today!

Heirloom Personalized Christmas Ornament Keepsakes

To express our gratitude for our blessings, this year, we’ve decided to create meaningful nostalgic personalized Christmas ornaments.

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.

In particular, 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

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Before we dive into the tutorial, you may also like to see how we made Vintage doorplate ornaments using grandma’s costume jewelry. 

Video: How to make personalized ornaments

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

White arebesque ceramic tiles on a mesh backing

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you know that we like to use things we already have on hand.

These arabesque ceramic tiles were left over from another project and we thought they’d be a darling base for our personalized Christmas ornaments!

Woman's hand holding an arebeque ceramic tile

In order to have plenty of ornaments, we bought a couple more sheets of tiles at Lowe’s.

In fact, the tiles come 15  to a sheet for $6, so that’s pretty reasonable per ornament.

First, pull each tile from the mesh tile backing.

BONUS: Click here for TOP TRENDING Gift Guide!

Prepare Photographs for Personalized Christmas Ornaments

Lazer copies of black and white vintage photos

To create a warm and cozy nostalgic feel this Christmas season, we gathered many old family photos from Christmases past.

Using a digital program, to scan the images and sized them each to a 2 1/2″ square.

Once sized, print them black and white with a laser printer  on regular printer paper.

Woman's hand holding scissors trimming lazer copies of photos to make personalied Christmas ornaments

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.

Woman's holding a circle paper punch cutting out lazer copies of vintage Christmas photos for personalized Christmas ornaments

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.

Let’s stay connected!

Transfer Photos onto Ceramic Tile

Woman's hands holding bottle of photo transfer medium

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.

Woman'Woman's hand holding a paint brush applying photo transfer medium to a white arebesque ceramic tile making a personalized Christmas ornament.

First, apply a layer of photo transfer medium onto the front surface of an image.

Then press it into place onto the ceramic tile with the printed image against the tile.

Woman's hands pressing photo transfer to a white arebesque ceramic tile making a personalized Christmas ornament.

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.

Revealing the Photos

Woman's hand holding sponge as she transfers black and white photo to a white ceramic tile for a christmas ornament.

These personalized 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.

Woman's finger rubbing photo transfer as she transfers black and white photo to a white ceramic tile for a christmas ornament.

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.

Woman's hand holding completed photo transfer personalized Christmas ornament with black and white photo.

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, 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.

Attach Hanger to Personalized Christmas Ornaments

After each image has been revealed, the hanger for each personalized Christmas ornament 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.

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

Another option for creating a hanger for your personalized Christmas ornament would be to drill a small hole at the top of the tile with a ceramic tile bit.

Then a small cord or monofilament line can be threaded through the hole.

Embellish Personalized Christmas Ornament

Woman's hands tieing ribbon to the personalized Christmas ornament. Black and white imate of little girl sitting on Santa's lap on a white arebesque ceramic tile

Last but not least, we embellished our personalized Christmas ornaments.

First we looped a piece of white satin cord through the paperclip to create a hanging loop.

Then we embellished each with a little red ribbon.

The Best Sentimental & Personalized Christmas Ornaments

Completed personalized Christmas ornament of black and white vintage photo on ceramic tile hanging on Christmas tree

Overall creating these personalized Christmas ornaments are really pretty simple.

However, they do require a bit of wait time because of the cure time for the photo transfer medium and glue. 

Overall, I must say I LOVE the way they turned out.

Not to mention the fact, that they’ve become quite a conversation piece around my Christmas tree.


They looks so beautiful on my Christmas tree and would also be great package topper.

And who wouldn’t love to receive a few of these heirloom personalized Christmas ornaments as a gift this year.


Certainly these personalized sentimental Christmas ornaments are a treasured keepsake!

Personalized Christmas Ornament decorate the flocked trees. A peddle fire truck is placed in front of the tree with Christmas pillows.

You’ll find more ideas for decorating your Christmas tree with a cozy traditional feel here.

And for more decorating ideas for your home this Christmas see my Christmas home tour.

Video: Decorate the tree with us

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial for making these personalized Christmas ornaments. 

Please comment below and share how you would like to use them this Christmas.

We’d love to know if you have other ideas using tiles for Christmas ornaments too.

Of course, we are always look for new and creative ideas to decorate our homes for Christmas.

If you’re new here, WELCOME! We love having new readers and friends!

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Thanks for stopping by and as always here at Sunny Side Design 


Pinterest image, DIY personalized Christmas ornament white ceramic tile with a photo transfer of sentimental vintage photos in a bed of pine greenery.

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

To see what we are working on before it’s on our blog, follow us on Instagram.

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

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Kelly

    Will an inkjet printer produce similar results? I love these and want to make them , but don’t have a laser printer. TIA

    1. Michelle Dickson

      I’m afraid an inkjet printer does not work. However you can take your photos or send them digitally to your local print shop and get them printed that way. It need to be printed with toner for the transfer medium to work. Good luck!

  2. 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. Michelle Dickson

      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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