DIY Photo Ornaments {Our Family Tree}

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While I love them all, the handmade Christmas ornaments on our tree are my favorite.  Something about personalized ornaments speak to me, and apparently to my kids as well because they are always talking about them!  If you are looking for Christmas decorations to make this year, these DIY ornaments will turn any ol’ tree into a family tree.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

Did you guys get your photos edited and printed yet?  You can use any way of doing it of course, but for you non-Photoshop peeps I hope the PicMonkey tutorial was helpful.  Now we’re ready to make the rest of the photo ornament, PLUS a I’m sharing a few Christmas tree decorating ideas that make our tree extra special (do you know what ‘curly ting’ is?  read on!)

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {& Family Tree Ideas)

Now that you have your photos ready, it’s time to make some DIY Photo Ornaments featuring your gorgeous family and friends.  Then you can sit back and gaze at your tree and have all those you love– including your angels– right there with you.  Kids especially enjoy talking about the photos and it’s the perfect way to have cousins and grandparents close by even whey they live far away.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

Plus, I could look at this all. day. long.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {& Family Tree Ideas)

These ornaments are also very light; no droopy tree branches, which is a plus.  They make great gift tags, or hang with the stockings so everyone knows which one is theirs.  Wouldn’t they also look great attached to a wreath?  I know a proud grandmother or two that would love one of those.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {& Family Tree Ideas)

Here’s what you’ll need to make the ornaments:

  • foam board
  • Elmer’s Glue and/or Mod Podge
  • paintbrush, foam craft brush
  • glitter
  • EXACTO or craft knife
  • ruler, scissors
  • edited and printed photos
  • ribbon
  • headpins for making earrings, used to hand ribbons (optional)
  • scrapbook paper for back of ornaments (optional)


1.  Measure and cut a 3″ square from foam board and one from scrapbook paper (the paper will become the back of the ornament).

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {& Family Tree Ideas)

2.  Cut out your photos and get your Mod Podge ready.  You can also use Elmer’s glue, watered down a teeny bit to make it easier to spread.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

3.  Lightly and evenly apply Mod Podge to both the back of the photo and the face of your foam square.  I used a cheap foam brush (the .29 cent kind) from Michaels.  Press the paper and foam together, smooth out any bubbles.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {& Family Tree Ideas)

This step is optional: if you’d like to use scrapbook paper on the back, Mod Podge both the foam and the paper, press together, smooth.

4.  Get ready for some glitter!  Extra-fine glitter made these really sparkle.  Silver worked best for me, for some reason the blue glitter was too transparent.  I bet the microbead glitter we used on the DIY Glitter Pinecones would look stunning as well, but I’m a microbead glitter kind of gal.

types of glitter

I used thinned Elmer’s glue for this step, perhaps the Mod Podge would work but I haven’t tested it out yet.  Using a paintbrush, apply a border of watered down Elmer’s around the front edges of the ornament.  Cover with glitter, and brush off excess.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

5.  For the edges, I used a combo of a thin line of regular Elmer’s smoothed down with some of the watered-down Elmer’s and a paintbrush.  You don’t want any lumps of glue here, it will drip.  Be sure to get glue in all the nooks and crannies, and cover with glitter.  Brush/tap off excess.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

6.  Isn’t it looking so pretty?  I didn’t add glitter to the back of the ornaments, so this is what most of mine look like– just a thin glitter border, which is a remnant from when I glittered the edges:

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

7.  If you happen to have some earring headposts (with an “eye” loop) on hand, they really make it easy to attach the ribbon hanger.  Simply add a tiny dot of glue in the center of the top edge of the ornament and push them in until only the ring is showing.  Then add a ribbon hanger to finish the ornament.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}
push in the earring headpin
DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}
attach ribbon and tie off

10. If you don’t have earring headpins, you could simply hot glue your ribbon hanger right to the ornament.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

There you have it, a fancy-schmancy glitter photo ornament.  The more you have on your tree, the more beautiful and cohesive they look.  Another tip for making your tree glow is to add some curly ting to the branches.  Curly Ting is almost as much fun to say as spouncers.  I just stick bunches into bare areas and the lights bounce off of it, making for some extra twinkles in your eye.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

It’s a little touch, but it makes a big difference.

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

After years of searching, I finally found a Moravian Star-esque Capiz Shell tree topper.  Actually, my husband found it which makes all those nights of whispering sweet nothings ‘I want a Moravian Star Capiz Shell tree topper’ into his ear worthwhile.

capiz shell Christmas tree topper

We do a lot of this nowadays:

DIY handmade Christmas photo ornaments {handmade Christmas ornaments}

And isn’t that what a family tree is all about?

Much love to you all, now tell me… what’s on your tree this year?  Do you collect special ornaments, have heirlooms, or go for the designer look?  I love hearing about traditions and Christmas tree decorations, please share yours!

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  1. These are so cute!!! I love the idea. I think next year I am going to make a resolution to take a photo of everyone I love during the year and then make ornaments like these and then sit back at the end of the year and remember everyone that touched my life in 2013!! Thanks for the idea!

  2. Carrie, Your tree is beautiful and I love the ornaments of your adorable children. Happy Holidays!

  3. These are beautiful, Carrie! I feel inspired…going to head to Michael’s for Mod Podge and supplies today….I think I can, I think I can….

  4. Carrie, these are seriously the best photo ornaments I’ve seen. I love the glamor and the specialness of the moments captured. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I need to get me some mod podge! Those ornaments are so cute, and a great memento of each year! This is just our second year having a Christmas tree, so we haven’t established any tree traditions beyond getting a new Lenox ornament each year. For my little train-obsessed toddler, I got a train ornament personalized with his name this year. Our tree has mostly white Lenox ornaments on it, from years of receiving them from my aunt and then exchanging with my classy, stylish sister 🙂 Now I get them every year for all of my nieces and nephews.

    As a general Christmas tradition, we get a new Christmas item each year. First it was our personalized stockings and a tree skirt. Last year it was a Christmas tree stand (gotta be practical sometimes!). This year we got Lenox Christmas plates to match our plates, for our first Christmas brunch with yiayia and grampie. I think next year will be the year for a tree-topper. I love yours! (are you going to share where you got it?!)

  6. Carrie, I LOVE these! My mom used to make ornaments out of large wooden curtain rings and our school pictures but I’m thinking a touch of superfine glitter will make all the difference!!! Beautiful!

  7. Carrie, I hope you don’t mind if I share these in my favorites from the DIY Gift Idea link party. Thanks for linking up!

    1. Sigh, Brittany, IF YOU MUST. Haha, just kidding, that’s like a dream come true for me. THANK YOU for sharing them, you are wonderful and I’m going to pretend to be cool and NOT do a happy dance right now. :: happy dance :: Ooops. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Round Up of DIY Gift Ideas
  9. these are so pretty, yet easy to make. i made one, and my granddaughter helped me assemble them. i’ve made 3 sets, one for me, my daughter, and my ex-husband (he deserves photos of the kids too!). i used foamboard that had a silver halographic backing, so they really reflect the tree lights. they are drying as i type this, and tomorrow i will modpodge a label on the back with names and the year. i hope to make a new set every year, and the kids will watch their growth as they decorate the tree each year. … i also plan to print some group photos of my buddies, decorate them like this, and give them as “new year’s gifts”. thank you carrie!!

  10. Hi Carrie – what beautiful family inspired tree (with adorable kids!), I was wondering if you used regular stamp pad ink to stamp your garland or fabric ink? I’d love to make something for my son’s bedroom with his favorite verse on it. Thank you!

  11. Hi, Carrie. Thanks for this tutorial. The ornaments are a great idea. I made some of my own! I’ll be decorating that tree on Saturday. Can’t wait to see how it looks! I used the theme “Christmas at our house” and chose pictures for Christmas over several years. Pics of family and friends and also pictures of some of my favorite decorations and Christmas treats. Thanks, again, for sharing your tutorial! I’ll be posting to my blog soon and will include a link to yours. ~~Rhonda

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