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A Crafty Christmas: The Hand Painted Ornament

Recently I painted a dumpster fire on a piece of wooden material and added the year 2020. It’s been a challenging year for most of us and I thought it was a fun and humorous way to celebrate the end of 2020. As I worked on this limited series of ornaments for my Etsy shop, I realized these ornaments would be fairly easy for people to make at home.

Maybe you don’t have to paint a full dumpster fire, but there are so many different things you could paint on an ornament. This activity is also great for kids. Here are my materials, step-by-step instructions, and other tips for making fun, colorful ornaments with your family to decorate your home this holiday season.


  • Flat wooden ornaments in any shape. I’m actually using wooden key chains from Michaels (I get zero bonus points for posting their link because I don’t know how that works. I’m just putting the link here for your convenience). I remove the key ring part and attach my own string or ribbon.

  • Acrylic paint - I prefer Martha Stewart's acrylic paint (but if young kids are doing this I recommend washable tempera paint or tempera paint sticks - super fun and easy to clean up)

  • Gloss varnish (or other sealant to protect your artwork - this is especially important if the kids use tempera because that could come off if not sealed)

  • String or ribbon

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Paint the front of your wooden ornament with a background color. Let it dry. If the paint is thin you may want to paint a second coat.

  2. Paint the back of your ornament. It can be the same color or a different color.

  3. Choose a simple shape or idea to paint - for my samples here I did repeated patterns, a flower, and a rainbow. You could also paint a name or word, a Christmas icon, or an invented design. You can paint anything! If you don't have a lot of confidence with painting, I recommend you keep it simple. Kids will have tons of ideas for this.

  4. Take your time, paint more than one coat if the paint is thin, and have fun. If kids are part of this project, remember that the process is more important than the product. Let them make a mess and have fun. You'll make a memory and an ornament together that you can reminisce about for years.

  5. Add the date and names of the artist on the back.

  6. Coat the whole ornament with your gloss varnish (one side at a time leaving time to dry in between coating each side) and you're done! You can do two coats on the front of the ornament if you want a little extra shine.

  7. Add a fun string or ribbon through the pre-cut hole and your ornament is ready to go. Hang it up or give it away and spread the joy with others.

In the end, this is a great project for kids and/or adults to make something special for the upcoming holiday season. Use them as gifts or to decorate your home. And if it's not your style to make your own ornament it's okay! You can visit my shop to purchase one of my ornaments or one of the many other artists who sell their own ornaments on Etsy. So many options for a super crafty Christmas this year.

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