For Christmas, whether it’s gingerbread houses, homemade Christmas ornaments, snowflake cut-outs, or other crafty decorations, there are endless varieties of easy, affordable holiday kids crafts that allow children to express their creativity, celebrate the holiday season, and don’t require too much preparation or materials.
The following is a simple idea for a child’s handmade Christmas tree ornament. With just a few easy materials and minimal adult intervention, kids can create a colorful, sculptural holiday ornament, either to hang on their own tree or to give to others as decorative gifts.
Polymer clay is a sculptural material that, for many children, will be similar to using play-dough or other modeling clays. Polymer clay is not an air-dry clay, and does not need to be fired in a kiln. Because it can harden by being ‘fired’ in a traditional kitchen oven, this clay is very suitable for kids to use at home, and for parents who aren’t very knowledgeable in many art processes.
Required materials to make a polymer clay Christmas ornament:
– Polymer clay – a variety of colors (at least: red, yellow, blue, black, brown, white); typical brands include Fimo and Sculpey
– Cookie cutters
– Small rolling pin
– Baking sheet
– Plastic knife
How to make a homemade snowman ornament:
Condition white polymer clay by rolling it between your palms until it is soft. Roll it on a clean surface with a mini rolling pin until it is flat (do not roll it too thin; it needs to hold it’s shape). Use a toothpick to cut out three circles of varied sizes. Overlap the ends of the circles and press together. Shape a few small black circles and press onto the middle of the snowman for buttons, as well as create the ‘coal’ on the face for eyes and a mouth. Shape a small carrot from orange clay, or mix a little red and yellow together. Flatten a small amount of black, and cut out the shape of a hat, then press onto the top of the snowman’s head.
Kids can add other small details to the snowman in polymer clay, such as a scarf, stick arms and mittens. Using the toothpick, cut a hole in the snowman’s hat. Later on, after the Christmas ornament has been baked, you will string ribbon through this hole in order to hang it from your Christmas tree.
To make a homemade Christmas tree ornament:
Condition green polymer clay by rolling it between your palms until it is soft. Flatten it by rolling it on a clean surface (do not roll it too thin; it needs to hold it’s shape). Begin by cutting out the shape of a tall triangle, then make cuts with the toothpick into each long side of the triangle to make ‘branches.’ Cut a small brown rectangle, then press it underneath the bottom of the tree to attach.
Children can add small details to the Christmas tree in polymer clay, such as little ball ornaments in many colors, tiny white icicles or lights, garlands, candy canes or a star on top. Using the toothpick, cut a hole in the top of the tree. Later on, after the Christmas ornament has been baked, you will string ribbon through this hole in order to hang it from your own Christmas tree.
How to bake your polymer clay Christmas ornament:
Kids will place the finished ornaments on a baking sheet. Read the baking directions on the package of your polymer clay, because oven temperatures and baking times will vary by brand. You can often search a polymer clay company’s website for their directions if you have thrown away the packaging. However, typically, you should bake a polymer clay project for about 25 – 30 minutes, at a temperature of between 230 – 300 degrees. Check the end of the article to find the websites for two popular polymer clay brands.
After your ornament has been baked in the oven, it can be buffed to create a shine, it can be painted, or glossed over with an acrylic glaze. For Christmas ornaments, it can look dazzling to paint a coat of glittery gloss as a final step, in order to get a shimmery, “holiday” sheen.
Tips for using polymer clay:
1. Colors can be mixed (red + yellow = orange, blue + yellow = green, red + blue = purple, black + white = gray, white + any color = lighter color).
2. Polymer clay can have texture added by drawing into it with toothpicks, and pieces can be layered for details.
3. Clay will not ‘dry’ on its own, until it is hardened in the oven.
Other ideas for homemade polymer clay Christmas tree ornaments:
Snowflakes, mittens, ice skates, polar bears, reindeer, Santa, gift boxes, pointsettias, stars, candy canes, gingerbread houses, gingerbread men, Christmas cookies. As well as making homemade Christmas ornaments, kids can also use polymer clay for any number of art and craft projects, including decorating picture frames, refrigerator magnets, figurines, and other ideas.
For more info on using polymer clay, visit the websites of the two most popular brands:
Sculpey Polymer Clay website
Fimo Soft Oven-Hardening Modeling Clay website
In the holiday-crafting spirit? Get inspired by reading 10 Ways to Decorate a Plain Christmas Ornament.