Handmade Caroler Ornament Tutorial

December 14th, 2009 by Dionna | 8 Comments
Posted in Adults, Children, Eclectic Learning, Preschoolers, Teens, Toddlers

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Yesterday we exchanged Christmas ornaments with our family – both sets of parents, a sister, and a friend that might as well be a sister (there would be one more sister, but she has the audacity to be in Spain right now, and Kieran’s Tio Darin was a little preoccupied with school/finals/PhD program applications to handmake an ornament!).

What an excellent family tradition! We had a great time, and everyone’s ornaments were adorable. I look forward to many more years of family ornaments – especially with the fun we have together exchanging them. Here is a picture of the ornaments we received. Thank you to my inlaws (Tom & Mary) for the red ball ornament, my parents (Pat & Ruth) for the bird, Shawna (my sister) for the shell snowman and Christmas tree ornaments (she is from Florida, so the shells are especially fitting), and Rebecca/George/Amelia for the glass ball/snowmen ornament.

2009 Ornament 5

When I decided to make a caroler for our ornament swaps this year (this one with family and the one last week with friends), I had no idea what I was getting us into. For the record, the steps involved in making these ornaments went something like this:

Saw, Paint, Color, Cut, Sew, Glue, Cut, Tie, Glue, Cut, Sew, Cut, Tie, Glue, Cut, Fold, Glue, Cut, Glue, Cut, Glue, Write, Drink (ok, maybe there was more drinking involved)

It really wasn’t that difficult, just involved. The best part about making these ornaments was that each one of us helped – Tom did the sawing and cut out the mittens, Kieran helped me paint and glue, and I managed the rest. The results were worth it! Check them out:

2009 Ornament 3

Interested in making your own? Here is what I did.


3/4 inch Wooden Dowel Rod for the body & a cutting tool (the rods I got were a yard long each; Tom used a miter saw and recommends something a little less powerful)
Small wooden balls for the heads (I used this brand, but the balls were 1 inch)
Flannel for the hats and scarves (I used green)
Felt for the mittens (I used red)
Ribbon to tie the hats and to use as hangers (I used red for the hats and green for the hangers)
Sheet music
Paint & foam brush (I used white tempera paint for the bodies)
Fine tip Sharpie for the eyes and mouth (I also wrote a message on the back of each ornament)
Pink crayon for the cheeks
Thread (& a sewing machine) to sew the hats together
Wood glue


*Cut the dowel rod into pieces. Tom cut them about into approximately 2.5 inches pieces and we ended up with 24 bodies.
*Paint the bodies; we made ours white.
*Draw the faces onto the wooden balls. I just free-handed this using my Sharpie and pink crayon.

*Cut out flannel for your hats. I determined that the best fit around the heads was approximately 3.6 inches. I think I made them about 3.25 inches long – I wanted them long enough to flop over.
*Sew your hats: First, I flipped the bottom of the hat under and sewed about an eight of an inch hem in a zigzag stitch – that will make a nice clean edge around the “forehead.”
*Then,with the wrong edge of the hem out, fold the flannel in half lengthwise and sew a straight stitch down (a little less than a 1/4 inch in) to form a tube.

hem 2

*After you make the tube, turn it inside out, and you are almost done with the hat!
*Glue the hat onto the head, making sure that the seam is toward the back.
*Cut your ribbon into approximately 5 or 6 inch strips and tie a ribbon onto the middle of each hat (this will help your hat flop over). Once your ribbon is on, you can cut “fringe” onto the end of your hat (just make small  cuts all the way around the end of the hat).
*Cut ribbons for the ornament hangers – I made mine about 13 inches long.
*Attach the ornament hanger and head: put a dab of glue on the top of the body, put the two ribbon ends in the glue, then put the head on top of the ribbon (so the ribbon is sandwiched in between the body and head). I put another dab of glue on top of the ribbon. Squeeze firmly on the head and body for a minute to help the glue set. The way I glued my hats on the heads, the hats all flop to the left, so I made my ribbon hangers go a little to the right.
*Cut the scarves out: I made mine about 6 inches long and almost 1/2 an inch wide. Then I cut fringe onto each end of the scarf.
*Attach the scarf to the body by tying a loose knot and putting a dab of glue between the scarf and the back of the head. After I added the glue, I pulled the knot tight. My scarf knot sits a little to the left, so that the fringed edges don’t get in the way of the sheet music.
*Make your carolers’ sheet music: I cut strips from sheet music about 2 inches wide and tall enough to see a whole staff. I folded each staff in half, and then in half again – that way you can see the staff from the front and back.
*Cut out mittens.
*Glue music and mittens on: I glued the music on first, then the mittens next so that they overlapped the music slightly (to give the illusion that they are holding the music).
*Write a personal message on the back of each body if you so desire.

I love these little guys! Here are a few more pictures of our carolers.

2009 Ornament 1

2009 Ornament 4

2009 Ornament 2

Did you make your own ornaments this year? Link to your pictures and/or posts in the comments – I need ideas for next year!

8 Responses to:
"Handmade Caroler Ornament Tutorial"

  1. The "sister"

    This was an awesome idea and I’m glad we got to participate! Now that george has the idea, he will be so much more helpful. Though, he did get on the train at the last possible minute!

    Mind you I now have to go in tater’s room to enjoy mine, because she took them all to put on “her” tree in her room!

  2. Katje Sabin

    So cute! I didn’t do the ornament trade this year; the felt-food swap was enough to keep me busy.

    I wonder if you could streamline the process with those one-piece clothespines, something like this:

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Clothespins would be cute! We did the dowel rods for cost purposes, but clothespins would work just as well.

  3. DT

    The pictures in the post crack me up. I especially like the one where the ornament is busting a solo.

  4. Mom

    I ADORE all of the ornaments…and I am looking forward to the fun of our ornament exchange NEXT year!!! I will have to start looking for my next idea…wonder if I can find one with a Raccoon???? heheheheheh
    Sorry I can’t make it tomorrow…you have NO idea how disappointed I am…I was so looking forward to riding the train with Kieran. We will have to do it again sometime!!

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