Friday, December 02, 2011

Christmas Sweatshop Craft 2010 - Paper Photo Ornament - Experiment 6

Now that it's December, I feel like it's ok to post Christmas-related projects.  I didn't want to be one of those people pushing Christmas before the turkey leftovers have been consumed.

Last year was when I started collecting papercrafting supplies, at first just to finish BabyT's baby book (which is *still* not done and she's 2 now). With all those supplies, I also wanted to make something little that I could slip into our holiday cards.  Since I love sending regular greeting cards rather than the one-panel photo cards everyone else sends, I figured this craft should include a small photo of us.

On the very excellent blog Christmased, someone commented about a family tradition to have a crafty project that they all participate in, to give out to others. Inevitably they'd end up working on it till the wee hours, hence the name "Christmas sweatshop craft". I love that, so I'm stealing it for my title. 

I decided to make small paper ornaments that people could hang on their Christmas trees.  Since it had to fit inside a card, it needed to be flat, so I decided on a round shape with a little cap to look like the top of an ornament ball.  I had to make at least 45 of these, to fit my Christmas card list.  Since I was so excited about this project, I started in early December, so I didn't go into panic mode during this project.  Hooray for being a project manager in real life.  Sometimes it does pay off in unexpected ways.

Paper photo Christmas ornament 2010
 This was pretty easy to make, and would have been even easier (and neater!) if I had used my Silhouette machine to cut out the ornament circles.  I just wasn't thinking about it at the time, since my machine was brand new!
  1. Using the Martha Stewart Circle Cuttermanual circle cutter, I cut approximately 3.5 inch diameter circles - for each ornament I cut one from holiday themed patterned paper and one in plain cardstock.
  2. I printed the photo I wanted using the Windows Photo Viewer.  I printed them wallet-sized on 8.5 x 11" photo paper and cut each one to about 2 inches square. 
  3. I used my Fiskars squeeze corner rounder punch to round the edges of each photo.  (This takes a while when you have 45+ photos!).
  4. I stuck the patterned paper circles to the cardstock circles using Mod Podge Decoupage Glue
  5. I used double stick tape to adhere the photo to the patterned paper side of the ornament (once the glue was dry on the ornaments, about a day later just to be sure!)
  6. I used the Silhouette machine's software to design the ornament top - it's just a rectangle welded to a circle, with another circle inside.  I then had it cut out all 45 of these, while I sat back and had a diet Coke.
  7. I covered both sides of each ornament top with some matte Mod Podge decoupage glue, to strengthen them.
  8. I stapled the ornament top to the ornament with a colored staple.  They were surprisingly hard to find, but I eventually tracked them down at Michael's.
  9. Using embroidery floss, I tied a small loop to each one so the recipients could attach an ornament hook.
  • Rather than decoupage glue, use a Xyron machine, or just strong double-stick tape to adhere everything
  • Use an electronic die-cutting system if you've got one to cut circles quickly and more accurately
  • Skip using Mod Podge to "strengthen" cardstock on simple projects like these.  Plain heavy cardstock should be fine, or use a clear page reinforcement if it's the right side.
  • Use Photoshop elements to place the photos in the *exact* size needed on the page, then you only need simple cutting and corner rounding.
  • Write your last name and year on the back so you and others can remember your cute project long into the future. (Assuming they don't immediately recycle it...)
  • Make at least one extra to keep for yourself!
  • Don't sweat the small mistakes - people will be charmed by the fact that you made them something.  Unless they're super-critical and mean.  In which case, they don't deserve one anyway.  So there.
  • When making a bunch of the same design, do it assembly-line style after making the first proof-of-concept: cut all circles, glue all, staple all, etc.


  1. Nice tips Anandi, thanks!

  2. Not sure why this hit my feed reader today, but I love this ornament! It's super cute, and looks pretty quick. I bought these wood ornament-frame things at JoAnn that were cute, but I spent hours painting them! I'm definitely thinking I should simplify for next year.


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