Unique Homemade Christmas Ornaments That Will Evoke Nostalgic Memories

5 Materials
2 Hours

There’s no doubt the events of 2020 have been unlike anything we’ve seen before.

It seams as though everything has been disrupted; work, school, social and sporting events, shopping, travel, everything we do is different now.

To name a few, we use social media differently, communicate with others differently, attend church meetings differently, holidays and family traditions may even look different again this year.

Clearly, as this year is coming to an end we’re feeling nostalgia for Christmases past.

As we strive to make this a Christmas to remember, to relish with sentimental longing for the past, the way we knew life not so long ago.

Although this worldwide pandemic has affected all of us, we can choose to experience life and express gratitude for all that we have.

As prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, President Russel M. Nelson has said “Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems.

No matter our situation, showing our gratitude for our privileges is a fast acting and long lasting spiritual prescription.

Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief and pain?

No, but it does sooth our feelings. It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life!”

Certainly, gratitude for family is top on my list.

And what better way to honor and remember them with unique, personalized Christmas ornaments on your tree this year.

Heirloom Personalized Christmas Ornament Keepsakes

To express our gratitude for our blessings, this year, we’ve decided to create meaningful nostalgic personalized Christmas ornaments.

These ornaments will evoke fond memories of those loved ones we’ve lost, and cherished Christmases past.

With this in mind, we hope you’ll follow along to learn how to transfer photos onto an ordinary ceramic tile to create these cherished keepsakes.

Truly, we are grateful to have you here, following along on our blogging journey!

In fact, reading your comments and engaging with you excites us.

In particular, we wish the very best to each of you and your families as we enter this Holiday season of Thanksgiving and celebrating Christ’s birth.

We hope you’ll experience peace, joy and good health and join us in sharing our gratitude for all that we have been blessed with.

Sharing is caring!

Before we dive into the tutorial, you may also like to see how we made Vintage doorplate ornaments using grandma’s costume jewelry.

Supplies Needed:

To create these unique handmade Christmas ornaments you’ll need:

  • arabesque tile
  • laser copies, black & white or color
  • paper punch, scissors, paper trimmer
  • photo transfer medium
  • paint brush
  • sponge
  • E6000 adhesive
  • paperclips
  • ribbon

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If you’ve been following along for a while now, you know that we like to use things we already have on hand.

These arabesque ceramic tiles were left over from another project and we thought they’d be a darling base for our personalized Christmas ornaments!

In order to have plenty of ornaments, we bought a couple more sheets of tiles at Lowe’s.

In fact, the tiles come 15 to a sheet for $6, so that’s pretty reasonable per ornament.

First, pull each tile from the mesh tile backing.

To create a warm and cozy nostalgic feel this Christmas season, we gathered many old family photos from Christmases past.

Using a digital program, to scan the images and sized them each to a 2 1/2″ square.

Once sized, print them black and white with a laser printer on regular printer paper.

It should be noted, the images can then be cut to any shape or size.

Most of ours were cut in a circle with a paper punch.

NOTE: The images must be printed with toner for the photo transfer medium to work properly. If you don’t have access to a laser printer, you can have your photos copied at your local print shop. Images can be black & white OR color.

After each of the images have been cut to size, we used photo transfer medium by Mod Podge to apply the images to the ceramic tile.

First, apply a layer of photo transfer medium onto the front surface of an image.

Then press it into place onto the ceramic tile with the printed image against the tile.

Rub the surface to release any air bubbles and wipe off any excess product that may squish out.

Then allow to sit for 24 hours.

These personalized Christmas ornaments really start to come to life with this next step.

After they have dried for 24 hours, take a wet sponge and ring out as much water as you can.

Then firmly press the sponge in a dabbing motion to penetrate the paper.

Allow to sit for 2 minutes.

Then take the sponge, again removing any excess water, gently rub the paper surface in a circular motion.

The paper will start to pull up and peel off of the ceramic tile.

For best results, this step may need to be repeated a few times, removing thin layers of paper at a time.

After working on the first layer, we’d let ours sit for another minute or so.

Then again dab the tile with the sponge, using our fingers, we were able to rub the excess paper off of the tile surface.

NOTE: This process may be easier to see in our video tutorial.

Through trial and error we found that the less wet the paper is in this step we achieved better results.

If the paper was too wet, some of our ornaments resulted in a few torn looking edges.

Which in our case does look kind of cool seeing that we’re going for a vintage feel.

Attach Hanger to Personalized Christmas Ornaments

After each image has been revealed, the hanger for each personalized Christmas ornament can be attached.

We used a large paperclip cut in half to create a loop on the top edge for ribbon. Initially we used gorilla glue to attach each paperclip, but that didn’t adhere well enough to hold the weight of the tile.

So then we used E6000, which worked much better! Finally, allow it each to dry for 24 hours.

Another option for creating a hanger for your personalized Christmas ornament would be to drill a small hole at the top of the tile with a ceramic tile bit.

Then a small cord or monofilament line can be threaded through the hole.

Embellish Personalized Christmas Ornament

Last but not least, we embellished our personalized Christmas ornaments.

First we looped a piece of white satin cord through the paperclip to create a hanging loop.

Then we embellished each with a little red ribbon.

Overall creating these personalized Christmas ornaments are really pretty simple.

However, they do require a bit of wait time because of the cure time for the photo transfer medium and glue. 

Overall, I must say I LOVE the way they turned out.

Not to mention the fact, that they’ve become quite a conversation piece around my Christmas tree.

They looks so beautiful on my Christmas tree and would also be great package topper.

And who wouldn’t love to receive a few of these heirloom personalized Christmas ornaments as a gift this year.

Certainly these personalized sentimental Christmas ornaments are a treasured keepsake!

You’ll find more ideas for decorating your Christmas tree with a cozy traditional feel  here.

And for more decorating ideas for your home this Christmas see my Christmas home tour.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial for making these personalized Christmas ornaments. 

Please comment below and share how you would like to use them this Christmas.

We’d love to know if you have other ideas using tiles for Christmas ornaments too.

Of course, we are always look for new and creative ideas to decorate our homes for Christmas.

If you’re new here, WELCOME! We love having new readers and friends!

You can learn more about us here.

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Thanks for stopping by and as always here at Sunny Side Design 


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You can also find our video tutorials on our YouTube channel. 

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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 14 questions
  • Diane Farr Diane Farr on Aug 28, 2022

    Do you do anything to the back?

  • Susan Susan on Oct 16, 2022

    Not a question . . .a heads up. I had a beautiful cameo brooch similar to the one in your first picture. I was shocked after having it appraised. It was worth almost $800. So, be careful with Grandma's jewelry before hot-gluing it to make an ornament!

  • Linda Brandom Linda Brandom on Oct 16, 2022

    What do you do about the backside of the ornament? Do you glue two together or just hang it so it can’t twirl on the branch?

Join the conversation
4 of 90 comments
  • Joan Stanley Joan Stanley on Oct 17, 2022

    This would be a wonderful way to keep our family heritage alive! In addition to your memories, find pictures of your parents, grand & great grandparents for this project. Creating a true FAMILY tree, adding each generation would be priceless!

    You could use thin craft shapes found at Dollar Tree, Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Even add a space on the back for names, dates, info.

    • Sunny Side Design Sunny Side Design on Oct 19, 2022

      It really is a treasured keepsake. These ornaments on my tree are a favorite of everyone.

  • Beth Trask Symonds Beth Trask Symonds on Oct 23, 2022

    LOVE this idea!! I was trying to think of something special for my kids and grandkids. I think this is it! Thank you so much for the idea!