Are you on a budget? Do you need a Christmas that’s cheap while not looking cheap or tacky? I have the most perfect Holiday gift idea for you to consider. A DIY Christmas gift that can adorn the recipients tree for years!

Continue reading for more of the juicy details. 

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Floating ornaments are a perfect gift for anyone!
Floating ornaments are a perfect gift for anyone! 

Holiday Gift Idea- Floating Christmas Ornaments

What are floating ornaments? You might ask. Well, let me tell you! They are ornaments (duh!) with an image inside giving the appearance of floating inside the bulb. You can fill in behind the images to make them stand out even more or you can leave them empty with just the image, to maintain that awesome floating look. 

My daughters school photo, marked with the grade and school year make this ornament a beautiful keepsake item.
My daughters school photo, marked with the grade and school year make this ornament a beautiful keepsake item.

Plastic shatterproof ornaments are totally the way to go!

Sure, you can use glass ones….. but you can also lick a cactus. I don’t recommend either.

Glass ornaments not only break, but often times, when you remove the metal top of a Christmas ornament you’ll see the glass isn’t cut right and that there are strings of glass you must break to fully access inside the bulb. 

This leads to glass slivers/splinters.

Which will no doubt stab you causing you to bleed, but will also make you:

A) Drop F Bombs as you search the house looking for the one pair of tweezers that “someone” misplaced.

B) Hold your finger up to the sky looking for the best light in the house, trying out all the different angles trying to visually see this pain causing glass splinter in your finger that you can feel, but somehow remains invisible. 

C) Enlist the help of your partner/spouse and have them try to locate the splinter of glass. Listen to them claim they “got it” several times, before actually removing it.

D) All of the above.

Don’t even get me started on the “glass ornaments and my kids” rant. Haha.

All you need- Shatterproof ornaments and transparency sheets. Hooks are optional, but they're only like $0.88 for 20 from Walmart, and look pretty...so why not?
All you need- Shatterproof ornaments and transparency sheets. Hooks are optional, but they’re only like $0.88 for 20 from Walmart, and look pretty…so why not?

Michaels Craft store sells Plastic shatterproof ornaments as does several other craft stores, Hobby Lobby for example. Dollar Tree is also a good location to get them from if you don’t need to make so many, since it’s technically more expensive to buy them by the each, when you buy from there.

I personally purchased the 25 count Plastic Ball Ornaments by ArtMinds, they’re 2.65″ and a pack costs $20 each regular retail. 

You will also need to choose a transparency sheet for the floating image affect.

You can choose between a few different options, each have a slight difference between them besides cost.

I use Grafix Ink Jet Film it was the cheapest start up cost for me, but once I run out of these sheets I plan to switch to Vellum.

Vellum Paper is the cheapest price per sheet, and is a white transparent. Which means, that while you can see through it, it has a whiteish tint to it, making images stand out better and reduces the need to have any filler items in your bulbs at all.

Another option is Fixxons Waterproof Screen Positive Film, this is the more expensive option and I honestly know nothing about it other than some crafters have success with it. 

Don’t have an Ink Jet printer? That’s okay!

Here is a great priced options for laser printers.

Apollo Transparency Film for Laser Printers

Printed on Grafix, using lined notebook paper as a filler. Had it been printed on Vellum, the design would stand out more as being less transparent.
Printed on Grafix, using lined notebook paper as a filler. Had it been printed on Vellum, the design would stand out more as being less transparent. 

Now for the filler items-

You can use practically anything. 

Personally, I use anything any number of things, depending on what I feel looks best with the design. 

White tulle. White feathers cut smaller (this is messy). Fake snow. Lined notebook paper. White crinkle paper used to fill gift boxes. White tissue paper. Large holographic confetti glitter chunks. As examples.

Yarn also makes a cute filler item for the crafter in your life.
Yarn also makes a cute filler item for the crafter in your life. 

Now here comes the “hardest part”

You have to make a stencil, or find the right size to cut the inserts. 

Template, feel free to keep and use for yourself.
Template, feel free to keep and use for yourself.

Plastic ornaments are ever so slightly more egg shaped than glass.

This makes them require two different cut styles. But notice both include the ornament top, this is important because it holds the design up and standing, without this top piece, your design will fall flat in the ornament. 

If you have a Cricut, upload these to design space, I have found that the plastic template fits perfect when cut at 2.52 width and 2.672 height. and using print to cut feature allows you 6 ornaments per sheet of transparency paper. 

If you are doing this without a Cricut machine, and are instead using something simpler, such as Microsoft Paint program, I recommend making ornament shapes of different slightly sizes, all close to the height/width of your ornament and printing the sheet.

No matter which program you use, you will need to test cut the shapes to make sure you have the right size, and don’t waste precious materials. So print the templates on regular printer paper. Cut out the shapes and roll them from one side to the other, like a sushi roll. 

Open the top of the ornament and place your roll inside. Unroll it using whatever stick like items you have on hand. I personally used kabob sticks and tweezers. 

Paper doesn’t unroll very easily, but the transparency sheet will practically spring into a flat piece again. 

Which makes this stencil size finding portion of the ornament making the most difficult part of the entire process. Luckily, if you save the size somewhere, you’ll only have to do this once.  

You may waste a few pieces of printer paper trying to find the perfect ornament size, but once you have it, you’re golden. 

You want it to touch the sides, rest in the top part, and look like it can be stable, standing up on its own, without fear of falling over when the ornament is on it’s side.

Got the stencil? Good!

Okay, now we make the design you want and force it to fit inside the stencil.

Print it out on the transparency paper. Use your printers best photo printing settings.  

I have a HP DeskJet 2132. It’s an inkjet printer, and when I go to print it gives me options under “printer settings” or “printer properties”

Select photo paper. That gets rid of the ink lines and makes the picture look great
Select photo paper. That gets rid of the ink lines and makes the picture look great

Select photo options, when printing a good photo of something, then you wont end up with those annoying ink lines on your paper and your printed picture will look good.

Choose the print quality.
Choose the print quality.

Select the printing quality. The better the quality, the more ink is used, and slower the printer goes. But it makes a huge difference, and makes everything look professional.

Now, give it a few minutes for the ink to dry before touching the sheet and then, cut it out.

Roll it up like you did the paper sushi. Hopefully, you removed that paper when you were done. I forgot to include that part. 

Completed ornament
Completed ornament

Once you have that design inside your ornament, you get to fill it.

If you choose to have a filler item, example options given above, now is when you get to fill the ornament. Just make sure to fill it on the backside of the design. Not the side that your printer inked all over. This reduces risk of scratching away any part of the design.

Now your ornament is filled. Your design looks great. And you can close the top. Adorn with a little bow if you choose to. 

White sparkly tulle and holographic glitter chunks. Adorned with a bow.
White sparkly tulle and holographic glitter chunks. Adorned with a bow.

If you have it in the budget to put these nicely in a gift box, you can do that. or if you’re hand delivering them and want to be more budget friendly. Here’s another idea- Dollar Tree has Clear Cellophane Loot Bags with Twist Ties, a 25 count for $1. You can wrap up all of your ornaments for that $1 add a little tag or card and you’re good to go!

Cost break down-

Ornaments $20

Transparency sheets $15

Loot bags to gift them in $1

Filler items $5 (you can find so many great filler ideas just walking around the holiday section at Dollar Tree)

Total cost investment: $41

Makes 25 ornaments

That means you spent about $1.64 per gift.  

These ornaments even make a great gift for newborns (well, the parents of newborns)
These ornaments even make a great gift for newborns (well, the parents of newborns)

25 Homemade Gifts from the heart. Cherished each year. Unique, beautiful, and it cost less than $2 each to make. 

When you’re done making them, if you have ornaments to spare, you could enter some in a Christmas ornament gift exchange or sell some on local pages/ Etsy, etc. and not only would it help to recoup the cost of materials, making your gifts cheaper, but it also helps at possibly making a little passive income this holiday season.   

If crafting isn’t your style and you’d like to purchase some custom made ornaments, I am selling on my Etsy page, and you are welcome to come take a look. 

While this craft was done using a Cricut, you can do it without. However, I am a huge fan of Cricut and their products, and do recommend owning one if you enjoy crafting!

a guide for making floating ornaments homemade gifts on a budget cricut used
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