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Christmas Card Projects: How To Make a Christmas Memory Ornament

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, kitchen, garden, and out fishing. Many of his DIY projects are featured in his yard.

Christmas Memory Ornament

Christmas Memory Ornament

Capturing Holiday Memories In A Christmas Ornament

Every year, we receive Christmas cards featuring photos of friends and relatives, some of whom are separated by time and distance. The annual Christmas photo cards give us an updated glimpse into their lives, and we look forward to seeing how their children have grown over the years. Many families put a lot of time and effort in creating their annual Christmas photo greeting card and too soon after the holidays, the photo cards are put away and forgotten.

Turning a Christmas photo card into a handcrafted Christmas Memory Ornament that captures the holiday spirit makes a great, personalized gift for friends and family. Use the photo card that you received last year, make a simple ornament shape, and send the photo Christmas memory ornament back to the family this year as a surprising and thoughtful gift. As your friends and relatives decorate their tree, the gift of the Christmas memory ornament helps them to revisit their own holiday photos each and every year.

This tradition started several years ago. We mailed out the annual Christmas cards and within just a few days, a friend who gave us one of our photo cards back on lovely handmade ornament. Now, we enjoy making these Christmas memory ornaments and passing along the holiday memories to other friends and family.

Need a quick, inexpensive or last minute gift for a friend or colleague? A Christmas Memory Ornament is quick and easy to make, and gives the thoughtful gift of holiday memories that everyone likes and appreciates.

How To Turn A Christmas Card Into A Christmas Memory Ornament

Things You Need:

Time required: Just a few minutes

Difficulty: easy

Cost: Pennies per Christmas Memory Ornament


  • Christmas Photo Card (or other holiday photo)
  • Thin Craft-Grade Plywood (or similar material)
  • Mounting Spray
  • Red and Green Spray Paint
  • Acrylic Craft Paint
  • Clear Spray Lacquer
  • Ribbon or Twine


  • Scroll saw, Jig saw, Band saw or Coping saw
  • Drill and Drill Bit
  • Sandpaper
Make a Template

Make a Template

Let's Get Started


1. Cut and crop the photo from the Christmas card. The size and shape of the subjects in the photo will determine the size and shape of the ornament. In this example, I cut out a circle around the little girl with Santa. A heart shaped template fits the circular photo quite nicely, and I will use the template to make the ornament.

Top Tip: If you plan on making multiple ornaments, consider making the template from cardstock or cardboard, or even make the template out of the same thin plywood material. A heavy-duty template will hold up better than a thin paper template, and it is easier to trace around thicket templates made from thicker materials.

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2. Trace a basic shape on to a small piece of thin craft-grade plywood. Simple shapes such as hearts, stars, trees, circles and diamond shapes are easy to draw and cut out, and these shapes work very well for making ornaments. Use the cropped photo from the Christmas card to help size and shape the ornament.


3. Cut out the plywood ornament shape using a scroll saw, band saw, jig saw or coping saw. Drill a small hole through the top / center of the cutout for hanging the ornament. Sand the edges of the cut pieces to remove any splinters, smoothing the surface and rounding over the edges. I cut this heart shaped ornament from a thin piece of veneer plywood. The smooth plywood did not need much sanding to prepare surface for painting, and I was able to cut several shapes from a piece of scrap wood. The cost for this ornament stock was $0.

4. Paint the ornament in holiday colors. I typically use red and green paint in aerosol spray cans. Spray painting the wooden shapes works well, making it quick and easy to paint several ornaments at a time. Don't forget to paint both sides of the ornament, as well as covering all of the edges. Depending on the surface of the wood, it may take two or more coats of paint to get a nice even coating of color. Let the paint dry thoroughly.

5. Attach the photo to the ornament. Spray adhesive works well, or use your favorite scrapbooking glue. Following the manufacturer's directions, spray the back of the photo, let it dry and then position it on the ornament. Press the photo firmly to the ornament and smooth out any wrinkles.


6. Decorate the ornament with acrylic paints. Use random dots of white paint to represent falling snowflakes, and don't forget to decorate the back side of the ornament. Add a Happy Holidays message with the Year for remembrance to the backside of the ornament. A light coat of clear lacquer from an aerosol spray helps to protect the photo and adds a little bit of shine to the ornament.

7. Cut a piece of ribbon or twine, thread it through and around the mounting hole, and tie it in a loop for hanging on the tree. Your handcrafted Christmas Memory Ornament is ready for giving many years of holiday memories.

Plan Ahead for the Holidays:

I like to cut, shape and paint several ornaments well in advance of the holiday season. As the new Christmas photo cards begin to arrive in the mail and we've enjoyed the latest photo from our friends and extended family, I can quickly turn their precious photos into instant Christmas Memory Ornaments, and then send it back to the sender in time for them to enjoy their new memory ornament on their own tree.

Don't Have A Saw? No Problem!

Unfinished wooden ornament craft kits are readily available that include pre-cut shapes. Choose a kit that includes ornament shapes that are large enough for your favorite photo. Simply paint the pre-cut shapes and attach the photos, and your personalized Christmas Memory Ornaments are ready as personalized gifts for your friends and family.

I've also recycled old Christmas ornaments into new Christmas Memory Ornaments. Over the years, our collection of holiday decorations included a number of flat, wood ornaments in a variety of shapes such as bells, wreaths - even rocking horses and reindeer. A little sanding and some fresh paint, and I've got interesting shapes to create new memory ornaments.

Handcrafted Gift Poll

Variations On A Theme: Make A Personalized Greeting Card

For many of us, a store bought greeting card just won't do. For those special occasions (or special people in our lives), the following video shows you how to create a personalized greeting card using craft paper and simple shapes.

To tie these customized greeting cards into our Christmas Memory Ornament, cut a photo from a Christmas card and paste it into one of the ornament shapes to create a personalized greeting card, or a unique Thank You card. Or use shapes in the video as inspiration for creating the templates for making your own ornaments.

Just for Fun: Christmas Lights Synchronized to Music by the Trans Siberian Orchestra

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Anthony Altorenna

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