DIY Family Photo Heirloom Ornaments

Family Ornament

Creating your own DIY photo Christmas ornaments is a wonderful way to repurpose old photos and remember ancestors. Or you can use newer photos to showcase children and grandchildren. Gifting a handmade ornament is a meaningful and perfect way to show your love this holiday season. You can create unique heirloom ornaments using copies or digital prints of old photos with decorative papers, glitter, ceramic blanks, cloth, yarn, and many other materials. 

If you’re considering using antique family photos that aren’t in the best condition, get them digitized and restored before starting a DIY project. Make multiple prints of a digitized image and don’t use original photos because sometimes craft projects go a little awry! And if you wish to add creative decorative touches, you can find a huge array of interesting free clipart images online, save them, and print them at home. While the sky is truly the limit when it comes to making DIY family ornaments, here are two ideas to help you get started. 

Black & White DIY Photo Ornament 

The beauty in this ornament lies in its simplicity and the ability to create variations by changing up the cardstock, glitter paper, and/or ribbon color, printing photos in color, and choosing a different shape. 


  • Printed photo (cut to 2.5 x 3.75 inches, including white border if desired)
  • Silver glitter cardstock (cut to 3 x 5 inches)
  • White heavyweight photo paper or cardstock (cut to 3.25 x 5.5 inches for backing and .75 x 2.5 inches for name flag)
  • Silver glitter alphabet stickers
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • Small-hole punch
  • Double-sided tape roller
  • Foam dots
  • 1/8-inch white satin ribbon 

Step-by-Step Instructions 

  1. Trim cardstock to sizes listed above with scissors or paper cutter
  2. Attach silver glitter paper to white backing with a double-sided tape roller
  3. Adhere photo on top of silver glitter paper with foam dots
  4. Add silver glitter stickers to the small white cardstock name flag cutout
  5. Trim ends of name cardstock to create a two-point flag shape
  6. Adhere name flag under the photo with foam dots (double to add extra dimension)
  7. Punch two holes at top of the ornament
  8. Tie a ribbon bow and then feed ends through holes and knot on the backside 

Photo Transfer Ceramic Ornament 

This easy-to-create DIY photo ornament is versatile because you can either take new family photos or use old family pics. The ceramic blanks may be difficult to find, but other surfaces also work for transferring photos with Mod Podge. 


  • Mod Podge (Photo Transfer Medium)
  • Blank white ceramic ornament
  • Photocopy created with dry toner (an inkjet print will bleed)
  • Ribbon or yarn
  • Brush
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker (optional) 

Step-by-Step Instructions 

  1. Flip digital photo horizontally in Photoshop, especially if there are words
  2. Print the picture with a printer that uses dry toner (e.g. laser printer, not an inkjet)
  3. Trim your print to fit the ornament
  4. Leave a little blank space to write a date or name
  5. Place a thick coat of Mod Podge on the front of the print, covering it completely
  6. Place the print onto the ornament, picture face down
  7. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours
  8. Take a damp rag and soak the paper, then gently rub it until the picture is revealed (you may need to repeat this to remove the paper fibers)
  9. Thread the ornament with a ribbon 

With a few supplies and a little ingenuity, it’s amazing how many clever DIY gifts you can make with photos in the starring role! And if you don’t feel like creating unique gifts yourself, many companies (e.g. Shutterbug) offer a beautiful and eclectic array of custom photo gifts. Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!

Posted in: DIY