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DIY Family Tree Ornaments

DIY Family Tree ornaments are a simple, yet beautiful, way to remember loved ones this Christmas. 

Almost 14 years ago, I gathered with my extended family around my grandpa's bedside. We had been told his body was shutting down, and he didn't have much time left. As we held on to each other and cried, he took his last breath. It was Christmas Day.

In the years since Grandpa's passing, I have held his memory close to my heart. Grandpa was a farmer. He worked long, hard days, yet he always made time for us. Whenever we heard his tractor fire up, we rushed from the house to the farm to "help" feed the cows. Grandpa never shooed us away or told us to go back to the house. He would let us climb in the tractor's bucket. Then he would lift the bucket in the air, and that was our "seat" to help feed the cows. 

Grandpa always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. As I got older, he became more than the grandpa of my childhood. He became my friend. We spent lots of time talking about my studies, politics, our beliefs, and life in general. These memories are priceless to me. 

For several years, I have wondered how I could pass these memories on to my children. How could I help my children feel connected to this grandpa they never got to meet? How could I help them feel connected to other relatives? 

As a solution to this, I came up with the idea to make family tree ornaments for Christmas this year. I have been thrilled with the results! As soon as my children saw these ornaments, they started asking questions. "Who is this lady? When was his birthday? What do you remember about her?" These simple, easy-to-make Family Tree ornaments have already added extra joy to our home. 

Try these ornaments yourself by following the instructions below: 


  • Metal canning lids (if you don't have old lids, you can purchase a box at WalMart for $3.00 or less)
  • Spray paint of your choice
  • Festive ribbon
  • Glue gun & glue
  • Photo paper or cardstock
  • Clear tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors


First, assemble your supplies. Wash and thoroughly dry lids. You will need two lids for each ornament. For my ornaments, I used Rust-Oleum spray paint in Ocean Mist and Colonial Red. Rust-Oleum products can be found at any hardware store. 


Second, adhere your lids to craft paper or a drop cloth using painter's tape. This will hold the lids in place as you apply the spray-paint. Make sure the top of the lid is facing up as shown. The rim of the lid creates a frame for your photos.



Next, spray-paint the lids. This may require more than one coat. I did two coats and would have done one more if the outside temperature had been warmer. Allow the lids to dry for about 24 hours before adding your family members' photos.


While waiting for your lids to dry, you can work on getting your photos ready. Microsoft Publisher is my go-to software for printed projects. I inserted my photos into a new file and resized them to about 3" x 3" Using the Shapes tool, I created a 2" x 2.1" circle to go around each photo (This was my guide for cutting out the images for the ornaments.). Print on photo paper or cardstock.


After printing your photos, use a ruler to measure out about 6" of festive ribbon for each ornament. You will use this ribbon to hang your ornament on your tree.


Once the lids have dried, take two lids and turn them over so the painted side is face down. Attach both ends of the ribbon with clear tape to one of the lids. The ribbon should form a loop.


Next, take the other lid and add a strip of hot glue around the middle. As quickly as you can, center this lid on the lid with the ribbon. Gently press the two lids together for about 5 seconds to allow the glue to dry. *The lids may become hot from the glue* Set the ornament aside and repeat the same process for each of the ornaments.


 After gluing the two lids together, your ornament is ready for a photo.


Using tape, hot glue, or a magnet, attach your family photos to the ornament. I used both hot glue and tape but found I liked tape better.


This next step is optional. On the back of each ornament, I added a short, typed "bio." This will help my family put names to faces as we share memories. This could be handwritten instead of typed and include any of the family member's information you would like.


One of the completed ornaments.


Helpful Tips

  • If you are short on time, skip the spray-paint. Canning lids are either silver or gold, making them blend with any Christmas decor.
  • You don't have to fill your tree with...your family tree. Start with your grandparents. Next year, add your great-grandparents and so on.
  • Need help discovering your Family Tree? Head on over to FamilySearch. This free website is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Here, you will find tons of resources and helpful people to get you started. You don't have to be a member of this church to create an account. 
  • Once the ornaments are done and hung on the tree, don't stop there. Start sharing your loved ones' stories and memories. 


If you make these ornaments, come back and let us know how it went! 


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