the papercraft lab

Super Easy Christmas Craft: Flat Paper Photo Ornament


Christmas 2010 was the first year I decided to include a little handmade surprise in our holiday cards and I was ridiculously excited about the project.

Since it had to fit inside a card, it needed to be flat, so I decided on a round shape with a little cap to look like the top of an ornament ball.  I had to make at least 45 for my Christmas card list so I wanted to keep it very simple.  (As you'll see, I managed to complicate it anyway!)

I started in early December, which was plenty of time for a novice crafter like I was at that point. I used a family photo taken by the wonderful Kristi Lloyd around my daughter's first birthday.

This was pretty easy to make, and would have been even easier (and neater!) if I had used my Silhouette machine to cut out the ornament circles. Since my machine was brand new, I hadn't realized how perfect it was for repetitive jobs like this.

I also ended up mailing them out before realizing I hadn't photographed this project, so I was left with the one wonky one I saved for myself - you can see that the top is crooked, the circles don't quite match up, etc. I promise that the others had fewer imperfections :)

I'm sharing my process, which was WAY more complex than it needed to be - something I've learned over time and hundreds of craft projects since!

  1. Using the Martha Stewart Circle Cutter tool, I cut two 3.5 inch diameter circles for each ornament - one in holiday themed patterned paper and one in plain cardstock for the backing.
  2. I printed the photos wallet-sized on 8.5 x 11" photo paper through Windows Photo Viewer and cut each one to about 2" square with a punch. 
  3. I used my Fiskars squeeze corner rounder punch to round the edges of each photo. This takes a while when you have 45+ photos!
  4. I stuck the patterned paper circles to the cardstock circles using Mod Podge Decoupage Glue. Double-sided tape would have worked also and probably would have saved some drying time.
  5. I used double-sided tape to adhere the photo to the patterned paper side of the ornament (once the glue was dry on the ornaments, about a day later just to be sure!)
  6. I used the Silhouette machine's software to design the ornament top - it's a rectangle welded to a circle, with another circle inside.  I set up the machine to cut out all 45 of these on one sheet of cardstock, while I sat back and had a diet Coke.
  7. I covered both sides of each ornament top with some matte Mod Podge decoupage glue, to strengthen them. In retrospect, I'm not sure this was really necessary since the cardstock I used was pretty sturdy.
  8. I stapled the ornament top to the ornament with a colored staple.  They were surprisingly hard to find, but I eventually tracked them down at Michael's.
  9. Using embroidery floss, I tied a small loop to each one so the recipients could attach an ornament hook.


  • Use a Xyron machine, or just strong double-stick tape to adhere everything
  • Use an electronic die-cutting system if you've got one to cut circles quickly and more accurately
  • Skip using Mod Podge to "strengthen" cardstock on simple projects like these.  Plain heavy cardstock should be fine, or use a clear page reinforcement if it's the right side.
  • Use Photoshop Elements to place the photos in the *exact* size needed on the page, then you only need simple cutting and corner rounding.
  • Write your last name and year on the back so you and others can remember your cute project long into the future. (Assuming they don't immediately recycle it...)
  • Make at least one extra to keep for yourself!
  • Don't sweat the small mistakes - people will be charmed by the fact that you made them something.  Unless they're super-critical and mean.  In which case, they don't deserve one anyway!
  • When making a bunch of the same design, do it assembly-line style after making the first proof-of-concept: cut all circles, glue all, staple all, etc.

Now that I've got more experience with paper crafts, I think this project would only take a few hours with the help of my Silhouette Cameo machine. I'd also design it so the patterned paper "framed" the photo and would have inserted the ornament top between the two sheets of paper. I'd also print a greeting on the back of the ornaments using the very cool Silhouette Print and Cut feature - oh the possibilities :)

See related posts at The Papercraft Lab