These Handprint Ornaments are Priceless — And Made By a Preschooler

DIY hand print ornament
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

If you have children, you know that their grandparents go gaga over anything the little cherubs have made by hand. As the mother of a toddler in daycare, I have numerous art projects in my house that I inevitably pass along to my parents or my in-laws, who proudly hang them from their fridges or on their walls.

I have absolutely no artistic talent (I’m a writer, not an artist), so when I set out to make Christmas ornaments with my daughter Rose, I knew the crafts would have to be as easy as possible.

Most Christmas trees are adorned with dozens of baubles, so that’s where I started. Your local craft store (or even the dollar store) sells plain plastic ornament balls in a variety of shapes and sizes, from traditional round ones to more elegant teardrop-shaped ones. Using these plain ornaments and some paint, you can make personalized ornaments for your family (or your own tree) with minimal fuss.

How to Make Handprint Ornaments

Prepare to Craft

The first step to any crafting project with a toddler is to protect their clothes. You might choose to go the no-clothes-just-diaper route, but I picked up a plastic art smock from my local craft store to put on over Rose’s outfit.

Next, you’ll need to grab some paint. We already had some Crayola tempera paint in our house from the time I tried (unsuccessfully) to get Rose’s footprints when she was a baby. We only had primary paint colors, so I had to take the extra step of mixing some together to make our chosen color.

I asked Rose what color paint she wanted to use, and she chose purple (which was a surprise as her usual answer to anything color-related is “pink”). I mixed together some red and blue paint and lightened it with white. The finished color wasn’t the prettiest purple, but, given my lack of art skills, was pretty decent. Rose had no complaints, so we plowed on.

Get Paint on Your Hands

I poured the purple paint into an old plastic container and made sure it coated the bottom. We placed Rose’s hand in the bottom of the container and moved it around to ensure we covered her entire palm.

At this point, I would recommend having your child make a handprint on a piece of paper to get rid of some of the excess paint. (I didn’t do this on our first attempt, and the resulting handprint on the ornament looked more like a blob than a hand.) Once you get that excess paint off, it’s time to make a handprint on the ornament itself.

Grab That Ornament

Rose is only 2½, so I had to help her position her hand on the ornament and smoosh it down well to make sure we got the entire hand. We had to make a few attempts here, but luckily we were able to wash off any mistakes with water. Altogether we made three ornaments — some were better than others, but all were unmistakably handprints.

I specifically chose clear plastic ornaments with removable tops so I could stuff some tinsel inside. This added some sparkle and made the ornaments prettier. You could also stuff them with fake snow sprinkled with glitter — the goal is to make the ornaments look less plain.

Rather than using plain wire to hang the ornaments, I used sparkly pipe cleaners in a variety of colors. You could also use ribbon if you have some already.

The final touch was to write Rose’s name and the year on the bottom of the ornaments in permanent marker; that way, our gift recipients can look back in years to come and remember how tiny her hands were when she was a toddler.

Catherine Hiles is no artist, though she does enjoy adult coloring books for stress relief. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, cooking, reading and running.

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