25 retro DIY Christmas ornament craft ideas from the 60s that are just as awesome as ever

DIY Christmas ornament crafts from the '60s

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These retro Christmas ornament craft ideas may be more than 50 years old, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less festive than you’d expect to see today! Take a look at how easy they are to do.

DIY Christmas ornament craft ideas: Retro style you can make now (1964)

From Family Circle (December 1964)

Elegant ornaments are so simple to make! These jeweled baubles — to glitter on your tree or give as gala gifts — couldn’t be more fascinating to make.

All you need are old (or new) Christmas balls, dime-store jewels, bits of paper-lace doilies, and glue. Our decorating tips will tell you how.

SUGGESTED MATERIALS: Old and new glass balls; polystyrene-foam balls; sequins-by-the-yard; tinsel; velvet ribbon; heavy gold cord; braids and trims; gold, silver, and white paper doilies; beads, fake pearls, glass jewels, and sequins (all sold in packets, in dime stores); toothpicks; gift-wrap; metallic thread (for hanging); extra-strong white glue.

Homemade decorated Christmas tree ornaments

GENERAL DIRECTIONS: If you want to copy our jeweled ornaments exactly, you’ll need to look for trimmings, jewels, and other materials like those shown. Then, with the color photographs of the ornaments before you as a guide, apply trimming just as we did.

However, you may find it more enjoyable to use some of the ideas suggested by our ornaments, improvising your own designs and decorative schemes. Your treatments will then depend on your choice of trim and your own creative approach.

Don’t be discouraged by your first attempt — it may take an ornament or two to get in the swing. And do read our HELPFUL HINTS (below) for easy ways to fashion your own elegant ornaments.

How to make old-fashioned pomander balls with oranges & cloves

HOW TO REMOVE THE FINISH FROM A BALL: To make colorless transparent balls like the tinsel-filled balls shown on page 42, fill a glass ball 1/4 to 1/3 full of aquarium gravel or any similar coarse gravel. Holding your thumb over the open top, shake the ball with a vigorous circular motion for 10 to 15 minutes — the scouring action will detach every particle of the inside mirror finish. Pour out the gravel; then wash the ball in warm running water to soften and remove the outside finish.

To achieve a tinted transparent effect, as in the pink balls shown, remove the inside mirror finish with gravel as directed, but do not wash off the outside finish. The ball will be transparent but will retain its original hue.

Old-fashioned ball Christmas ornaments with jewels

Crystal-clear and gold-tone balls show varying effects of removing finish. Decorations are doily cutouts and glass jewels.

Retro Christmas ornament crafts from 1964 (1)

See some colorful vintage Christmas lights, and how trees & towns used to shine back in the olden days

Glowing pink Christmas tree ornaments craft project idea

Doily cutouts and jewels trim glowing pink balls — old red balls with the inside mirror finish removed.

Retro Christmas ornament crafts from 1964 (6)

To make these shimmery ornaments

Gold cord and shimmery sequins-by-the-yard are wound around [styrofoam] balls; jewels add more sparkle

Retro Christmas ornament crafts from 1964 (3)

Metallic matte holiday decoration craft

Silver and gold matte ornaments look lovely with sparkling jewels, beads and doily cutouts

Retro Christmas ornament crafts from 1964 (7)

DIY milk carton candle how-to: Easy retro craft made with ice & wax

Velvety Victorian-style ornaments

Velvet ribbon and coordinated braid decorated these polystyrene foam balls; “pendants” are jeweled hat pins

Retro Christmas ornament crafts from 1964 (2)

Helpful hints for making these retro DIY Christmas ornament crafts

1. Be sure to use extra-strong (polyvinyl) white glue — the type that is generally sold in plastic squeeze bottles and tubes. It dries colorless and provides a permanent bond. Remove excess glue with a damp sponge or cloth.

2. Use toothpicks to apply glue to small stones, beads, and other trimmings that are difficult to handle. Tweezers are often useful for picking up and placing the trim.

3. For ornaments you cover with ribbon and other trim, use polystyrene-foam balls. Secure ribbon length to top of ball by pushing pin into ball. Wind ribbon around once, cut, and pin end to ball. Repeat process, using the same color ribbon and sectioning ball in half again.

Continue sectioning spaces equally with ribbon or trim of varying colors and widths, layering some colors and widths over others so that ball is entirely covered. Trim with jewels and gold doily sections, glued on.

Glue loop of gift wrap cord to top for hanging; glue a large jewel over point where loop is attached. (Optional: Insert a decorative hatpin “pendant” in the bottom of the ball.)


Sparkly shiny Christmas tree ornaments from the 1960s

4. To cover ornaments with sequins-by-the-yard or gold cord, use small-to-medium-size polystyrene-foam balls. (A medium-size ball requires about 5 yards of sequins, or about 3 yards of heavyweight cord.)

Secure end of sequins or cord to top of ball by pushing pin into ball. Apply glue to top section of ball and begin wrapping sequins or cord around in a spiral. Apply more glue as each section is covered.

If necessary, hold trim in place with pins until glue has dried. (Optional: Glue on jewels for extra sparkle.) Glue on a loop of gift wrap cord for hanging.

5. To use paper doilies decoratively, cut out small segments or motifs from gold, silver, or white doilies and glue them to the ornament to make an attractive design. They can also be used as settings for jewels, as in the matte ornaments. Or cover the entire face of the ball with doily segments fitted together in an all-over pattern, as in our blue and gold balls.

6. You can hang glass ornaments with the metal cap that is provided for this purpose. Paint it with silver or gold model-airplane paint and tie a length of metallic thread or gift-wrap cord through the loop.

For a jeweled top, as on our tinsel-filled ornaments and transparent balls, remove the cap and glue gems or pearls around the stem of the ball. Across the top, glue on a large glass jewel (the kind that has holes for sewing) through which a loop of metallic thread is knotted.

ALSO SEE: Sparking sequined crafts: Beaded fruit & jeweled Christmas ornaments from the 60s & 70s

Elegantly embossed golden ornaments you can make

Bits of lacy gold doilies give these balls an elegant embossed look. The jewel trim repeats the gold and blue of the balls.

Retro Christmas ornament crafts from 1964 (5)

Glittery tinsel-filled clear ball ornaments

Paint is removed from old scratched [glass Christmas ornament] balls and glittery tinsel inserted. Large jewels finish the ball tops.

Retro Christmas ornament crafts from 1964 (4)

Hot air balloon Christmas ornaments you can make (from 1967)

By Dorothy Lambert Brightbill – American Home (November 1967)

Start your holiday decorating now by making our dazzling, jewel-like Christmas balloons. They’ll lift tree trimming to new heights — send spirits soaring when hung from the evergreen bough, chandelier, mantelpiece, or in a window (actually, just about anywhere you choose to deck the halls).

They can be made in the twinkling of an eye, and for an extremely low price. Each one is a different shape and they range in size from five to seven inches. Our kit includes all the necessary ingredients for making the three you see here: bright silken balls, mesh coverings, gold cords, pearly beads, ribbon, gold edging, and complete instructions.

Red-and-white-and-blue balloon is trimmed with pearl garlands, red band accented with gold. Pink balloon is delicately draped with pearl garlands. Green balloon is accented with ribbons, gold cord, braid.

Dazzling, jewel-like vintage Christmas balloon craft (1967)

Styrofoam balls can be turned into very fancy Christmas ornaments

By Reba and Bonnie Churchill – The Independent (Long Beach, California) December 11, 1969

Ever decorate a snowball — the facsimile of the frosty variety? The artificial balls, ranging from small to jumbo size, can be jangled from a tree, dangled from a mobile, or angled in a centerpiece.

Such jewel baubles are made of styrofoam balls, which are available at craft, hobby, art or dime stores. They are glamorized with velvet, satin, jewels and ribbon.

Fifth Avenue ornaments at a Five n Ten price (1969-1970)

Enchanting Christmas balls in a splendid array are joyful signs of the holiday season.

The beginner will find the ribbon ornamentation the easiest. Simply cut eight strips that will extend from the bottom to the top of the ball. Place them an equal distance apart and pin in position. Insert an “eye pin” into the top-center as a hook for hanging, and conceal with a bow.

How to make an edible Christmas tree with star-shaped cookies (1962)

For those who desire added sparkle, alternate the colors of the streamers, and glue, or pin, sequins and beads to outline each strip. As you become more professional, you can substitute glimmery metallic braid for ribbon, and pin the sequins in star or flower shapes, between the strips.

Vintage Christmas ornament crafts from 1964

Another shimmer technique is covering the ball with fabric. Satin or velvet in such jewel tones as ruby, aquamarine, topaz or jade make an elegant camouflage.

Cut a circle of material that covers three-fourths of the styrofoam when it’s cupped around the ball. Shape circle to resemble a flower with six large petals. Turn material face down, place ball in center, and fold petals around styrofoam. Pin in position. Now, outline petal edges with braid or sequins, and fill in sections not covered in fabric with jewels.

Follow same pin-on method as with the ribbon. Then, put your sparkle balls to work to twirl out their own spin on holiday magic.

Popcorn treasure ball Christmas ornaments (1963)

Look at all these festive holiday surprises you can create for your family!

Karo Popcorn Mixture

Prepare 5 quarts of popcorn [20 cups of popped popcorn]. In a 3-quart saucepan, mix 3/4 cup Karo Red Label Syrup, 1/4 cup margarine, 2 tablespoons water, 1 pound confectioners sugar, and 1 cup of cut-up marshmallows.

Stir over low heat until mixture just boils. Pour over popcorn in large pan, toss to coat.

SEE MORE: Old-fashioned popcorn balls: 16 delicious classic recipes, plus expert popping tips

To make jeweled popcorn treasure balls

Turn 1-qt. bowl upside down, wrap double thickness of foil around the outside.

Dampen hands, press enough Karo popcorn mixture over foil on bowl to cover. Lift popcorn-covered foil off bowl. Repeat to make second half of ball. Let both ball halves harden.

Remove foil from each half and fill with toys, favors, small popcorn balls made from the remaining mixture rolled in colored sugar. Use decorative ribbon to tie halves together. Trim with sequins, fake jewels.

Popcorn treasure ball Christmas ornaments (1963)

Santa Christmas ornament idea: Jingle bells

Santa is the key here — you wind him up to turn on the tune, which appropriately is “Jingle Bells.”

Pictured below, he stands in a circle of brass bells atop a brocade and velvet ribbon-covered ball. A “gilded” three-legged stand permits the ball to be used as a decorative table ornament. It is 6-1/2 inches tall. Without stand, the ball can hang on your Christmas tree.

Decorative crafty Christmas tree ornament with Santa

More vintage Christmas crafts & creative decor!

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. My family and I still have all the ones I made as a kid in the 70’s. There must be over 20 of them. I would work all year on 2 or three, putting beads on pins, gluing ribbon…some of them even have real Swarovski crystals.

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