9 DIY Memorial Christmas Ornament Ideas for Crafty People


It can be difficult to navigate the first holiday season after a loved one has passed away. Really, all holidays going forward will be altered by their absence. But just because the holidays as you know them are changing, it doesn’t mean they have to lose all sense of joy. 

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You just have to figure out how to include your late family members in your holiday traditions in a new way. 

DIY memorial Christmas ornaments are great objects you can make in loving memory of a deceased loved one. Use these ornaments each year while you decorate your Christmas tree. It’s a great way of honoring and remembering loved ones at Christmas. Here are some various types of DIY memorial Christmas ornaments you might want to consider.  

Tip: If you're looking for another way to honor your loved one who passed away, consider creating an online memorial page for them. Cake's online memorial pages are simple, streamlined, and easy to use, and they allow you to raise funds in your loved one's honor.

Ideas for DIY Memorial Ornaments With Pictures

Photos can be a great element to include in a DIY memorial ornament. They preserve an image of your loved one that you can see during every holiday season. Here are some ornaments that include imagery of the deceased (or at least things that meant something to them). 

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1. Floating photo ornament

When making DIY ornaments, one tool you’ll find yourself using a lot is the clear glass or plastic ornaments with removable tops. These spherical ornaments can have objects inserted into them for a custom handmade memento.

One popular DIY craft is a floating picture ornament. For this, you’ll need a globe-shaped ornament with a removable top, a photo of your late loved one, and acetate film paper. You will also need to have some standard crafting supplies like glue, scissors, tweezers, and a pencil handy for this one. 

Cut a piece of acetate in a circular shape that will fully fill the ornament. Cut the photo into a smaller circle, and glue it into the middle of the acetate circle, so there is acetate visible all around the edges. Loosely roll the acetate circle into a cylinder and slide into the top of the ornament. 

Using tweezers, unfurl the circle and make it so that the sides of the acetate are braced upright inside of the spherical ornament. The acetate shouldn’t be visible through the sides of the ornament, so it will look like the photo is suspended in midair. You can also add glitter, faux snow, or Christmas garland for extra holiday flair.  

2. Wood slice ornament with photo

When you think of iconic objects associated with Christmas, your mind might immediately go to Christmas trees. Many people are inspired by trees when it comes to their decor, and may gravitate towards more rustic holiday decor. If this is your aesthetic, a wood slice photo ornament is a perfect craft.

You can order little slices of wood from various retailers and craft stores. Cut a photo of your deceased loved one down to size, so that only the rough edge of the wood is visible. It will almost look like a rustic photo frame. 

You can do a variety of things for the other side of the ornament. If you have nice penmanship, you can write the name of your loved one and the dates they were alive. If you’re a little craftier and don’t mind investing in the equipment, you could laser etch a memorial quote on the back. Or, you could just mount a different photo on the other side of the wood slice.

Once both sides are complete, you can use a polyurethane spray to preserve the photo. This also adds a nice gloss to the ornament. Drill a hole into the top of the ornament, and weave some festive ribbon through it. You can use that ribbon loop to suspend the ornament from a tree. This homespun ornament adds a lovely personal touch to the holidays.  

3. Photo block ornament

What’s better than a memorial ornament with a photo of your loved one? A memorial ornament with several pictures of your deceased loved one.

Get a wooden block in the shape of a cube. It will have six sides, which means you can put six different photos on the sides. You can make this a family project — have different family members choose their favorite photos of your departed loved one. Then feature these photos on each side.

Further customize it by painting the block before attaching the photos. They can be secured with Mod Podge or spray adhesive. Then, spray the block with polyurethane to protect the photos and add some shine.

Finish this ornament by placing a screw-in hook on the corner. This will enable you to attach the block to the tree. It can also be used on a table or mantle if it’s too heavy for the tree.  

4. Black and white photo ornament

Not super crafty? You can always purchase a photo frame ornament. These ornaments come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and finishes. They may have wooden frames or clean metallic lines. Depending on the size of the frames and where you order them from, you may be able to get them engraved as well.

You could have the name of your loved one and the dates they lived engraved on one side. Then, on the other side, have a memorial quote in their honor inscribed. When the ornament arrives, you can slip a photo into the frame. Is this technically DIY? Probably not. But if you insert your own photo, it’s close enough.   

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Ideas for DIY Memorial Ornaments Without Pictures

While photo-based memorials are sweet, they may not always be the right choice. It may be painful to see the same photo frozen in time year after year. It reminds you that your loved one will never get any older. These DIY memorial ornaments without pictures have a timeless quality to them.

5. Fabric ornaments

When you think of your late loved ones, you might remember a piece of clothing they really loved. Your brother may have worn his favorite band shirt to pieces, or maybe your mom just couldn’t get rid of her favorite cozy nightgown.

You can use these to make a few different types of ornaments that incorporate fabric.

6. Fabric-filled ornament

You can use glass or plastic globe-shaped ornaments that unscrew at the top which allow you to put things inside of the ornament before reattaching the top.

You can fill up ornaments with scraps of fabric that you associate with your deceased loved one. If you made a memorial quilt out of your loved one’s clothing, you can use any remaining scraps to craft fabric-filled ornaments for your loved ones.

That way everyone in the family can hang a memorial ornament on their own trees in the future. It’s also a great way to memorialize a loved one in a way that minimizes waste.

7. Fabric-wrapped ornament

Filling traditional globe-shaped ornaments can be a fussy process. Instead, you can wrap them in fabric. Cut a round piece of fabric that will wrap perfectly around the ornament. You can practice by using muslin or another inexpensive fabric. This will keep you from wasting the special fabric that belonged to your loved one. 

Once you’ve figured out the right size, you can use that muslin piece as a template. Then, carefully coat the ornament in a craft adhesive. You can apply Mod Podge with a foam brush, or use spray adhesive. Use that to affix the fabric to the spherical ornament. It’s a lovely and very personal way to honor a deceased family member.

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8. Stitched fabric ornament

Are you fond of sewing or knitting? If so, you can put together a sweet handmade ornament out of special fabric.

Take an item like your dad’s favorite flannel shirt. Cut two pieces of fabric in the same size and shape. One popular silhouette is a heart. Use thread or yarn to stitch most of the heart together, starting at the bottom. Once it’s largely complete, stuff it with something like cotton batting.

This will puff the shape up into a little pillow. Continue stitching it until it’s all closed up. You can even hug this soft, cuddly ornament before placing it on the tree. It’s a sweet memento.  

9.  Hand-painted ornament

Sometimes, a memorial ornament can be a little more subtle. Instead of using a photo of your loved one or an article of their clothing, you can bring your own artistic interpretation to an ornament.

One great thing to do in honor of a loved one is to paint an ornament in their memory. You can paint objects that they might have had a close personal connection to like a guitar or a skateboard. Or you could do a more abstract ornament using your late loved one’s favorite colors. Either way, it makes a lovely tribute.  

Make Memorial Ornaments in Tribute to Loved Ones Who Have Passed Away

If you’re celebrating your first Christmas without mom or another loved one, it can feel overwhelming. You may not know how you’ll handle your normal holiday traditions without your loved one there.

But you can still include lost loved ones in your holiday celebrations. DIY memorial ornaments can help you pay tribute to an important person in your life. Memorial ornaments help remind you that your loved ones continue to celebrate with you as long as you keep them in your heart. 

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