“I've never understood these homemade ornaments. They don’t look good, and I’m sure they take a lot of time to make. No offense.”
Meet our friend Crista.
She’s not wrong. When Dave first saw this particular ornament, his only question was: “Does it even have a mouth?” When I informed him that, yes, in fact, it does have a mouth, and it’s made of coal, obviously, his response was: “It looks like bullet holes. Like some kids shot his teeth out with a BB gun.” Perfect.
I took my first stab at homemade ornaments with one-year-old Mac back in 2018, since projects like this are on the list of bullshit you’re expected to do once you become a parent. After spending hours scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration, I settled on two slam-dunks (straight-forward and attractive) and gathered supplies. Figured it was best to start with a sure winner: The Crayon Melt Glass Ornament.
Supplies: Crayons, Glass Ball Ornament, Hair Dryer, Cheese Grater
Step 1: Remove the metal tops from the glass balls
Step 2: Grate an assortment of crayons
Step 3: Place shavings into glass ball
Step 4: Spin the ball and heat with a hairdryer
I started by having Mac take the metal tops off of ornaments. Whoops. Nevermind. They’re made of glass. That was silly! We shifted focus to the crayons instead.
I laid the crayons out on a towel so that we could survey our color options. Within seconds, Mac pulled the towel off the table and sent crayons flying everywhere. Foiled. The dog lumbered down from his perch on the couch, picked up flamingo pink with his teeth, and then loafed away to hide his new toy. Perfect! We’ve just added another step to our process!
Step 1b: Simultaneously stick your hand into a dog mouth and wrestle out a half eaten crayon while making sure your child doesn’t throw the tray of (now unguarded) glass ornaments on to the floor just to watch them smash open.
You know what, maybe Mac should just watch me make the glass ornaments. Yeah, that’s what we’ll do. I’ll make this one. He’ll watch. It’ll be great.
I worked quickly, peeling the paper wrapping from the crayons to ready them for grating. Why is it so hard to remove the damn paper?! Twenty minutes and ten disrobed and shredded crayons later, I replayed the instruction video and studied the next steps.
Use one hand to spin the glass ball (that is now filled with crayon chunks) while the other operates the hair dryer. Make sure your hairdryer is on the highest possible setting.
Deeply curious about the magical creation that was happening in front of his eyes, Mac reached for the glass ball. And that’s how this particular project ended. That’s right. He burnt his baby fingers on a 300 degree glass orb. Well, forget that ornament! Good thing I had a second option prepared that wasn’t nearly as sharp or hot.
The Salt Dough Handprint Ornament. Why didn’t we start here?! Mac loves the kitchen. Clearly, this one would be a massive success. Mac likes to pour and stir. We’ve practiced this. Each night he pours some food into the dog bowl, and yes, his aim could use some work, but he gets the idea. As for stirring, his technique looks great when he’s got a big empty bowl and a wooden spoon. What’s the harm in adding some flour into the equation? Turns out that there’s no harm, just flour. Everywhere.
You know what, I’ll mix the dough. It’ll be better this way. Yeah, it’ll be great.
Now that Mac’s hands were free (since his kitchen tools had been taken away), he shifted his focus to destroying everything within arms reach. Salt? Dump it on the floor. Scissors? Run away with the pointy part facing his eyeballs. Paint? Drink it. Ok, it’s going to be ok. Breathe, Jill. Just breathe. We’re having FUN!
I kept him alive just long enough to finish the dough. Finally, a reprieve. We’d reached the part of the craft that would surely be within his skill set. He could definitely handle hand printing.
He could not handle handprinting. Handprinting was a nightmare. I showed him how to do it. He just wanted to poke the dough. Figured I’d help out by guiding his open hand down onto the dough; his thumb got stuck on the way up and tore a huge hole. DEEP BREATHES, JILL. YOU CAN DO THIS!! It was clearly time to shift gears, and luckily I had a backup plan. I dragged the big stool over to the baking cabinet, dug around the top shelf, located the cookie cutters, and descended triumphantly! By the time I got down, Mac was entertaining himself by eating the dough. According to the instructions, we should now call poison control.
We just need to finish! I’ll cut the ornaments myself. Mac can help me pick out the shapes.
Five minutes later, snowmen, stockings, angels, and candy canes went into the oven. When I pulled them out after the timer dinged, they were littered with air bubbles. Instead of being flat, they were awkwardly three dimensional.
Kill me. Kill me now. There is literally nothing fun about this. I hate crafts.
I didn’t put much thought into what a snowman's stupid mouth was supposed to look like when it was finally time to paint. Frosty got coal nuggets instead of a stick.
And that’s how we got here...
“Yeah, Crista, they do take a lot of time to make. But wouldn’t the tree look boring and characterless if everything on it was just a pretty glass ball?”
“Maybe. But man, that thing is really ugly”