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The 12 Days of Budget Christmas Shopping-Day Four

All Photos Copyright Aimee Plesa

This is the first installment of a 3 part series on handmade Christmas ornaments. You can read about making salt dough and cinnamon dough HERE and ornaments from recycled items HERE.

I must admit, I am a sucker for a pretty Christmas ornament. The more it sparkles, the more I like it. My favorites are spun glass that are topped with crystalline glitter. Unfortunately, I have 4 children and 2 cats-keeping my pretty ornament collection intact is nearly impossible.

Creating a beautiful tree doesn't have to be expensive-the hardest part is avoiding the temptation of the ornaments at the grocery and big box retailers. With a little imagination, some simple supplies and a couple days of clutter, you can create a beautifully decorated tree on a budget.

Today's article is one of a three part feature on handmade ornaments using every day objects and simple recipes featuring grocery store ingredients. Making a new ornament each year to decorate your tree with can quickly become a cherished family tradition.

RECYCLED LIGHT BULB CRITTERS-who could have ever thought a piece of trash could become a treasured holiday keepsake? If you have enough burned out bulbs, you could literally decorate your tree with nothing but these cute critters. To date, I have created penguins, snowmen, the Grinch, Elmo, Pikachu,cats, angels, reindeer and mice. If you run out of inspiration, a quick search of " light bulb ornaments" will give you plenty more. To make these adorable decorations, you will need:

  • light bulbs
  • craft paint
  • sealer
  • paint brushes
  • fabric and ribbon scraps
  • glue
  • thread
  • cotton balls
  • assorted craft supplies-sequins, glitter, beads, buttons, pipe cleaners, wire, etc

The first step is crucial-you need to wash, rinse and dry your bulbs thoroughly. If your bulbs are not completely clean, the paint will "wrinkle". I recommend washing and drying them, then wiping them down with rubbing alcohol and letting them air day. The alcohol will remove any residue on the glass. Once you have decided what animal you are making, use the appropriately colored paint for the base coat (I recommend 2 coats, allowing the first to dry thoroughly before applying the 2nd).After the base coat is thoroughly dry, spray with sealer and allow to dry completely. This will help protect your base coat from any accidental nicks or scratches.

Next, paint on any detail work using acrylic paints (my favorite are Delta Ceramcoats). Using the wrong end of your paintbrush and dipping it into your paint is a great way to create dots for eyes. You can also use this technique to make carrot noses for snowmen by dragging/dotting the paint in a wobbly downward manner. When all of your detail work is done, spray lightly with sealer again and allow to dry. After your critter has dried, the fun really begins! Using your gathered craft supplies, fashion hats and scarves out of fabric and ribbon. Glitter and seed beads add a special sparkle. Unrolled cotton balls and pipe cleaners become fur trim on hats and tails. Thread, ribbon or wire become hangers (or whiskers).

If cute critters aren't your thing, you can also turn old light bulbs into mini works of crafty art. Simply spray paint a clean bulb with spray paint and seal. Once dry, your bulb can be trimmed with lace, fabric, feathers, beads, buttons, glitter, wire, decoupage-the sky is the limit!

If you enjoyed this article, please visit the Cincinnati Budget Grocery Examiner's Directory for more money saving tips.

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