Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 9: Photo Cubes

Every year I add a family photo to our tree, and I've been adding a special photo ornament of our little guy ever since he was born. Someday I'd like to have a tree covered in photos, but I don't want to fill it up right away, so I've been adding them one at a time. Unless I find a cute frame that I love, I'll probably just do another photo bulb for our family picture again. For Abe's picture I picked up a square plastic bulb so I could show off a few favorites.

You'll need: 

square plastic bulb
4 photos
chopsticks (or similar tool for unrolling and pushing photos into place)
tweezers (just in case)
glitter and glue (optional)

1. Start by tracing the shape of your ornament on a piece of paper. Cut out square to use as a template, and measure the size of the square to figure out how big you'll need to print your photos.

2. My cube was 2 inches wide so I knew I wanted to print my photos about that size. I picked some favorites (one from each season) and added a white border using Pixlr-o-matic. Then I sized them down by using the cropping tool in Photoshop. To get photos to print a specific size, I cropped them to 2 x 2 inches at 300 dpi. Then I created a new document that was 4 x 6 inches (also 300 dpi) and dropped them into it to create a 4x6 photo from 6 different pictures (see first photo). In the end I had to tweak them a bit more, shrinking them down and adding extra white space on the edges. The actual photos are just over 1½ inches wide, the rest was just white - and a lot of that white border got trimmed off as I found that the photos fit best when I trimmed them to 1 inches instead of 2.

3. Once your photos are cut, carefully wrap them around a pencil and push them (one at a time) into the cube. 

4. Use a chopstick to unroll the pictures and gently push them to the sides. I liked the look of the photos when they slightly bowed inwards, so I didn't push them too hard against the glass, just gently nudged them in place. Once all four photos are in they should hold each other up. (Oh and if your photos don't fit, or you change your mind about one, now is the time to get out the tweezers to pull them out. It's not easy, so do your best to measure and cut your photos the right size from the start!)

These next steps are optional...

5. To hide the clear bottom of the bulb and the edges of the photos, I poured a small amount of glitter inside (you could also do this before inserting the photos), and kept tilting my bulb upside down until each photo had a small "snowdrift" in front of it. If the glitter sticks to the sides of the glass, try tapping on the bulb to remove it.

6. Then I added a layer of "snow" on top with a thick coat of Mod Podge, and finished it off by writing the year on the bottom with a permanent marker.

I love how it turned out! Might have to make more for Abe's grandparents. If I find some extra time, I might jot down some of his milestones and funny quotes from this year and tuck them inside. Maybe I'll also add some memories (our trip to Iowa, my sister's wedding, expecting baby #2...) to add to our family photo bulb.

Don't have kids? This would also be a fun way to display Instagram pics on your tree! Looking for other tree decorations that won't break the bank? Check out our other DIY decorations right here.


  1. where did you find the square ornaments? I've only ever seen round ones, but maybe I didn't look hard enough!

    1. Either Michael's or Joann Fabrics. I can't remember which one! This was the first year I saw them.

  2. Great idea, very cute!!!
    thanks to share :)

  3. I just love your site my gbabies and I made the bracelet for their mom for christmas and now we are going to do this bulb this weekend.. Keep up the wonderful sharing...!!!

    1. Where did you find the Square light bulb?? I looked everywhere but I couldn't find it!! I looked in Michael's and Joann Fabrics too but I couldn't find it!! this is so cute and I love and want to make it!!! and there are only 8 days to christmas please help me!!!

  4. What did you use as your "snow" on the top?

    1. I used "diamond dust" glitter. If you click on the link that says "glitter" in step 5 it will lead you to the exact product I used on Amazon. I'm sure you could find it at your local craft store though!

  5. I love this! I decided this year that I would start making photo ornaments for my sisters Christmas tree of her and her kids. Thinking I might do this for her next year (I've already finished this years ornaments)
    Thanks for the great idea!!
    Ricki @ The Questionable Homesteader

  6. Guys please help me know where to get the square plastic bulb!! I really want to make this for my family this christmas!! Please Help!!!