Every once in a while I get into a real crafty mood. Usually it’s when making a Halloween costume, but this year it’s for Christmas. I keep about 75% of my Christmas decor from year to year, and spend the remaining 25% buying a new item for my mantle or maybe a new ornament or two. I didn’t have that much luck finding cute Christmas ornaments this year to add to the tree (that weren’t too similar to what I already had, at least), so I decided I’d DIY my own using these clear ornament bulbs. They were fun and easy to make and filled up a few empty spots on our tree.
Feeling crafty and want to get into the holiday spirit? Here are some tips for decorating clear ornaments, ideas on what to fill them with, and a list of my go-to places to find them.
12 Filler Ideas for Clear Ornaments
What’s prettier than crisp, glittery snow? You have a few options for filler that looks like snow. One option is to use foam pebbles (this is what I used in the photo above) — just know that they are very static-y and will get all over the place. An easier option may be to use Styrofoam snow that’s not in pebble form, as you can just scoop this and sprinkle it in (it also looks more realistic). Other options (which I haven’t tested personally) include glitter snow or snow powder. I love these because the stark white filling looks great against the backdrop of a deep green tree.
This one is so simple. Take your favorite fabric or paper ribbon and cut into strips. In the photo above I cut my ribbon into 3-inch strips and then lightly folded them and slid them into the ornament. Then I gave it a few shakes for the fabric to settle. You could cut thinner and shorter strips for another take on this look.
Beads sound boring as a filler at first, but there are so many options out there. I suggest staying away from the typical beads (or the kid-style beads, as they look a little tacky on a Christmas tree, IMO), and instead looking for faceted beads, glass beads, or gemstone beads,
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. These tiny bells are adorable and match the silver/metallic decor that I have small “pops” of on my tree. I also love that you can shake the ornament and hear the bells. Just keep this one up high on the tree if you have pets/kids — once they hear the sound, it will become their new favorite toy.
Mini Sisal or Bottle Brush Trees
So technically these mini sisal trees were a little too big to fit, so I ended up ripping off the bottom of the tree to make them fit. But they were so cute, I had to!
Paper Ribbons of Your Favorite Memento
My friend Marissa gifted me an ornament the year after we got married that was so special to me. She took our wedding invitation, cut it into strips, curled the paper into ribbons, and then put them inside a clear ornament. Other ideas include a holiday photo/card, baby announcement, or sheet music of your favorite song.
Crinkle paper is another easy and affordable way to fill a clear ornament. Use pre-bought or crinkle your own (if you’re feeling up for it).
Pearls are reminiscent of snow, so it’s no surprise you’ll find pearls as a popular filler at craft stores.
Confetti is an affordable way to fill lots of clear ornaments. Fun options include snowflake confetti, confetti with foil details, and tissue paper confetti. You can even make your own confetti with scissors, a hole puncher, or a Cricut.
Faux Greenery & Berries
Clip small pieces of a sprig/pick of your favorite faux greenery, including berries, poinsettias, pine needles, eucalyptus, and more.
If your Christmas decor style is more artsy, eclectic, or fun, then pom poms are right up your alley. I especially like the look of the pom poms that have hints of tinsel in them.
Buttons are another simple ornament filler idea. Much like beads, there are so many varieties, colors, and styles that you can cater them to your liking to match your tree and decor (there are even sets of Christmas-themed buttons).
Tips for Filling Clear Ornaments
It sounds idiot-proof, but you’d be surprised at all the things you can mess up when it comes to DIYing clear ornaments.
Buy the Right Size & Check the Opening Diameter
Online listings can be super misleading – I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen buy mini ornaments (for small trees) because of the price tag only to end up realizing they meant to buy regular sized ones. So check out the sizing of the ornaments (standard sizes are 3-4 inches, for reference). Then, check the diameter of the opening on the bulb. This is important! Lots of buttons, rhinestones, and other ornament filler will be a few millimeters too large for some of the ornament openings. Alternatively, you can buy clear ornaments that open vertically so you can fit larger items inside (I personally don’t love the look of these, but to each their own).
It’s also important to check the sizing of the filler as well. I found that most items were just a few millimeters too large for the standard openings. In my experience, anything 12mm (or around 1/2 inch) or less will easily fit into the standard clear ornaments. If the filler is malleable and won’t be ruined with a little twisting, you can probably shove it in there, though.
Decide If You Want Glass or Plastic
I opted for plastic because they were more affordable and with two cats and a 10-month old, I didn’t think glass was such a great idea. Sometimes the packaging doesn’t make it clear which one it is at first glance, so be sure to read the fine print.
Buy More Filler Than You Think You’ll Need
Maybe I’m just terrible at eyeballing quantity (I never do win those “guess how many candies are in the jar” games, after all), but I ended up not buying enough packs of some of the filler. When in doubt, buy 2 strands of those gorgeous beads or 3 bags of the snowflake buttons. I found that I could get 2+ ounces in each ornament (obviously this varies greatly on the size of the filler).
Where to Buy Clear Ornaments & Filler
You can find fillable clear ornaments at almost any craft store or large retailer that carries Christmas decor. Personally, I’ve found the best selection at Target, Michaels, Walmart, Amazon, Hobby Lobby, or any craft store. They typically come in packs of 8.
You’ll typically find ornament filler at the same places above. I was disappointed at how little Target had, so I stuck to local craft stores and even dollar stores. I found success looking in the Christmas aisles (obviously!), as well as the beading, crafting, and scrapbooking sections. I also had a ton of look at local dollar stores, which carry a lot of random tchotchkes. You may have to do some digging, but I love a good dollar store find!
Specifically, I found gorgeous ribbons in Target’s Wondershop line, gorgeous beads at Michaels, fun random holiday items at Hobby Lobby (like mini flocked trees or bells), and sequins and glitter on Amazon. Etsy has a TON of cute cabochons – just order a while ahead of time because a lot of them are custom made or are shipped from overseas and take a while to get delivered. A few favorite shops are HappyKawaiiSupplies, PinkyPonyCrafts, decodenUKsupplies, and MRFANGCrafts. Oriental Trading has a whole section on their site devoted to ornament filler, which I sadly only saw AFTER I made the ornaments.