For some families, decorating the tree is a walk down memory lane.

There are ornaments brought home from travels, made by little hands at school and purchased to commemorate occasions or accomplishments (baby’s first Christmas or a new house, perhaps). Maybe there’s a shark or three because sharks are a child’s favorite animal, or a yellow Lab remembering a beloved pet.

This year, with so many of us staying home, there might not be a new ornament from a fun family trip. And, with so many kids learning at home, no new school-made ornaments. So, to represent 2020 in years to come on your Christmas tree, you might want to make your own.

Deer Park artist Megan Perkins, who’s known for her paintings of Spokane scenes, has been creating ornaments – also featuring Spokane scenes – for a couple years. They’re available at spots including Pottery Place Plus and Spokane Art School.

“They’ve been selling like hotcakes this year – it has been crazy trying to keep them in stock,” she said.

Ornaments are a small thing with lots of room for fun. “Kids, I’ve found, they don’t need a whole lot of guidance,” she said. For those adults who do, Perkins shared some tips:

Prepare your space. Cover your work table with a vinyl tablecloth to protect it from paint, glue or other materials. Newspaper or cardboard would work, too.

Anything can be your canvas. Perkins uses wood blanks cut in the shape of Christmas balls, on which she mounts watercolor paper. Blanks are available in craft stores and online in a variety of materials and shapes. You also could cut shapes out of cardboard, create with paper or make something out of air-dry clay, for instance. Just make sure your paint, markers or other decorating material work with your art surface.

Keep it simple. If you want to paint more realistic scenes, “it needs to be not too complicated,” Perkins said. “It’s a pretty small space.” She suggested picking a single subject, something with a relatively simple shape or idea. And, it’s always nice to have it holiday-themed, she said. Adding snow is one way to do that, she said. Or, for some of her ornaments featuring the Garbage Goat, she has it eating holly with a wreath of holly circling the image.

Abstract inspiration. If capturing a realistic image isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other designs to consider. Perkins suggested looking at sweater patterns or wrapping paper for ideas. Or, you can use stencils or sponges to create shapes and textures.

Layering colors on top of each other can be fun, too, Perkins said. One technique she suggested is to dry brush acrylic paint. For instance, paint one layer in a dark green, a second in a lighter shade of green, then a third in a metallic green. Using the dry brush makes a brushy, scratch texture that allows the colors to show through. On top of that, you could add some gold dots.

“I’m a big fan of gold and sparkly,” she said.

Beyond paint. There are so many ways to craft an ornament. You can wrap and glue yarn to an object or around wire. You can make origami shapes. You can work with clay. You can use paper plates to cut out snowflakes. You can sew or glue felt. Any type of art you want to create can be scaled for the Christmas tree.

Have fun. “The whole point is to have fun … It’s nice to have an ‘heirloom’ product, but it’s just as fine to have a paper plate with macaroni glued to it,” Perkins said.

“The act of spending time with your kid making the ornament is just as important, if not more so, than the result.”

2020 themes

If you want to go all-in on the 2020 ornaments, here are some ideas:

Put a mask on it. Sew a mini mask out of fabric or felt to hang on the tree, or put a mask on a Santa, elf, snowman or animal. This could be an ornament or figurine you already have, or you could start from scratch. For instance, create a teddy bear with two felt circles stitched together with a little stuffing in between and two tiny circles to make the ears. Sew or draw eyes for the bear, then cut a small rectangle of felt in a different color to cover where the snout should be. Sew or glue the mask to the face, and create the mask straps with thread, yarn or strips of felt.

Viral fun. The shape of the coronavirus makes it pretty easy to mimic. Create or find a sphere (this could be clay, play dough, Styrofoam or a regular ball ornament), then attach something to create the spikes. Ideas include pushpins, golf tees, clay or, in a riff on a pomander, cloves painted red.

Totally tubular. Pay homage to the toilet paper shortage by crafting with TP tubes. Use one as a body to make a gingerbread man or other Christmas character. Cut one in three to make a snowman. Cut one in a spiral and paint it green to make a Christmas tree. Or, cut the tubes into ½-inch rings, then paint, bend and glue them into designs to create snowflakes or poinsettias.

Stay-at-home fun. Make ornaments that shows what you’ve been doing at home all these months. For instance, make a wreath out of puzzle pieces or a sleigh out of Legos. Lego even has inspiration available at

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