The twinkling of fairy lights and light-up Christmas ornaments are the sight that really makes things feel festive on a cold winter's evening. No matter what your decorating scheme for the year, you can't deny that the lights are what really sets it all off. Did you know - Christmas lights were first invented in 1990 when Thomas Edison created a strand and hung them outside his laboratory, but it wasn't until 1917 that they became widely available (and affordable) for the average household, and now they are a staple in our festive furnishings each year.
In today's post, we're going to share two DIY ideas with you that will add a bit more sparkle to your tree and home decor. Both can be made by hand or with a Cricut machine and are perfect for personalizing for someone special or as items to make and sell at Christmas craft fairs.
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How to Make a Light-Up Papercut Ornament
This project is perfect for anyone wanting to give their handmade decorations a bit of a twist this year; fillable ornaments and papercutting are nothing new, but combining them both together produces some beautiful results. In addition, if you're particularly skilled and know how to make your own papercuts, you could use this technique to make customized designs for things like 'Babys 1st Christmas' or 'Our First Christmas as Mr & Mrs' to create some truly wonderful keepsakes for friends and family.
What you'll Need
To make your light-up papercut ornament, you will need a clear fillable ornament (the ones I used are 10cm in diameter), cardstock to make your papercut, white paint to create the snow effect, and an LED light to place in the back of the decoration. If you had LED tealights in your pumpkins this year for Halloween they would work perfectly for this!
For this project, I'm working with a 10cm diameter ornament ball, which means my paper cut design needs to be a little bit smaller than this to fit inside. The 3D Snowflake Ornament SVG I'm using comes with the five layers all arranged in one file and has the solid circle tracing paper layer in a different color, making it nice and simple to resize and arrange.
I uploaded the SVG file into Design Space and found that the layers were all slightly different sizes (this has been done purposely by the designer so that the papercut stacks correctly inside the ornament), so I resized them as a group to fit inside my ornament.
If you need to resize the design to fit inside your ornament, it is crucial to remember to resize the design as a whole - highlight all the layers and then use the arrow button at the bottom right hand of the box to resize everything together. I'd suggest making it so the tracing paper circle is around 4-5mm smaller than your ornament diameter.
Step 2. Cutting The Papercut Layers
Once you are happy with the sizes of the design you can send it to cut. I find that the 'Medium Cardstock' setting works fine for most card that I cut.
When it comes to cutting the Tracing Paper layer, I would suggest selecting the Copy Paper option for the material and then changing the pressure drop down to 'Less' if using a Cricut Maker. If you're using the Cricut Explore or Joy you could also try the 'Rice Paper' material setting.
Step 3. Start Stacking
To build up the layers of the paper cut I used 3D Foam Adhesive pads, these can be a bit tricky to work with, but the good news is that you don't need to use too many. We're only using them to support the sides of the papercut layers.
I'm working backward from the front layer of the papercut, so I attached the foam pads around the edge of the top layer, spaced equally apart.
I positioned the next layer on top and then did the same to that piece. I made sure to place the foam pads in equal spaces and close enough to the edge of the design so that they wouldn't show through any of the cutouts.
Step 4. Adding The Tracing Paper Layer
The tracing paper circle attaches to the back of the last papercut piece so that the light that is put behind it diffuses to give a pretty glow. I'd suggest using double-sided tape or a glue stick to attach the tracing paper to the card; using PVA glue can introduce too much moisture and make the tracing paper layer wrinkle.
Fix your final paper cut layer to the rest and check that it sits nicely in the ornament. You want it to sit flush (or just below) the rim. Don't worry if it's a bit wobbly or moves around; we can fix that later.
Step 5. Adding a Snow Effect
To make our decoration look as bright as possible when illuminated, we need to make it so that the back half of the ornament is opaque.
To do this, I squeezed a bit of acrylic paint into the ornament and used a bouncing motion with the sponge brush to spread it out (we don't want to drag the brush as it'll leave brush marks and won't give as solid a color) don't worry if it's a bit patchy at first, you can go back in and do another coat once the first is dry.
You also want to add a 'snowy' effect to the front half of the ornament.
Take a little bit of paint onto the sponge brush and bounce it around the edge of the ornament; I found it easiest to work in little increments to make sure I was getting it level the whole way around. Build up a thicker layer towards the edge of the ornament so that it is also opaque and then gradually work out with less on the sponge brush to make a snowy effect.
Step 6. Adding the LED
Once the paint is fully dry, it's time to add the LED to the back section. I'm using little LED balloon lights which are the perfect size and give a great amount of light.
I attached it to the center back of the ornament using some 3D foam pads, you could use glue but it would make it a bit of a pain to swap if the batteries needed replacing.
Step 7. Positioning the Papercut
Positioning the papercut into the ornament is simple if it's been cut to the correct size (if you find it's a bit big on some of the back layers of the card you can trim them down slightly).
Place it squarely in the ornament and press down slightly at the sides to ensure it is in snugly. Lift the ornament up to see if it moves about; if it does you can try sticking some of the foam pads just behind where it sits in the back half of the ornament to give it a 'shelf' to rest on.
You can also do the same on the front half of the ornament - If you add a foam pad to the part where you have the white paint it shouldn't show through, and it will act as a wedge to stop the papercut from slipping forwards.
Step 8. Assemble the Ornament
The final step is to snap the front half of the ornament on, add some string or ribbon for hanging and admire your creation!
How to Make a Light-Up House Garland
The first thing I thought of when I saw this SVG file was that they looked like little gingerbread houses; my second thought was - I wonder how could make them light up? I love the simple and rustic look for Christmas decorations, so I opted to use Kraft paper and no additional decorations, but there's no reason why you couldn't use glitter or metallic card and add sequins, buttons, or any sort of embellishments to make them look more like traditionally decorated gingerbread houses.
What you'll Need
To make your light-up house garland you will need kraft paper, PVA glue, and battery-operated string lights. I used a Cricut to cut and score my houses, but you can also do this by hand. If you choose to do it by hand, you will need a ruler and a scoring tool to make the folds.
This design was almost perfect for what I wanted to use it for, but it just needed a few minor tweaks.
Since it's being attached to fairy lights, we want to ensure that it's being illuminated in the right places to show off the design, which means we don't really need the back panel cutouts.
To remove the back windows, I added some shapes to the design to cover the cutouts and then used the 'weld' option to stick them to the rest of the house layer.
I then also added a larger hole in the roof for the lights to poke through. To do this, I added a circle from the shapes menu and positioned it in the middle of the roof. I then highlighted the circle and the roof and clicked the 'slice' option at the bottom of the layers menu. This removed a larger circle shape that I could then delete from the layers menu.
Before you send the house to cut, make sure you correctly set your score lines in the operation menu. To do this, you need to highlight the score layer, go to the operation drop-down in the top menu bar, change the option from basic cut to score, and hit the 'Make It' button.
Step 2. Pre-folding the Houses
This step takes a little time, but it's much better to fold all the houses in one go rather than try to do them individually when you get to the gluing stage!
Following the score lines, make a crisp fold on the house edges and flaps with your fingers - make sure they are all folded in the right direction.
Step 3. Assembling the House
The easiest way to assemble the houses is to attach the sides first as it then holds the rest of the house square when attaching the base. Add glue to the long flap along the sidewall and bring the other side of the house around to meet it.
Make sure it's lined up on both ends; if not, the house will be twisted slightly, and the base and roof won't fit. Depending on the glue you're using, you might need to hold it in place for a few seconds for it to stick.
Once the sides are dry, you can add glue to the bottom tabs and bring the base up to meet them. To help this stick, place it down on a flat surface and apply a bit of pressure to the flaps through the top of the house.
Step 4. Assembling the Roof
While the glue is drying on the houses, we can prepare the roof pieces. Due to the way the lights are installed, we're going to fix the house to the roof and light rather than attach the roof and then add the light.
Poke the light through the roof hole and move it to sit up to the wire; if you find they are sliding down a bit you can always add a dab of glue to hold it in place.
Make sure that the roof flaps are well creased, and then add glue along the lengths of them, wait for it to go tacky.
The easiest way to line up the roofs is to have the house flat on the table and line the back edge of the roof up with the back edge of the house; that way it creates a little roof overhang at the front.
Step 5. Let There Be Light
Wait for the glue to dry fully on all of your houses; leaving them to dry overnight is ideal. Once they are completely dry you can string them up and switch them on!
You could also try switching up the design slightly on these, using LED tealights instead, and having them as a mini light-up Christmas village scene. You can add fake glitter snow to the roofs or colored cellophane to the windows to create different light hues.
We hope this has given you some inspiration for your holiday decorating this year - we'd love to know what you think of this tutorial and if you make your own version, be sure to share images to social media and tag us or post them in our Facebook Group, The Design Bundles Customer Community.