The time to decorate the tree is upon us again. To the usual store-bought or traditional family decorations, why not add a few creative items this year? We've collected some of the geekiest crafts we could find from around the web and annotated them in this list of how to make Christmas ornaments using our favourite maker technologies - arduino, 3D printing, Lego and lasers- or environmentally friendly solutions.

3d printed balls

Christmas balls by Shapeways

We've picked our two favourite christmas balls from the selection available on Shapeways. The first is a bird in an entirely closed birdcage-ball, which is of course super cool because you can't do this without 3D printing (unless you have a soldering/glueing line). The second caught our eye mainly because of the description, which says that the design is Islamic-inspired.

Paper printed nativity scene

Giovanni Re, who works at Roland and thus knows a thing or two about printing, has scanned a traditional, turn-of-the century paper presepe (Italian nativity scene) and reproduced the lines on which it needs to be folded for a 3D effect. Cheaper than 3D printing! This nativity scene was printed on a Roland VersaCamm VS-540 plotter on stiff PVC (0,5 mm). Read his article about it here.

Connect your Christmas tree to the internet with Arduino

Trust Make Mag to test out a great idea - have your Christmas tree lights respond to digital feedback like receiving email. This article contains the necessary code and basic instructions. Or you can do like this guy and just light up your tree in a crazy sequence using super bright LEDs and an Arduino chip that is not connected to the internet.

Vinyl-cut trees and balls

Amongst the most beautiful projects we've seen this holiday season are the vinyl-cut Christmas trees, balls and other shapes made by Mediterranean FabLab - we've published their whole set!

Laser Christmas Tree

Laser Tree Instructable by Nova Lasers

This instructable shows how to add some serious geek cred to your Christmas tree with lasers.

Ho-Ho window lights

Ho Ho Lights by Milwaukee Maker Space

The folks at Milwaukee Maker Space had 4 windows to fill so they wrote 'Ho Ho'... in laser-cut wood, embedded with a few hundred LED lights to add cheer to their apartment building. Their blog post about it isn't really a how-to but you can get the idea, and easily apply the technique to any shape cut out in wood. Frankly, this isn't a bad idea for a low-cost solution to a store sign!

Recycled bike-chain star

Uncommon Goods bike chain ornament

We've seen these around the web but have been unable to find an illustrated how-to. The star in the photo is for sale on Uncommon Goods, while the instructions are for a double star - one that rotates inside the other. The instructions lack an "ingredient list" - you will need a strong solvent to clean an old bike chain, plus metal spray paint, epoxy glue, wire and ribbon.

Map ball ornament

Map ornament how-to

Now that we use GPS and google maps on our phones to get around, what should we do with all those old maps? Well, they sure are pretty. Here's an easy project to make with a styrofoam ball, ribbon, hot glue and an old map, found on MaryJanes and Galoshes.

Living terrarium ornament

Terrarium ornament from Inhabit

We found this great how-to on Inhabit, and although there's nothing Maker about it, we like the result - a green, living ornament.

And finally, just one project with Lego...

Lego Nativity

Lego nativity by

In Italy there's a tradition of nativity scenes, large and small. If you hunt online you'll find hand-drawn instructions to make the animals found at the nativity (camel, ox, etc) out of standard Lego bricks, as well as the 3 Magi themselves. A photograph of how these look in real life can be found on Flickr by "BenLego". In the photo above, from an Italian website for childrens' activities it looks like they have used some Star Wars and Medieval figures for the humans, which certainly is less boxy-looking.


Leave a reply