Transform Old Christmas Ornaments Into Stunning Distressed Works Of Art

What do you do with all those old Christmas ornaments? Don’t throw them out! Transform them into beautiful and unique works of art to hang on your tree or give as a gift.

distressed ornaments

It takes a lot of Christmas ornaments to decorate a tree. And I seem to love to collect lots of those single-colored plastic Christmas balls. They are great for adding a specific color to my tree inexpensively. But what do you do with all of them when one (me) has collected way too many? Instead of throwing them out because no one wants them, they can easily be transformed into beautiful distressed ornaments that have a lovely velvety look.

I’m thrilled to be sharing this easy-to-make recycled ornament DIY as part of Homespun Holiday Hop, hosted by Laura from Decor To Adore. Thanks for including me, Laura! Make sure you check out all the Holiday ideas at the end of this post.

image for tour

Welcome to all, and a special welcome to anyone coming from Wendy at WM Design House. She has an amazing, detailed post about decorating a tree. So many fabulous ideas!

If you have old Christmas balls lying around in your basement, up in your attic, under your bed, or in a closet, get them out and make something special to hang on your Christmas tree or to give as a gift. Even if you are not a crafty one you can create pretty new ornaments from old ones with a little bit of paint and a couple items found in your kitchen.

There is really no right or wrong way to create these distressed ornaments. Everyone is unique and perfect!

distressed Christmas balls with dried oranges, pinecones and greens.

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Why You Will Love This DIY

  • INEXPENSIVE – Use what you have to create beautiful new distressed Christmas Ornaments.
  • ECO-FRIENDLY– Create something beautiful and useful out of something you might get rid of.
  • EASY & FUN – This DIY is addictive! You don’t even need to be crafty.
  • ONE-OF-KIND – Each ornament is a small and unique masterpiece.
  • CUSTOMIZED– Make distressed ornaments to work with your Christmas color palette.
  • GREAT GIFT IDEA– Distressed ornaments make thoughtful handmade gifts.

Here’s how the distressed ornaments look on our tree this year…

Christmas tree with distressed ornaments on it.

Tips For Creating Distressed Christmas Ornaments

Round, neutral colored ornaments work best.

If you use colored ornaments like red or green ones, make sure to spray them with an acrylic sealer so the ornament’s color does not bleed.

Use ornaments without glitter or texture.

Remove the ornament cap from the Christmas balls before painting the ornaments.

I used cocoa powder and white flour to distress my Christmas ornaments.

You can repeat the process until your ornament is distressed the way you like it.

If you like a bit of bling, you can dab a piece of crumpled-up plastic grocery bag in metallic paint, dab some of the paint off on a paper towel, and lightly dab the bag on the ornament. This will leave small areas of soft metallics.

You can change the color of your ornament cap by using Rub N Buff. Or add glitter to the cap.

Materials You Will Need

This is such an easy, creative project. Here is a list of items to make these beautiful ornaments…

things you need to make distressed ornaments.
  • Old Christmas balls
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush, small for painting ornaments and larger (chip brushes) for dusting off the cocoa and flour
  • Plastic grocery bag
  • Cocoa powder
  • White flour
  • Container for water
  • Bowls and spoons
  • A piece of cardboard, a non-porous plate, or something to put the acrylic paint on
  • Paper towels

How To Dry Ornaments

It’s important to think about how you will let the paint on your ornaments dry. Here are a few ideas…

You can paint the ornaments on one side at a time and put the dry side of the ornament on waxed paper or in the well of an egg carton or a small cup to dry.


My favorite way is to use a small Amazon box, dry florist foam, and wooden skewers. I snuggly fit dry florist foam in a small Amazon box. Then I stuck wooden skewers into the foam. When I painted a ball or added flour/cocoa powder to it, I put the ball on the skewer to dry.

Instructions For Distressing Ornaments

Get all the materials together in your workspace.

Remove the ornament caps from the ornaments and set them aside. I put mine together in a coffee cup so I wouldn’t lose any.

DISTRESSED ORNAMENTS-ornament caps in a mug

I worked on one distressed ornament color combination at a time.

Here are the colors of acrylic paint I chose. I had them on hand.

  • dark tan acrylic paints- Folk Art: Camel Chameau and Teddy Bear Tan, Americana: Cocoa
  • creamy white acrylic paint- Terra Cotta: Dune du Desert
  • light gray- Terra Cotta: Fresh Granite and Craft Smart: Métallisée
  • white paint- Apple Barrel: White

Choose the neutral colors that work best with your color palette. You will want darker paint and lighter paint for each ornament. One paint will be the base coast and the other the contrasting color.

Paint a base coat on the ornaments. I brushed two coats of acrylic paint on each ornament. It really does not matter if you miss a spot, you can dab another color over it in the next step. Make sure each coat of acrylic paint is dry.

Just a side note- my friend, Julie who blogs at My Wee Abode is visiting me from California and took these action shots! Thanks, sweet friend!

DISTRESSED ORNAMENTS-painting the Christmas ornament with tan acrylic paint

Work quickly for this part of the DIY…

Crumple up a small piece of a plastic grocery bag and dip it in the contrasting color of acrylic paint. Dab the ornament with paint on the crumpled paper bag. If you want less coverage, dab some of the paint off on a paper towel.

DISTRESSED ORNAMENTS-crumpled piece of plastic bag

This is not rocket science, so experiment on one ball. Try adding less paint in some places and more in others.

DISTRESSED ORNAMENTS-applying dabs of paint to the Christmas ball

In order to take the picture above, I dabbed a bit too much paint in one area. 🫤

If you are dabbing a light color onto a darker ball, sprinkle white flour all over the ball using a spoon. If you are dabbing a darker color onto a light ball, sprinkle cocoa powder onto the ball with a spoon.

adding flour to the ball
adding cocoa powder to the ball

I tap the spoon on the side of the ornament to knock off the excess flour/cocoa powder back into the bowl. Wait for the paint to completely dry.

When the paint is completely dry, take a chip brush and dust off the flour/cocoa powder.

brushing off flour from the ornament

Put the ornament cap back on the ornament and hang it on your tree.

FAQs About Distressed Christmas Ornaments

You can use a very small amount of very watered-down brown or black and rub it on areas of the Christmas ball.

You don’t have to seal the ornaments. However, you can.

For these ornaments, one light and one dark acrylic works best.

Click The Video Below For More Christmas Inspiration

I hope you will make these beautiful distressed ornaments as a last-minute addition to your tree. Turn on some Christmas music, eat some cookies, and enjoy making these ornaments!

Ornament in the tree.

Cindy, is waiting for you at DIY Beautify. She’s sharing how to make primitive painted gingerbread men. Please head over there and visit her.

Please join my friends and see their Homespun creations!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Merry Christmas!

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  1. Julie Briones says:

    Everyone needs to make these! They were so fun to make with you, and so easy! I love that we got to do a craft together, and now I have a couple to take home with me!

    1. Thanks for helping me take action shots, Julie. It’s be so wonderful having you here.

      1. Julie Briones says:

        So happy you shared this at Tuesday Turn About, Yvonne! You better believe I’m featuring your post at the last party of 2023!

  2. Rachel @ The Antiqued Journey says:

    This is such a neat idea, Yvonne! They really do look like crushed velvet when finished!! Such a cool way to re-purpose ornaments!! Happy Holidays! Rachel @ The Antiqued Journey

  3. Debra@CommonGround says:

    so pretty, Yvonne. Love how you’ve distressed them with flour and cocoa, adding a bit of metallic paint too. Your tree is amazing with the rust colored ribbon accents. Happy Christmas!!

  4. I love the way these came together, Yvonne, they’re so pretty and they look fabulous on your tree too. I’ll definitely be looking at the old ornaments we have in a completely different way now. Can’t wait to try your technique and make some of my own! I hope you and your family have a warm and blessed holiday season, CoCo

  5. Michelle | Thistle Key Lane says:

    I have quite of few Christmas ornaments in need of a makeover, and this project will be perfect for that. Excellent tutorial Yvonne! Your ornaments are beautiful and I love the softness that the flour and cocoa create! Happy Christmas!

  6. Laura Ingalls Gunn says:

    Yvonne these ornaments are truly stunning! They add such olde world elegance to your tree and other holiday decor. Thank you so much for adding such beauty to the hop. Have a wonderful holiday season!

  7. Thank you for the tutorial Yvonne. I can’t wait to make these. Merry Christmas!

  8. Kim | Shiplap and Shells says:

    I’m so in love with these distressed ornaments Yvonne! I can’t wait to try this idea on my own ornaments that have been collecting dust in the closet waiting to be reinvented. Beautifully done my friend.

  9. Wendy McMonigle says:

    Yvonne, these are gorgeous! and would be perfect for my tree this year. Thanks for the tip about sealing them before we paint them. You always have such great ideas.

  10. Lora Bloomquist says:

    Very unique way to give a makeover to old ornaments; I never would have thought about doing this. They look great on your tree; great tutorial! Hope you and Julie had an enjoyable visit:)

  11. Cindy LONG says:

    Yvonne, these ornaments are so unique and different! I love the soft, velvety look and hope to make a few next year, as i too have so many ornaments and love to upcycle them! How fun that Julie was visiting with you and took these action shots!! Merry Christmas sweet friend! Pinned xx

    1. Thank you, Cindy. Julie and I had so much fun together. Suzy from Worthing Court was here too.

  12. MERRY Christmas to you, Bobby and your BIG, beautiful family, Yvonne!!!