Ugly Ornament Exchange

Image contains four DIY "ugly ornaments"; a toilet paper roll, an ornament filled with assorted random craft supplies, a felt ugly sweater, and a plastic ball filled with trash.

You’ve heard of Ugly Sweater Parties, and I’m sure you’ve participated in an ornament exchange, but one of our family’s favorite annual traditions is an Ugly Ornament Exchange! Each of us either buys or makes the ugliest ornament possible, wraps it, and brings it to our gathering on Christmas Eve. Then, we draw numbers and take turns randomly choosing and unwrapping an ornament. It may sound silly, but it’s absolutely hilarious watching everyone open and react to these.

Of course, there are plenty of interesting looking things you can find in stores, but if you want to go the extra mile and actually create your own DIY ornaments to trade, here are a few ideas!

Empty Toilet Paper Roll

Don’t throw away that empty roll; instead punch two holes near the top and add a piece of string or thin ribbon for a hanger. Tie on a random piece of ribbon for some extra flair. Then, use a marker to decorate the roll itself.

Image contains an empty toilet paper roll with a black and white polka dot bow on top and "OH POOP" in black marker." It sits on a white background next to faux pine branches and pinecones.

I wrote, “oh,” then drew the poop emoji underneath, but you can write or draw anything you like to make your version extra special.

Image contains an empty toilet paper roll turned into an ornament with a black and white ribbon and, "oh, poop" drawn on the side. It hangs on a decorated tree.

Craft Supplies & Google Eyes

For this one, you’ll need a clear plastic ball ornament – preferably the kind with a seam in the center that allows you to open it up in two halves. Fill it with random colors and types of craft supplies, like pom poms, string, glitter, google eyes, sequins, buttons, jingle bells, and more. Don’t try to coordinate colors, just let them all jumble up together!

Image contains a clear plastic ornament filled with assorted craft supplies including an orange pom pom, google eyes, blue glitter, and teal string. It sits on a white background with a faux pine branch.

Add a string hanger, then tie on random ribbons for more color/patterns. The busier it looks, the better!

Image contains a clear plastic ornament filled with assorted craft supplies including purple and orange pom poms, google eyes, teal ribbon, and blue glitter, held in front of a Christmas tree.

Taking Out the Trash

To create this lovely masterpiece, fill a clear plastic ornament with literal trash…preferably not the smelly or messy kind. I used bits of plastic bag and cardboard from our recycling bin and ripped them into small pieces. Look for some trash with color, like this orange cardboard I was able to find.

Image contains a clear plastic ornament filled with bits of trash, like pieces of plastic bag and cardboard, on a white background next to faux pine branches.

Place it all inside the halves of the ornament, then snap it shut and add a hanger. Instead of a ribbon on this one, I ripped a thin strip of bubble wrap and tied it around the string for a finishing touch.

Image contains a clear plastic ornament filled with assorted bits of cardboard and plastic bag, hanging on a decorated tree.

Another idea is that you can use felt and craft supplies to create an ugly sweater-inspired ornament, but I have to confess that mine is a disappointment, because it turned out kind of cute in spite of my best efforts for it to be otherwise. Perhaps you will have better luck!

Image contains four ugly DIY Christmas ornaments, as described in the post.

If you’re looking for a fun new tradition to add to your celebrations, I definitely suggest giving this Ugly Ornament Exchange a try! Everyone from the youngest kids up to our grandma who’s 101 years old enjoys it, and it’s so much fun watching the reactions as each person unwraps what they’ve chosen. If you host your own, I’d love to see the ornaments you give and receive! Make sure you’re part of the Amy Latta & Friends Facebook Group so you can share your photos and we can all be inspired. See you there!

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