Introduction: DIY Light Up Holiday Ornament

In this instructable we'll teach you how to make a light up ornament with a simple circuit. Download the printable design here for a fun, family friendly holiday craft! We recommend you use our ornament design to start so that you can get a sense of how to build it, but you can also design your own outer shell for your light up ornament.

What you'll need for this project:

  • 1 5mm LED
  • 1 red jumper wire with female end (10cm length minimum)
  • 1 black jumper wire with female end (10cm length minimum)
  • 1 coin cell battery holder
  • 1 coin cell battery
  • A glue stick
  • An X-acto knife
  • A cutting mat or scrap wood
  • A needle or other sharp and pointy object to make small holes
  • A ruler or something with a flat, rigid edge
  • Something to score the paper with
  • Coloring supplies and decorating supplies!
  • Tape (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Ribbon (or other thread to hang the ornament with)
  • Hole punch (optional)

Step 1: Print Out the Ornament and Color the Illustration

Download the ornament design and print it on one sheet of cardstock, double sided. You can color it however you'd like!

Step 2: Cut Out the Shapes

Cut out the shapes along the solid purple lines using either scissors or an X-acto knife.

Step 3: Cut Holes in the Ornament.

Cut the holes in the ornament where light will shine through (these shapes are filled in purple with an X over them). Using an X-acto knife, cut the X in each shape and fold the triangle flaps into the back of the paper, away from the drawing.

If you don't have a hole punch, you can cut out the circle in the top tab in the same way, just make an X in the center with an X-acto knife.

Step 4: Cut the Slots

Also with an X-acto knife, cut the slots on the shapes (remaining solid purple lines).

Step 5: Score the Paper

Using a ballpoint pen, score the dotted lines. This just means pressing and drawing over the line (use a ruler as a guide) so that it’s easier to fold.

If you don’t have a ballpoint pen, you can use an old style letter opener, nail file, or even a credit card to score the lines. Just press down and run the edge over the line.

Step 6: Fold Along the Dotted Lines

Fold in along the dotted lines on all shapes so the dotted line is on the inside of the fold.

Step 7: Attach the Inner Rig Shape a to Shape B

Attach the inner (electronics) rig shape A to shape B by gluing the matching blue rectangles together so it looks like a shelf.

Step 8: Poke Holes for the LED

Using a needle, poke through the small circles filled in purple to make holes. If you don’t have a needle, you could try a kebob skewer, a nail or really anything cylindrical and sharp.

Step 9: Attach the LED

Push the metal posts on the bottom of the LED through the holes on shape A/B, in front of the orange LED outline. Make sure that the longer post goes through the + hole, because that is the positive side of the circuit. This will be really important when you add the battery!

Step 10: Prep Jumper Wires for the Circuit

If you have a battery holder that already has jumper wires connected, skip the next two steps.

To make a simple circuit, use two jumper wires with female connectors and strip a short piece of the other end so that you have some exposed wire to connect to the posts of the battery holder.

The easiest way to strip wire is by using a wire stripper tool like this one we found. You don't have to buy that exact one! If you don't have a wire stripper, you can very, very carefully strip the wire with a pair of scissors.

Step 11: Connect the Jumper Wires to the Battery Holder

There are many ways to connect the wires to the holder! The important thing is to make sure that you know which wire is connected to the positive (+) and negative (-) posts. In our instructions we're using red for positive and black for negative.

If your battery holder doesn't have a + and - sign printed by each post, an easy way to tell which is negative is to see which post is connected to the metal piece that touches the bottom of the coin cell battery.

To connect the wires, the most permanent solution is to solder. If you don't have access to soldering equipment, there's a great Instructables article here with alternative ideas:

Step 12: Connect the Wires to the LED

Attach the red wire to the + LED post and the black to the shorter - post. Make sure they’re snug.

Step 13: Test the Circuit

Before you do anything else, test the circuit by adding a battery to the holder. If it doesn’t light up, check that you have the right wires attached to each post. After you get the LED to light up, REMOVE the battery before continuing.

Step 14: Thread the Wires Through the Slots

  1. Following the orange line on the diagram, thread each wire through the slots on the sides so that they travel to the back of the paper.
  2. Fold the bottom part of the paper (shape B) up through the two wires so that the battery holder is on the outside, lining it up with the orange circle that says “BATTERY”.
  3. Thread the wires through the slots on this front flap so that the battery holder is held in place over the orange circle.

Step 15: Glue Flaps and Tape Wire

Glue the two blue flaps under the shelf holding the LED. Then flip the shape over and tape the wires down so they aren’t in the way.

Step 16: Attach the Inner Rig to the Outer Shape

Apply glue to the blue rectangle under the top tab. Thread the top tab of the inside shape (A/B) through the slot on the ornament wrap and press the rectangle with glue to the ceiling of the ornament to hold it in place.

Make sure that the battery holder is facing the C on the interior of the outside shape.

Step 17: Glue the Side Flaps

Glue the remaining blue flaps in by tucking them under the sides of the outside shape.

Step 18: Add the Battery and Tie a Ribbon on It

Place the battery in the holder and watch your ornament light up!

To hang the ornament, tie a piece of ribbon or string around the top tab to make a loop.

Make it Glow Contest 2018

Participated in the
Make it Glow Contest 2018