Paracord often gets labeled as a military cord or survival tool. Today, there are countless colors and patterns that make this durable nylon rope perfect for decorative use as well as practical.
One such use is as a Christmas tree ball ornament. Whether you're into paracord crafting, or just want a truly unbreakable ornament, these will look great on any Christmas tree. Customize the colors to perfectly match your design scheme!
If you are new to paracord crafting, this craft will likely take you up to 2 hours. An expert (which I am not) could easily complete this in 30 minutes.
Step 1: Supplies
To make this ornament you will need:
- Holiday paracord colors (Tinsel paracord is real)
- Ping pong ball or 1.5" wood bead
- Monkey fist jig
- paracord fid
Paracord Planet has a huge selection of paracord colors to choose from.
Ping pong balls are ideal for the core of this ornament. The lighter the ornament, the easier it will be to hang it on your tree. Growing up, I remember trying to get metal ornaments to stay on our scrawny Christmas tree. It was a constant battle of picking them up of the floor!
Step 2: Monkeying Around
A monkey fist jig makes this project a lot easier. If you don't have a jig, you can make it without one, but it may be tricky. For video instructions on how to make a monkey fist without a jig, take a look at this monkey fist keychain tutorial.
Start by laying the paracord across the top two posts of the monkey fist jig. Continue wrapping it around all four posts until you complete 8 wraps. Stop at the same post you started on.
(It should be noted that if you do not use a 1.5" core, you will have a different number of passes. The pictured chart gives the number of passes for 550 paracord on different sized cores.)
Step 3: A New Direction
Now begins the second vertical wrap. Before you begin, insert your core (the bead or the ping-pong ball). Wrap the cord downward over the same starting post. Bring the cord around the bottom toward the left and up between the posts. In the pictures, this wrap happens left to right. Complete 8 wraps in this direction, stopping at the other top post, in line with where you started this direction.
Step 4: Round and Round
We have one more direction to wrap. This one is a little different than the other two. Instead of going over the top of everything, this wrap goes under and over.
If you have a fid, put it on the working end of your paracord. At the corner where you completed the second direction, insert the paracord underneath the first direction wraps, pointing your fid toward the base of your jig posts. Come back on the other side, again underneath the first direction wraps. Work your way downward until you have 8 wraps in this final direction.
Step 5: The *Not So* Fun Part
Now, it's time to take your monkey fist off the jig. If made correctly, it will hold its shape.
You're done wrapping, but you're not done with the ornament yet. This next part can get a little messy. It's time to tighten the monkey fist. The only way to do this is by pulling the cord through, one strand at a time. You may need to go through this process a couple of times to get the knot completely tight.
Start with the short end of your paracord. Pull it through until the cord sticks out 2". Keep feeding your cord through your knot, one wrap at a time. It's normal for this step to take a while, so be patient.
Step 6: Eggnog Break
You've worked hard up to this point, so treat yourself to a break! Sit back, drink some egg nog, sing a carol or two, and warm your toes near the fire. Then, when you're good and ready, get back to your paracord.
Step 7: Just a Trim
Now you can trim off the ends. If you haven't worked with paracord before, there is a procedure for finishing off the ends of your cord.
- First, cut the excess cord about 1/4" away from your monkey fist.
Melt the end by holding it near the flame of a lighter. Be careful to not hold it in too long. If the end of the paracord turns black, reduce the time you hold it in the flame next time.
Before the paracord cools, use the side of your lighter or scissors to flatten the cord against your monkey fist.
You'll use this same method after step 9 too.
Step 8: Topping It Off (Part 1)
If you want to top the ornament off with a bead and be done with it, you can! I like to use a sinnet knot to resemble the metal top on a glass ball ornament.
In a metallic color of paracord, cut two 1.5 ft.(45 cm) pieces. In these pictures, I am using the color "goldenrod" from Paracord Planet.
Thread the first cord onto your fid. You may need to melt the ends of your cord and taper them to a point using your fingers. Be careful, though, it's very easy to burn your fingers on molten nylon! Poke your fid underneath the center 4 cords of any side of your monkey fist.
Move your fid to the other cut cord. Poke this one between the middle two cords of the same side. Bring it underneath your first metallic cord. You should now have four even cords sprouting from the top of your monkey fist.
Take two cords opposite each other and loop them across the top of your ornament to the other side. For instructional consistency, make sure your right-to-left cord is furthest away from you, like in the image.
Then, take the other pair of opposite cords and do the same thing—with one difference. Bring the bottom cord over the first cord, but under the second. Make sure it lays to the right of the top cord. Then do the same with the top cord: over the first, under the second.
All four cords should now be interlocked. You may recognize this pattern from making plastic lace keychains at summer camp when you were a kid. Tighten this down, but only loosely.
Step 9: Topping It Off (Part 2)
Each cord now needs to go up through the middle. If you are following the pictures, grab any cord and, moving counter-clockwise, go past one base strand before bringing the cord up through the middle of the knot. Do this with all four cords.
Now you can pull the knot tight by pulling all strands equally. Once the knot is mostly tight, you can pull the cords one-by-one to tighten further.
You only need two cords to make the hanging loop in the next step, so choose two cords and cut them, using the steps to melt and finish them from step 7.
Step 10: Hang It All
To hang the ornament on your tree, you will need to make a hanging loop.
I use a double snake knot because it looks more even than a double overhand.
To make a snake knot:
- Loop the right-side cord around the left so that the tail end is around the back.
- Then, take the left cord behind the right and back across the front to be inserted through the leftmost loop.
- Tighten the knot about 2-3" from the ornament.
Make two of this knot and cinch the second one tight against the first. Cut and melt your ends as before.
Step 11: Deck the Tree
That's it. You're done! Hang up your ornament and finish off that carton of egg nog. If you want to see a video tutorial instead of following these steps, watch this same tutorial on Youtube by clicking the link.
Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!