DIY & Crafts, Projects

DIY Birch Photo Ornaments

December 17, 2013
Great DIY Holiday Project ... Birch Coaster Photo Ornaments! Easy to follow tutorial from View From The Fridge

A Couple Tree limbs + Saw + Mod Podge  ….  and you get what?


More homemade ornaments!


More DIY photo ornaments!


I told you I’m on a kick (check out our other homemade ornaments here, and here).  And check out our DIY ornament blog hop party from yesterday with a GIVEAWAY!

There’s still time to enter to win a Michael’s Gift Card … just click below to sign up!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anyway, on with today’s ornament project. I swear we don’t just make these photo ornaments because we want to see our lovely faces hanging all around our house (and Grandma’s house).  Or maybe we do.  Hmmm ….

I’ll skip right to the good part … here’s how they turned out:

 Birch Coaster Ornaments  |  View From The Fridge

DIY Birch Bark Ornaments  |  View From The Fridge

 We even engraved the back of one to give as a special personalized gift:

How-to Personalized Photo Ornaments

And a personalized message on the back!

Want to put your pretty little faces on some ornaments, too??  Well, here’s the how-to:


  • Birch logs and a saw OR purchase pre-cut Birch Coasters from Michael’s (with your new gift card???)
  • Mod Podge (I tested out using Glossy and Matte … judge for yourself which you like better, either will work)
  • Wood Glue (optional)
  • Drill with 1/4″ bit
  • Ribbon, twine, or bakers twine for hanging
  • Dremel/Multipurpose tool for engraving back
  • Picture … I love how the sepia toned picture with the birch turned out, but we also made one with color … your choice!
Start with your own birch logs and cut 1/2" - 3/4" slices OR ...

Start with your own birch logs and cut 1/2″ – 3/4″ slices OR …

OR purchase these from Michaels!

OR purchase these from Michaels!

Here’s the Dremel tool I used:

Dremel tool for engraving back of ornament with a personalized message

Dremel tool for engraving back of ornament with a personalized message

Step 1:  After you have either cut your slice (or unwrapped your purchased ‘coaster’), sand both front and back.  The purchased coasters don’t need much additional sanding, but if you cut your own, you want to be sure its smooth.

Step 2:  Determine placement of your picture, trace birch slice shape onto picture and cut out.  You’ll probably want to trim all edges from here to allow some of the birch to show through all around.

Step 3:  Determine where the hole will be for hanging and mark your birch piece.

Step 4:  Drill 1/4″ hole through the birch slice

Step 5:  Using a hole punch, punch a hole in your picture in this same location.

Step 6:  If you have wood glue, liberally apply a layer of glue to the front surface of the birch slice.  If you don’t, use mod podge instead (just make sure you apply a fairly thick layer … wood is very absorbent!).

Apply a layer of wood glue or mod podge to coaster

Apply a layer of wood glue or mod podge to coaster

Step 7:  Stick picture (that is already cut to size) to this layer of mod podge.  Make sure holes line up!

DIY ornament tutorial

Set picture into place. Make sure holes match up on top!

Step 8:  If you used wood glue in step 6, allow glue to dry a bit (~30 minutes).  If possible, place pressure all around picture to ensure photo edges adhere to birch securely.   If you used Mod Podge in step 6, you can skip to step 9 without letting the first layer dry.

Step 9:  Apply a layer of Mod Podge over the picture, making sure to get enough all around edges.

DIY ornament tutorial

Apply second layer of Mod Podge over picture.

Step 10:  Let this layer of Mod Podge dry (~30 minutes), the apply another layer over picture and all edges.

Step 11:  Once Mod Podge is dry on the front, flip ornament over and engrave back using dremel tool.

DIY ornament tutorial  |  View From The Fridge

Engrave your message into the back

This was my first time using this tool, and I definitely need some practice, but here’s a couple pointers I learned after making several ornaments:

  • I used the thinnest point tip
  • Let the tool warm up completely before attempting to use
  • I made a first pass at my message, barely pressing into the wood.
  • Then I went back and started burning in the letters.
  • Always move the tool toward you if possible.  You’ll have to turn the ornament around quite a bit.  It is much easier to control the tip when you’re pulling it toward you.
  • For curvy letters, I finally figured out it works to make a series of little dots all around the curve.  Then go back and attempt to connect the dots as best as you can.
  • And lastly … as you’re concentrating on what the tip is doing, don’t let the metal rings around the tool halfway up hit the wood (I learned the hard way … that’s what happened to the 1 in 2013).
DIY ornament tutorial  |  View From The Fridge

I started by lightly outlining the words (with very little pressure)

Step 12:  Add ribbon, tie a bow … COMPLETE!

Here’s how the ornament using Matte Mod Podge turned out (and the Birch Coaster I purchased from Michaels):

DIY ornament tutorial  |  View From The Fridge


Using Glossy Mod Podge (and our handcut birch slice):

DIY Birch Coaster Ornaments  |  View From The Fridge

Our color photo, glossy Mod Podge, Birch Coaster purchased from Michaels:

Personalized Photo Ornaments |  View From The Fridge

I love how they all turned out … both the glossy and the matte finish.  I think we’ll keep a couple, and give one or two to Grandma and Grandpa this year!

Happy Tuesday, and thanks for stopping over!  Oh, and I think I’m finally done with the ornament projects for this year now!  On to wrapping presents ….

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  • Reply Angela (Life in Velvet) December 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Adorable! These are a great idea! Your decorations look amazing…I don’t know how you have time with two boys :)

  • Reply Alexis @ Persia Lou December 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    These are such a great gift idea! If you have a second, I’d love if you came over and linked up the the Handmade Holiday link party over on my blog. :)

  • Reply Linda @ Mixed Kreations December 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    What a cute idea! I love the birch wood, and adding the pictures makes such a cute ornament and great gift. Wonderful gift for grandparents of the grandkids. I would love to share a picture and link back to your tutorial on my blog, if thats ok with you.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Katie December 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Hi Linda! Thanks for your sweet comment! Big course you can share! Happy Holidays and thanks so much for stopping by!
      ~ Katie

      • Reply Linda @ Mixed Kreations December 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm

        Hi Katie,
        Got the post up of your cute birch photo ornaments. It can be viewed at

        Thank you!

        • Reply Katie December 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm

          What a sweet post! Thanks so much, Linda. Happy Holidays!

  • Reply Stephanie December 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    These are adorable! I actually almost grabbed some birchwood circles at Michaels last weekend, but I couldn’t think of anything to make, this is perfect!!

  • Reply Brynne@TheGatheredHome December 20, 2013 at 6:00 am

    These ornaments are so pretty! Love them!
    Visiting from the Inspiration Gallery link party at Design, Dining & Diapers!

  • Reply Krissy Buck December 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    What an awesome idea for all those last minute gifts I still need to come with!!

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  • Reply Katie @ Addicted 2 DIY December 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    These turned out adorable! I love the added touch of the burned letters on the back. Now I’m going to go out and buy a wood burner;) Thanks for linking up to the “Really Last Minute Christmas Link Party.” I’m going to be featuring you tonight when our “Year In Review” link party goes live. We’d love for you to link up your top post(s) from this year.

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  • Reply Becca January 3, 2014 at 4:26 am

    Featured you on Friday’s Five Features over at DIY Vintage Chic! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply sylvie November 14, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I love this idea
    I am a mum of 3 boys to
    have a nice day
    Sylvie from France
    sylvie recently posted…Faire de jolies boules en papier Petit PanMy Profile

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  • Reply Amber November 30, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Did you use a real photo or a printed photo on paper?

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