Like many families, we buy a new ornament each year, and I often seek out something that represents my son's current interests, in hopes that he'll enjoy looking back as an adult and remembering the year he loved spaceships or Legos. (OK, the Legos have lasted more than a year, and if it were up to him, the whole tree would be covered in plastic bricks.) Finding such ornaments can be tricky, however, and expensive. So this year I looked around for ways to turn his existing toys into ornaments.
For items made out of softer plastic, try screwing a small eye hook (often found with picture hanging supplies) into the top of the toy to create a hanger. The blog Dollar Store Crafts (http://bit.ly/1vzTUSW) took this approach a step further, attaching hooks to plastic dinosaur toys and covering them with glitter for a bit of extra sparkle.
For items made of harder plastic, metal or other tough materials, a little ribbon and hot glue could do the trick. But I achieved a more polished look using a product called Sugru. Described as a "mouldable glue," Sugru looks and feels like Play-Doh right out of the package, but cures into silicone rubber overnight.
I turned one of my son's toy cat figurines and several Lego minifigures into ornaments simply by rolling bits of Sugru into balls, sticking them onto the items, and embedding small metal split rings (from the jewelry findings section of the craft store) into the Sugru. The material comes in multiple colours and can be mixed to match other hues.
Another, more involved option involves enclosing small toys or trinkets in clear plastic ornaments. Lucy Akins features several tutorials for this method on her blog, Craftberry Bush (http://bit.ly/1w9lRGe). I tried two, and found it easier to cut open the plastic bulb only partially rather than slicing it entirely in half and then gluing it back together.
Following her instructions, I used a craft knife to cut off most of the bottom of a plastic bulb, leaving it hinged on one side. I then inserted the toy, used a blob of hot glue to hold it in place and then glued the bulb back together. To cover up the visible line, I brushed Mod Podge on the bottom of the bulb up to the line and dipped the ornament in Epsom salt for a snowy effect. More salt can be poured into the ornament from the top to surround the base of the toy.