10 Christmas Ornaments to Make From Old Light Bulbs

Updated on December 6, 2019
rebeccamealey profile image

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher, a freelance writer, and an avid recycler.

Light Bulb Christmas Ornament Recycle Project

Don't toss out those old burned-out incandescent light bulbs! Make one, three or all 10 of these ornaments for your Christmas tree this year. Better yet, use the supplies you have and come up with your own ideas.

After making a Santa ornament from an old light bulb last year, I began thinking about what other ornaments I could make by upcycling or repurposing old incandescent light bulbs. So I started saving my burned-out light bulbs.

Recycling or reusing old burned-out incandescent light bulbs is hot. Check out Pinterest or Google and you will see what I mean. Creative ideas abound from tiny oil lamps to salt and pepper shakers.

Don’t leave lights on all over the house to get your light bulbs. That’s not a very green thing to do. Check your lamps and light fixtures. I’ll bet you will come up with a few burned-out bulbs. Or ask your neighbors for some. I promise they won’t think you’re crazy!

General Directions for Making Light Bulb Ornaments

The trick is in the painting, drying and gluing techniques. When painting the bulbs matte colors, use fast-drying acrylic paints. Lay them on a paper towel to dry. Turn the bulb over, then touch up the side that was laying on the paper towel. Touch up, and do more than one coat if needed.

For all but Santa, the Elf, Rudolph, the Grinch, Vintage and Glitter Globe, begin by spray painting the screw-on tops gold or silver. This will make them look like ornament hangers. Wrap a paper towel around the bulb to keep the spray paint from getting on the bulb part. Prop them up in empty 12-ounce jars to dry.

Supplies I Used

  • Felt
  • Pom-poms
  • Googly eyes
  • Beads
  • Cotton balls
  • Ribbons
  • Acrylic and spray paints
  • Glitter for bling
  • A hot glue gun
  • Mod Podge
  • Elmer's

These are some of the supplies you'll want to use. Let's get started!

1. Santa

Santa is the CEO of Christmas. So my new Santa light bulb ornament needed to be really special.

How to Make:

  1. Paint bulb white and leave an oval for the face.
  2. Use swirly brush strokes for his head.
  3. Paint on a pink face. Dry.
  4. Add google eyes and a small red pom-pom nose.
  5. Make a hat. Cut a circle 3 and 1/2 inches in diameter from red craft felt.
  6. Cut a slit from one edge to the circle’s midpoint.
  7. Form into a cone shape and hot glue it together.
  8. The flap will be the pointy end of the hat. Glue on a white pom-pom and form the brim from cotton.
  9. Tear cotton balls apart to form Santa’s hair, eyebrows, and mustache.

2. Elf

Santa’s Elf has a red and green hat and a happy smile.

How to Make:

  1. Paint bulb with flesh-colored paint. Allow to dry.
  2. Make a hat like Santa’s using green felt, red felt brim and red pom pom.
  3. Draw elf ears on flesh-colored paper.
  4. Cut out and glue flush with bulb, then bend back.
  5. Attach hat with hot glue.

3. Reindeer

What would Santa do without his loyal reindeer?

How to Make:

  1. Paint bulb with brown acrylic paint.
  2. Add a red pom-pom nose.
  3. Bend brown chenille stems to look like antlers.
  4. Glue on large googly eyes.
  5. Paint on a smile and high eyebrows in black.

4. The Grinch

That grouchy Grinch won’t get by with stealing Christmas!

How to Make:

  1. Paint the entire light bulb green.
  2. Make hat like Santa’s
  3. When dry, paint on a white mouth and green eyes. (It will take several coats.)
  4. Allow to dry.
  5. With black paint and thin brush outline eyes, mouth and draw teeth.
  6. Glue on googly eyes.
  7. Glue pieces of black chenille stems for grouchy eyebrows. Attach hat and ribbon hanger with hot glue.
  8. The nose is a green pom-pom.

5. Sparkle

Bright, cool colors and a light sprinkling of iridescent glitter help these ornaments reflect the lights on the tree.

How to Make:

  1. Paint bulb and allow it to dry.
  2. Spray lightly with clear Krylon to help make it shiny. (optional).
  3. Brush on a mixture of one part water and one part Elmer’s glue.
  4. Sprinkle lightly with iridescent glitter.
  5. Add a silvery ribbon hanger with hot glue.

6. Decoupage

Mod Podge and a Christmas symbol cut from a glossy December magazine make a very simple and very impressive light bulb ornament. Add a snappy matching bow on top to add pizazz.

How to Make:

  1. Find and cut symbols like holly, wreath, candy cane.
  2. Paint bulb to match and let dry.
  3. Use brush and Mod Podge to attach symbol.
  4. Let Mod Podge come to a clear dry. Add another coat and dry. Spray lightly with clear Krylon.
  5. When dry, hot glue on a bow and hanger in two colors, like red and green.

7. Stained Glass

Scraps of colored tissue and Mod Podge make this ornament reminiscent of a stained glass window.

How to Make:

  1. Cut shapes from colored tissue.
  2. Attach them to the bulb with a brush and Mod Podge.
  3. Overlap gaps. Continue brushing on Mod Podge.
  4. Allow to dry. A light coat of clear Krylon will make it shiny.
  5. Hot glue on a ribbon hanger.

8. Victorian

Pink paint, lace, and delicate beads give this light bulb ornament a romantic Victorian look.

How to Make:

  1. Paint pink and let dry.
  2. Spray with clear Krylon for a shiny look (optional).
  3. Glue on beads and lace with tacky glue.
  4. Hot glue on a silvery ribbon hanger.

For the next two light bulb ornaments, spray the entire bulb gold or silver. Use the inside lid of the spray paint can as a prop to dry. Spray again to touch up. Dry. These take some patience but are well worth the effort.

9. Glittery Globe

This spectacular ornament has lots of bling.

How to Make:

  1. Spray and dry bulb using the method in general directions.
  2. When dry, brush on a wash of part Elmer’s glue and part water.
  3. Sprinkle on iridescent glitter lavishly.
  4. Add a row of gold sequins at the top.
  5. Prop in the mouth of the jar to dry.
  6. Glue on a pretty hanger with hot glue.

10. Vintage

Remember ornaments with glittery rings around them? Blue, silver, and gold ones give this ornament a retro look.

How to Make:

  1. Spray and dry bulb with method in general directions.
  2. When dry, start putting rings of glue and glitter.
  3. Let each ring dry before adding another.
  4. Alternate colors.
  5. Hot glue on a pretty hanger.

Vote for your favorite light bulb Christmas Ornament

See results

Go Beyond Ornaments With These Fantastic Ways to Recycle Light Bulbs


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    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      That's great! You can make other things from too. See the video at the end.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      7 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I've never considered using my old light bulbs to make decorations before. What a good idea. I shall definitely be saving mine in future and trying this! Thankyou!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Holidays!

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      8 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Thanks! I am doing a small online recycling craft and cookie recipe project for Christmas and am excited to pass this idea on with a link to your article!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      So glad to hear that. Every little bit helps in our fight to save the planet. Thanks!

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 months ago from Lanarkshire

      I love these creative ideas for how to recycle light bulbs! Unfortunately, I sually dispose of them, but I will be rethinking this in future.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks, Linda. I enjoyed the project. Happy Holidays!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The ornaments are beautiful! What a great idea for making use of old light bulbs. Thank you for sharing your ideas and the instructions, Rebecca.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks. It was a fun project. Happy Holidays!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      8 months ago from Germany and Philippines

      Wow! These Christmas ornaments are beautiful, easy to make and very creative. Thank you for sharing this.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thank you, Devika, and Happy Holidays!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks, it was fun. I actually made them last year, lol.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Wow! Love this creative idea. You surprised me with this type of decorations.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I love this! So clever. Thank you for sharing. ( I know this took a lot of time to put together. ) Thank you.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I like those, too. Modern colors, etc. Thanks! Happy Holidays, Linda.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I think so too. Second, I like the Vintage because it reminds me of childhood Christmases. Thanks for commenting and voting. Happy holidays!

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      8 months ago from Arizona

      I love the sparkle bulb ornaments but all of the other ones are just as delightful! I never thought of recycling light bulbs. What a great idea!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks, I really enjoyed it. Making a snowman this year. Happy Holidays!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      8 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Great creative ideas to reuse and repurpose. The decorations look beautiful and colorful Indeed.

      I like the idea of reusing things, in order to protect our environment.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 months ago from Houston, Texas

      What a clever idea! I voted for Santa as being my favorite, but I liked many of the others. Recycling is the way to go!


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